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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:43 pm 
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For anyone who is confused by the arrival in this discussion of these custom built English Roughstuff bikes and the modern variant, they represent the playing of a very sly hand by LGF because they not only predate the US mountain bikes and Klunkers, but influenced the development of the first US mountain bikes including the Ritchey made bikes that in turn inspired F.W Evans etc.

But Roughstuff bikes predate mountain bikes and were never to my knowledge mass produced, but made to as the result of a special customer request. Though rare in Britain these bikes were influential in the US. The yellow 1979 Jack Taylor was actually ordered by and made for an American customer. The Jim Guard produced bike is even more interesting in that Tom Ritchey says that he was shown this photo by the grandfather of the US mountain bike John Finlay-Scott in 1977 when J.F.S. asked Ritchey to build a similar bike. J.F.S. refereed to this type of bike as English "Woodsie" bikes and says that it was these bikes that inspired him to build his own first "Woodsie" Variant back in 1953.


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File comment: 1953 "woodsie" bike designed by John Finlay-Scott
woodsie Photo.jpg
woodsie Photo.jpg [ 36.92 KiB | Viewed 366 times ]


Last edited by GrahamJohnWallace on Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:50 pm 
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After this discussion, my take on The introducing the US Mountain Bikes into Britain Awards goes as follows.

1978 Journalist Richard Grant brings a Gary Fisher "Klunker" into Britain.

1981 UK framebuilder Chas Roberts makes a mountain bike for a US customer whilst Tony Oliver makes one for himself.

1982 Cleland are the first British company in Europe to make and sell off-road bikes in Europe
However they were not based on the US mountain bike designs and production was on a small scale.

1982-83 Ritchey mountain bikes are brought to Britain by the likes of Journalists, Richard Grant and Richard Balantine, and Norman Hiller the owner of Covent Garden Cycles.

1983. The Ridgeback was introduced via Freewheel catalogue.
The frames appear to have been made somewhere in the far-east to but specifically made for use in the UK. The bikes where mass produced and where apparently assembled in the UK. Apparently at one point half of MTBs in Britain were Ridgebacks. At this time Ridgeback were not a bike manufacturer as such but a branded importer/assembly operation. They
could get their bike to market quickly because they did not need to tool up for UK frame production.

Early 1984 The first non-UK company, imported mountain bikes arrive from America and the far-east.

April/May 1984 Dawes expect that their Ranger MTB will be the first mass-produced "Made in Britain ATB, but were in fact pipped to the post by F.W. Evans/Saracen.

June 1984 Things really start to move with the likes of UK based Muddy Fox importing a large range of Far-eastern made mountain bikes. Other makes available at this time include: Diamond Back, Ammaco, Pro-Lite, Kuwahara, and Peugeot.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:31 pm 
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Most of these first UK mountain bike manufacturers went on to make lots of money. The one exception was Cleland who suddenly stopped making bikes in mid 1984. It wasn't that the bikes weren't selling or that the order books were empty but because the company was deliberately forced to stop trading by Ron Kitching Ltd, the main supplier of parts to Cleland. The problem was that Geoff Apps had been too open with Kitching in that he let them know that Cleland had little in the way of ready cash, and so was overly reliant on cash flow.

We will probably never know the reason why Kitchings wanted to put Cleland out of business but logic suggests one of three possible motives:
*Because Kitchings objected to Apps using their credit facility to finance each batch of bikes.
*Because they could, and it made them feel happy and fulfilled.
*Because they were moving into importing and distributing mountain bikes and this was an opportunity to remove a minor potential competitor from the marketplace.

So Kitchings sent the batch of components to Cleland minus some essential but difficult to source French threaded freewheels. Then mmediately Removed the credit facility, sent out the legally required reminders and then sent in the bailiffs, without warning, at the earliest legally allowed opportunity. Apps did approach another supplier who said they would help, but then for some reason they later changed their mind.

Thus production at Cleland Cycles, Europe's first manufacturer of off-road bicycles, came to an end. Cleland did not actually become bankrupt but carried on importing Nokia tyres and supplying hub brakes. But nearly all the money had gone, and in recession torn 1980s Britain, Apps could not find the backing needed to relaunch the production. And so after all the years of designing, prototyping, innovating, and marketing all that Apps had to show was an empty bank account.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:57 pm 
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A sad tale indeed.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:02 pm 
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An all too typical tale of British industry, bit all the more galling in this instance because the product was actually beyond cutting edge compared to its rivals.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:12 pm 
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Absolutely.

We can be grateful that Geoff managed to get a quantity of bikes out

And also that there is plenty of material around illustrating Geoff's contributions:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38236150@N ... /lightbox/

So while the masses have no idea who he is, to those who know he's a true legend


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:21 pm 
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A bit late in on this but I had one of those Ridgebacks, brought second hand off a guy who had used it as a courier bike in Londinium in the early eighties. I lived in Bournemouth at the time and rode it round Merrick park golf course and the Purbecks, sold it to a friend of mine in Bridport in the very early 1990's. I had posted a picture of it the gallery a while back...frame pads and all! It was brilliant and it changed my life forever! :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:34 pm 
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Great stuff, can you link the gallery image here? It doesn't come up in a Google search.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:49 pm 
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hydorah wrote:
Absolutely.

We can be grateful that Geoff managed to get a quantity of bikes out

And also that there is plenty of material around illustrating Geoff's contributions:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38236150@N ... /lightbox/

So while the masses have no idea who he is, to those who know he's a true legend


They were made from standard Reynolds 531st so it's amazing that so such a high proportion of them have survived the decades of abuse.
http://vimeo.com/41379844

Below is my current restoration project, a 1982 700c Range-Rider.


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File comment: 1982 700c Cleland Range-Rider prototype
DSC_0461.jpg
DSC_0461.jpg [ 271.47 KiB | Viewed 358 times ]
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:05 pm 
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Now that is great stuff! how 'restored' are you going to take it?

Looks pretty close to being usable - so distinctive and bristling with individualistic innovations


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