The first time I had to make a choice between a British Cleland bicycle and the American designed mountain bikes was back in 1984. I chose American and bought a copy of a Tom Ritchey design, a British built F.W. Evans ATB.
I guess that the American designs looked more modern and sporty.
And like Tom Ritchey, I started out as a road cyclist and knew little about off-road riding. I then took my new mountain bike along on the Geoff Apps led Wendover rides and it immediately became obvious that the Cleland design was more suited to English off-road riding in every regard. It was only on road in the dry that my mountain bike had a slight speed advantage. By then Ron Kitching had deliberately forced Cleland Cycles Ltd out of business but I was lucky enough to buy an old Cleland frame and build it up with Geoff's help.
I still ride both mountain bikes and Clelands. For me the Cleland is the serious off-road bike of choice whilst I prefer mountain bikes for rides were most of the riding is on-road or on smother trails and towpaths.
Thanks to Ron Kitching ans Co, Geoff Apps' Cleland became the off-road bicycle that mountain bikers never had the chance to try out for themselves. Even today, experienced riders pleasantly surprised with the experience of riding a Cleland. Bellow is the recent reaction of a RetroBike rider.
"lord apps ...
http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewto ... &start=105
been thinking of how to word my apprasial of sir geoff's bicycle
went thru the engineering slant then the flowery prose
in the end i thought id tell it as it is
i caught up with geoff on one of the early climbs ,i complimented him on the bike , and his reply included the words "want "and" go" in it
jeff looks a bit smaller than me , but it seemed to fit fine , so when i mastered the technique of mounting the steed i was off (geoff later gave a demo of the moving off bit)
as an engineer i'm not a sceptic with most things ,including this bike
but i was not prepared for the experience
the nearest i can get to is , you know that time when you've packed up
your rear wheel drive car in the wet field and your trying to get to the exit road slippy slidey no traction type thing
then some idiot in a landy is driving about up and down thing just because
they can ?
thats what the clellands like ,i rode it up the trail a bit then rode over a grassy bit between 2 trails , with no problems , very little body shift is required you just turn the pedals and it goes up ,well anything
the (i assume )chris bell egg rings went un-noticed until someone pointed
them out , obviously done right ,like the rest of the bike
as for speed on it ,well i dont know as geoff wanted it back for the down bits , but he looked smooth and fast on the bits i saw
and the "lovely hill" as he called it ,i missed him out climbing everyone
all in a lovely fella and a cracking bike , i hope you make some more sir
so i met a legend , rode his bike ,and found a new hero
top day out i'd say"
Even with the large number of mountain bike styles currently available you cannot buy anything that challenges what a mountain bike should be as much as the Cleland. The time when you can buy an off-road bike based on Cleland principles is long overdue.
Of all the bikes to chose from here I can promise that it is the handling of the Cleland and the Highpath that would most surprise you and challenge your preconceptions.