TCI Friday

You know how TCIF works by now. I pose a question. You opine. Please begin now.

In 1995, I think I owned three bikes. I had a stainless-steel road bike, my first “real” road bike, an aluminum hardtail, and a fully rigid mountain bike I had set up with slicks for my around-town bike. That’s probably more than I really had money for at the time. The coming years would see an absolute cavalcade of bicycles, growing income leading directly to a two-wheeled clutter in the small office in our first apartment together, and then in the capacious basement of our first house.

In 1995, I was bike crazy (which does not distinguish it from other years), and though the three bikes I had then were lower-end models, that did nothing to curb my riding fervor. As I recall, two of those machines didn’t fit me properly. Didn’t care.

I was riding single-track as much as I could on a Stumpjumper M2, many of the same trails I ride now. It is possible I was slower then, but my handling skills were much sharper. The road bike, a Novara Trionfo with full Ultegra build, was the first one I piled miles on. It hosted my first cyclo-computer, my first clipless pedals. But the real workhorse was the townie, a converted Raleigh hardtail rattle-canned black. There are few strips of pavement in the Boston metro untouched by the tires of that bike.

This is all to say I loved riding bikes in 1995.

That year was decidedly NOT the apex of bike ownership in qualitative or technological terms, but despite that, it was close to the peak of my love for riding. To be fair, my love for riding has been at a very high plateau for a long time. The point I’m getting to, I hope, is that progression in technology, quality, value, etc., has had very little impact on my enjoyment of our sport. So I wrestle all the time with the idea that I need more or better to do what I do.

Things change. I enjoy those changes. But do I need them?

This week’s TCI Friday wonders, if all bicycle technology reverted to its 1995 version, do you think you would enjoy riding bikes less than you do now?

Join the conversation
  1. alanm9 says

    Absolutely not. In 1995 my fixed gear would be new and my bought-used Guerciotti would still be beautiful. But I get it, this isn’t about time travel, you’re asking I think that, knowing what we do now, what if we didnt have discs or tubeless or electronic or integrated anything? Would we love cycling then? For me it’s still a resounding yes. I remember downtube friction shifting and not slowing down when braking in the wet and cold, but I know the feeling of laughing out loud during a ride for no particular reason would never change.

  2. jlaudolff says

    So many argue that gravel bikes are just 90s-era mtbs so the answer to your question is: my riding experience would not be significantly changed. The one component that has changed my experience for the better is my wahoo element + ridewithgps. I no longer have to rely on a combination of paper notes, platte map, and memorized directions. I spend more time riding and less time trying to figure out which way to go. I still do a ton of exploring but I am exploring a lot more areas and different areas.

  3. Jeff vdD says


    (I would enjoy riding less if I were consigned to 1995 technology. I’d still enjoy riding, crave it even, but I would know what I’m missing.)

  4. Wyatt says

    My love of riding has been strong for 30+ years and has not been notably impacted by the various bikes I have ridding across that span. That said, I would not be able to ride nearly as frequently or joyfully today if I was still riding my 89 Fat Chance. Full rigid, low narrow bars, etc. beat the crap out of me and I didn’t even notice because I was 18-25 while riding that machine regularly(I still take it for coffee occasionally). I dont have more fun now than I did then but I am more comfortable and therefore more able to ride because my 51 year old body is spared the jarring effects of those early bikes by todays full suspension, trail geometry, and a more upright position. Additionally, while I am well past my prime, these improvements in technology have minimized the effects of my decline because of how much more capable modern bikes are. Im a worse rider than I was but can ride way more challenging trails than I once could because todays bikes are sooooo much better at eating trail than they were even 10 years ago.

  5. bdicksonnv says

    I loved my steel GT mountain bike almost as much as my steel single speed Kona so in that way yes. Not sure I could go back to those narrow bars and crazy reach though, my 2023 body doesn’t bend like it used to. I did always lust after a Trek OCLV from that year. I guess I’m a run what ya brung kind of guy. Bikes are fun no matter what.

  6. khal spencer says

    Nope. I enjoyed it as much then as now and if I had to go back to my mid-nineties Cannondale road bike, Univega Specialissima touring bike, hardtail Bridgestone MB2 that became my daily commuter, and a front suspension mountainbike, I think it would be just as much fun. The only caveat would be my back is not as forgiving on trails as it was thirty years ago. But while the current technology adds some serious enjoyment and finesse, the basic bicycle has not changed much since I started riding like a fool circa 1980.

  7. Hautacam says

    Maybe this was the set-up you intended, but… as I’ve said here before (usually as a punch line of my own) my handful of bikes basically ARE from 1995. Or earlier. Nary a disc brake, tubeless tire, or carbon frame in sight. And I love riding them now just as much as I did then. I’m just a lot slower and I don’t log as many miles. The tech is not the limiting factor… my fitness is.

  8. Balky says

    Even assuming I still knew what riding the 95 gear was like in comparison with the newer stuff, I think I’d still enjoy it just as much. The human body adapts well to different food, shoes, weather, surfboards and, yes, bikes as well. I think the change back to an older road bike would be least noticeable. The older mountain bike would be more noticeable at first but I think I’d adapt my riding style quickly. Riding enjoyment wouldn’t change but actual speed would decrease (if anyone was bothered to measure, of course).

  9. spokejunky says

    Getting a period Zaskar or Xizang would totally suck. /s

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