Livo's Bike HistoryI have been riding MTBs for the past 20 yrs and after reading Eric's page I thought would put down my bike history. Its been great to reflect on those riding years. So here it is. Hope you don't get too bored!
Claude Butler Banshee Sept 1989
We had just needed another mode of transport to work to free up Helen who was looking after our two young children. We couldn't afford another car and so I looked at motorbikes! However, a young lad in church suggested I try his mountain bike. I did and I was instantly hooked. I decided that my mode of transport to work was going to be via mountain bike. I spent many hours pouring over brochures. After much deliberation I decided to go for the Claude Butler Banshee. This was just above a budget bike with Reynolds 501 CroMoly main tubes. The group set was Shimano Country. This was the beginning of my mountain bike journey. I cut my teeth on this unforgiving fully rigid bike. It came on holiday with us and I practised riding rocky ascents and descents. Back then I never met anybody else on a mountain bike. Grizedale Forest in the Lake District was a steep learning curve for me. Some of the stuff done on the bike over 18 months included Walna Scar Pass taught me how to choose lines carefully and developed my handling skills.
Cannondale SM 700 Jan 1991
My younger son started school in January 1991. My wife was then able to take a part-time job and so I decided to upgrade to a proper mountain bike! I saw the Cannondale 3.0 Series with big fat tubes, looking like nothing else in its time. This bike was made of 6061 T6 aluminium and as light as anything. That frame was well under 5lbs! With Richie Logic rigid forks the complete bike was lighter than I thought possible. The difference was untrue. This was where my riding ability went to a different level. I started racing and doing quite well too and getting a mention in a couple of bike mags!! I became addicted taking the long way home from work in order to train for races.
I upgraded to SPDs, Girvin Vector forks, Onza bar ends, Ringle QRs, Hope Hubs, Flite Ti saddle etc etc over the years and was out most weekends. Holiday time saw the opportunity to explore new trails, take the boys on rides, train and develop new bike skills. This bike has been everywhere and done everything, it was amazing.
Bontrager Race May 1998
It was time for a change. Time for something different. I read a review of the Bontrager race in MBA and decided I needed to look at this. I went to the LBS and test rode one. This was a steel rig which was really compliant and absorbed a lot of trail noise due to the forgiving nature of steel. I bought it! I transferred all my parts from the Cannondale onto the Bontrager. The first incarnation saw it with Manitou Mach 5 forks and 135mm stem. I was still in race mode! This bike was truly an amazing handling bike. Far better than the Cannondale and the speed at which I went on this was at a different level. I'd given up racing by now, riding to work and still out at weekends. I love this bike. There were a number of changes, the main one being the purchase of Pace Evo II forks. These were the first proper forks I'd had which used hydraulic damping and springs rather elastomers. They were pretty good for the first 12 months and then were plagued with seal air and oil seal problems.
I was struggling with a lot of lower back pain every time I rode. It was becoming a real problem. I was concerned about the fact I may have to give up riding such was the pain. Every time I got on the bike the pain started. I tried changing the riding position using shorter stems and different seatposts but to no avail. I rode a variety of bikes when on holiday in the States all of which were full suspension, and had no back pain at all. I decided to go full suspension!!
Ellsworth Isis July 2001
I'd read a lot about this bike in magazines and on mtbr.com. All gave rave reviews. I managed to get a demo bike and rode it on one of my favourite trails in North Wales. It was awesome and no back pain! So I ordered a frame, the SL. I built it up myself with the Pace Evo II forks and all the other kit from the Bontrager, including my trusty Shimano XT Thumb Shifters which were still going strong! The bike was not equipped with hydraulic discs beacause I couldn't afford them at the time, what with having to buy new hubs as well made the cost prohibitive. I managed to get some XTR V brakes cheaply so put those on. With this bike I was riding at a completely different level. The speed it would go over rocks and boulders and technical terrain was quite literally unbelievable compared with the Bontrager. It climbed like a mountain goat and descended on rails! At first it scared me, the speed that this thing would go! Coming down Snowdon was unbelievable. It handled everything. In those days 4" of rear travel was bordering on free ride!! I tell you what this bike was way ahead.
Various incarnations have occurred for the Isis. The disc brakes being the best. Marzocchi MX forks and the short 70 mm stem. I am now riding with 130 mm Fox Talas forks which are the best I have ever used. Two years ago I upgraded the Fox Float to the RP 23. A great rear shock but with the Isis I don't need a lockout! Never have.
I've never had a bike for this length of time and have no desire to change it whatsoever. It's the best bike I have ever ridden. It handles everything from fast downhill, all mountain and everything in between. And it looks pretty good for 8 years old too! And had no probs with lower back pain since 2001!!
Ellsworth Epiphany SST1 2010
Time for a change!!! It's been a huge decision to move on as the Isis has so many memories. Its like it is part of me. Anyway I had some money and been so pleased with the Isis and been totally impressed with the Epiphany Mk1 I rode in Moab that I decided to stick with Ellsworth. You can read my build up!!
And so another chapter opens. Totally impressed although fiddling still with set up and a few minor niggles but the ride is awesome as they say!!