Rear Derailleur Shootout, MBA, November, 1986
They looked a lot different back then
In looking over our second issue of MBA, dated November 1986, we came upon this shootout of five rear derailleurs from almost 35 years ago. The article was written by future MBA editor Richard Cunningham, who was still making a living designing and building bikes under his own Mantis label back then. If you zoom in closely on the above picture with a desktop computer, you might be able to read the entire article.
Today, most cross-country racers have switched to 1×12 drivetrains, but back in those days, if we’re not mistaken, most mountain bikes came with both front and rear derailleurs and either 3×5 or 3×6 drivetrains.
See if you can tell how many cogs were in each of the rear cassettes in the above photos. It appears that we never mentioned that fact in the article, but if you can zoom in on the photos well enough, you may be able to tell. We were able to find the original black-and-white prints in our files, and it looks like there were six cogs on each of the rear cassettes. What’s more, in looking through the bike tests in the rest of that 1986 issue, six cogs looked like the standard setup for rear cassettes that year. It makes us wonder what kind of changes we’ll see in our drivetrains in the next 35 years.