New vs. Old! Modern Mountain Bikes explained…

So what’s new in the world of Mountain Bikes? Is a new bike really a worthwhile upgrade? Have a read of this and decide for yourself!

These Hardtail Mountain Bikes share the same 29″ wheel size and are prime examples of the trends of their time. We compare the 2012 Motobecane Fly Team to the modern Orange P7 to find out if there really is a difference.


The silver Motobecane is a prime example of the standard MTB from the start of the last decade.

Designed for the riding of the day, fast singletrack riding, long days in the saddle and generally tamer trails than we see today. Modern bikes, like this Orange P7 and Whyte hardtails are on the cutting edge of modern geometry, longer, lower and slacker. What does this mean? Increased wheelbase, lower bottom bracket and slacker fork angle give a huge, confidence inspiring boost to stability at both high and low speeds. The low BB drops the riders centre of mass, increasing cornering grip and stability, while the slacker fork angle allows the suspension to absorb impact far more efficiently and eliminates the ‘twitchy’ steering feel of older bikes.

Cockpit and rider position.

The longer front triangle on modern bikes allows for a shorter stem, whilst maintaining an efficient pedalling position. Paired with handlebars 10cm+ wider, this creates far more leverage over the front wheel and allows for more weight over the front tyre, giving a major improvement to cornering grip. The wider bars also open up your chest, allowing your arms and shoulders to better absorb and react to impacts and rough terrain. To increase traction to the rear wheel, and lessen the chance of the front wheel lifting on steep climbs, the seat tube angle is notably steeper.



This is one of the most welcome updates, longer travel hardtails is something the UK has been asking for for many years and it’s finally here! The previous standard of 80-100mm has been replaced with 120mm-160mm. This makes the modern hardtail capable of far more challenging terrain than ever before, perfect for blue, red and black graded trails, with aggressive trail bikes like the Orange P7 as home on the Bikepark jumps and Downhill trails as they are at putting in the miles along forest paths!


Simpler, lighter and faster! Previous 30 speed drivetrains were an unnecessary, heavy and generally confusing evolution. The modern bike has done away with 3 front cogs in favour of a single chainring. This sheds the weight of two heavy steel rings, a front derailleur, cable and shifter! To maintain the wide range of gears the old standard provided cassettes now have a much larger range. The previous cassette size 11-36 teeth has made way for 10-51 teeth, with just 12 gears to worry about. Dropping your chain is also a problem of the past with the new narrow-wide chainrings and ‘Clutch’ rear derailleurs.

Dropper seatposts.

These were in their infancy at the start of the last decade, with around 80-100mm of drop, the latest generation provide up to 170mm of drop, making room for complete freedom of movement on the steepest of trails and biggest jumps.



Having been spec’d at a meagre 1.95-2.35″ for over a decade, the modern standard is seeing widths up to 2.8″ and the mud clearance to match! This gives huge improvement in grip, comfort, impact damping and component longevity.

Final thoughts.

So there you have it, safer, more stable, confidence inspiring and with improvements to every aspect of the ride, we would never go back!

Is it time you tried something new an took your riding to the next level? Drop into the shop at any time, we’re always happy to discuss your options and find the ideal bike for you, your budget and your riding style!