The mountain bike I ride today is a huge leap over what I rode in 1992. Back in those days, my Bianchi Nyala had 21 speeds, a rigid frame and fork, flat pedals with toe clips and a lugged steel frame. The highest-tech piece of equipment was an Avenir cyclometer to track my speed and distance.
Today, I have a choice:
- A 27-speed, dual suspension, Santa Cruz Superlight. It has mounts for a GoPro Helmet Hero on its handlebars and seatpost. It makes me feel like I’m floating when I ride. It is my go-to choice when I want to go on a super-long ride somewhere that will test all my skills and what meager fitness I possess.
- A singlespeed Raleigh XXIX with a Gates Carbon Drive. It has an air-sprung, oil-damped suspension fork that probably weighs less than the rigid steel fork on my old Nyala. It’s set up for night rides with a mount for a Niterider system.
Both have hydraulic disc brakes, clipless pedals and tubeless wheelsets. This is standard mountain bike gear for many of the better bikes available. And just look at the photo to the right – you’ll see an LED setup for night riding and a mount for a high-definition video camera. Outside the photo, there’s a GPS receiver.
These bikes make me one happy rider. They’re light, reliable and capable. The Raleigh XXIX also makes me work hard, and puts a more difficult twist on trails that have almost gotten too easy. I could never go back to my Bianchi Nyala.
But this brings up a question: Out of all the cool innovations I’ve seen since my first mountain bike, what’s the most important? What mountain bike gear could I not imagine riding without?
Better yet, I want to hear from you. So tell me … what’s your “must-have” mountain bike gear? What makes you ride better? What makes your ride more fun?