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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:37 pm 
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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?

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...

Just for reference, neither of my two 501 Bluemells Saracens (first version) have frame numbers on them...but as you would expect do/ did have early 83 date stamped parts on.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:43 pm 
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Whether it was first or not I really don't know, but the Ranger a sack of crap anyway. A panicked effort on one hand, half hearted on the other.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:14 pm 
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The British Cycling industry first saw an American Klunker bikes in October 1978 when Evening Standard Journalist, Richard Grant exhibited one at the London Olympia cycle show. They appear to have ignored it though I do wonder if the appearance of the Raleigh Bomber fat tyred cruiser bikes in 1981. In 1981 UK frame-builder Tony Oliver exhibited a mountain bike he had built at the York cycle show. At the Harrogate show in 1983 there were four mountain bikes on display but I don't know if any of them were from British companies.

Dawes could have been earlier to the market if they had taken up Geoff Apps Cleland design. This would have also given them a UK specific design and also a first rate hill climber unlike their Ranger model. So when the first F.W Evans, Saracens, Ridgebacks and other imported mountain bikes were in the shops in early 1984, the Dawes dealerships only had vague promises of future deliveries and glossy brochures to show.


Attachments:
File comment: 1982 Letter from Dawes Cycles to Geoff Apps
letterfromdawes001a_198.jpg
letterfromdawes001a_198.jpg [ 186.75 KiB | Viewed 262 times ]


Last edited by GrahamJohnWallace on Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:23 pm 
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That letter is brilliant, couldn't back track quick enough once they smelled some profit.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:14 pm 
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It's all a bit sad really, you have the world famous Klunker/Repack mob doing their thing creating a new sport and bicycle in one hit

While over here in the UK, Mr Geoff Apps also invented a parallel new sport and bicycle, with a Gentlemanly spin. The British cycling establishment (Dawes) were politely not interested

Meanwhile in Japan many companies are furiously developing MTB specific components to replace the tandem/tourer/alpine/motorcycle(!) components used by the pioneers

By the time British industry cottons on to the big news, you could buy EVERYTHING from Japan

I'm building up an '84 made in England MTB right now


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:21 pm 
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GrahamJohnWallace wrote:
Awesome stuff from Graham Wallace.


Awesome! I was typing my half baked garbage at the same time you must have been typing your great contribution!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:09 pm 
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Unclejack wrote:
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.
Unclejack wrote:
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.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:22 pm 
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"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."

Sometime shortly before the 12th of May 1984 the first F.W. Evans British made bicycles arrived at Kingston Cycles London.

There must have been earlier prototypes however, the hire bike may have been the very first mountain bike to roll off a British production line? 8)

The bike I hired was identical to the first Saracen ATBs, apart from the frame graphics. Saracen later claimed in their adverts that these were the best selling "ATBs" in Britain.


Attachments:
File comment: 1984 F.W. Evans ATB 001 hire agreement
Evans ATB001.jpg
Evans ATB001.jpg [ 71.79 KiB | Viewed 250 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:58 pm 
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Great! So now we just need Chopper's ad and we're there.

Is there anything else to add? I know Raleigh were pretty late with anything decent. Claud Butler I think I've seen from 85. S&G Araya Muddy Fox 84?? If so they were pretty early on the scene - but not made here. Overbury's?? Obviously I could just Google all these but is there anything else to take into account?

Was Britain first in Europe? There are some pretty early Italian ones....


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:00 am 
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Incidentally there's an early Saracen in Bristol on eBay that's just taken a big leap in price...


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