The stretched position came about when Tom Ritchy built MTB's. Up until then Charlie and Gary had favoured high handlebars and a more upright riding position.
Then Tom Ritchy comes into the scene, and he is, of course, a roadie, hence the mountain bike got its stretched position.
I know I came under enormous pressure to make my designs more conventional i.e. rider and bike as one philosophy, which goes hand in hand with the stretched position.
I ploughed my own furrow.
I was tempted, but my twenty-odd-year journey told me not to. Maybe I would have got the help I was promised had I compromised.
It would be interesting to hear from CK as to the influences on them at the time the mountainbike went to the stretched-out position.
So ... the stretched position dates right back to 1979.
Then you bring in the topic of suspension ...
The stretched position philosphy is based on the notion that the weight bias should be neutral (this is closely linked to, but not to be confused with, centre of gravity and/or centre of mass), that is to say: equally between front and rear wheels.
Why? No-one actually seems to know, they say that it is 'conventional wisdom' ... that's how it's always been done, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.
When CK, GF et al put high-rise bars on their clunkers, they were effectively moving the weight bias towards the rear wheel, by a certain amount ~ whether by accident, design or intuition, perhaps only one of them can tell us.
Anyway, my weight bias went right back.
Why? Well I suppose the first reason was that I noticed that I was often halted by even a small step on a slope, and I wasn't always in a position to haul the front-end up, so I wanted what I term a 'skippy front end'.
Horror amongst my cycling friends! You won't be able to steer, they said, the front wheel will keep jumping up, they said.
And they were right.
I'm a moderate fan of speedway. I've always been impressed by photos of the racers cornering, at speeds of about 30/40mph, with the front wheel clearly off the ground. My chum (the late) Simon Wigg used to say of his front wheel "it's just for parking and starting". This exaggerates the phenomenon; in reality the front wheel is playing a part in steering, but only a part.
Now, think of a Cleland bike more like a unicycle with incidental front wheel attached. Weight is all over the rear wheel, and as much of the steering is done with the rear wheel as with the front.
We tend to think that steering a bike is like steering a car.
Steering a bike is more to do with preventing your bicycle from falling over, more than anything else.
Think about taking a tight turn; you literally fall into the turn, and the role of the front wheel is to prevent you falling over completely.
The effect is that you take the turn, but you haven't steered round it; you've tried to fall over and then moderated the fall by turning the front wheel into the fall.
The front wheel does not need to stay in contact with the ground throughout the turn. If its light, you can skip it about a bit, dodge that rock, hop up a wee step, you know the sort of thing. If the bicycle is designed to accomplish this as a first principle of the design, then it does it a whole lot easier, and you are a whole lot less tired at the end of a day's riding.
If you move the weight bias from the front wheel to the rear wheel, the front wheel in less heavy and doesn't slam into (things) anywhere near so much. And thus you do not need suspension.
I think the primary reason and need for suspension is to do with the weight bias being placed neutrally.
It is ironic that the introduction of suspesion has brought about a rising of the front end and the consequent movement of the weight bias towards the rear. I notice that now, riders are replacing sus forks with rigids of the same length. Could this be because they are discovering what I've just described (at length)?
I remember, back in 1985 at the Small Dole event, thinking to myself:
"...I've been developing my designs for about twenty years now, but to all these people here, it is brand new; I can't expect them to understand. It'll take twenty years of their lives to get to where I am now..."
I had the advantage of having no influences, around me was a blank canvas, there were no off-road bike philosophies to confuse me. Nowadays, anyone trying to think clearly about these matters, is deluged with all kinds of dross, which has to be sifted through to find the gold; if there's any gold there, of course.
Sorry about that. Little questions often lead to big answers.
And I've tried to be brief!