Cleland? I'm so glad I got a rise out of you blokes.
Next you'll tell me that a DL-1 with knobbies is the best racing bike ever made...
There is no mythical bike, just variant degrees ride and of taste...I have owned hundreds of bikes, thinking each was better than the one before using some biased made up criteria for justification...
I am not really sure how you get a scaffold of a bike to roll properly down narrow singletrack or better yet, when you are looking to get a hole shot - in a race - how you can sprint out of it with bars that high....
please what does it weigh? 3 stones?
Weight is a spurious issue as modern Cleland style bike could be made to weigh the same as as other modern bikes the only additional weight would be the mudguards. I own a modern Cleland that weighs in at just over 26lbs. An original Cleland weighed in at about 36lbs with 6lbs of that being the weight of the 650b snow tyres. Meanwhile its average mountain bike equivalent with its weak skin-wall tyres weighed about 32lbs.
The defining feature of a Cleland is the that the riders body weight is placed high up and towards the rear of the bike. The effect of this is to improve rear wheel traction and to slow down the time that the bike takes to over balance (google "inverse pendulum theory" for the physics) The effect on balance of front wheel side slip or wheel-trapping is also reduced.
Put simply if something goes wrong, you have more time to respond making the Cleland the ideal bike for use in slippy conditions.
"...how you can sprint out of it with bars that high...?"
Well the bars need be no higher than the saddle and Graeme Obree seemed to manage OK!
The Cleland Cross Country Cycle / Mountain Bike debate is an old one that Cleland lost when Ron Kitching forced Cleland out of the bike production business in 1984. The later Highpath Engineering versions with their £2000 price tag were never a realistic proposition for the average 1980's mountain biker. However it's pertinent to resurrect the debate here.