Front Shock Absorbers
Suspension, which has been fitted to velocipedes since at least 1891, needs shock absorbers to dampen the recoil or it risks turning the bicycle into a pogo stick. Mountain bikes initially borrowed suspension inspiration and hardware from motorcycles.
The trick was to make something light weight which could handle going down Repack, or more pertinently for 1988, the Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze Downhill.
The first mountain bike suspension fork was made by RockShox, designed by Keith Bontrager and Paul Turner. A non-working concept fork was mated to a fully carbon, rear suspended Kestrel Nitro and shown at the January 1988 Long Beach bike show. Unfortunately, the Nitro was just a prototype and Kestrel wouldn't release a fully suspended mountain bike until 1995. 1) RockShox would go on to great success, selling $100M annually by 1996. 2)3)
After the debut of RockShox all makers of motorcycle shocks saw the light and immediately jumped into the market.
1991 saw the introduction of mono-shocks.
- 1992 Canondale HeadShok theoproscloset
- 1991 Action-Tec Pro Shock Aaction-Tec
- 1991 Lawwill Leader vintagesteelrider
Canondale's HeadShok used a single air/oil damper with needle bearings to eliminate twisting. Twisting (and oil leakage) plagued early RockShox RS-1 and Mag-20's, requiring heavy brake braces for stability. The Lawwill Leader linkage design weighed about 3.5 pounds.
And, somehow just before mechanically complicated shocks hit the market, a number of very simple flex stems became available.
- 1988 Offroad Flex Stem worthpoint
- 1989 Softride Suspension System sscycleworks
- 1994 Softride Ahead Stem mombat
|1988||Offroad Flex Stem||stem||10mm|
|1989||Softride Suspension System||stem||63mm|
|1989||Rock Shox RS-1||fork||48mm|
|1990||Mountain Cycle Suspenders||fork||63mm|
|1991||Action-Tec Pro Shock||mono-shock||44mm|
|1994||Softride Ahead Stem||stem||76mm|
1988 Kestrel Nitro sfomuseum
The 1988 Kestrel Nitro was ground breaking. The first all-carbon, fully suspended mountain bike frame. Equipped with a prototype RockShox.
1990 RS-1 ad, when they first became widely available. vitalmtb