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  1. #26
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    The BMX Cruiser class were originally klunker looking things with 26" wheels for off.road riding (before tracks were nice and manicured). These popped up mid-70's Examples:

    1978 Cook Bros Cruiser - BMXmuseum.com
    1978 Bassett Star Cruiser - BMXmuseum.com

    But way before that, kids have been riding their Stingrays in dirt races in Holland in the 50's and became popular by the 70's in the USA.
    BMX in Holland in fact started in the 1950's, check this out! By Gerrit Does - Oldskool - News - FAT BMX

    But of course none of this has anything on the first road racers who decided to go off road in the late 18800's/early 1900's which became what we now call Cyclocross
    Cyclo-cross - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    The point is, there just is no singular origin of the mountain bike. People for a long time have realized that riding bicycles around on dirt was pretty darn fun and many awesome people and groups mentioned in this thread and others all pioneered pieces of the sport and I am thankful for all of them.

  2. #27
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    "The relevance of observed trials experience and 'standing on the pegs' is irrelevant as you don't have a seat slamming on your coccyx, compressing your discs."
    You're quite right, I don't have a seat slamming on my coccyx. With handlebars relatively close to the saddle, I am easily able to take the weight off my rear-end when appropriate. The discs in your spine are there in order to accommodate compression, as occurs when running or jumping. As in running and jumping, my knees are able to flex to mitigate impacts.

    "I believe you've done a disservice to good traditional bicycle design with respect to how the spine is appropriately supported and protected -- think of the spine as being like a suspension bridge rather than a vertical I-beam."
    A vertical I-beam is a rigid structure, whereas the spine is a compressable structure in its vertical state. We are no longer creatures that walk on all-fours, we have evolved into bipeds and our spine has altered to suit that posture, not entirely successfully. However, in quadrapeds, the spine is an arch, not a suspension bridge.

    "Most casual observers would consider my frames too long in the top tube, but the position I can achieve comfortably (as per the old cyclotouriste and old-road racing school dictums about frame design and positioning -- hips rearward, back loosely swayed) allows all day comfort, good handling, power application, and aerodynamics."
    If you're happy with your posture, then stick with it. However, should you find in the future that not maintaining lordisis begins to affect your spine, then you may consider investigating alternative postures, if it's not too late. I think there is a clue in your phrase "old-road racing school dictums"; I'm not interested in racing, so a racing posture is not appropriate. Personally, I find the 'traditional touring posture' you describe very uncomfortable indeed. Should I therefore suffer for the sake of tradition?

    "Here I thought it was fat Americans driving the trend towards upright riding positions (can't bend over 'cause of the gut)!"
    The vast majority of cycling in Germany, Holland, Denmark and other mainland European countries is done in the upright posture. Of course, you don't see this in magazines and videos, it just goes quietly on in the background, folks routinely cycling for their day-to-day transport requirements; nothing to do with large guts.

    "I can believe the 'standing on the pegs' seated position helps handling in certain situations, but sitting in that position? -- not so much."
    The posture you advocate places equal weight on the handlebar and saddle, with the legs suspended, free to pedal. The posture I advocate is much more poised, with the ability to readily transfer weight between the saddle, pedals and handlebar, altering the bias between these three points according to the terrain.

    "A couple of questions for you you Cleland Cycle guys -- what's an average speed for a ride, like for the one in the video? (not so different from my rides, sans water -- I live in a desert). What's kind of distance does a good weekend ride on off-road terrain cover? I have formed some opinions based upon what I've learned from the Cleland website about where and how those bikes would be fun and where they might not be so much fun, and it would be enlightening to have some input on average speeds and distances covered. Thanks!"
    Speed, average or otherwise, and distance are things I rarely think about. On a typical Cleland ride, these factors have no bearing on the pleasure to be derived from a good pootle. So, I can't give you any data on those matters.

    Thanks for contributing to this thread; I hope this has clarified some of the issues you have raised. It's always worth remembering; there are more ways of killing a cat than cutting its throat. An odd aphorism, but I'm sure you get the drift.

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    You're quite right, I don't have a seat slamming on my coccyx. With handlebars relatively close to the saddle, I am easily able to take the weight off my rear-end when appropriate.
    Let's see -- I take it either you ride remarkably dull terrain (probably not true) or at an unusually slow speed (maybe) or for very short distances (maybe), or you never sit down (probably not true). All cyclists try to take weight of their rear-end when appropriate but no cyclist does it for an entire ride -- assuming "real" off-road terrain, a moderate speed, and long enough duration to mean you don't ride every bump perfectly. This is one reason I asked for an objective measure of what a "Cleland poodle" was like (speed and distance) -- claims of comfort using the Cleland position for any length of time/distance or at moderate speed on rough terrain just don't compute for me. Further, I note that the Cleland R&D page is investigating suspension seatposts and it sports a picture of a sprung saddle -- I humbly submit that a frame designed for off-road riding that requires either is coming up short.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    The vast majority of cycling in Germany, Holland, Denmark and other mainland European countries is done in the upright posture.
    Apples to oranges -- there are multiple reasons for commuting on a bike that is different than from one designed to either (a) go fast, (b) ride rough terrain, (c) be comfortable over a long distance. I have and use a commuter bike myself -- it's the right tool for the job.


    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    The posture I advocate is much more poised, with the ability to readily transfer weight between the saddle, pedals and handlebar, altering the bias between these three points according to the terrain.
    I see no enhanced advantage of the Cleland positioning relative to weight transfer as compared to standard mtbs, and certainly not to the type of frames/setups I have for my own -- I believe claims that one position enhances the ability to transfer weight quickly and precisely more than another are not supportable by experience in the field.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    It's always worth remembering; there are more ways of killing a cat than cutting its throat. An odd aphorism, but I'm sure you get the drift.
    I think something was lost in translation...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  4. #29
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    Clearly PeT, you inhabit a different universe to that which I inhabit.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWallace View Post
    Recumbent v. Upright.... .....Who is most wobbly?

    One Hour Recumbent Bike Race - YouTube


    Tall Bike
    tall bike asheville nc - YouTube
    Terrible analogy.

    Interesting thread, I've read everything I can find from Geoff and whether I agree or not I admire the passion and drive to experiment. Cool stuff.
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

  6. #31
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    PeT, watch the video in the OP. GeoffApps is riding through creeks and bushwhacking with some decent elevation gain. That terrain doesn't look very boring at all. The speed is low relative to riding buff singletrack. I know when I'm bushwhacking and I have no clearly defined path in front of me that I ride slower and prefer a more upright riding position for more stability.

    There is too much variation in riding style to say that any one riding position is best for everyone.

    Just found this video: Mudbike - The 1982 Cleland Aventura - YouTube

    Looks like that bike and riding position are well-suited to the type of riding done in the British Isles. From what I hear/read they don't get a whole lot of sunshine and dry trails over there so they end up riding in slop much of the time. Also, with the freedom to roam, they can ride pretty much anywhere they please. Through a creek or up a mountain side, there's no one to tell em it's off limits. So an all-terrain bicycle like the Cleland probably works perfectly for them.
    Last edited by dgw2jr; 09-20-2012 at 08:44 AM.

  7. #32
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    Discovering more of Grahams videos: 29er TrailBlaze - Mountain biking without following trails - YouTube

    The riding position looks very similar to how I used to ride my Mukluk during the winter. Seat up high for good leg extension, sweepy Mary bars with stem at the top of the steer tube. Stable as heck on 4" tires. Felt good on the back and wrists letting the legs carry all the weight and do all the work. Also made it easier to lift that front wheel up and over things, or make a sharp turn as seen in the first pic.




  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    There is too much variation in riding style to say that any one riding position is best for everyone.
    Exactly. I understand that different definitions of fun and particularly different climes will dictate different riding styles, bikes, and positions. Perhaps a Cleland is the optimal bike for riding over hill, dale, and through creeks for 6 miles, perfecting trials moves and stopping at a pub to throw back a pint or two. I am not at all convinced that a Cleland is the right bike for riding over hill, dale, and through creeks at even moderate speeds for 16 miles, let alone 26 or 66, and then getting up in the morning and doing it again. Hence my questions and comments.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  9. #34
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    That's what is so great about MTBing, there is a ride for everyone. Pick one you like and go ride it.

  10. #35
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    This discussion reminds me of the seating position debate among motorcyclist. Most Harley/cruiser riders can't understand how being bent over on a sport bike could possibly be comfortable. Most sportbike riders can't understand how it is comfortable to sit upright with your legs and arms stuck out in front of you. Of course riding styles and purposes make all the difference.
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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2tallrid3r View Post
    The discussion on low center of gravity versus high is really interesting... I understand that reaction times have to be faster on a lower bike, but in all other respects my personal experience as a tall guy has been that a lower bike OR motorcycle is much more stable. My 29er is much more stable with a longer wheelbase and being in the bike instead of on top of it. If any of you guys ride dirtbikes or streetbikes you may have heard about the guys who invented the Gurney ALLIGATOR... it was based on a Honda XR650L, and they put the seat way down low... everything about the bike improved... cornering, stability etc.

    Here's a quote from Gurney:

    "The Gurney ALLIGATOR has a look and riding feel unique and different from anything on the road. Unlike other motorcycles, the rider sits below the top of the tires with feet in a forward position. The fuel tank is mounted below the seat and behind the engine. Gurney originally moved in this design direction because he is tall and many bikes made him feel as if he were pitching forward when going downhill. The Alligator is this concept taken to its logical extreme. What works so well for tall people works equally well for people with shorter legs. They do not have any trouble getting on or off the bike, are no longer worried about falling over at a standstill and being closer to the ground, they feel much more comfortable and safe. This low CG concept has been developed and refined over the years into something quite extraordinary: a motorcycle with a confidence inspiring riding feel, obvious and significant aerodynamic benefits and most of all: a fun factor to match."
    I'm not buying the claims made about this motorcycle and that "everything" was improved. If that was the case then MotoGP bikes would look like this. In road racing motorcycles "mass centralization around the roll axis" is the current goal, not the lowest cg possible. A lot of this also applies to bicycles. Sorry for adding to the derailment of this thread.

    P.S. Of course there's a vast difference between how a MotoGP rider controls his bike vs how a trials rider controls his bike. Both depend on the gyroscopic stability of their rotating wheels, but a trials rider really makes use of a relatively high center gravity when compared to a road racer.

    P.S.S. I love pretty much anything on two wheels.
    Last edited by nemhed; 09-20-2012 at 11:35 AM.
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    A couple of questions for you you Cleland Cycle guys -- what's an average speed for a ride, like for the one in the video? (not so different from my rides, sans water -- I live in a desert). What's kind of distance does a good weekend ride on off-road terrain cover? I have formed some opinions based upon what I've learned from the Cleland website about where and how those bikes would be fun and where they might not be so much fun, and it would be enlightening to have some input on average speeds and distances covered. Thanks!
    Different Cleland riders will of course have different riding habits, but here is some data from my rides this year.

    Maximum distance covered in a single days riding is 60 miles. This was a very long and rainy day about 60% of which was off-road and though muddy and wet, the going was not very technical nor the hills very steep. Riding through mud can be very hard work and once it took me 10 hours to ride 40miles.

    According to my SatNav a more typical day of lowland riding was 28.9 miles in length and only 35metres between lowest and highest altitudes.The SatNav recorded an average speed of 6.3mph and a top speed of 20mph. The average speed is lower than expected but I don't know if the SatNav factors in the numerous stops along the way. The conditions were again muddy and large sections of the trail were waterlogged. And this was in high Summer. When crossing one waterlogged field, at one point the water was up to our knees. It was like cycling across a shallow lake.

    These were both group rides with most of the other riders riding mountain bikes. As usual I had no problem in keeping up with the other riders, even on the road sections, despite my using very low tire pressures.

  13. #38
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    Hi dgw2jr,

    It is interesting that you have independently come up with a similar solution to that which Geoff did 30+ years ago.

    The FatBikes have the same, go anywhere ethos as the Clelands.
    They also both share the use of ultra low tire pressures. All you say about easily lifting the front wheel and being able to turn sharply is pure Cleland.

  14. #39
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    A quick note about access:
    In England and Wales access is very limited; cyclists can only use designated 'byways', (roads that have been allowed to deteriorate into tracks), and 'bridleways', principally intended for horses, which use often makes them virtually impassable for cyclists. Thus most mountain bike riding is illegal.
    Scotland, however, now has 'Freedom to Roam' legislation in place, and you can go anywhere you want on a bicycle, except in places like working quarries or peoples gardens.

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    Wow thats pretty cool

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    A quick note about access:
    In England and Wales access is very limited; cyclists can only use designated 'byways', (roads that have been allowed to deteriorate into tracks), and 'bridleways', principally intended for horses, which use often makes them virtually impassable for cyclists. Thus most mountain bike riding is illegal.
    Scotland, however, now has 'Freedom to Roam' legislation in place, and you can go anywhere you want on a bicycle, except in places like working quarries or peoples gardens.
    Thank you for the correction. We have none of that here that I'm aware of. We assume everything is off-limits here in the states, even the wilderness, which is pretty weird considering our population density as a country is pretty low.

  17. #42
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    That 'off-limits' situation must be quite a spoiler. However limited the access is in England, at least all legal paths are marked on our Ordnance Survey maps.
    Scotland has followed most of mainland Europe where complete freedom to roam is long established.
    Restricting access is really very stupid; anyone who is going to cause damage will gain access anyway, regardless of the law. So, law-abiding folks suffer pointlessly.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    That 'off-limits' situation must be quite a spoiler. However limited the access is in England, at least all legal paths are marked on our Ordnance Survey maps.
    Scotland has followed most of mainland Europe where complete freedom to roam is long established.
    Restricting access is really very stupid; anyone who is going to cause damage will gain access anyway, regardless of the law. So, law-abiding folks suffer pointlessly.
    Gun owners apply the same logic. "If you outlaw guns, then only the outlaws will have guns."

    Somebody thought this post was pointless and irrelevant, as well as argumentative. How so?
    Last edited by dgw2jr; 10-11-2012 at 12:37 PM. Reason: WTF?

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    The implications of not allowing access to wilderness are interesting. Without access bikes specifically suited to exploring wild areas are unlikely to be designed and sold.

    In Britain we have a number of "trail centers" with purpose built trails designed to be exciting to ride. These are very popular and so are the types of bikes best suited to ride them. The only problem with that is that trails of this type, smooth, banked, well drained and free of vegetation are seldom found in nature. Like the London Olympics course, some consist mostly of smooth unsealed roads, and it can be more difficult to ride along the grass at the edge, than the trail itself. The next step may be to put roofs on these so that they can be ridden more safely when it's raining.

    I don't at all mind that people enjoy riding these man-made trails. It's just a long way away from the ideas of exploration and being at one with the natural environment that inspires me. It also promotes bike designs that are not necessarily suited to being ridden in the wild. For instance, despite the UK often being wet and muddy I have never seen off-road bikes, apart from Clelands, with effective fenders. Perhaps the emergence of FatBikes and bicycle SatNavs will help promote wilderness riding? Though this is unlikely in countries where it is prohibited.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEPMTBA View Post
    And why not Horses?
    I feel like I'm playing teeball here, but let me take a swing anyway...

    because horses are not bicycles?

    Yeah... thanks... thought of that one all by myself.

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    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
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  21. #46
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    The riding position on these Clelands reminds me of a guy I once saw at the Thursday night ride/race at my local uber-technical trail system. This trail features many sharp turns, many huge log-overs, short steep climbs, and plenty of slow speed technical moves. The guy was riding some kind of FS bike and I was struck by his high handlebar position and short cockpit. I remember talking to the guy about his set-up, but I forgot what he had to say (it was about 7 years ago, forgive me). In any case, he was about 5'8", 40+ years old, and had a decent gut. He was slow, but he was steady. He cleared many obstacles and lasted over 15 miles - no mean feat on this trail. I couldn't believe it at the time, but his upright cockpit was working for him on a very challenging trail.

    Long and boring anecdote, I know. But it illustrates the start of a lesson it has taken me many years to learn: rider style, terrain, and bike set up are three variables that come together and generate an infinite number of possible ways to have fun on/off the trail.
    Responds to gravity

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffApps View Post
    anyone who is going to cause damage will gain access anyway, regardless of the law. So, law-abiding folks suffer pointlessly.
    Riding off trail by its very nature causes damage; more or less depending on where you do it.
    There is pristine wilderness where even on- trail riding is not allowed. There is no way you can "gently" ride though wilderness. You change it. There is good reason to disallow this kind of riding in many places.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    Riding off trail by its very nature causes damage; more or less depending on where you do it.
    There is pristine wilderness where even on- trail riding is not allowed. There is no way you can "gently" ride though wilderness. You change it. There is good reason to disallow this kind of riding in many places.
    Water and air also change the environment. As do animals, such as deer and the predators that follow them. I guess the point you are making is that humans are far more efficient at changing the environment than any of the aforementioned. I suppose some issues with access here in the states is that someone will always try to find a way to commercialize it and turn a profit. Little shops and inns start to pop up to accommodate more people seeking recreation. Before ya know it, ya got strip malls and a Wal-mart where a swamp used to be. The trails are taken over by ATV's or dirt-bikes. All "camping" is done in an RV the size of a small house with all the luxuries included. The natural appeal of the area is lost.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgw2jr View Post
    Water and air also change the environment. As do animals, such as deer and the predators that follow them. I guess the point you are making is that humans are far more efficient at changing the environment than any of the aforementioned. I suppose some issues with access here in the states is that someone will always try to find a way to commercialize it and turn a profit. Little shops and inns start to pop up to accommodate more people seeking recreation. Before ya know it, ya got strip malls and a Wal-mart where a swamp used to be. The trails are taken over by ATV's or dirt-bikes. All "camping" is done in an RV the size of a small house with all the luxuries included. The natural appeal of the area is lost.
    Well, that wasn't exactly the direction I was going. My point was simply that trails allow us to enter nature without disturbing it as much as you would by going off trail. I used to live in Tucson where they talked about some micro plant life in the soil that holds it together, provides nutrients, reduces erosion etc. You disturb the soil and it could take decades to return to normal in that environment. Here in Colorado, the high altitude tundra is similarly fragile.
    Sure water and animals disturb things as well, but that is part of the environment which is in balance. You throw things out of balance very quickly if you disregard rules for trail use. You can see in many places where a few people have left scars that don't heal.
    You also have an effect on wildlife, mating and migration patterns, nesting, etc.

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    Hi buddhak,
    I guess that Geoff is unlikely to be the only motorbike rider who has tried to reproduce the trials bike experience having crossed over to off-road cycling? Or maybe this rider discovered his riding style through experimentation and exploring alternative approaches.

    Hi smilinsteve,
    I take your point about our responsibility to preserve and respect wilderness environments. Such unspoilt natural environments are rare in the UK. Even areas we think of as wild have actually been formed through centuries of sheep farming etc. And some trails are so eroded by centuries of people and livestock that they are now sunken deep into the earth. In a way we don't have to worry as much as some other countries about damaging and changing the environment. Centuries of intensive agriculture has already done a million times more damage than bikes could ever do.

    Clelands and Speed:
    Some times we ride slowly. Sometimes we ride fast. Sometimes we overtake mountain bikes. Sometimes they overtake us. Especially so on long hill climbs when the extra weight of the Clelands takes it's toll. (Weight is not an inherent property of the Cleland design, but because we don't have the resources or money to make them ultra lightweight). Only on road or into strong headwinds is speed an issue. But this is also an issue for most mountain bike designs.

    Here is a head-cam video of my 1988 Cleland overtaking a mountain bike. You can also see from the camera angle just how relatively high the Clelands are. There great fun to ride. You do have to get used riding a bike where you can't touch the floor whilst sitting on the saddle. But once you have mastered getting on and off, it feels perfectly normal.
    Wendover Reunion Ride 2010 on Vimeo
    Last edited by GrahamWallace; 09-21-2012 at 12:14 PM.

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