The 90s saw an explosion of boutique aftermarket parts for upgrading or adding style to your mountain bike. Usually CNC-machined from aluminium (aluminum) billet and finished with brightly coloured anodizing, many of these products were the must-have add-ons for any 90s mountain biker. Or at least for those who could afford the often exorbitant retail prices!
Ironically, while their high prices implied superior quality compared to mass produced, forged parts from the likes of Shimano and others, the reality was rather different: CNC-machining often resulted in comparatively weaker, or shorter-lived components, as many long-term user of Hope’s titanium hubs (like me) or Ringle’s Zooka stems will attest. For a deeper discussion of the merits of CNC-machining versus forging, see here.
Here’s my entirely subjective list of the top ten boutique components from the 1990s:
Hope Titanium Hubs
Grafton Speed Controller Brakes