Itâ€™s here !!! Finally, the member profile youâ€™ve all been waiting for has arrived. Jez Hammond or Jez-2-many-bikes as we all know him is here to reveal all about his biking past and perhaps give us a clue to where the collecting fetish came fromâ€¦
So here he is, the David Dickenson of the MTB world, hunting down Bargains and doing more deals than Noel Edmonds..just check out his post count !!
Hilts - So Jezza, tell us a bit about yourself
Jez - Iâ€™m 31. Turned it a week ago. I donâ€™t really remember much... That makes me a Virgo. I live in Warwick, slap bang right in the centre of England. We have a castle, no hills to speak of, and we recently had a spot of flooding.
A young jezza showing off his trim thighs...
Hilts: So what first got you into MTBâ€™ing ?
Jez - I got into MTB because of the freedom it offered (fast transport and at 15 there wasnâ€™t exactly that much to do apart from Commodore 64 and chasing girls), it was pretty healthy thing that didnâ€™t involve playing football etc and most of all, the bikes looked so Interesting. So much diversity and they looked damn cool. Wasnâ€™t interested in road bikes at all or really BMX so this was a big tunring point for me in terms of hobbies go...
Hilts: Was it the exposure of some of the early races in the UK that got you interested ?
Jez - Erm. I remember watching a lot of the International races on Eurosport when mountain biking was pretty new - like the Worlds etc. It was pretty awesome watching Tomac, Ned, Tinker, Hairball, Furtado, Devine, Mcroy etc doing the stuff for real when I was used to seeing it in mags. It was pretty awe inspiring watching the reruns for technique etc. Shame those days have passed really as the sport seemed more exciting, less money involving and seemed to have that special something that racing now hasnâ€™t got any more. Maybe cos itâ€™s more commercially accepted/watered down...not sure. Anyway - I really loved the Ned Overend, Thomas Ficschenect and Tomac battles so not one individual racer really.
Hilts - Youâ€™re famous on RB for sourcing seriously rare and top spec kit so what is more important to you, being a Collector or Rider ?
Jez - Well itâ€™s pretty obvious which one I am. I donâ€™t think either is as important as each other at all. All this is is a hobby/forum for like minded enthusiasts, thatâ€™s all.
jezza's posse find an interesting place.
Hilts: Whatâ€™s been your favourite retrobike project ?
Jez - All of them. Sad thing for me is that I love the build process too much. More than riding the damn things probably. Also, and i think you will all agree, that the build is never complete...it is always changing or getting fine tuned. I think the last Trimble I built felt the best, but the Yo and the Fat Ti I own have evolved into their current states over months and months of fettling.
Hilts: Any disappointments ?
Jez - Realising that 90% of my builds are too posh/expensive/rare to ride in an abusive manner. Bit pointless really as they were designed to be thrashed and all they get is a pootle. It would be a crime to take an immaculate original Yo and its ensemble of nosâ€™ish blue Paulâ€™s and Grafton stuff through a river of mud. Seems a little silly when modern equipment is better designed, more suitable and will ride a hell of a lot better.
Old school racing, Jez perched on his top tube..
Hilts: Top RB moments
Jez - Meeting the some of the original guys for the first time: Scant, Neil (Badger), Yo Grant etc in Chedder. I only turned up purely to show the Yo and see what old school bikes people had brought. Completely random day for me as all I had done before this was discuss stuff on email with them. Nice to put peoples faces to names. That was a good while ago now and so many more people have joined the whole retrobike thing and of course our Guv Jon had the initiative to create a forum which was the best thing to happen to retro mtbs.
Hilts: Place you'd most like to ride
Jez - Um. well Iâ€™m a lazy bugger and donâ€™t ride as much as I should (as you all know). My fave ride was a long time ago in the Peaks. It was a MBUK mapped ride where my mate and I (both on rigid Konas) had a ball. Real good fun. Loved that weekend. Such nice weather and really nice to be away from home riding (where the trails were kinda tame).
Hilts: Holy Grail ?
Jez - I really donâ€™t know. Iâ€™ve owned everything practically in recent years! I have some pretty posh kit and there isnt much else at the top of my mind I can recollect looking for. I think for starters there was a Fat Titanium on ebay a long time ago that had holographic anodising on the Fat Chance Yo Eddy symbol sporadically appearing all over the tubeset. That looked wild. Love to get hold on one of those. Must have been custom at the time but real nice. Also one of Scants fave: the Goat frameset with the Californian Yuppie (is that right?) paint job would be ace. Or another original wild tiger striped Trimble...
Hilts: Your vision of the future of RB
Jez - Well it aint going to take over the world is it lol! I guess the forum itself will grow larger as it is really one of the only decent one stop resources on the web for proper retro MTB discussion. Its friendly, well erm...maintained and everyone likes to help each other out whether its with advice or a washer etc.
Im surprised how well itâ€™s done considering - it's really grown very well by just word of mouth. We have had only a few meets and itâ€™s a shame our members in other countries canâ€™t attend the few we do as it would be ace to meet them. Over the next few years I imagine there will be some special events that will involve overseas meets perhaps. Maybe we'll get stands at InterBike, Eurobike...who knows...
What I do find amusing is, over the years you get people asking whether their bikes qualify as being "retro" â€“ itâ€™s as almost people WANT their bikes to be old so they can join the "trendy club". All very odd. People who trade or sell their new school stuff to buy an old nail of a bike are probably the most bewildering. I guess its part of the kick to turn up to a race (even as a spectator) on something pretty rare and have all the kids look at it wondering what the hell it isâ€¦with its anodised blue mechs, long stems and whacky paintjobs etc. All very funny.
Hilts: Favourite piece of RB kit ?
Jez - I think its going to have to be several Iâ€™m afraid: The thumbshifter. The Ringle holey skewer. The Paulâ€™s rear mech. The Tioga diskdrive.
Jezza takes the wet route
Hilts: Finally, is there anyone youâ€™d really like to meet fromk the forum & any famous bikers ?
Jez - Forum member: I would like to meet Rody probably- heâ€™s a hands on frame/fork craftman. He knows what heâ€™s on about too which I admire. His suggestions of a frame welding course/excursion to the states sounded really ace. I like to talk to the craftsmen and learn from them as much as possible, cos at the end of the day, they built your bike.
Non Forum biker: Erm. Probably Tomac - just to hear his stories. Canâ€™t understand why he was so good back in the day. Just seemed superhuman.
Hilts - Ok, thats enough for now, cheers for chatting to us mate and top marks for breaking out those old photo's ....
Got a question for Jezza ??? Post it here and in true jez style you should receive a response in less than a minute....
MTB - 1989 Ritchey Ultra , 1990 Explosif, 2001 Santa Cruz Superlight
Road - 1984 Koga Miyata Gents Racer, 2009 Pegoretti Duende
Wanted - 1" black quill stem with cable stop.
'It doesn't get easier, it just gets faster' - G Lemond " Everything in life's a race mate" - G Farmer