current rides: getting ridden
old bikes: gone but not forgotten
Independent Fabrication Titanium Deluxe
This was supposed to a forever bike, then 26″ wheels went out of fashion and geometries all evolved again. Wish I’d spec’d it as disc only in hindsight, but it mattered not and it was a fantastic bike that did everything from cross country racing, enduros and trans-Alp adventures.
Scott Genius Plus
Went to the Alps and rode a fat bike on snow. Thought bigger tyres were cool. Bought a bouncy bike with clever gubbins and the ability to ride bigger wheels to and loved it. Best climbing bike to date with mega traction too. Sold it as I wanted something longer after riding the Chameleon and going to California.
Trek Remedy 9
At the time this was a highly praised 6″ travel trail slaying all mountain bike. It did National Parks, Trail centres and the Alps. It was reliable, burly and bouncy. It was point and shoot. It was white and stayed mostly that colour, most of the time.
The kit was heavily updated and improved over time, but the suspension pivots and bushes were never touched and it still wasn’t sloppy even at the end when it was sold. It served 9 solid years and I’d have bought another one but Trek did some silly thing that restricted the steering angle on the 2018 bikes. Idiots.
Independent Fabrication Singlespeed Deluxe
When you absolutely need the best possible tools for the job, think IF. Kaboom panels, Phil Wood Eccentric Bottom Bracket, Vanilla Forks and Chris King Bits. Loved this bike and rode it loads.
Independent Fabrication Planet Cross
I decided that riding from the front door was the new thing and that after several months of riding on the road and taking the singlespeed out, I decided that there was a limit to my range on the dirt and too many fools trying to kill me on the road. The solution I decided was a cross bike that could be ridden both on the trails and used to link up road sections in some style.
This Independent Fabrication Planet X has the modern day take on the classic Fat Chance Aquamarine Fade. At 22lb for a large steel frame it ain’t too heavy and with custom geometry and sizing the fit was the best I’d ever had on a 700c wheeled bike. It did some cross racing in the winter and some local trail explorations!
A bit of a retro classic when I bought it, but local pedigree having been supplied by Harry Hall Cycles. It’d clearly been very rarely used and was both immaculate and totally original. A few replacement parts and a bit of a facelift and we had a very effect bike for child seat and then trailer duties. Sold to a film studio as a prop!
Sometimes you fancy a bike that’s a bit different and if there’s the opportunity to sample an iconic British brand at the same time, then it’s too good to resist. Enter the Roadrat. Sold as a do anything, flat-barred road bike that’s good for commuting, touring and cycle-cross, it’s certainly a tough nut. Thing as a choice of bike it never quite made sense in relation to the other bikes and never fitted or rode as nicely as the Planet Cross. What I need is a road bike.
Harry Hall Elan
Having worked in Harry Hall Cycles in Manchester for over six years it felt right to want to ride one of the bikes that had helped publicise the shop and had propelled top riders to victory. This is a handmade in Manchester Reynolds 531c frame. It has the modern short drop brake spacing at the rear and Campagnolo lugs and braze ons. Completely stripped and shot blasted, it now sports a Profile carbon fork and a luscious paintjob (one of the last Tyneside finishes) from Dave Yates. The result is a light(ish) and nimble road bike that seems to do everything right so far. The initial build spec is likely to be subject to significant change.
I always wanted a Kona Explosif, ever since my old friend Rob Brown had a fantastic one from Stif in the early ’90s. I always wanted a British Racing Green Explosif too. This bike has been built up as a bit of a project and as the bike for our female rider at the Bontrager 24hr this season. Frame from eBay. Respray by C&G Liverpool. Custom Chris King pink decals/stickers by Gil at the Cycle Shed. It’s built into a sub 25lb hardtail and by all accounts it rides really well and that’s a good enough bit of feedback for me.
Orange Patriot XCEL
Come back from the Alps buzzing from a fantastic trip and wanting to go faster and bigger than a hardtail permits. Order suitable bike. Wait an incredible amount of time for the 2007 bikes to become available. Get new bike. Love riding it. Decide that you can no longer afford to keep it with rising interest rates. Regretfully have to sell it.
Independent Fabrication Deluxe
My third IF may well have been too much. It wasn’t really expected and wasn’t planned for. As such it never really fitted into the plan of bikes. It was a truly beautiful frame. Black paintwork inlaid with stunning Ruby Red Graphics hand painted by the staff at Indy Fab for a bespoke finish. In the end a need to find funds to go racing in South Africa prompted a reluctant sale. The question is can a true Independent Fabrication addict survive with only two frames? I think I know the answer. The question is, what’s next?
Specialized Enduro Expert
Another full suspension bike and it had to be a new FSR. It took a long time to work out a suitable replacement with which to retire the previous bike and I really though this was it. Thing is that it didn’t turn out to be what I was expecting. Too much travel. Too plush. Overly downhill orientated and not much fun on slow technical stuff. It’s a great bike for riding the man-made trails in Wales and probably in Scotland too, but on typical cross country rides in the UK it was all a bit much.
Specialized FSR Elite
My first full suspension bike, chosen after two seasons of test riding to see what was on offer and what suited me. Unlike other bikes of it’s period like the Marin B-17, the extruded strength of the Fsr frameset and its popularity on the downhill and 4-cross circuits has resulted in a modern classic a design that has kept pace with the latest geometry and developments and in materials and still offers a bike that is serviceable and robust, light enough for cross country enduros but solid enough for the Peaks too. Ended my ownership with a full BETD rear triangle, needle bearing rear end and TF Tuned shock.
Saracen Kili Singlespeed
I inherited this frame and forks from my good friend Jed Southwood from Deadpineapple when he traded up to a handbuilt Fuquay singlespeed. When I first rode this bike I really didn’t like it, but it’s definitely grown on me over time. In fact I made some quite disparaging remarks about singlespeeding in general. I’ve tried it with suspension, but have to say it was best as a rigid bike. It’s a far cry from the Saracen bikes you see being sold these days that’s for sure.
Specialized S Works M5
A full suspension bike can sometimes be too much. When you want something for racing it’s got to be light responsive and durable. I always wanted a full XTR bike from shortly after the groupset was launched. This is the first bike I’ve achieved that wish on. I’m a firm believer in Specialized geometry and this low-slung little number is a real beauty. The classic red and white finish is timeless. The aim of this project was to create a durable bike and it was the bike of choice for enduro-style events.
Specialized Allez E5
When my De Rosa was written off, this is what I chose as a replacement. Up until I sold it I was pretty happy with it really, but never rode it enough to do it justice… I loved the bike, but I just didin’t enjoy riding road anymore. It’s gone to a good home.
Well this was one damn good looking bike, so good looking that it actually attracted praise to that effect from SP, which as those who know him will appreciate is praise indeed. Rode like a good bike should, with excellent handling and rapid acceleration. All in all a great bike and one that I might regret for not keeping longer and one I’ll always consider going back to in future.
This was an investment bike, bought for getting from A to B around town and then when it was the right time, was sold on. Triple butted chromoly frame mind you, Marin did always make very nice light steel bike frames.
P7 Number two. This bike found it’s way into the collection as a frame and then sat lonesome at the foot of the bed waiting to be built up. It is now carrying a certain famous Alaskan Pup around Scotland’s Pentland Hills and to a few bivvi’s.
Saracen Kili Flyer
An investment bike inherited from my mate Chris Thorne who gave me the frame. It sulked in the corner for a year until I built it up and rode it from Seven Oaks in Kent across France to Luzern in Switzerland. That taught it a lesson. Then I sold it.
When I decided that I wanted to get a BMX to learn all the tricks I never managed to master when I was kid this was the beast. 4130 Chromoly frame, three piece chromoly chainset, built in chain tensioners and racing wheels. The race bike I always wanted, but never had. Rode it for a few months then sold it on.
De Rosa AL+
Italian road bikes don’t come much finer than these. I loved my De Rosa. I cleaned it. Polished it. Pumped its tyres up before every ride. Then some cock in a Corolla decide to take me and it out. It went to the bicycle scrapyard in the sky and I was not a happy chap. Most annoying was the fact that I could never find a replacement that matched up to it.
I’ve had two P7s. The first was bought as a replacement frame and forks through a contact at the Orange headquarters in Halifax after I eventually killed the Boss. It was Nickel plated and lovely and was a truly great bike for riding in the Peaks. There is stuff I have ridden up on this bike that I have never repeated. Student debt forced its sale.
I can’t claim much in my cycling career, but I did get sponsored by Giant’s youth development program for a year. They gave me a CFR series carbon frame and forks and some other kit and I built it up and went out riding and racing it. I did quite well and had a pretty good time whilst I was doing it.
Specialized S-Works Steel
This bike was great and I loved owning and riding it. I won a few races in the saddle on this bad boy and a few series championships. I looked after it and it served me well. What happened to it? Well I crashed it trying to drop into a bombhole and dinged the top tube and then fashions changed and I bought an FSR, was hard up and needed the cash. It went to a good home, but I miss it.
British Eagle Boss
I worked a whole summer to buy this ex-demo bike. It was a world apart from the Mustang I traded in to buy it. Full Deore DX groupset, toestrap pedals, rigida alloy rims, proper mountain bike tyres and of course an over-sized alloy frame. This was the bike I started mountain bike racing on and where I cut my teeth in the upgrade process. By the time I finished it was a very light bike and good fun to ride. I did rather spoil it when I had it bead blasted for respraying, but it took two paint jobs and over five years of use before the frame snapped in the middle of the Peak District.
Well this was my first mountain bike. To all intents and purposes it was a real mountain bike in my eyes. I even had the gearing upgraded from 15 to 18 gears and Farmer John’s tyres! It was a good bike and I did some stuff on it that I’ve never attempted since – the fact that I wrote off both the steel rimmed wheels doing it was obviously just part of the fun. Once I had a job and started reading MBUK of course, a new bike wasn’t far off.
When I was about 7 my Mum bought me one of these for my Birthday. It was far too big for me then, but I quickly grew into it. Years of bicycle exploration and then basic spanner work followed. It had a hard life especially as I didn’t appreciate it’s worth back then, but it made me interested in bikes from an early age. I eventually moved on up to Mountain bikes not long after they came out. Amazingly there is a Raleigh Burner retro site here.