Back in 1981, when the original pre-production Cleland prototype was finally built, it seemed to be a logical design for a cross-country bicycle, ideal for trundling over the very varied terrain here in the often soggy British Isles. Although this story focuses on the very varied, highly restricted and sometimes challenging UK terrain, it can’t be the only place in the world where riders find their local terrain is not exactly ideal for off-road cycling.
Then, in 1983, when mountain bikes arrived on these shores, I was very excited. They would allow a lot more people to discover the enjoyment of cycling off-road; I would no longer be nearly always riding on my own. I imagined that a significant number of these people would find my design more appropriate for typical UK conditions.
They didn’t get the chance because my company producing the Cleland Aventura was put out of business in 1984. With the mountain bike market rapidly gathering momentum, the Aventura didn’t match the fashion and I was unable to get anyone interested in re-starting production. Since then I’ve been constantly asking myself if my bicycle designs could thus be all wrong.
As is often human nature, people who are clearly a bit screwy, the ‘flat-earthers’ if you like, entrench themselves in their delusions because it’s all they think they’ve got. To let go of their long-held loony beliefs would be to deny their own very existence. Thus, the more they are challenged, the stronger they build their deluded defences.
Is this me? Although I’ve ridden many kinds and designs of bicycle, I always found my design seemed to function better than anything else for my kind of cross-country cycling adventures. Since I came to my design through my own intuition, I would have to spend the following years figuring out exactly why it is better, being always alert to the inevitable bias I would naturally have.
The conclusions I’ve drawn are set out in this story; whether right or wrong is really of no consequence. Why should I care?
Well, the fact is I don’t give a flying fig what other people ride or think about off-road bicycle design. On the other hand, a little bit of me says I should care; there might be other people who are also somewhat disenchanted with the current crop of off-road bicycles and that all-pervasive pseudo-competitive marketing that goes with them.
Posted by slapheadmofo:
…[is he saying] the only bike that can ride anywhere besides a highly groomed track is the one he built? And anyone riding anything but is mainly just interested in being “fashionable”?
Are there people who would buy a more practical and less fashion-orientated bicycle? A bicycle that simply ‘does the job’ and performs well for normal people in the everyday real world of cross-country cycling? If such people exist, should I not share with them what I have learnt?
To quote C S Lewis, “… you never really possess something until you give it away…”
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