Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rules of Old School Mountain Biking

Top 20 Rules of Old School Mountain Biking

If you grew up in the 90's or were already into the mountain bike scene back then, then this article will make sense to you. Long before consumers were priced out by carbon fiber, metric wheel sizes, electronic shifting and "E-bikes", there was mountain biking. Real mountain biking. The kind of mountain biking that required skill and a little bit of recklessness. Back then there were no cycling computers, no phone apps to track Strava or even cell phones for that matter. The most travel available on a suspension fork was 80mm, not 120mm or more like today's bikes. If you are a 90's survivor, or riding a 90's survivor mountain bike, here are the top 20 rules of old school mountain biking you will need to be aware of. Welcome to the club.

1. Trail etiquette is becoming rarer than 4130 Chro-Mo and neon fade color patterns. Respect others on the trail and assist any fallen rider.

2.Always lift the front wheel to clear obstacles on the trail. A steel fork is a beautiful thing to waste.

3. Suspension? Your body is the suspension. Form your body into a spring by bending your arms and your knees.

4. E-bikes are not mountain bikes. They're off road mopeds. Now repeat this line ten times in your head before moving on, until it becomes natural.

5. If the jump is too high, or the climb is too steep, a real man walks it. 

6. It's okay to wear blue jeans and flannel on your mountain bike. 

7. Goos, pre-workout drinks and legal steroids are for wusses. Do you get hungry on the trail? Eat some trail mix, a Powerbar, or a banana. Real food, you wussy!

8. Upgraditis is not a condition we suffer from. Don't fix it if it ain't broken. If it is broken, buy it New-Old-Stock off of eBay.

9. Always shift your weight behind the saddle when bombing a descent or flying off a ledge. Use the rear brake, only feather the front one.

10. You only need seven gears to shift on your rear wheel. A real old-school pro does it with six.

11. If you ride with thumb shifters, that's boss.

12. V-brakes earn you respect on the trail. Cantilevers earn you instant free beers, facial hair and overall success in life.

13. Never make fun of the hippie old guy that looks like ZZ Top and rides a Walmart bike while smoking a cigar in his cutoff blue jeans and tie dye tee shirt. That guy can smoke you on the trail and drop you like a bad habit.

14. Not sure which wheel size to get? There is only one, and it comes in 26 inches. Now pick a size, any one you like, as long as its 26.

15. Yetis are real. So are Klein bikes. But seriously......they're out there.

16. If gram counting is your occupation, I'm sorry, someone didn't love you enough. Give that man a sandwich and a heavy steel bike, pronto!

17. A scar tells a story better than Strava does.

18. Never, under any circumstances, is it okay to show up to a trail with your legs shaved (unless you're a woman, then feel free to do your thang).

19. The bike should always cost less than the car, even if the car cost $800.

20. Clip-less shoes are for roadies that ride mountain bikes. Platform pedals and hiking shoes are all you need.

These are rules for the off-road retro grouch to live by. Its time to take back what was once ours from the roadies who got bored, crossed over into mountain biking and sanctioned every tree stump on the trail. Next time you go mountain biking, bring that retro bike that has been sitting in a garage for a while. Take an old pair of blue jeans, rip them in half if its hot or cuff them at the heel if its cold. Wear a tee shirt, not a jersey. Turn off your cell phone. Wear a wrist watch if you have to. Keep it old school.


  1. These take me back... got my first mtb in the mid 90's and rode all over the woods in the area. had platform pedals and then later toe straps, threaded headset and cantilever brakes. Old school rules.

    But suspension forks do take the edge off! - Brian

    1. I still do a lot of my dirt riding on my 1993 GT Timberline.However, I have other bikes that I use more and I would also have to agree with you on suspension forks. Thanks for your comment!-Johnny.

    2. heh heh heh, yeah, i started on an '89 or '90 univega alpina uno. biopace chainrings, shimano exage drivetrain, clips n' straps, farmer john and farmer john's cousin and all that late eighties/early nineties stuff.

      that said, i love my modern suspension forks and rear suspension but keep a fully rigid single speed in my stable to remind me of what once was.

  2. Wow, what a different attitude than I've seen on a particular mountain biking forum. A lot of those people think it's absurd to bike in jeans. I think it's absurd not to. They're comfortable and they certainly would protect your legs better than those goofy padded shorts. I bought a mountain bike about 4 years ago, and have been riding in jeans and a t-shirt the entire time. A lot of magazine articles I've read seem to indicate that you're considered a geek if you don't wear all the "appropriate" things while riding. I'm not a professional, and I'm not out performing stunts. I see no reason why I need to conform by wearing something you'd see in a race. If I ever were to participate in a race, I'd probably still wear jeans and a t-shirt just to annoy people. It's just weird how sort of elitist people get about a hobby. Who cares what anyone is wearing? My gel slipcover is probably protecting my butt as much as any clown pants would. -Stacey E.

    1. Aerodynamics make a big difference in racing, also padded lycra reduces chafing because it does not create friction. For racing, you might as well wear cycling specific clothing if you already own them. For enjoying the sport, you don't need any special clothing. This was more the point that I was trying to make.

  3. Yoooo!totally agree dude!!jeans flannel and tie dye will never die!! Ah ah ah