Oldest mountain bike in UK?

legrandefromage

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Is Tony Oliver actually Regan_Ev?

I like the TDF bit about the 501 tubing. I guess I was lucky to have had terrible road bikes first then a real ATB in September 1986, just as the pin was pulled on the MTB grenade.

Thank you Graham!!!
 

firedfromthecircus

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GrahamJohnWallace":k3i04z3m said:
Again I hope this is of interest - if so that's remarkable !!!
regards
Tony

Very much of interest! Please pass that on to Tony if you have further contact, and thank you for your efforts again Graham. :D
 

peetee

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What a great guy Tony Oliver is. I have a lot of respect for what he says and his book 'Touring Bicycles' is an excellent, informative read.
I was an early convert to MTB's. 1986, I think it was. I had my brother's hand-me-down Ridgeback 501 for a few years.
It was a sound bike. The Reynolds 501 was a more solid ride (too solid by the time I moved to the granite strewn trails of west Cornwall) than 531 - my mate had a Dawes Ranger that was so laid back that any on-trail manoeuvres had to be discussed with it over breakfast.
Once the limits of the Ridgeback became apparent in 1989 I sat down at a drawing board and knowing the ride characteristics of various 531 bikes and having contacted a willing local frame builder I designed it's replacement. I specified every single tube: heavy guage downtube and steerer, lighter guage seat tube and stays. Road fork blades as chain stays (for a narrow Q factor and clearance for 2' tyres). The list goes on. It was world's apart from the Dawes Ranger; fast, responsive and fun. I did a 10 mile TT on it once and was only a couple of minutes down on my road bike time of the previous week. Steve Heffernan, former track gold medalist had a ride on it and was impressed saying it responded like a road bike, so I think I got something right.
I still ride it now and wouldn't swap it for anything. It's part of who I am.
 

GrahamJohnWallace

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legrandefromage":3gocl1zr said:
Is Tony Oliver actually Regan_Ev?
Yes, Regan Ev and Tony Oliver do seem to share a dislike of Geoff Apps, early designs. However, I see Tony's comments as a contemporary commentary on how he, and probably others, first reacted to the Apps' bikes. It's interesting that Tony seems to have approved more of Apps' first design than he does of the later machines.

Tony is also critical of the early mountain-bikes coming out of Marin County.

My own conversion to the Apps' bikes was by no means immediate. I first heard of them whilst talking to the owner of a Camden Town bike shop in 1983 and then wrote to Geoff. He invited me along on one of his Wendover monthly rides. I rode the Clelands, listened to Geoff's argument, and then went and bought an F.W Evans' ATB.

It was whilst riding my Evans alongside the Clelands in the Chiltern mud that I noticed that Geoff's bikes made riding that terrain look relatively easy. After many rides of being out manoeuvred and left behind by the Apps bikes I asked Geoff if I could hire a Cleland for a few days so that I could try it out properly.

Even then I was not convinced until one day Geoff brought along a brand new, very well proportioned red Cleland that he was testing before handing it over to a customer. By then my eye was attuned to their unconventional aesthetics and I decided to buy one. Too late as it turned out, as by then Cleland had been forced to stop bike production.

However, I was so sold on the Idea of owning a Cleland that I bought a damaged frame & fork, bars and tyres off Geoff, and built up a bike up mostly from parts I sourced myself. I ran both the Evans and the Cleland for about three years but because the Evans was being used less and less, I eventually sold it.

I totally understand why some people don't get the Cleland concept both visually and functionally. They are an acquired taste but the more you ride them the more sense they make.

legrandefromage":3gocl1zr said:
Thank you Graham!!!
I think that 'thank you Tony' would be more appropriate!!!

He sounds like a busy man and I was very lucky to contact when he had the time to respond in detail.
 

legrandefromage

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Re:

An update on behalf of that BoyBurning

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=419809&hilit=evans

file.php


Saracen was set up by Brian Staples, as we know, when he sold his bike shop in Kenilworth and moved onto new things.

It was set up in Warwick, and made the first 'production' MTB frame in the UK, as we know.

[discounting earlier custom frames made by Roberts and others].

Who made the very first Saracens in lugged 501 with the distinctive rear cable stop - as seen here branded as F.W.Evans - in 1983...?

Tom Bromwich - in his local workshop in Far Gosford Street, Coventry. :cool:

Later versions [lugged 531] with the simple cable stop were made by Jim Macilwain who had bought TBC off Tom.

Working with Jim a little later was Lee Cooper, my local frame builder and font of knowledge, who's garage in Ryton needs to be seen to be believed.

There is much more history to this, but that's for another time - the purpose of this little post was simply to set the record straight about who made the very first Saracen frames, as I was a little concerned about well intended, but misinformed, information becoming 'fact'.

As I mentioned previously, Bluemels never built frames - they simply bought Saracen the 'brand' from Brain Staples, and later sold the 'brand' [through being in liquidation] to the Stanford brothers - with all subsequent production being moved overseas as part of their vast profit making [sorry, expansion] plans...

So, there we go, hopefully that clears things up a little...
 

albash82

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I sit underneath an S+G Pathfinder, a Muddy Fox Courier, a Tushingham B52 and an early Clockwork every day at work.
They're all fairly original and were never restored or even cleaned before we hung them up.
The boss (now retired) didn't want them to be showroom spec. It's interesting to see the similarities and the small changes made to each frame.
I would like to restore them all back to original, but they ain't mine. There's another old Orange and his Merlin somewhere knocking around too. Have to see what happens with them all when we do a shop re-fit next year.
I can't offer any facts or trivia to this chat, but it's been an interesting read.
If I do get the chance to restore any of the above, I'll be sure to post them up. I could try and get Paul or Roger to write something up about their part in the UK history. I see Morf a fair bit and Roger often pops back in when he's up north. Although I'm sure now they're both retired, they'll be far too busy haha.
 

bignath69

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2manyoranges":1pidf9tb said:
...a question.

Ok, so cyclocross has a long and establshed traditonal in the uk, with origins back in the 1920s. We know about Geoff Apps’ Cleland cycles work on the back of cyclocross in the late 60’s and the later supply by Highpath Eng. And the Roughstuff Fellowship and The Untold British Story....

But I think that the broad consensus is that mountain biking - not least the name - had its origins in Marin county with the Repack Pack. Not the modifies clunkers, but the first Breezers and Fishers.

So what was the first cluster of US-inspired mountain bikes in the uk? My first true off road foray on something other than a ‘cross bike was on a borrowed Raleigh Mustang on the South Downs. The owner did not use it for anything off road, and the high crossbar, bmx chainset and useless tyres rendered the two muddy days a hilarious affair of pushing uphill and sliding down. A friend had bought a 21 inch Dawes Ranger (531) and I used my knowledge of road sizing to buy a secondhand one a couple of days after him....I am 5 7 and could barely stand over the top tube. It had a range of motorcycle bits and very weird bmx stem, stupid-long gears and everything flexed like mad. 1988 if I recall correctly.

We did a lot of miles. A lot. No kids, great summer on the Downs. Began to know intimately the huge network of bridelways. For us, mountain biking then was miles, not single track. And boy did we put the miles in. Jumping? You must be bonkers.

Downhills were frankly terrifying, the diacompe brakes were shit. The tyres were useless, both in compound and tread pattern.

In 1989 something happened. Bill Rayment in Brighton imported the first Stumpjumper into the UK - anyone know any other imports? Action Bikes opened in the YHA shop and sold Cannondale and Cinelli. I sold the Ranger to someone it fitted - they were 6 foot 2 - and I bought a Cannondale. I think that was the first thoughtfully designed mountain bike I had, with a genuine chance of not killing me. When that was nicked from the back of my car, it was clear that the 1989 Marins (team titanium....palisades) had stretched, low geometry which meant we were really mountain biking....full chat downhill, like whippets with four wheel drive up hill. And decent kit dedicated to off road, from shimano, suntour and the embryonic after-market suppliers like onZa.

For me, the first mountain bike proper in the uk was 1989.

Any other take?......

Interesting. Rayments did have a significant Specialized range, but I remember a small camping shop (possibly called "Euro Sport", long gone and now a drum shop)on North Road, Brighton, also having a range of mountain bikes, including Muddy Fox, hidden away upstairs.

The YHA Shop on Queens Road also stocked Klein - we would go in each day after school, salivating over the green white and pink Klein that was on "sale" for a couple of grand. And by 1989, there was already a junior mountain bike club that would meet at Devil's Dyke and go cycling across the South Downs.
 
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