Old Skool Warbirds




Apr 10, 2014

17 May 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

G’s Note: This is NOT one of the articles that I have written, rather it was penned by a friend  Lenny, a.k.a ‘Fat Lenny’.  I’ve put it here rather than loosing it to the ether of time and space, as it is one of the more popular articles from the blog.

Long time readers might remember a long buried section on twosix for oldskool bikes called Warbirds. This was essentially an area for glorifying old bikes that were still on the trail. The intent, although never realised, was to actually seek out and glorify those old warbirds that were still alive and kicking.

Well, riding around the other week on some sensational singletrail with G, it dawned on me that the most modern bike between us was constructed in 1996.

For those who don’t know, G was getting around on a circa 1820’s Mountaincycle San An he got brand new for his 45th birthday and I am partial to a ’96 Proflex 856.  By most people’s standards these bikes are far from modern, some would call them antiquated junk, actually mine gets called a lot worse but I won’t repeat that language on here so we can keep our family friendly PG rating.

Both of us have massively overcapitalised on the bikes (although G would have disputed this one till the cows come home) in the form of upgrading suspension, wheels, cranks, bars, seatposts, bolts, well pretty much the entire bike except the heart and soul of both of them……….the mid 90’s designed frames and suspension systems.

I started thinking though, why don’t we just (and others with a similar love affair for older bikes) upgrade to something modern and dare I say it……..trendy, rather then continue to invest in what other people would consider antiquated dinosaurs?

I was thinking that it would be more reliable to go modern but the truth of the matter is, it’s the new parts on the bike that give me grief, I can’t actually think of any occasion where the old girl has let me down otherwise. After spending time on the bike though, the truth of the matter is that the bikes just work and for me a new bike with what ever suspension system is the craze today just doesn’t feel like an upgrade.

Yes there are lighter, faster, longer travel, more adjustable, more colourful bikes out there, but in spite of this, with a new shock/fork and better brakes, in my opinion, some of these classics still very much hold their own today. It’s a testament to the design of some of the early classics.

The retro purist would probably frown on these bikes and the upgrades but I don’t think you could deny that the new stuff bolted onto the bikes has transformed them from more than just a good fun retro ride.

Sure the bikes have their quirks, especially the Proflex, but this is part of what makes them so rewarding to ride. That said, I am yet to own a bike that didn’t have some form of annoying trait, so it’s probably not fair on the old bikes to downplay them on character traits.

Fat Lenny

I've sold titanium, designed and sold cycling rags, was co-conspirator for Australia's first major MTB website, run mtb events, designed bikes, and was a GM and head designer for a famous but sadly now extinct mtb bike marquee; and after 20 odd years I decided riding bikes was more fun than working with them.

Today I pedal (boom-tish!) cycling t-shirts

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  1. sammydog on 14 December 2010 at 10:04 am

    Is that an 855/856?

    You like the risse on the Girvin?, My crosslinks still run the standard noleen coil NR2. I love seeing people still using these forks. Once you learn the quirky traits they really are a solid fork.

  2. Mark on 12 December 2010 at 3:06 pm

    My updated Proflex is out and about. It climbs beautifully and with the right dial in pressure on the Risse shock upfront it descends fantastically!