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Mountain Bike Components

Dating Mountain Bikes by their Components

The idea here (in progress!) is to have a visual map of all mountain bike components available by type, manufacturer & year. Too often date attributions are missing, misleading, or have deliberate misinformation. Compochronology1) allows for a more confident provenance by bracketing possible dates by component manufacture dates. Component dating can disprove claims that bikes are all original and add confidence when everything seems period correct.

Similar timelines have been attempted elsewhere:

  • mombat : simple text, no pics or links
  • velobase : comprehensive - but too much info to make a visual timeline. mtbtimeline will rely upon velobase when it can. Velobase is very road bike centric and is missing some mountain components.
  • vintage-trek : dating by code. Good idea. Many sites give serial number decoders, which is vital. Should be used in addition to this visual component timeline.
  • disraeligears : Rear derailleurs only. A nice example of how to make components visually cool.
  • mombat SunTour museum: all the pics and links are dead.

Dating Rear Derailleurs

Other than dating headsets and bottom brackets (because they're harder to swap,) dating the rear derailleur is a reliable method to date a bike, as they're very visible and come in a huge array of date limited shapes.

A Sachs Huret Duopar Eco on a 1981 Ritchey Everest The Ritchey Project

Available in 1981: check. Note that the velobase entry isn't an exact match and its dates are unsure. Looking at other 1981 Ritcheys shows the same or similar specs. Or, looking at other sites such as disraeligears confirms that these were available in 1981.

Chain Wrap Capacity

Mountain bikes need wide gearing to ride both up and down hill. The rear derailleur capacity limits the range of gears and the sizes of the freewheel and crankset. For example, with SunTour MounTech, the first mountain specific component group, the derailleur had a 34 tooth capacity. Pairing this with a SunTour Winner 14-32 freewheel implies that the chainrings can't exceed a 16 tooth difference, such as a 30-46 double. Try and use an older SunTour Cyclone (24T) then the bike would cease to be a mountain bike at all. Today (2021), touring derailleurs have the greatest capacity and mountain derailleurs often have less than 1980's derailleurs.

This page should only list derailleurs commonly spec'd on early mountain bikes or related derailleurs with lots of capacity.

Timeline Date Skew

This timeline starts a few years after the MTB timelime, to be from 1978→1991. The earliest mountain bikes are so rare that dating them by components is a non-issue. When dating a 1989 bike it's helpful to have 1990 and 1991 components on the timeline. Some pre-1978 components used:

Quick links

1995 Paul Powerglide
1995 Paul Powerglide bikemag

By the 1990s mountain bikes had established total dominance of the cycling world. Bike shops once sold 20 mountain bikes for each road bike that went out the door. And this dominance exposed an existential problem – mountain biking was fiercely Californian, forged in the furnace of individuality and exceptionalism that characterises that state – but the hardtail bikes of the time were astoundingly similar to each other. And without exception they were clothed in a near identical suit of Shimano components. Rockshox, Shimano Deore XT and a 7000 series aluminium frame – where’s the individuality and exceptionalism in that?

Enter the Paul Powerglide, the definitive US made bike-porn derailleur of the mid 1990s. It looked amazing: the colours, the CNC geometric shapes, the detailing around the adjustable cable outer stop and the adjustment screws – all of this was like water in the desert for mountain bike aficionados drowning in a sea of lookalike Shimano. The Guardian, 7 June, 2018


Even more visible than derailleurs, cranksets have lots of branding real estate.

Biopace?!? on a 1985 Ritchey Annapurna mombat

Biopace first showed up in 1984 on road gruppos only. It wasn't until 1986 that biopace infected mountain chainrings in the Deore XT group set. However, Ritchey used the road 600EX FC-2606 crankset, back when such things were compatible 2) So, the biopace is period correct. The chainstay mounted u-brakes, however, are very avant-garde for 1985 3). However, there is precedent for Annapurnas to use these: Ritchey DB. So again, period correct.

Component Serial Numbers

Courtesy of

Index Shifting

The 1985 release of Dura-Ace 7400 saw the first index shifting which trickled into every model and brand of rear derailleur over the next few years, requiring new models to support the changing requirements. No rear derailleur on sale in 1986 existed without change by 1989.4) For a history of mountain bike technology, see the tech timeline.

2021/09/15 13:35 · gchandler

Component1970s 1980s 1990s
8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 01234
Rear Derailleur : Suntour suntour.jpg Cyclone GT cyclone2.jpg Cyclone M2 GT cyclone_m2.jpg Cyclone 7000 cyclone_7000.jpg
36 3428
V GT Luxe v_gt.jpg aR GT ar_gt.jpg aRX GT arx_gt.jpg aR II GT CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90
36 34 3234
AG Tech ag1.jpg AG Tech 5000 ag2.jpg AG Tech GTL ag3.jpg
34 3438
GT gt1.jpg GT gt2.jpg
36 34
MounTech 4900 mountech_4900.jpg Alpine 5050 alpine.jpg
34 38
MounTech GTL mountech_gtl.jpg MounTech II GTL mountech_ii_gtl.jpg
38 40
Superbe Tech L super_l.jpg Superbe Tech GTL super_gtl.jpg alpha-5000 a5000.jpg
34 40
Le Tech letech.jpg
XC xc1.jpg XC Sport 6900 Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2XC Sport xc3.jpg XC Pro GX xcpro.jpg
38 38 40 40
XC 3 Pulley5) xctriple.jpg XC 9000 xc9000.jpg XCE xce.jpg
38 ? ?
XCD6000 xcd6000.jpg XC Comp xccomp.jpg
38 39
XCM xcm.jpg XC Master xcmaster.jpg
8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 01234
Rear Derailleur : Shimano shimano.jpg 600 EX GS 600b.jpg 600 EX GS 600exgs.jpg
Skylark sl10-gs.jpg RS12 rd-rs12.jpg Tourney TY10 rd-ty10gs.jpg Tourney TY15 rd-ty15gs.jpg Tourney TY20 rd-ty20gs.jpg
34 38 3434
Deore deore1.jpg Deore XT m700.jpg Deore XT (v2) rd-m700-2.jpgDeore XT M730 rd-m730.jpgDeore XT M732 rd-m732.jpg XT M735 rd-m735.jpgXT M737 rd-m737.jpg
30 4040404040
Z505 z505.jpgZ503 z503.jpgZ501 z1.jpg
40 4040
RD-AL11 al11.jpg Deore RD-MT60 rd-mt60.jpg Deore RD-MT62 rd-mt62.jpg Deore DX rd-m650.jpg
40 383838
Light Action SGS light1.jpg Light Action SGS light2.jpg Light Action SGS light3.jpg Light Action L554 rd-l554.jpg
Exage Mountain rd-m450.jpg Exage 500 LX Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2 Exage ES Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2
Exage Trail Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2 Exage 300 LX Exage LT Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2
Sport LX Long Cage Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2 Mountain LX Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2 Deore LX rd-m550.jpg LX M560 rd-m560.jpg
8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 01234
Rear Derailleur: Huret & Sachs-Huret sh_logo.jpgDuoPar Eco eco0.jpg Duopar Eco eco2.jpg
38 40
DuoPar Titanium ecot.jpg
New Success success.jpg New Success Aris success2.jpg
42 40
Rival rival.jpg Rival Aris rival2.jpg Rival Aris rival3.jpg
40 40 40
Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo campy.jpg Rally rally1.jpg Rally rally2.jpg Rally rally3.jpg
Euclid M010-LG euclid.jpg
Centaur centaur.jpg
Themis themis.jpg
8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 01234
Component1970s 1980s 1990s
2021/09/15 15:13 · gchandler

Shimano Tourney

Tourney is by far Shimano's best selling derailleur family. It started with Sky Lark in 1967 and and continues today with only minor changes.

When the world changes gear - it uses a Skylark. Shimano’s campaign of world domination began with this very model of derailleur. Disraeli Gears : Shimano, Disraeli Gears: Sky Lark

This single component timeline was necessitated while researching Lejeune, a French brand of popular, low-end mtbs all made with seemingly identical cheap derailleurs. Just as some derailleurs haven't changed for 50+ years, many modern mountain bikes look like throwbacks to the 80's with triple cranksets driven with Tourney derailleurs. 6)

The following timeline, using dates from Shimano catalogs & manuals, shows that by 2003 there were nine different Tourney models in production. In 2004 there was an introduction of three new Tourney models and many of these models continue through today.

2024 Kent Airflex
2024 Kent Airflex Kent International
TIG steel frame, side-pull? brakes (linear pull stated,)
grip shift, 3×7 gearing. 40 pounds. $249.99.
Shimano Tourney (TY-??) derailleurs.

Component1980s 1990s 2000s
7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0123
Rear Derailleur : Shimano Tourney shimano.jpg Tourney TY10 rd-ty10gs.jpg
Tourney TY20 rd-ty20gs.jpg
Tourney TY15 rd-ty15gs1.jpg Tourney TY15 rd-ty15gs.jpg
Tourney TY30-GS rd-ty30-gs.jpg
Tourney TY30-7 e618341093d555eec0d82b5e254d916f499753aaaad3e82deb04b3badab0e12c4a5a8a303d699cd81e55450f763f3a28b35f9aceaeaf0890f2692b768bf8bd7e5945165fc1b679a3badab96cb357c4d6
Tourney TY22-GS rd-ty22-gs.jpg
Tourney TY22-7 rd-ty22-7.jpg
Tourney TY05 rd-ty05-gs.jpg Tourney TY05
Tourney MR40 rd-ty40-gs.jpg
Tourney TY18 rd-ty18.jpg
Tourney TY23 rd-ty23.jpg
7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0123
Component1980s 1990s 2000s
2024/06/18 10:43 · mtbtimeline
I just made that up
Today, road and mountain components don't get along. See this table on cable pull.
See Sheldon Brown's critique on this doomed fad
SunTour especially suffered a decline with the introduction of SIS and with no decent indexed gruppo of its own, SunTour went bankrupt in 1987, sold itself to Sakae Ringyo, losing focus, reselling itself again and finally closing its component line in 1995. See Sunset for SunTour by Frank Berto.
Disraeligears says this of the XC Triple Pulley: Fantastic - except for the fact that it looked so weird that, as you cycled by, dogs barked, babies cried and your friends laughed. At you, not with you.
It's getting hard to find rigid MTBs nowadays, as the cheapest of today's MTBs all come with front shocks. See: Huffy, whose lineup includes disk-brakes & shocks for $96.45.
components.txt · Last modified: 2024/06/18 09:45 by mtbtimeline