Another edition of the 'Trailfinder General' column finds Benji Haworth picking his favourite mountain bike names of all time. Why? Because it's important.
You may hate listicles. I heart listicles. Listicles are the very essence of life. They remind us that the very most important thing in life in triviality. As the past year (or should that be past four years) has shown us, there’s a finite amount of longform seriousness that a human being can take. Bring me tittle-tattle or bring me death!
This week’s tittle-tattle is about the names of mountain bike models through the ages. What makes for a good bike name? You know when you hear it, basically. It’s easier to describe what makes a bad name for a bike model. The two cardinal sins with bike names are either being boring or being painfully unfunny. Boring names are those that don’t even try to come up with a name. Example? How about the ‘XC 900 S’ from Rockrider? Or the ‘One-Forty 600’ from Merida? Unfunny examples? They’re not really around anymore but take pretty much any of the fnarr-fnarr series of bikes from Cove in the noughties. Handjob anyone?
What follows is a list of my personal favourite mountain bike names of all time. NB: just because it had a good name, does not necessarily mean it was a good bike!
1. Specialized Stumpjumper
Let’s start with the obvious. It would be churlish to pretend that Stumpjumper isn’t one of the best names – for anything – ever. Not only does it perfectly describe the fun of mountain bike riding (NB: not racing) it also is fun to say and is also aesthetically excellent as a written word on a bike frame.
2. Santa Cruz Tallboy
They may have gone a bit off-kilter with some recent names (Megatower madness) but Santa Cruz have always been a surefit bet for a cool bike name. There are loads to choose from in their back catalogue (Heckler, Bullit, Blur, Stigmata, Chameleon..) but to my mind the best is the cheeky but capable vibe of the classic Tallboy.
3. Spooky Metalhead
Loads of metal at the head tube. Dumb genius. Bonus point for the association with narrow-remit heavy metal fanatics.
4. Turner Burner
On first thoughts, this name is bad. It muddies the waters with the classic Raleigh BMX bike series. And it rhymes FFS. This shouldn’t work. But it does. It may have helped that the original Turner Burner was one of the very first full suspension trail bikes that wasn’t awful.
5. Intense Tazer (ebike)
Yes, the ebike reincarnation. Santa Cruz (them again) kinda did the same sort of provocative renaming of an expired model into a new ebike model name with the Heckler. But the Intense Tazer is much more strident. It isn’t trying to win you over to the electric side of life with a nudge and a wink. It doesn’t care if you approve of ebikes or not. It’s an Intense Tazer. Rock on Mr Steber!
6. Orange Clockwork
Many appy polly loggies to Anthony Burgess but this name is totally horrorshow. Sure, you can get better specc’ed bikes for your cutter, but when it comes to getting filly on the singletrackers, the Clockwork Orange has always been a flip rookerful.
7. Giant Anthem
Pretty much XC race bike naming perfection.
8. Bontrager Privateer
Such a good name that some enterprising folk even thought to bring it back and make it the name of their whole brand.
9. Saracen Kili Flyer
Stay with me here. There may well have been some ropey old bikes with the name Kili Flyer plastered on their top tubes way back when, but there’s nothing wrong with the name itself. The whole rhythm of it sounds like someone brielfy pausing – trackstanding at a startline maybe – before a muscle twitches and then… they’re off!
10. Cannondale Prophet
The name Prophet was something of a change of tone for Cannondale. It came after a long tradition of fairly dull numerically heavy naming principles (SM500, F6000 and such like), the wildest they got was the Delta and Super V bikes. Then came the big and bold Cannondale Prophet. This is a name that could have gone very badly. Calling something a Prophet comes with a certain weight of expectation: to be a game changer, to reveal some hidden truths, to show the way. Thankfully the Cannondale Prophet lived up to its name with a combination of progressive geometry and excellent chassis feel, that would probably still hold its own today more than a decade later.