This is something I thought would be interesting to share. It’s adapted from a list I’ve written myself in recent years, as I’ve searched for interesting vintage mountain bikes for my own collection.
As one might guess, there is an obvious bias towards the following:
- bikes from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, principally 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995
- MTBs with steel frames
- mass-produced MTBs
- MTBs that won’t cost an arm and a leg
- MTB brands that were available in the USA, Canada, and the British Isles
It’s not exhaustive, and it’s not especially objective either. It’s simply a list of what I consider to be the best 100 vintage mountain bikes. These are all bikes I’d like to own, and would consider buying for myself, in the right size and condition.
I plan to add links to photos or catalogue scans for each of the listed bikes, in the near future.
Alpinestars Cro Mega (e-stay or normal)
Alpinestars Alu Mega (e-stay, without cracks)
Alpinestars Ti Mega (e-stay, without cracks)
Bontrager Race / Race Lite
Cannondale Killer V series
Cannondale M series
Diamond Back Axis
Diamond Back Axis TT
Diamond Back WCF / Vertex
Gary Fisher Montare, or any pre-Trek steel Fisher
GT Zaskar and Xixang
KHS Montana Comp
Klein Attitude (pre Trek)
Koga Miyata Ridgerunner
Kona Hei Hei (Titanium)
Litespeed Titanium (without cracks – lifetime warranties no longer valid after buyout)
Marin Rift Zone
Marin Eldridge Grade
Marin with late 80s to early 90s splatter paint
Merlin Titanium (without cracks – lifetime warranties no longer valid after buyout)
Mountain Cycle Moho
Mountain Cycle San Andreas
Muddy Fox Courier Comp
Orange Vitamin T (or T2)
Pace RC200 (and other RC frames)
Panasonic MC Pro (rare but awesome)
Pro Flex 855 (and similar)
Raleigh Dynatech Torus
Raleigh Dynatech Diablo LX, DX, or STX
Raleigh M Trax Ti 3000 or 4000 (1995 model with UGLI fork)
Raleigh Special Products Division 853 (hard-tail or full suspension)
Raleigh lugged and brazed 531 frames from the late 1980s (Moonshine, Thunder Road, White Lightning, and others)
Raleigh USA Technium Chill
Ridgeback 704 XT (and similar)
Rock Lobster / Amazon
Rocky Mountain Fusion
Rocky Mountain Blizzard
Santa Cruz Heckler
Scott Team or Pro
Specialized Stumpjumper (steel)
Specialized Stumpjumper (M2)
Trek Singletrack series (steel)
Trek 8000 Series, bonded carbon composite
Univega Alpina 500 (and similar)
Yeti Ultimate (steel)
34 thoughts on “100 of the best vintage mountain bikes”
Good call. A quick google image search brings up some nice examples of the MB-1, and I love it! I imagine I’ve missed this and many other American vintage MTBs due to my own UK bias. If you have any further suggestions, please do let me know.
Got me a Dynatech Torus Lx Titanium (light Blue) last year full Deore Lx group set zoom stem original grips and Lx pedals . Glad it made your list.
i like to ask about my haro extreme since i really don’t know nothing about bike, i wish i can send you the picture. it has elevated frame but no bent on the tube, since i notice every haro had a bent on the tube, please reply or send me an email for information, thanks before.
I have a 1988 Haro MTB (or all-terrain?) I inherited from my stepmom, but I can’t find any information about it online or even from the company itself. I was wondering if I sent you some pictures of it, could you possibly tell me something about it? It looks similar to an Extreme, but only has the word Haro and some very 80s graphics printed on the frame, so I am unsure what model it is.
I have zero knowledge on this subject, but am interested in learning more. Thanks in advance for your time. 🙂
Hi there, we’d be very interested to take a look at the bike. The simplest thing would be if you could upload them to an online image hosting site like photobucket.com, and then tell us the link URL.
I owned a red Bridgestone MB1 when they first came out, as I recall it was an less expensive knock of of the Scott Pro bike. I love that bike, rode the shit out of it put all kinds of better parts on it which included one of the nylon disc covers you could add to your back wheel.
I moved on to a Klein Pinnacle, bought a frame built it from scratch spent between 2-3 grand on it. It got stole out of my garage but I had renters insurance so I bought another spent 4000+ on it and rode it till the frame broke in the early 90’s. Klein replaced it, It later was damaged in a garage fire and my insurance totaled it I bought it back for cheap upgraded to XTR, Avid levers, and Chris King rear hub with the insurance money. I rode her again till the hub and manitou fork failed, that was a couple years ago. I have recently gathered the parts I needed to make her good as new and dropped her off at the shop yesterday for a full like new rebuild, I will post pics when I get her back.
Klein Pinnacle frame
Manitou Ti fork
Avid brake levers
Chris King headset that has been on this bike since 1989 best 85 bucks I ever spent.
Cooks Brothers cranks
Suntour XC cranks
8 speed XTR freewheel NOS
XTR short arm derailleur
Ti rail saddle old one kinda looks like a concord jet
Chris King rear hub
Mavic front hub
Sutour XC front derailleur
XTR brakes eagle claw pads
Panracer Dart and ??? I forget what they call the back tire. Brand New from Japan
New chainrings and pulleys and cables and rim tape and tubes and grips…..
All will be tuned and freshly greased soon 🙂
I meant Suntour XC pedals not cranks…
Hi Mike, your Klein sounds really sweet! It would be great to see a photo of it when you’ve finished the build. The rear Panaracer tire you’re thinking of was the Smoke.
How do you post a pic here?
Disappointed no Pre- 95 Kona Kilauea or Explosif (i have just restored a 94 Kona Kilauea in front shocks gone with a original fit 94 project2 forks).
Joe Murrey design and all steel frames – why not on the list?
I however do like the list apart from that and having raved XC 1991-2003 i owned & raced
# 1991 Alpinestars Al-mega DX (umm cracked and died in the command way 6 years later.
# by 1993 was racing a early stumpjumper M2 Sworks frameset (the grey frame with silver graphics)
# at some point raced a 96 Saracen Kili Flyer pro.
# finished of the 90’/early 2000’s racing a Scott Comp Pro.
Always wanted but never got a
# pre – 96 Kona Kilauea or Explosif……..(I now have one! A bit late but better than never! Just way things worked out but in the those days XC racing and getting some support from shops/backing the Kona chance never happened).
I got a 91 kona explosif with rarer than hens teeth futureshock forks!!! I have the claim to fame with those as other than the prototypes I was the 1st in the country to own them!!! Then they abolished them as they were in transit from USA! Love my Kona other than seat and stem all is original. Even down to the tyres!!
No Bontrager race or race light?
Got a Univega Alpina 507 sitting in my possession which I need to do some work for. The frame is straight and true on it and a really comfortable ride, but the crankset and rear cassette need replaced. Hopefully going to strip it down this summer, repowder coat it in a blue and white scheme and rebuild it with new components. Given it bought the bike for £40, it should be worth it.
I still own (and occasionally ride) a Bridgestone MB-1. Most of the components are even original (with maintenance/rebuilds). I did the one suspension upgrade, the softride stem and a set of bullhorn bars (no bar-ends), but such a beautiful bike, it’s a shame you only have a lo-res photo of the buyer’s guide.
The Bridgestone MB 1 was a Grant Peterson design. Frame built with lugged CroMo. I still have mine and the tires I put on it are just a hair too big for the frame (Maxxis 2.25 wide). It was built with Shimano Deore XT thumb shifters and full Deore XT components. Not a thing has been changed out. A few paint blemishes and clipless pedals, but still in great working order.
Any knowledge on Raleigh’s Mountain Tour series — specifically the Crested Butte (top model)? I’ve recently acquired one and am considering a spectacular overhaul.
lookin for a pic of 1981 stumpjumper?
I think I might have one. Please include stem & bar pics
No Salsa ala Carte ???
Good call Mike! As someone who rides an El Mariachi, how could I forget the ala Carte?
I see you put Santa Cruz heckler surely the super light would be more interesting I have a 1999 frame made USA and anodised heckler almost identical 2 years later frame made Far East ?
Great conversation here! I had been looking for the perfect vintage steel frame to retro mod with new top-shelf parts so I could casually hit the trails and do the occasional XC race on, group ride, etc. It had to be vintage, steel and after the build, sub 20 lbs. After searching high and low for awhile I found this gorgeous, XL (21inch), 1993 KHS Montana Comp frame online for 35 bucks. I then spent the next 2 months compiling all the best parts that 2014 had to offer plus some cool 90’s vintage anodized stuff. It honestly rode better than any new hardtail I had tried at the LBS at the time and she hit the weight goal coming in at a scant 17.6 lbs! It was a super dope ride. Wish I still had her.
Just found a “new” old vintage frame, 1998 Alpine Designs XC-1 built with Reynolds 853 tubes! Gonna do the same as before. Can’t wait. lol..
I see the the Stump Jumper was on the list, I have one of the first Specialized Stump Jumpers from the early 80’s when mountain bikes were in their infancy, it was never used, still has the little hairs on the original tires! I am thinking about maybe selling it if is as collectable as I think it might be. Any thoughts on this?
For sure it would be VERY collectable, especially if it’s in brand new condition! I’d guess it could be worth thousands to the right collector. Try asking on http://www.retrobike.co.uk for a better estimate of its value.
Nice list, despite some notable exceptions, like the Explosif (I have a ’92) and the Salsa.
Also, if you haven’t ridden one, the mid/late ’80s Kuwahara MTBs were pretty wonderful – immaculate paint, triple and quad-butted Ishiwata tubing and good components. They were the ones that always came home in one piece. The ’88 Sierra XT was exceptional, especially if you liked the crackle paint job, though the Cascade and the Shasta weren’t too shabby either. Usually more common in Canada, they made some fine road machines. as well.
I agree. I own a 91 Explosif with futureshock forks. Awesome bike as I commented earlier it’s all original bar the seat and post as someone kindly stole it and pegged it after I caught them trying to get my bike!!
Interested in buying my Mountain Goat whiskey town race lite ? & 7 speed xt, less than 500 miles use ?
I have a pacific 8000 yx mountain bike I want to sell in very good condition but have no idea how much to put it up for ?
Hi Wendy, I’m not sure how much to ask for your bike as I’m not familiar with that particualr model, but I’d suggest asking at http://www.retrobike.co.uk where you are sure to find the answer.
How about: 90’s
Marin Bear Valley/SE
Rocky Mountain Hammer
Hi. I have a Rocky Mountain Fusion (I think from 1986). The appraiser wrote Cardiac, not sure why. Does this bike have value or is it just worth under $200 Canadian?
Looking to sell it, Thanks, Coco.