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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:51 pm 
retrobike rider
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GrahamJohnWallace wrote:
I am pretty certain there is a link between Rocky Mountain and one of the first mountain bike frames to be made in Britain. I will check this out and report back.

Sometimes, in order to make sense of the evidence you need to combine different sources of information.

On page nine of "The OffRoad Bicycle Book" by Tom Bogdanowicz, first published in 1987 it says: "A few frame builders experimented with mountain bike designs. Roberts Cycles built a frame in 1981 to the specification of an American customer...."

Whilst much more recently an article on the history of Roberts Cycles that was initially published in the Veteran Cycle Club magazine in 2015 it was subsequently uploaded and updated by Tom Bogdanowicz onto the London Cycling Campaign's website.
https://lcc.org.uk/articles/roberts-cycles

About halfway through the article it says:
"At Roberts the 1980s MTB initiative came from Jake Heilbron14, the manager of West Point Cycles in Vancouver and co- founder of Canada’s Rocky Mountain Bikes (where Derek Bailey of Roberts Cycles turned up), and Kona cycles. Heilbron was familiar with the heavyweight mountain bikes being used in California but wanted something lighter and sprightlier so he shipped a Californian style frame to Roberts, whom he knew through Cycle Imports of Maine, and asked them to make something similar. Chas recalls the challenge of setting up for wheels of a different dimension:– 26″ US cruiser wheels and tyres, as used on the converted Schwinns that served as the pre-mountainbike ‘clunkers’ in the mid-1970s. To deliver a lighter frame than then in use in California, Roberts opted for tandem tubing to ensure durability in off-road use. The frames were well received across the pond and Roberts made several for the US and Canadian markets."

Towards the end of the article is says:
"Roberts had built the first mountain bike in the UK..."
However, in reality they seem to have only made a frame, not a complete bike. Also, there was another UK frame-builder making mountain bike frames in 1981, Tony Oliver. But because we don't have specific dates from either frame-builder, we cannot say with any certainty, who was first.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:33 am 
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I've nothing to add other than...fascinating thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:44 am 
Dirt Disciple

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dirttorpedo wrote:
GrahamJohnWallace wrote:
I am pretty certain there is a link between Rocky Mountain and one of the first mountain bike frames to be made in Britain. I will check this out and report back.


That would be interesting as there was also a strong link between Ritchey and Rocky Mountain (My bro owned a Ritchey Force and I owned a Rocky Fusion and they were essentially the same bike.) Both frames were probably made by Toyo in Japan.


Very very interesting topic! It permits to discover that there was lot of exchanges between the principals actors of this new discipline!

Paul Brodie's book is very interesting, in respect to what was going on in British Columbia in this period and the links with Tom Ritchey:
https://www.amazon.com/Paul-Brodie-Man- ... 0995065802
If i remember well the content of the book, Paul Brodie has painted some of the early frames ( produced by Tom Ritchey) distributed in Canada. Paul Brodie clearly indicated in his book that he has taken inspiration from the Ritchey bikes he had between his hands, to produce its first mtb, but also the first series of frames he has produced within Rocky Mountain Workshop.

Concerning the Toyo imported ones, please find hereafter the chapter from the Ritchey Database website:
Ritchey frames that are built using lugged construction were built in Japan by Toyo and imported into Canada by Rocky Mountain Bicycles. These frame were produced in the time period just after Tom Ritchey and Gary Fisher ended their working relationship with each other. Tom, in search of a new distributor for his bikes, contacted Rocky Mountain who offered to sell whatever he could produce. Tube sets went to Toyo, who only built lugged frames, and completed Ritchey bikes were sent to Canada. At roughly this same time other Japanese-made Ritchey frames were being imported into the US, however these were TIG-welded.

I own this Force Comp, who only point of link with Tom Ritchey seems for me to be, maybe the geometry, and the name of the 4130 butted tubes used for the frame and fork! the ritchey database estimated the production year around 1988, confirmed by the Mountain LX group which was mounted originally on the bike. So well after the first mtbs this topic is talking about!

Attachment:
Sans titre.jpg
Sans titre.jpg [ 118.56 KiB | Viewed 304 times ]


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:36 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:19 pm
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Location: Normandy - France
M-Power wrote:
kingoffootball wrote:

Yes please....Pics of any French classic Motobecanes if they exist or a 1st Gen Specialized :roll:


The advertising for the first Motobécane (before the brand is renamed MBK) mtb : the mt bécane but we are in 1984 already!

Attachment:
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then a picture of the 1st generation of MBK tracker :

Attachment:
mbktra10.jpg
mbktra10.jpg [ 223.81 KiB | Viewed 294 times ]


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:27 am 
Old School Grand Master
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!


Last edited by Rod_Saetan on Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:27 am 
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Paul Brodie atop Rocky Mountain 001 - no date given.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3VKyFWF4HW ... vibzkue0ny


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:16 am 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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For proper old MTB fans.... 8) . new thread starting here;
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=404128


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:05 pm 
retrobike rider
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Earlier this year I contacted Tony Oliver the UK basses frame-builder who is reputed to have created the first UK copy of an American style mountain-bike.

Below is my email and his response:

Hello Tony,

My name is Graham Wallace and I began mountain biking in 1984 before mountain bikes became popular in Britain. An old cycling friend of mine Tom Bogdanowicz says that you displayed a mountain bike at the York Cycle Show in the early 1981. If this is correct I would be fascinated to hear something of the story of this bike.

Was it inspired by early American mountain bikes or did the design derive from other influences?

1981 is very early on in the history of the development of 26” (ISO 559 mm) mountain bikes and finding the components to make a British version can’t have been easy.

Regards,
Graham


Here is Tony Oliver's detailed reply:

Hi Graham,
Yes, that is correct. I displayed one in 1981 and then two in 1982. The all got laughed at and in 1983, following zero interest, I decided not to bother and hah-ho they were almost everywhere! My clientele was quite established and lead-brick ATBs didn’t fit their bill.
The first one (1981) came about over many pints with the then UK Shimano importers manager at some trade show. He had a set of samples, one pair of 559 rims with 2.25” tyres and a super wide (and equally heavy) ATB fork crown. The rest was relatively easy to find. I used a mix of touring and tandem tubing but finding a fork blade to match the crown was somewhat troublesome.. Many in the press rode it around the racecourse but it wasn’t well received, and quite right too!
The time schedule was very tight to make it for York and I didn’t put enough thought into it. I was, in the back of my mind, after a hybrid and this tank with horrible laid back angles was completely unsuitable to touring – OK for down-hill racing in California……….

I was mainly inspired by the inadequacy of the standard touring bike in a 6 week tour of Iceland back in 1972 and was looking for something more suitable. The new 559 rims and tyres were the future but ATBs, as they were then, were not,. Neither was the Geoff App’s approach (in my opinion). Both had their place and both seemed to be too niche or far from suitable for long distance touring.

The second one I made was made of Reynolds Speedstream tubing with the tubes in the wrong plane, opposite of being aerodynamic! I had a set of Speedstream and, in all honesty, had no idea what to do with it as I couldn’t sell it to a time trialist (too heavy). I steepened the angles back to normal touring and had quite a nice hybrid. The third was from a sample ATB set sent to me (free) by Reynolds and I felt somewhat obliged to made it into the traditional American format of the day (a waste of time?).

After that I only made a few traditional style ATBs; 1985 an ATB tandem that was exported to Skagastrond, N. Iceland and then in 1986 two super light ones from 753 for an 8 week trip through Lappland. In 1991 I converted the two 753s for a March trip from Reykjavik to Akureyri, through the centre of Iceland. I adapted them so they could be linked and converted into a pulk (snow sledge) cycling until the road ended at Gullfoss and then up-ski parachuted until the first road we came across near Akureyri.

Otherwise, I only made hybrids or touring bikes with 559s. The 559 was idal for smaller people, especially once narrower tyres became available. It allowed small people to have shorter top tubes with lower BBs and 'normal' touring angles. A huge success and only necessary with the then demise of 584s (which, ironically, have been resurected !).
Anyhow, that's about all there is on that, I hope it's of interest

regards
Tony


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:49 pm 
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
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GrahamJohnWallace wrote:
Earlier this year I contacted Tony Oliver the UK basses frame-builder who is reputed to have created the first UK copy of an American style mountain-bike.

Below is my email and his response:

Hello Tony,

My name is Graham Wallace and I began mountain biking in 1984 before mountain bikes became popular in Britain. An old cycling friend of mine Tom Bogdanowicz says that you displayed a mountain bike at the York Cycle Show in the early 1981. If this is correct I would be fascinated to hear something of the story of this bike.

Was it inspired by early American mountain bikes or did the design derive from other influences?

1981 is very early on in the history of the development of 26” (ISO 559 mm) mountain bikes and finding the components to make a British version can’t have been easy.

Regards,
Graham


Here is Tony Oliver's detailed reply:

Hi Graham,
Yes, that is correct. I displayed one in 1981 and then two in 1982. The all got laughed at and in 1983, following zero interest, I decided not to bother and hah-ho they were almost everywhere! My clientele was quite established and lead-brick ATBs didn’t fit their bill.
The first one (1981) came about over many pints with the then UK Shimano importers manager at some trade show. He had a set of samples, one pair of 559 rims with 2.25” tyres and a super wide (and equally heavy) ATB fork crown. The rest was relatively easy to find. I used a mix of touring and tandem tubing but finding a fork blade to match the crown was somewhat troublesome.. Many in the press rode it around the racecourse but it wasn’t well received, and quite right too!
The time schedule was very tight to make it for York and I didn’t put enough thought into it. I was, in the back of my mind, after a hybrid and this tank with horrible laid back angles was completely unsuitable to touring – OK for down-hill racing in California……….

I was mainly inspired by the inadequacy of the standard touring bike in a 6 week tour of Iceland back in 1972 and was looking for something more suitable. The new 559 rims and tyres were the future but ATBs, as they were then, were not,. Neither was the Geoff App’s approach (in my opinion). Both had their place and both seemed to be too niche or far from suitable for long distance touring.

The second one I made was made of Reynolds Speedstream tubing with the tubes in the wrong plane, opposite of being aerodynamic! I had a set of Speedstream and, in all honesty, had no idea what to do with it as I couldn’t sell it to a time trialist (too heavy). I steepened the angles back to normal touring and had quite a nice hybrid. The third was from a sample ATB set sent to me (free) by Reynolds and I felt somewhat obliged to made it into the traditional American format of the day (a waste of time?).

After that I only made a few traditional style ATBs; 1985 an ATB tandem that was exported to Skagastrond, N. Iceland and then in 1986 two super light ones from 753 for an 8 week trip through Lappland. In 1991 I converted the two 753s for a March trip from Reykjavik to Akureyri, through the centre of Iceland. I adapted them so they could be linked and converted into a pulk (snow sledge) cycling until the road ended at Gullfoss and then up-ski parachuted until the first road we came across near Akureyri.

Otherwise, I only made hybrids or touring bikes with 559s. The 559 was idal for smaller people, especially once narrower tyres became available. It allowed small people to have shorter top tubes with lower BBs and 'normal' touring angles. A huge success and only necessary with the then demise of 584s (which, ironically, have been resurected !).
Anyhow, that's about all there is on that, I hope it's of interest

regards
Tony



So where are they now? :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:27 am 
retrobike rider
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firedfromthecircus wrote:
So where are they now? :mrgreen:

Tony's initial response raises as many questions as it answers. So I emailed him a list of further questions.

Again his reply was detailed and it paints an interesting picture of the very early years of UK mountain-biking. This reminds me that the initial consumer response to mountain-bikes was very 'Marmite'. Some cyclists loved the bikes however many others, who were at the time fully engaged in racing bike culture, didn't get the concept at all. I guess that happens with most new products before they achieve general acceptance.

Below, my questions in italics and Tony's replies in bold:

Tony Oliver:
You're lucky I have the time: I'm stuck in Oban due to bad weather hoping a plane may run this afternoon to get me home. At home I have little time attempting to complete a 5 years on, self -build house.


G.J.W:
I hope at some time in the future to create a website that focuses on pre-mountain-bike off-road cycling traditions from around the world. I would also like to include a section telling the story of how the US mountain bikes were received in Britain. Your account would be useful to illustrate the speed with which the ideas spread and the initial resistance of established sections of the cycle trade.


Tony Oliver:
I don't think there was resistance in the established trade, they say a new opportunity to make money. The press and niche trade were more cynical than showing resistance, after all it was quite easy to see these 'tanks' were basically crap. On the plus side, the niche feeders saw new goodies and for my world tour clientele, available globally. This was a win win.
Another 'new' aspect was that this new scene seemed to be fashion led, especially the garbage Shimano churned out under the banner of innovative. Over yet more ale, discussing these very things, the owner of Bicycle Times suggested we actually did something practical to see if these bikes were any good with respect to what they said-on-the-tin. So we went up (well most of) Kungsladen, a 500k footpath from central Sweden into arctic Lappland. And that was when I first started looking at every detail of what was required of my off-road bike.
The two frames I made were from a mix of racing and touring gauge (not oversize) tubes heat treated to 753 specs - not the newly to be announced Reynolds 753ATB set. Most Tour de France 753 frames of that day were actually made from heat treated Cr-Mo and NOT heat treated 531. Basically they were a drawn (not seem welded) variants of 501 but, of course Reynolds could never admit Cr-Mo made better 753 than Mn-Cr-Mo ! their whole existence was based on manganese based alloy tubes.
The bikes I made weighed in at 19lbs (complete with racks) yet had to carry 3 weeks’ worth of food, camping kit, winter clothing etc...... etc..... and not break.
I still have mine and I know the other on is still ridden on a regular basis.


G.J.W:
Do you have any photographs, documents or press reports relating to the early 1980s bikes?
I have already found some pictures of a 1986 753 bike online.


Tony Oliver:
No, all gone, moved on etc.....sorry. I have some of my lappland 753 with off-centre rear stays (for no-dish rear wheel) in Lappland, Lofoton and Svalbard.


G.J.W:
Do you know what happened to your first bikes or if they still exist?

Tony Oliver:
No one was cannibalised for parts for number 2. The frame was thrown. The 'Speedstream' bike went to some guy working for the Forestry Commisson near the Tregaren Bog.


G.J.W:
Before I contacted you I was wondering how 559 alloy rims could have become available in the UK so soon after the Japanese became aware of the existence of US mountain bikes in early 1981. However, it transpires that the Japanese had been producing such rims for a while due to the earlier development of 26” BMX ‘Cruiser Class’ bikes.


Tony Oliver:
Yep, cruiser class was mentionedin the day but I can'r recall when or which haze of beer it was through


G.J.W:
The American mountain bike pioneers also say that they received a great deal of negative feedback when they first showed their mountain bikes at a US trade show but not from the Japanese and teenager visitors. I guess that you didn’t get many Japanese visitors at York.


Tony Oliver:
I don’t believe that the Americans carefully thought much about the geometry of their first mountain-bikes, they just copied the geometry of the earlier Klunkers.

Yep, klunkers indeed, which were just as esoteric as App's devices


G.J.W:
If you don’t mind, your reply raises a few additional questions:
Do you remember what time of year the 1981 York bike show was held?


Tony Oliver:
mid-August


G.J.W:
You imply that you built the 1981 bike using US laid back geometry. Out of interest, did you get your information about the US mountain bikes from the Shimano manager or also from other sources?


Tony Oliver:
I had 'Bicycling' magazine flown over from the States every month. Full of good stuff (then anyway) as the US started a serious custom frame industry based on engineering principles and not apprentiships!


G.J.W:
Where you aware of Geoff Apps’ bikes in 1981? and was your opinion regarding their suitability for long distance touring based purely on their geometry or did you get to ride them?


Tony Oliver:
Yep, very aware, the owner of Bicycle Times often pointed the way to them but, apart from the first prototype they were completely unsuitable for my riding requirements. I could never see myself wanting, and have never been since, to the Chilterns to traipse down muddy, leafy tracks. The Cleland was an extraordinarily niche machine and the short rear stays, were not conducive to long distance haulage.
I saw one in 1982 but I' can't recall if it was at York on in Edinburgh - it was that unremarkable I can't remember! The bottom line, to purchase a bike with unobtainable consumables was plain stupid. Anyhow, some 'odd-ball' from Shrewsbury ordered a look-a-like from me in ~1988. Silly steep angles, silly short rear triangle and silly high bars. He loved it but only did 10k trips; and they were usually mud ploughing. I had a go and was left rather unimpressed.


G.J.W:
With regards to long distance touring, where you aware of the 1970s 584 wheeled Jack Taylor or other similar custom built rough-stuff bikes?


Tony Oliver:
Yes but 584 tyres were, again like hen's teeth. I bought a new JT tandem(1972 ish) which suffered the same problem. Despite ordering it for 27x1.25 wheels the frame was built for 650b. And cost a fortune which rather pissed me off to spend so much on a custom product that wasn’t custom. He also only use plane gauge 531 - not butted. They were quite some trio though.
The Taylor came with a trailer option? Where the trailer is attached behind the rear of the bike so that it pretty much tracks the line of the back wheel of the bike.
I also had one of these. It was second hand from a Bristol couple who, in 1965 ish cycled from home to Nordcap (top of Norway) and back on tandem and JT trailer. The trailer was really, really good on a tandem but on a solo the weight behind the rear wheel often caused the bikes front end to rear on steep climbs with v. low gears. Still it was/is far, far more stable, and safer, than the stupidity of two wheel trailers (IMHO).


Tony Oliver:
Anyhow, time to head for the Plane. Again I hope this is of interest - if so that's remarkable !!!
regards
Tony


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