|It coulda been you....|
As an example, I give you this anecdote from my latest conversation with Mike. Now Mike isn't one to hang out on internet forums and whatnot. (Which is something I think we all could do less of so we could ride more.) So, I knew he probably hadn't heard that one of the 10 original Breezer bikes, the first purpose built for off road, batch produced bike series, had come up for sale recently. Mike was astounded. He was familiar with the first series, and had seen them back in the day.
Mike wanted to know if it had aluminum rims on it, or the originally spec'ed Schwinn S-2 steel rims. See, the S-2 rims were horrid for braking, since the chrome plated finish was so slippery. When aluminum rims became readily available, all the original Breezer owners had their wheels re-laced to them in what Mike referred to as a "wheel building frenzy". Oddly enough, all the rims that came in were of one anodized color, which wasn't the case later on. Ukai and a few others did several different anodized hues. So anyway, all the rims were a gold ano color on the re-laced set ups for all the Breezer bikes of the day. But what did that matter? The thing was, the aluminum rims worked better. Much better.
But they weren't, and now, with all the available choices, we're still trying to figure out what is best for mountain bikes. In fact, if you think about it, we are still trying to figure out what a mountain bike is in the first place. Whatever it is, I don't think it will ever be as simple as it was in 1977, nor as technologically deficient as it was then. Obviously, a mountain bike is going to have multiple definitions depending upon who you talk to these days.
Maybe we'll never really figure it out!