Nerds

Cycling is cool, right? No, cycling is the sport of nerds, and in celebration here are our top five favourite cycling nerds, in no particular order:

Sheldon Brown – The man, the beard, the legend, Sheldon Brown has provided over 51% of all the nerdy bike-related information on the internet via his website which continues to be posthumously updated by like-minded bike-nerds. He had a pure function over form approach to cycling and he was a big fan of making existing things work, his site is also an almost daily reference for us when we come up against an obscure wheel size/bottom bracket threading/anything on a French bike. If you think you know everything about bikes take a look and prepare to feel ignorant.

Keith Bontrager, aka ‘the Professor’ –  Keith invented the carbon fibre framed full suspension bike with V brakes in 1987, which in bike terms is approximately a million years ahead of the rest of the Industry. A sort of Californian engineering-philosopher he coined the maxim “strong, light, cheap: pick two” which I still find myself repeating today as it’s a pragmatic and succinct way of making component choices. His own products were designed with the same no nonsense approach and all prototyped, tested and used by the man himself in the Californian hills, frames were powder-coated for toughness with the decals covering the main tubes so they could be replaced when they got tatty. Keith’s production MTB frames also ride incredibly, if you get chance to try one out then do it, they are one of the best handling mountain bikes from the early 90s (in my humble opinion of course).

Jobst Brandt – Like Sheldon Brown, Jobst was an early adopter of the internet and a widening online community, he also wrote one of the most comprehensive books on the art of wheel-building. His sometimes lengthy posts covered a range of subjects from tyres to less tangible things such as ride quality, his discussions often included short, to the point answers, but he had such a depth of knowledge that it’s hard to begrudge him a little grumpiness with naive internet hecklers.

Charlie Cunningham – Although not widely known, Charlie is a mountain bike pioneer, MTBHoF member and an incredible innovator who’s parts transformed high-end MTBs in the late 80s and early 90s. In the late 1970s Charlie was hanging around with the other pioneers generally credited with devising the sport of mountain biking but soon realised that he could ride more, for longer, and more enjoyably if he used an aluminium built bike with a good range of gears rather than the converted 1930s clunkers everyone else was using. Not only was his contribution to the technical advancement of MTBs huge (yet understated) he was also a massive advocate of bikes and cycling as a low-impact form of transport that did not damage the planet.

“The bicycle can do wonders. With awesome mechanical efficiency, the fluidity of motion is primal, unlocking hidden awareness. The more one uses a bike, especially in a natural setting, the more attuned we become to ourselves and our planet.”

Charlie was recently involved in a bike accident and suffered a number of serious injuries, if you can help out please visit his gofundme site.

Grant Petersen – The bike nerd’s bike nerd, Grant was at the helm of the US arm of Bridgestone in the 1980s and 90s and now runs Rivendell Bicycle Works, he is the doyen of riding bikes for enjoyment. Petersen’s Bridgestones, particularly the XO models, are some of the most sought after vintage production bikes and were built with a combination of clever speccing and quality Japanese built frame sets. Often offering an opinion at 90 degrees to the general Industry viewpoint he has garnered a large cult-ish following and continues to fly in the face of technological advancement and the modern all-black-carbon-swoosh-tubed-aesthetic. He also invented gravel riding, which is cycling’s hot new cool thing.

by Skinny

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