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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 12:24 am 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
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Location: Near Wendover Bucks
A bit of Pre-Restoration History
There are a few unsung heroes of British mountain biking who have been virtually forgotten because their contribution came long before mountain biking took off in the UK. The earliest and most influential promoter of mountain biking in Britain was London Evening Standard Journalist Richard Grant.

Richard's story starts in 1977 when he accidentally ran into a couple of cycling hippies in California whilst investigating other news stories. Even though he wasn't a keen cyclist he went riding with them borrowing one of their homemade 'Clunker' bicycles. This he thought was the most fun you could have on a bicycle and he became convinced that this was the future of cycling.

He bought a 'Clunker' off its maker a man called Gary Fisher and brought it back to Britain. There he showed the bike at several cycle trade shows in an attempt to wake up the conservative cycle industry to this new type of bicycle.

In the mean time mountain biking took off in the US and by 1983 the first US 'Mountain Bikes' arrived in UK shops. Richard Grant responded by starting a new cycling magazine, but because a market for mountain biking had yet to develop he featured all aspects of cycling. Under his editorship 'Bicycle Action' became the first UK publication to regularly feature mountain biking with articles from Charlie Kelly in the US and in the second edition of July 1984, the story of the homegrown mountain bikes of Geoff Apps showing the 1981 700c wheeled Range Rider.
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The photos show pretty much the same bike that we have today, proving that this bike has been frozen in time since at least 1984. Earlier photos tell a different story, that of a prototype that evolved in the process that was to decide the nature, componentry and wheel size of the bikes that Apps would eventually produce and sell to the public.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 10:52 pm 
retrobike rider
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After taking a lot of photos of the unrestored bike and components I set about stripping the bike down.
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The biggest structural problem was the large stress crack about half an inch above the bottom of the headtube. This had been caused by the unreinforced headtube being extending about an inch below the downtube, cross-brace and headtube intersection. Whether this extension was the result of an error on Apps original technical drawings of the frame, a frame-builders mistake or some technical issue is not known but it crated a stress raiser where the lower headset insert ended.

The solution was to replace the narrow reinforcing ring at the bottom of the headtube with a much wider one that would cover the crack completely whilst joining to the underside of the downtube fillet.
The fact that such an early and lightly built Reynolds 531ST frame had survived decades of abuse with only one structural failure is testament to the structural integrity of the design and the skill of its frame-builder. As the repair warranted higher fabrication and brazing skills than I possess it was handed over to the skill and expertise of Danson67.
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The repaired frame then went off for bead blasting whilst I crossed my fingers that the rusted sections wouldn't become holes and that there weren't any other major issues hiding under the original paint.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 11:19 pm 
Gold Trader / PoTM Winner / RB Rider
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Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:13 pm
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Location: Royal Forest of Dean (Still looking for the Bear !)
That Danson dude gets about and has breathed more life into other wise dead dogs
(Many finely bred pedigrees) than anyone else on Earth !

Great (subtle) repair Mr Wallis,


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 8:08 am 
retrobike rider
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Just checking in and looking forward to a fascinating thread.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2018 11:19 am 
retrobike rider
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Below is the timeline that led to the creation of the '29er' class of mountain bikes that use the 700c rim size. Geoff Apps' sending of 700x47c Nokia Hakkapeliita tyres to Gary Fisher also connects to the creation of what are now known as 'Gravel Grinders'.

1975. For the first time in their history, Nokia start producing bicycle tyres at a newly built vehicle tyre plant. Geoff Apps is already on the lookout for large diameter fat off-road tyres. Meanwhile someone at Nokia has the idea of using the Hakkapeliitta tread pattern to produce specialist Winter tyres for bicycles.

1978. Nokia start producing wide, large diameter snow and ice tyres. Probably to meet the needs of the Finnish Army?

Geoff Apps an off-road cyclist from the British 'Tracker bike' tradition reads a cycling magazine article about winter cycling in Finland and contacts the UK importer of Nokia car and tractor tyres. They do not import Nokia bicycle tyres but he eventually persuades them to supply him with tyres.

Early 1979. Apps builds his first 650b off-road bicycle designed to fit the 650x44b Hakkapeliitta tyres.

Early 1980. Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly and Geoff Apps hear about each other and make contact.

Late 1980. Apps sends over the first of many Hakkapeliitta tyres, some 650b x 44mm (1 5/8") Hakkapeliittas. (This is size of Hakkapeliitta fitted to the alleged 1977 Ritchey. The 650Bx54mm tyres that Apps later sent would be too wide to fit that bike).

Late 1981/Early 1982? The first 650b Hakkapeliitta mountain bikes are made in the US. In England Apps built the first 700x47C Range-Rider off-road bicycle.

1982-84. Apps exports more Hakkapeliittas to the US including 650x54B and 700x47C tyres. More NorCal frame builders become involved in building Hakkapeliitta tyred bikes including: Ross Schafer, Lennard Zinn and Jim Merz.
Fisher now says that as well as the 650b bikes ten 700x47c bikes were built.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8syt59gK65o

1984 The first ever book is published 'Mountain Biking' By Rob Van Der Plas.
The book shows pictures off Apps' 1981 Range-Rider but fitted with 650x54b tyres. The July 1984 edition of Bicycle Action magazine shows the same bike fitted with 700x47c Hakkapeliittas.

Around 1984/5? Fisher/Kelly stop importing Hakkapeliittas from Apps because they are too expensive and the supply from Finland is very erratic.

1987. Gary Helfrich and Bruce Gordon rediscover the 700x47C Hakkapeliitta. (Incidentally, at the time 650b Hakkapeliitta user Ross Schafer's workshop was next door to Bruce Gordon's)

1988: Charlie Kelly publishes a picture of a 700c wheeled Geoff Apps designed off-road bicycle in his "Mountain Bike Book"

1988. Bruce Gordon, and Joe Murray? copy the 700x47C Hakkapeliitta and manufacture the copy in the form of the 700x40C Cheng Shin' Rock n' Road tyres.
The bikes Gordon makes and the Ibis Hakalugi becoming the original 700c 'Gravel Grinder' though others had earlier had used this wheel-size fitted with standard road tyres for roughstuff riding.

The Rock n' Road tyres were fitted to bikes especially made by Bruce Gordon and Wes Williams. Whilst this sorted out the supply issues with the tyres from Finland, the smaller and readily available 26" wheels were firmly established as the norm.

1998: Gary Fisher and Wes Williams were the two key movers who persuading WTB to produce the NanoRaptor 700C x 52mm tyre. Which later became known as the first 29er tyre despite the fact that there overall diameter of 28.6 inches was slightly less than 29"

Joe Breeze says that Gary Fisher spent $50,000 dollars of his own money to create the production moulds for the 700c Nanoraptor tyre, a tyre that would not fit existing bicycle frames. Fisher then went on to create suitable frames persuade others to make suspension forks etc. This was a big gamble on the part of Fisher as it took many years before the new '29er' bikes caught on. However, in Fisher's mind the concept of bigger wheels had already been proved with the success of the Hakkapeliittas way back in the early 1980s.


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