Question - Ridgeback are claiming 1983, (as are Dawes it would seem) but doesn’t the cycle industry normally launch back end of the year? GJW says that they were in their catalogue that year, so would that mean say Aug 83 – ish?
I have not seen anything from Dawes that claims that the Ranger was out in 83 and it would not be mentioned in "Making Tracks" magazine in 1983 because "Making Tracks" was published from 1986 to 1988. As I recall the Freewheel catalogue was published in January each year. I have a copy of their 1884 catalogue which mentions "the enormous success of the Ridgeback concept, seen for the first time in 1983". However I also recall that not all items shown in the catalogue were available when it was first published and that the new 1985 Rigdebacks did not arrive at Beta-bikes until mid year.
If the Sahara trip was done February 83, then the plan to build the Bluemells bikes could have been hatched late 82 /early 83. What we could just do with is someone saying "yes I parted over cash for an Evans or a Saracen before the freewheel catalogue came out".
Then, would it not mean that Evans/ Saracen would be both the first British made mountain bike and the first production mountain bikes available in the UK?
Not going to happen I know but, if Evans had the marketing budget of Madisons then they might have been able to advertise well before the freewheel catalogue came out. I know GJW says he saw them and bought one early 84 but it’s got to be a close run thing. but of course he who advertises loudest and all that...
I saw the F.W. Evans/Saracen bikes before I saw any Ridgebacks. I was told by F.W. Evans shop near Waterloo station that they were coming in and had to specifically visit their Kingston branch as they arrived there first. At the earliest opportunity I went and hired a black framed bike from them. Somewhere I have a copy of the hire agreement which gives the frame number as 001. So possibly the first mass produced, made in Britain mountain bike. I can remember to this day what it felt like to ride holding the wide bars whilst looking down at the very fat front tyre.
Before Bicycle Action magazine appeared in June 1984 there was little in the way of mountain bike advertising in the cycling press and marketing meant persuading bike shops to stock brochures and bikes. In this respect the Freewheel catalogue had the advantage of a large and widespread pre-existing audience.
9/16" Suntour BMX MP-1000 pedals / 56 tooth TA 6-bolt chainring.(I'm not bothered if the teeth are worn or damaged)