1-Lezyne-RAP-7-LED-multi-tool

Are these the 10 best cycling inventions?

My first mountain bike was a 1988 Rockhopper. It had a U-brake, biopace chainrings, 6 speed uniglide transmission, and four-finger brake levers. Most of you wouldn't recognise it as a mountain bike at all. My mate waited a little longer, and bought a 1989 Marin Pine mountain. Now this thing was superb! It weighed 27lbs, had 7 speed hyperglide, racing geometry and a small frame with a sloping top tube, some of the things that we now take for granted. And frankly, if you rode that bike today, you would still notice a difference between it and a current bike. Now you can buy a full suspension bike with indexed gears and V brakes for under £200. What exactly are the major advances that have been made in all that intervening time?

1. Hyperglide

Whether you have 7,8 or 9 speed doesn't matter a bit. Not having hyperglide does matter. Ever ridden off-road without it? Not fun!

2. Suspension forks

We may whine on about maintenance, and recollect the halcyon days of fully rigids. But we are all free not to use them, and most of us do, don't we.

3. Lightweight stuff

I know that weight saving is often considered to be a psychological disease, but my first bike weighed 30lbs fully rigid. If it weren't for weight saving measures, you wouldn't be able to ride around on a 28lb full-suspension which is both stronger and more capable than my old Rockhopper.

4. Camelbacks

Some people think they are untrendy. Who cares about fashion. At least wiping cow shit from a bottle before drinking from it, is now just an unpleasant memory.

5. SPD pedals

Yes, I know these are also considered a fashion faux pas by many of the jumping class. But for those of us that prefer to have our feet attached to the pedals, they sure beat toe straps. [Editors note: Yesterday I tried descending on flat pedals with rigid forks. Damn near impossible. How did (or does) anyone even try it?

6. Decent winter clothing

Freezer bags over your socks, 'crisp packet' waterproofs, old rugby shirts, motorbike gloves. Remember them? Outdoor clothing companies simply weren't interested in the MTB 'niche' market, and MTB clothing companies didn't exist. The only possible advantage was that they were dirt cheap.

7. Multi-tools

"John, pass the hammer and the adjustable spanner, and I'll tighten this headset in a jiffy. What do you mean, you forgot to bring them!". Conversation like that are luckily a thing of the past. Pliers, huge spanners, and a full set of allen keys, can all stay tucked up in your tool box at home.

8. LED rear lights

What, is this guy mad? Well I reckon the LED rear light has probably saved more lives than the cycle helmet. Think about it!

9. Decent rims

Early rims were wide but weak. So weak that Bontrager and other maniacs started using road bike MA40's for MTB racing! Mavic countered with their own official MA40 is 26in size, then the M231 rim. By using a twin cavity box-section and good quality alloys, they claimed to be both lighter and far stronger than 'conventional' rims. 12 months later everyone owned a pair and now the 23mm rim width is industry standard for XC racing.

10. Better tyres

Don't you miss those old 'Farmer Johns', and tyres with central rolling ribs for the tarmac, weren't they useful? NO, they were rubbish! Now we have downhill tyres, cross country tyres, semi-slicks, and full slicks. And we're all happier.

Next time I think I'll do '10 worst inventions in mountain biking'. Please email me at mep98kgh@shef.ac.uk if you have any suggestions for the hall of shame.