Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 52 total)
  • Going for a ride with Geoff Apps and….
  • Premier Icon ajantom
    Full Member

    ….having your perceptions changed.

    I went for a ride with Geoff a few days ago, something we’d been planning on doing for ages, but kept missing each other. It was a good afternoon’s ride, and definitely opened my eyes to how things could be different in MTB design.

    Here’s the latest incarnation of Geoff’s bike:

    Now, if you were to show this to most MTBers they’d probably dismiss it out of hand. High BB, short wheelbase, zero length stem, very high, relatively narrow bars. Start looking at the details though and it makes a lot of sense for your average (whatever that is!) UK rider – especially if you enjoy hacking along bridleways in the kind of conditions that are typical to a British winter (and sometimes summer 😉 )

    Having had a go on it the enclosed drivetrain makes huge sense – even after going through axle deep slop the chain was clean.
    The hub/roller brakes give excellent modulation, and work even after total immersion in mud.
    The extreme upright position is akin to riding a horse. The high centre of gravity means that little movements of your body can shift your weight around easily and make it easy to ride over really rough and steep ground.
    The elliptical chainrings added to the the low gearing (and hub gears so you can change whilst putting on the power) feel odd, but means you have power in the pedal stroke exactly when it’s needed. I rode up a hill on this that I would never manage on any geared bike I’ve owned. Probably a 30/35% gradient on rutted, wet grass.
    It even goes downhill amazingly well. The closest analogy I can give is that it ‘floats’ over stuff. very low tyre pressures – 4-6 psi – in 2.5″ 29er tyres mean that you have to get used to the tyre squirm. But it never feels unbalanced, or unplanted.
    You can go probably go faster on a ‘normal’ bike, but this has to be the most comfortable bike that I’ve ever ridden. And one that is capable of covering the most varied terrain possible without dismounting. I imagine my wife who loves riding horses, but doesn’t (even though I’ve tried!) enjoy MTBing, would feel at home on this bike.

    I went on the ride expecting to be interested, but maybe not convinced by Geoff’s ideas. But I’ve come away with my perceptions entirely changed as to what this type of bike can be and do. I’m not going to go out and sell all my other bikes, but if I had the opportunity to add a Cleland to my rides I would like a shot.

    Premier Icon SidewaysTim
    Full Member

    Chris Porter would love that.

    Premier Icon Goz
    Free Member

    Interesting, many years ago I played a small part in the manufacture of the prototype.

    Premier Icon RustySpanner
    Full Member

    Me too.
    Really interesting bloke.
    Wanted a go on one of these for ages, since reading about GA in the old Richard’s MTB book.

    Just found the blog for the new bike.
    🙂

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Full Member

    He was taeamng up with brant at one point I thought, but nothing seemed to come out of it.

    Was a great article about him in Privateer.

    Premier Icon mcmoonter
    Free Member

    Interesting read.

    Way back in the mid eighties I had a go on a HighPath. It was the only bike capable of climbing the steep gravel path up Mount Keen from Glen Tannar. Very stable at low speeds with comedy low gearing.

    I read somewhere on Retro Bike a while back that someone had found one locked up and forgotten about in a stairwell in Edinburgh. I wondered if it was the same bike.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    You have to admire those who follow there own path

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Full Member

    Very much like a trials bike for mtb riding. Makes an awful lot of sense.

    Premier Icon ajantom
    Full Member

    Chris Porter would love that.

    Weirdly, even though their riding ethos is probably poles apart, I think they’d probably have a lot to discuss. They are both riders/designers who have taken an idea and gone with it to the Nth degree. Both have designed biked that fit their world view. It’d be fun to get the to ride each other’s bikes and see what they said!

    Geoff enjoyed having a ride on my Krampus whilst I rode his bike. There were things he liked, and things he didn’t, but importantly he had an open mind on the subject. I think his greatest fear is that he’s going (cycling?) up a blind alley.

    Very much like a trials bike for mtb riding. Makes an awful lot of sense.

    Well, Geoff comes from a motorbike observed trials background. He loves sessioning muddy, rooty, slidy sections to see who can get through without a dab.

    Premier Icon brant
    Full Member

    The pedals are awesome.

    Premier Icon ajantom
    Full Member

    Yes, i didn’t even mention them! Offset bearing, swing pedals, that cradle your foot 😉
    With 160 mm cranks you get an effective crank length of 190 mm in the power part of your stroke.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    I can’t remember the model but I rode one of his a very long time ago, it was ridiculously good at going slowly and ridiculously bad at going fast. But I remember riding it around the bit of wasteland near my school and it’d just go anywhere, it was like having stabilisers. I’d love a go on a modern one.

    Premier Icon brant
    Full Member

    I would love to ride a set of those pedals. With shorter crank arms.
    Impossible to slip off them I guess.

    Premier Icon brant
    Full Member

    If Geoffs bike is one extreme and Chris’s bike the other, does that mean that many regular bikes are ideal for moderate riding?

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    The pedals!!

    If Geoffs bike is one extreme and Chris’s bike the other, does that mean that many regular bikes are ideal for moderate riding?

    I use to think like that

    Then it turns out that the Lib Dems were Tories after all

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    But your right of course

    I bet Chris’s bike is brilliant for throwing down rubble shoots with no fear

    But thats not me so no point in having a bike that pretends I can do what i can’t

    Premier Icon bedmaker
    Full Member

    If Geoffs bike is one extreme and Chris’s bike the other, does that mean that many regular bikes are ideal for moderate riding?

    Sounds about right to me.

    Reading CP’s article, its fair enough having a strong opinion on what works for yourself, but dismissing everything else just makes him come across as a bit of a tool.
    My bike is closer to GA’s than CP’s, but it’s helped by having the biggest, fattest fat tyres available to give more gyro stability at speed to make up for the very short wheelbase and high BB 🙂

    Premier Icon robdob
    Free Member

    I have ridden one of Geoffs bikes and I can tell you it goes uphill like nothing else, it’s just weird how much grip and stability there is, it’s awesome. I thought it was a bit weird downhill and so I didn’t rate it for that………..until Geoff passed me, 35 years my senior, on a rocky rooty slippery muddy downhill like I was standing still. And I’m pretty good downhill too.

    Premier Icon jobro
    Free Member

    I think we would all agree that the world would be diminished without the likes of Geoff Apps in it.

    Premier Icon mudrider
    Free Member

    brant – Member

    “I would love to ride a set of those pedals. With shorter crank arms.
    Impossible to slip off them I guess.”

    There’s a lot more to those pedals than their stable platform. Biomechanical research carried out on similar pedals concluded that they gave a predicted efficiency improvement of 3.2%, resulting in an extra 3.6w @90Rpm.
    http://www.noncircularchainring.be/pdf/Biomechanical%20study%20-%20Project%20002%20Vista%20Pedal.pdf

    Interestingly they came up with an optimal drop of 30mm,the same as that that Apps has arrived at through experimentation.

    The biomechanics seem unsure as to the exact reason for the increased output, but noticed that the path taken by the foot was no longer circular. This can only be explained by ankling during the rotation. Interestingly moving the heel down at the top of the power stroke moves the pedal in front of the ‘dead-spot’, making the start of the down-stroke easier and quicker. Also ankling the foot at the bottom of the power stroke can help to lengthen the stroke through that ‘dead-spot’ and so smooth the power delivery to the rear wheel.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    Nope, I’m going to bite. This is a troll, right? That’s ridiculous.

    I like the pedal experiment though. I always imagined pedals like that could help people with limb-length-discrepancies, but I didn’t realise they actually existed.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Full Member

    That’s one hell of a chainring!

    Premier Icon CaptainFlashheart
    Free Member

    That’s one hell of a chainring!

    That’s not a chainring.

    THAT’S a chainring.

    Premier Icon mudrider
    Free Member

    Superficial – Member

    “Nope, I’m going to bite. This is a troll, right? That’s ridiculous.”
    In terms of the claimed 3.2% efficiency gains, I haven’t a clue whether the experimenters are right or wrong.

    In terms of the reduced ‘dead-spot’, I have ridden Geoff’s bike and experimented with exaggerated ankling through the ‘dead-spots’.

    What I can say for sure is that climbing steep hills using ordinary pedals, you either have enough momentum to get the pedal over the top, so that you can start the next power stroke or you don’t. Applying all the pedaling force you can muster will not help, as that force is only compressing the crank, but not rotating it. With Geoff’s pedals, all you have to do is to drop your heel at this point. This moves the pedal forward enough so that some of your pedaling effort can help to keep the crank rotating.

    In this way the Geoff’s pedal system feels smoother, less hard work, and so just may be more efficient.

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    It feels like that is like one of these:

    whilst modern enduro mountain bikes are more like one of these:

    Premier Icon bm0p700f
    Free Member

    That bike looks like a roack crawler to me, I bet it would be awesome at that.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Full Member

    That’s not a chainring.

    Not the size, look at how elliptical it is!

    Premier Icon IanMunro
    Free Member

    Great to see Geoff Apps is still doing hist stuff!!

    I don’t understand the linked document though.

    ]There’s a lot more to those pedals than their stable platform. Biomechanical research carried out on similar pedals concluded that they gave a predicted efficiency improvement of 3.2%, resulting in an extra 3.6w @90Rpm.
    http://www.noncircularchainring.be/pdf/Biomechanical%20study%20-%20Project%20002%20Vista%20Pedal.pdf

    There’s a graph showing more power with the offset pedal set-up, but cranks don’t generate power, the human sat on top of them does, and there doesn’t seem to be any information about them.

    Premier Icon Klunk
    Free Member

    the mud shield behind chain ring is always something I though would be most useful riding in the sticky stuff as most of the crud picked up by the chain comes from the tyres at that point. The trouble comes when the muds so sticky it completely clogs that area and you’re stuck fast.

    Premier Icon Cheezpleez
    Full Member

    That chainring is extraordinary. What’s the strut from the seat clamp to the mudguard?

    Premier Icon brant
    Full Member

    What’s the strut from the seat clamp to the mudguard?

    It’s a strut from the clamp to the mudguard, to give it support, without conventional stays to the rear dropout. I guess. Clever!

    Premier Icon jasonl
    Free Member

    Was lucky enough to meet Geoff and ride his bike (previous incarnation) a while back. A couple of us fat bikers took him to the local beach and rocks, and we also rode over some large tree felling brashings. The day was mostly Geoff wanting to find more and more extreme obstacles to attempt 🙂

    Once used to the different rider position (essentially you’re standing upright over the cranks), it was truly eye opening how capable it is over technical terrain. The high, relaxed position also giving you a better view of what’s ahead.

    You just seemed to stay neutral in the ‘cockpit’ with no need to consciously shift weight around – it just happened. Riding dry rocks felt easier than it sometimes does on my fat bike, especially drops where your weight is already back. Hard to say how much the super-low pressures played a role there though. The tyre squirm and constant thumping of rim on edge was a distraction. Indeed, a few spokes were popped out out hub flange during the day – but Geoff even has a solution for that.

    I concur with an earlier post that it felt odd at speed. Geoff proved that’s just a case of getting used to it though. But there’s no hiding the fact it’s not great into headwinds!

    Great chap, with a refreshing reminder of why many of us starting riding mountain bikes decades ago 🙂

    Premier Icon deejayen
    Full Member

    I think the bike would suit me really well. I emailed Geoff about it a while back, to ask if he was still making them (at the time his website indicated he was working on a production model), but didn’t receive a reply. Is this Geoff’s personal bike, and a one-off?

    Premier Icon Cheezpleez
    Full Member

    The blog is a fascinating, and inspiring, read. I love the idea of long cross country rides taking in trialsy obstacles along the way.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    I love the idea of long cross country rides taking in trialsy obstacles along the way.

    Me too, that’s what I try and work into my rides. I just don’t see how this bike is any good for that – It’s appears to be far too upright and too short. Dedicated trials bikes evolved into long/low/relatively slack geometry at least 10 years ago – so don’t be fooled into thinking this is some sort of XC / trials hybrid. This is more BMX geometry than anything else.

    I’d love to meet this guy and ride that thing, because I think he’s obviously an interesting character. I just don’t understand the geometry at all.

    Premier Icon jamj1974
    Full Member

    Great to see different thinking at play than the mass market provides. Would love to have a go on one of his machines.

    Premier Icon mudrider
    Free Member

    IanMunro – Member

    Great to see Geoff Apps is still doing hist stuff!!

    I don’t understand the linked document though.

    ]There’s a lot more to those pedals than their stable platform. Biomechanical research carried out on similar pedals concluded that they gave a predicted efficiency improvement of 3.2%, resulting in an extra 3.6w @90Rpm.
    http://www.noncircularchainring.be/pdf/Biomechanical%20study%20-%20Project%20002%20Vista%20Pedal.pdf

    There’s a graph showing more power with the offset pedal set-up, but cranks don’t generate power, the human sat on top of them does, and there doesn’t seem to be any information about them.

    My understanding is that the Biomechanical scientists have created a computer model of the human leg that accurately recreates the bones, joints and muscles. Note that they often give details of the forces measured as they travel through the various leg joints. They have then used this model to test the efficiency with which various non-round chainrings,swing-pedals etc, convert power from the legs.

    It is worth remembering here that the human leg has evolved for walking and running where the path taken by the foot is more semi-circular than round. It is therefore highly unlikely that a circular foot motion is the most efficient way to transfer power from the leg, to a bicycle drive chain.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Full Member

    mudrider – Member
    …It is worth remembering here that the human leg has evolved for walking and running where the path taken by the foot is more semi-circular than round. It is therefore highly unlikely that a circular foot motion is the most efficient way to transfer power from the leg, to a bicycle drive chain.

    Indeed 🙂

    Premier Icon mudrider
    Free Member

    deejayen – Member
    “Is this Geoff’s personal bike, and a one-off?”

    It’s a one-off bike that Geoff has been refining for the past four or five years. Geoff is not interested in producing bikes as he prefers to go riding. He would be happy if someone else wanted to produce his designs. However the cycle industry has never taken any interest in his ideas.

    Surprising when you think that Geoff:
    *was building prototype 650b off-road bikes from 1979
    *built his first 700c prototype in 1981/82
    *founded the first specialist off-road bicycle company in Europe, Cleland Cycles, in 1982.
    *exported the 570b and 700c Finnish snow tyres he used to Marin county frame-builders. (In 1984, Gary Fisher stopped these imports but some builders had copies made and carried on producing bikes. Later, the same Marin based 700c enthusiasts were instrumental in the development of the first 29er tyre, the WTB NanoRaptor).
    *developed his own twist grip changer in 1985

    Not to mention all the new ideas included in his current bike.

    Premier Icon mudrider
    Free Member

    Superficial – Member
    Me too, that’s what I try and work into my rides. I just don’t see how this bike is any good for that – It’s appears to be far too upright and too short. Dedicated trials bikes evolved into long/low/relatively slack geometry at least 10 years ago – so don’t be fooled into thinking this is some sort of XC / trials hybrid. This is more BMX geometry than anything else.

    Geoff now lives in Scotland and likes to ride up streams. [video]http://vimeo.com/38937805[/video]

    Superficial – Member
    I’d love to meet this guy and ride that thing, because I think he’s obviously an interesting character. I just don’t understand the geometry at all.

    Which specific aspects of the geometry do you want to know about?

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