R and D

Research & Development Focus

Despite the Cleland concept and the Aventura design being over 40 years old, never going into series production and reaching the mass-market, research and development continues to this day, drawing on those years of continuous innovation and field-testing. We are currently testing a range of components and technologies to ensure that these bikes are as capable, reliable and efficient as possible.

Although the Aventura is primarily designed for extreme off-road terrain, it can equally form the basis of a good all-rounder commuting bike, due to the excellent control and superb visibility afforded by the high riding position. In between these, it would make a good Country Bike, with a touring specification to cope with a wide range of conditions due to its weather protection, low-maintenance ethos and exceptional reliability, for those who like to sit up and watch the world go by.

The latest results of all development work is encapsulated in the latest Cleland, the ‘Landseer’, click here.

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21 Responses to R and D

  1. Bob Fairless says:

    Hi Geoff, it’s a pity you no longer sell the Cleland brand but so I get the “feel” I am running a small framed Thorn Raven to get the feel of the short top tube (I am 6′ so need a long seat post) and short wheelbase. The forks have an uncut steerer so with old school BMX bars and a stubby BMX stem the relative position of saddle to bars looks very similar to the Cleland giving a very upright riding position. I am running Sturmey Archer 3 speed with XL hubs front and rear. I have to say the bike handles extremely well and gives a very commanding feel. Of course it is running on 26″ wheels but very fat tyres. I will eventually replace the Sturmey with a Rohloff as the frame is Rohloff specific. So your design continues to inspire. I am now considering a Charge Cooker 0 that runs the 650b tyres and as it has the eccentric BB I could also run a Rohloff and do the same with a small frame; think it might be closer to the Cleland “feel”. Thanks for this site it is brilliant.

    Thanks Bob

  2. Tam says:

    Hi Geoff,

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been researching all I can about your bikes and philosophy and everything you write resonates with how I like and want to ride. I own a Surly Pugsley and while I really enjoy the advantage and fun large tires give me, I am not completely happy with the bike as a whole.

    In the next year or two, I want to commission a local frame builder to build me a fat tired bicycle that can accommodate full fenders, racks and the 5″ tyres with 100mm rims. I also want to take some of your philosophy into consideration for this bike. The reliability and usability really inspires me. Is there an email I can reach you at for questions about geometry and components.

    I want the new bike to be versatile, able to take the largest tyres, but also 29er+ tyres that surly has come out with, roller brakes and an upright riding position that will take me over all terrain, slowly and predictably.


    • gmacleland says:

      It’s interesting that you express some dissatisfaction with your Pugsley, ostensibly a bicycle concept similar in philosophy to Cleland, but with a quite different approach. However, you don’t specify which aspects of the overall design are causing you that dissatisfaction.

      Before embarking on the design project you envisage, it is vital that you carefully analyse and are absolutely clear which elements you want to correct for your style of riding. Before mountain bikes appeared on the scene, considering these matters was relatively straightforward; the canvas was blank and, to be frank, no-one was much interested. Now there exists a plethora of opinions, advice, information and data concerning riding a bicycle on rough terrain. These days I must question myself very critically to be sure that my design ideas have worth.

      When buying a bike, your purchase decision is based on, probably, a short test ride. In actuality, your riding will span several hours; it’s during and after this much longer period of cycling that appropriate design should be assessed.

      This not only applies to the reliability of components, but, more critically, the way your body performs as a whole; good respiration, which results in better muscle efficiency; smooth joint action, which results in less discomfort and improved endurance.

      The reliability of components is easy to appeciate; for example, it is obvious just by looking at them, that a suitable hub gear is going to be more reliable than a derailleur system. However. the eventual choice you make will be determined by several other factors as well, such as weight, cost, maintenance and availability; finding a balance between these that suits the riding you want to do.

      In less general terms, I would like to focus here on your idea to incorporate five-inch-wide tyres combined with 100mm rims.

      The first thing you must do here is measure the distance between your hip bones. Halving this dimension will give you an approximation as to the best Q-factor for your physique. The MINIMUM Q-factor you can achieve with a 5″ tyre will be about nine inches, so if your hip width is less than 18″, you will notice nothing for the first few miles. However, after several hours in the saddle, it will have an impact on your efficiency and fatigue, the effects of which could last several days and may result in longer-term joint health issues.

      In order for the Aventura to accommodate wider tyres with adequate mud-clearance, I am currently designing a crankset with a bottom bracket width of 110mm, two ellipsoid chainrings and a bashplate, yet keeping the Q-factor to about six inches (150mm), which is about right for most people, and will easily allow up to 3.5″ tyres to be used.

      Rim width is yet another design area were I am at complete odds with mainstream opinion. My view is that narrower rims improve tyre traction and reduce the possibility of pinch-punctures. I choose the narrowest rim I can fit tyres to; I’m currently using 17mm rims combined with 2.5″ (65mm) tyres. The only way I can describe this effect is with some diagrams, and I will try to find time enough to add a page to this site specifically to deal with this matter.

      All bicycle design requires compromise. Any blurb you may read which implies that a particular bicycle design has no compromises, or is ‘ultimate’ (ie: final), is just so much bollocks. Designing a versatile bike, as you want to do, will require compromises; the greater the versatility, the greater the compromises. This is NOT A BAD THING in itself, and demands much careful thought. Once your creative mind is turned in this direction, you’ll begin to appreciate how so many bicycles in the market are ‘compromised’.

      It is plain silly to attempt to evade or minimise the compromises you must make. Meet design compromise head-on, deal with it well and find the best outcome. You will probably be sneered at by people who have not gone through the necessary thought processes, but you must follow your inspiration to its final conclusion. Unfortunately, this kind of open thinking never seems to reach a final conclusion!

      If you do wish to ask further questions, it may be better to do it here, so that all readers can share the information.

  3. John Pearson says:


    This is a fascinating site and very inspiring. I live in Flanders, Belgium and find that conventional MTBs are just not well suited to the terrain here, and I am looking for ways to adapt better to the mud and short, steep climbs that one finds here.

    I’d really like to know how you get on with the Shimano Nexus gears and brakes shown on the 2010 version of this bike. I’ve seen various reviews and comments saying that neither the Nexus nor the Sturmey Archer equivalents are well suited to off road use. However, these reviews seem to be based on older versions of the products.
    I was also thinking about the option of Alfine or Rohloff hub gears with disc brake conversion, though I’d prefer to use hub brakes if I can.

    I’d be grateful for any advice or experiences you could share about using Nexus and similar products off road.



  4. iphone mount says:

    I went over this site and I believe you have a lot of wonderful info, saved to favorites (:.

  5. Stewart says:

    Geoff, ever thought of using the Surly 94mm tyre system? They look as if they’ve thought about the whole plugging through mud thing too: http://surlybikes.com/parts/endomorph_tire

  6. Ivan says:

    That new frame design looks like a 29ner version of the Raleigh 20 with the bars set close to the saddle.

    • gmacleland says:

      Ivan, way back in the early 1970s I considered the Raleigh 20 (shopper) frame as the basis for an off-road style bicycle. I’ve some drawings somewhere; I’ll dig them out and post them on the ‘History’ page.

  7. George says:

    The stem you want does exist (or at least they did). Flatland BMXers used to use them. They were made by Crupi, Azonic, Fishbone, Sequence and Hart and maybe some others. All with 7/8″ bar clamp size. You can probably find a stack of them gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere and pick up hundreds for very little money as they have lost favour these days…

    • gmacleland says:

      Yes, thanks for that; I was sure I’d seen something like it somewhere, some time ago. Now I KNOW I did! Trouble is I can’t find any listed and if this producton thing takes off, a steady supply will be needed. Also, I’ve been thinking about incorporating extra bits, or attachement points for a computer or light or anything like that.

  8. have you ever thought of designing a automatic gear system like the variomatic gearbox system that daf invented?

    • gmacleland says:

      I think an automatic gear system may not be such a good idea, since only I can decide which ratio is appropriate for any given situation.
      However, the DAF system wasn’t ‘automatic’ but ‘infinitely variable’ (within range). Read up on the NuVinci gear system; does that answer your question?

  9. I love the designs you’ve come up with . If you use CAD there is a program you can download for free and it gives you costing for putting your design into production and shipping . I can get you the name if you want . It’s in connection with a US university .

    Have you thought of building your own suspension system for the front forks? I belive a leading link design much like the old Gravin or AMP forks would work well or even forks like on the older BSA motorcycles would stay within your ethos. Such a design would mean that you can keep pannier mounts for the front of the bike.

    • gmacleland says:

      Thanks for your comment. I have to work within my resourses in regard to design. What you say about suspension is interesting; checkout the HighPath designs. I’m not very interested in suspension because a) it’s costly, b) it’s high-maintenance, c) it makes the steering geometry variable, which isn’t aways desirable, although the AMP forks had a trail compensation factor; and these types of design can incorporate an anti-dive mechanism. These important features do not feature in telescopic forks. Also, look at the photos of the prototype Cleland based on Peugeot NRS suspension on the Flickr photostream.

      One day I may think about the possibilities that suspension may offer, although it’s unlikely now at my age; I’ve probably got about ten years of active riding left to me, and I really want to focus on enjoying the bike I’ve got now, rather than constantly hankering after something ‘better’.

  10. Cave Giant says:

    With pressures that low, surely tubeless is the easy option?

    I have not set up my dissents tubeless (too cold out), but Dissents, weirwolfs and pretty much every 29″ I have tried works. Ran my stouts at 8psi with no issue.

    • gmacleland says:

      That’s very interesting, thanks. We don’t have much (any) experience of running tubeless. I know motorcycle trials are tubeless in the rear. At the moment, I’d have difficulty with my (20 year old) box-section rims. So R & D into this area will have to wait a while, unless I win the lottery!

  11. Pingback: Here it is… | Cleland Cycles

  12. Andy says:

    Absolutely Excellent, at last the bicycle is evolving in what I see as the right direction, to become more of a vehicle rather than , well, basically not a lot further than the very first bicycles, as even with modern suspension and all that that most drool over, not much has really changed, and in some ways has not evolved at all, delicate derailleurs dragging in the mud for example. Interesting the idea about the nettle guards on the handlebars, as with my Saracen ATB, I see the ski type bar ends as necessary finger protection, hand protection like on off road motorcycles, one does hit things from time to time and trees don’t give much.

    Again, Excellent, keep at it, for me, your design is the future, especially so if the design can be adapted to many requirements, the raised view in traffic definately is a plus and I just love your Decals, something British inspired and British built at last and that with the British mentality of old, relaibility and built for the job.

  13. Anne Marie says:

    I think those mud catchers are a good idea. They keep the rider and bike cleaner that mountain bike ‘compromise’ mudguards.

    It would appear that the bike would suit a wide range of sizes. Is there only going to be one size or are there going to other sizes covering the shorter legged rider or the very tall rider.

    • gmacleland says:

      Sorry Anne Marie, I haven’t replied yet because I can’t figure out what you mean by ‘mud catchers’.
      With regard to frame size, it will probably be one-size ~ not sure yet.

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