Back on topic....
Not so much a design classic, maybe, as a classic piece of design. One that floats my boat anyway.
I give you the Whyte PRST-4.
Jon Whyte used to design F1 cars. By all accounts he designed the car in which Schumacher won his first world championship for Benetton. At some point he quit and decided to start designing mountain bikes instead. The first PRST came out in, I think, 1999. It was almost instantly regarded as the best XC bike ever made. Within months, dozens of top riders were using it to win World Cup races and championships across the planet. Think about it - this is breathtaking. The likes of Cannondale spend 25 years and millions of bucks on R&D and Whyte comes along and blows them away with his first ever attempt at designing a bike.
What's so good is that he was thinking from square one. Take the front forks. The classic problem is that if you're hooning downhill and you hit a rock, even a couple of mm differential compression between two conventional fork shocks can throw your steering right off and you're toast. Whyte came at this from a completely revolutionary angle and completely solved it.
But of course the thing that really makes this epic design is just that it's ugly as fuck. Mental. Lairy
After a few years Whyte sold up. The company, without him, still makes great bikes but they're not the same. A bit safe. A bit normal. He went on, with a new company, to design a folding bike. It's good, but it's just not mad
like the PRST series. Whyte gave that up too. I guess he's retired.
Sad really, because he's a classic example of the Great British iconoclast. In the tradition of William Lyons and all that.