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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:53 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:07 pm
Posts: 1898
Location: brighton
I was happy to try and forget this one having narrowly missed out. But having posted some info in another thread ( viewtopic.php?f=1&t=260404&p=1950633#p1950633) I'm now intrigued.

This is the bike I nearly got for £40 (£40!!)
Image

It's a Ridgeback with very old suntour, bi-plane forks, straight-gauge cromo frame, Madison logo-ed saddle.

It led me to the following link for an 83 Ridgeback with bi-plane forks:
viewtopic.php?p=191623






And the latest Ridgeback catalogue (also on the Madison website and according to Wikipedia Madison owned Ridgeback in 83 and there was that saddle) includes this:
Image








The catalogue has this as the picture of the first one

Image







Then there's this website

http://www.zoxed.eu/cycling_misc.html





Which includes this:
Image



And this is the image in close up
Image

Which looks similar but not the same as the bike I nearly got, though the saddle looks identical.

So...did I nearly get the very first UK production mtb?
There's lots of info on the Saracen, Evans early bikes - such as in the thread at the top but I'd heard that before too - but almost nothing on this.

And since I live in Brighton, did I nearly get the bike nicked from that blogger all those years ago? Who knows - and he does say it was 86...

As an aside, I don't think the bike in the Ridgeback catalogue looks like an 83 and it doesn't look like it has bi-plane forks. I suspect they couldn't find a picture of the real first one and assumed no-one would know


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:26 am 
King of the Skip Monkeys
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Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:34 pm
Posts: 26154
Location: Moomin Valley
Ridgeback say 'UK's first MTB' but not production MTB - at the time there were quite a few custom builders as well as the beginnings of Saracen.

All would have been low volume manufacturers due to the obscurity of the all terrain bicycle and availability of certain parts like drop-outs and lugs. These were road orientated so guaranteed sales would have been needed to justify the investment of custom parts. Sales would have been monitored from other manufacturers - Raleigh had all but ignored the A.T.B dismissing it as a fad so there would have only been a handful of companies to watch.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:22 am 
MacRetro rider
MacRetro rider

Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 4:16 pm
Posts: 8658
Before I joined Retrobike and thus before I learned about old mtbs I had that first grey coloured Ridgeback MTB. i've been kicking myself ever since for selling it on, CHEAPLY :shock:

I have ridden around Glentress on it and it was great downhill but due to that really slack geometry it was rubbish going up, the reason i passed it on. If I'd known what i had I would have forgiven its failings :facepalm:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:38 am 
Old School Hero

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:02 am
Posts: 212
Location: Devon
I'm old.I first noticed mountain bikes when I saw a magazine in WH Smiths with a picture of an early Stumpjumper on the cover and an article on mountain bikes inside.I got interested and looked around,but all I could find were Stumpjumper,Muddy Fox and Ridgeback.I tracked down Ridgebacks to a shop in London,there were two models called imaginatively Ridgeback 501 and 531 by memory and I bought one of the first on a whim and fell in love with mountain biking.

The bike was metallic green,18 gears, looked like a slack angled tourer,and weighed 35lbs.It had a huge triangular stem,made in China tyres and all the bearings regularly seized up if you used it in mud.I think it cost me £350,which was a lot of money back then.

Eventually some years later I spotted one of the first team colour Orange Clockworks lurking in a bike shop just off Exeter High Street and 45 minutes later was riding home on it.The advances that had been made in just a few years were amazing,bike weighed 27 lbs,wheels and tyres were lighter,brakes worked,bearings were sealed and the whole bike was so much more responsive.Not so good was the racing cycling position,but thats another story.

God knows where that Ridgeback is now but I certainly would not want it back.On the other hand I do now have my newly restored Clockwork.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:45 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:07 pm
Posts: 1898
Location: brighton
legrandefromage wrote:
Ridgeback say 'UK's first MTB' but not production MTB


I added 'production' intentionally because I didn't think Ridgeback had the sort of heritage to be doing custom stuff and I thought there would be lots of examples like the Saracen and Evans one offs described in the other thread.

So do you think Ridgeback were one of those early experimenting firms?

That's certainly never been my impression of them. More decent no frills mass-market (my wife has a new one and despite my general aversion to cheap modern crap we chose it because it seemed well made and we've both been pretty impressed).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:45 am 
MacRetro rider
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 4:16 pm
Posts: 8658
Thats it, a Ridgeback 501 I had, kicking myself :roll:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:47 am 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 7:13 pm
Posts: 2574
Location: The Cock Inn, Tillett, Herts
Neither Britain's first home grown MTB or first production MTB, though undoubtedly they are on there early, if not pioneering.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:05 am 
Old School Hero

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:02 am
Posts: 212
Location: Devon
The parts on the bike were far east in origin,however the tubing was (obviously) Reynolds 501 or 531 ATB.The frame was I think of lugged construction which,coupled with the tubing,might possibly suggest a made in Britain frame.I lived in Reading at the time but the reason I bought the bike from London was that I had great difficulty in tracking down a bike shop with stock of anything.The bikes were theoretically available from a number of bike shops but most had sold out,which suggests it was a production model.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:08 pm 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:43 pm
Posts: 108
Location: Cheshire
From memory, when I was in London back in the early 80's I commuted past what I believe is now Cycle Surgery in West Hampstead. They had a mail order catalogue called Freewheel which originally was road and touring with their own brand of Road bikes called Revell. They then introduced mountain bikes under the Ridgback name. Later on they sold off the retail and concentrated on wholesale under the Madison brand.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:23 pm 
Old School Hero

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:02 am
Posts: 212
Location: Devon
Now you are really stirring my memory cells.I remember buying my Ridgeback from a shop which was north of Kings Cross/St Pancras which could very be the shop you are describing.If it was their own brand that could explain why they could produce a mountain bike for a casual purchaser when other cycle shops were explaining that the entire allocation of Stumpjumpers were sold out.I have been vacillating on date but if pressed would say 1983 ish.I know my Orange Clockwork was one of the first from its frame shape and that I think was 1989/90.


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