Monday, January 05, 2009

Of DoDo's And Other Extinctions

mmm...tastes like chicken!

The "DoDo" bird was the first extinction of an animal species that was recorded and caused by humans. Their numbers went to zero some time in the late 17th century.
The bike industry has seen a great many inventions come and go as well. From crazy suspension designs to the early carbon bikes(then called "Thermoplastic," the first one created by an Italian engineer who sold the complete bike to a collector for over $30,000!), many ideas have long since died. Here is a small sample of a few products that have met their end in the cycling universe..

The Mert Lawill designed RS1 front suspension fork. Designed by moto legend Mert Lawill, it's odd and complicated, VERY delicate design was intended to resist a forks desire to "dive" under heavy braking. There was heavy breaking alright...

Another Lawill design that came shortly after the RS1, called the "Leader." This one too has become extinct. A fork with 900 pivots and thin tubes held together with cotter pins? Thanks....uh, NO THANKS!

Conejo Bicycles was started by the two sons of legendary off road truck racer Larry Ragland in Tempe, AZ. I may be the only human left who still has an actual photo of these bikes (not in my laptop, sorry!) and that's only because I raced DH on one for years. The first really well made full suspension bike, the Conejo AP/5 was used by just about everyone as their "Factory" DH frame. The Raglands' sold the company later to a machinist who promptly ran the bike end of things into the bone orchard.
The bikes had 4.5" of travel, and sported a beer-keg-thick Fox Alps 4R rear shock, mated to an Easton Varilite ProGram aluminum tubeset. Amazing bike for it's time, and with the advent of stable-platform shocks, would be a great bike even today. The rear swingarm was an elevated chainstay layout that was welded up at Titus!

The Avid Rollamajig. Probably the most underrated part ever created. This little fella just met death in 2008. SRAM Corp took over Avid, and since all the SRAM rear derailleurs have a Rollamajig-esque cable routing built INTO them, they began digging the grave for this amazing little rear-shift enhancing uber-part. This thing has been around long enough to be in Moses' year book, and I am sad to see it go. It's been on every bike I have owned since about 1995.

This "Frankenstem" was a result of a late night mushroom eating contest between the guys at Girvin. This company designed all the "Softride" style beam suspension bikes, and this thing (originally known as the Flexstem) was U-G-L-Y...and waaay overcomplicated for off-road use. It utilized elastomer dampers between the parallelogram linkage to give the stem about the worst "front suspension" you could ever imagine. It did come in a sweet ano-purple and powder coat yellow though. the slop that this would get after a month of hard use was scary, and on a cold day the elastomers would be so hard you just rode around on a 4lb stem for nothing. The first generation Manitou suspension forks used the same "technology."

There are so many items like this, it's hard to pick just a few. We'll revisit extinct bikes and parts later, so for now the only thing that looks like a dinosaur around here is ME! OK, and mybe Bert...


At 11:23 AM, Blogger Chad Ragland said...

We have plenty of pictures of the bike around. Thanks for the nice words. They were great bikes!

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Sharpie said...

Thanks Chad! My ol' AP/5 is still being ridden by a guy in the special effects industry. Still have a lot of love for that old bike...


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