Down The Trail: Looking Back 20 Years

Looking Back 20 Years

Mountain Bike Action’s March 1999 issue was full of interesting articles. We went in search of lightweight full-suspension bikes and found five we wanted to review: The AMP Research B-5, the Kona King Kikapu, the Titus MotoLite, the Specialized S-Works FSR XC, and the Marin Mount Vision Pro.

One of the biggest mail-order bike shops in the business, Alan Goldsmith’s Supergo shop in California, was selling Specialized Stumpjumper frames for $249 to $299 each, and that was with the seatpost and seatpost clamp included. Much closer to the other end of the price range back then was the Ibis Bow-Ti mountain bike, built up with Shimano XT components. That bike was being sold by Irvine Bike Source’s mail-order division for $4499. Since a large number of mountain bike racers were shaving their legs in those days (and many still are), we did a shootout comparison of nine different shaving creams to see which one we liked best. While they all did the job, our staff liked Gillette’s Aloe Enriched shaving cream the best.


Long-time MBA test rider Toby Henderson scored one of his smaller cover appearances with this photo. Toby, who is now the CEO of Box Components, was our go-to test rider for many years, appearing on MBA’s cover more times than we can remember.
Marin’s Mount Vision Pro tipped the scales at 24 pounds. This cross-country race machine cost $3150 in 1999, which may have been a steep price for the average rider back then, but we found it to be the lightest of the five lightweight, full-suspension bikes we tested in our March 1999 issue.

Writer/racer John Koslosky wrote an article on the Pan Global Rainforest Cup stage race held on the island of Borneo. How was the weather? Hot and humid. “Sweating is the national pastime,” he wrote. To no one’s great surprise, it rained on at least one of the practice days leading up to the event, although the race managed to be held in better weather. Koslosky said he had never seen it rain so hard before in his life, and he was riding in it. What else would you expect in a rainforest? He still had a good time, though.

We referred to this test bike as “Ned’s secret weapon,” but it was MBA test rider Ron Koch who put the Specialized FSRXC through its paces in this photo. Ned was busy working at Specialized, as he is today. The bike sported 3 inches of rear suspension and came with a 2.7-pound Manitou SX-C carbon fork with 3 inches of travel. The bike weighed 24.2 pounds and cost $2999.
Mammoth Mountain (shown here) was one of the top mountain bike resorts in North America 20 years ago. It still is, we’d venture to say, but we’d be hard-pressed to name all the other ones now. There are too many to keep track of them all today. It seems like most of the ski resorts in America embraced mountain biking as a good and easy way to boost their numbers in the summer.

We also did an article on the best ski resorts for mountain biking in North America. To come up with our list, we polled two people who’d been riding and racing them for years: downhill star Toby Henderson, now the CEO of Box Components, and the legendary John Tomac, who had won multiple World Cup races in both downhill and cross-country divisions and who was widely considered the greatest mountain bike racer of all time back then. In no particular order, the top five resorts they named were Snow Summit in Big Bear, California; Traverse City, Michigan; Deer Valley, Utah; Mammoth Mountain, California; and Whistler, British Columbia. We haven’t heard much about Traverse City, Michigan, in recent years, but that used to be one of the big stops on the national racing circuit 20 years ago.


Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.

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