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“For a period from the 1930s onwards every single rider at the Tour de France was using Brooks saddles. That includes riders such as Eddy Merckx and Fausto Coppi who, despite the fact they might change bikes and bike sponsors each year, they’d still swap over their Brooks saddles. They had the same philosophy that we maintain with modern Brooks products — the idea that it’s a saddle you break in and then move from bike to bike.” 

Mark Needham, Brooks

You all know about Brooks. We’ve talked about them before on the blog.The brand is famous for its extraordinary work on comfortable saddles and quality luggage, suited to urban cycling and long-distance touring alike. But it wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time it would’ve been rare to see a rider in the Tour de France that wasn’t using a Brooks saddle – such was their pedigree for racing excellence. Now, in a quest to return to the peloton, Brooks have drawn on their heritage and created the C13  – a saddle that they hope will scale the heights of the racing world.

An ultra-light, carbon model it is light and strong, futuristic and cool. While benefiting from their heritage at Brooks, the designers were careful to make sure they didn’t build a relic. They used the feedback of more than 100 test-riders, who pulled no punches – either with their tests, or with their analysis. They even had the great David Millar take his saddle, at high speed, across the infamous cobbled road at Paris-Roubaix.

The C13 is the seat for a big performer. It’s for those who enjoy hurtling through torrential rain with a crackle in the throat and fire in the legs. This could be the saddle to take your current set-up to the next level, or maybe even to be the crowning glory of a complete new custom machine.

You see, traditionally any performance saddle is a Faustian pact with your bum. You sacrifice your comfort for the first mile or two in exchange for improved speed and reduced weight. With a more traditional Brooks model like the B17 or others from the Cambium range you’ll benefit from a wider seat which maxes out the comfort, but you lose that speed. The C13 aims to bridge that gap – offering greater comfort than most performance saddles and still delivering the low-weight, aero shape you want to really go fast.

The C13 looks brilliant. Classic and cool, it combines striking looks with raw speed. It’s exactly what you want from a saddle, and as we count down to a long-awaited summer it would be a brilliant purchase for anyone who looks forward to spending the long, warm days turning their legs to jelly so that they can feel the whip of wind on their reddened cheeks.

Images, Brooks.

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Before conspiracy theorists and people in tinfoil hats start descending on Fitzrovia, we’re not talking about the abominable snowman here, we’re talking about the legendary mountain biking brand from California. We’re delighted to announce we’ll be building with Yeti frames, as well as stocking their full bikes and componentry from March onwards – which is a huge honour and thrill for us as MTB fans.

Yeti is an iconic company that is as old as the sport of MTB itself. It was founded by a dude called John Parker who turned his experience in welding on Hollywood movie sets to producing bikes capable of flying downhill at breakneck speed. When the first ever World Championships were held in Durango, California it became the undisputed centre of the MTB world. So obviously old Johnny boy moved the company head office there to be at the centre of things too.

We’ve been wanting to up our custom MTB-building game for a while and had been looking for the perfect partner brand with which to create really awesome machines. Yeti is exactly what we were looking for – a world-leading, high-end producer of both frames and components – an absolute joy to build with.

Yeti definitely has the pedigree, but it’s also got the tech to compete with (and often beat) any other MTB brand you care to mention. Their latest machines feature Switch Infinity suspension, Yeti’s own patented creation, which uses a multi-directional pivot to make pedalling more efficient and enhance performance, even at the extreme limits of the bike’s travel.  This is cutting-edge, world-leading stuff and has helped Yeti’s team rider, Richie Rude, win an Enduro World Series World Championship. 

Still not feeling it? Watch this incredible video shot in Iceland to see what Yeti is all about. Feat Yeti ambassador, Sam Seward.

We’ll be stocking a range of Yeti gear, so if you’re interested in a high-performin’, run-stormin’ mountain machine get in touch with us – we got the hook-up.

Lead image Yeti

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We met Catherine Ellis of Hill & Ellis to talk about bags, Bromptons and being British-made.

When did you start making bike bags and what motivated you to do it?

Hill & Ellis was launched in 2013 but the seed was sown in 2012 just after the London Olympics. With nothing on the market that worked as a stylish bag on and off the bike we decided to address that problem. We have been working on designs that look as good on the arm as they do on the bike ever since, so you can cycle to work and walk straight into the board room with style. Since then we have launched a British Made collection, saddle bags, a new lined version and we have other designs in the pipeline. 

What’s the best thing about your bags?

The best thing about our bags is the design. We have worked really hard to integrate the cycle-y features into the bag so they work with the design and not against it. We wanted the pannier hooks to be hidden so that it is comfortable to carry when worn on the body, and this means that as soon as the bag is off the bike you wouldn’t know it was a pannier. We have also incorporated other features, such as a waterproof rain cover for rainy rides and reversible reflective features to improve visibility at night. The bags are all crafted in beautiful leather and what we find really exciting about the bags is that people love the designs whether they are cyclists or not and we have fantastic feedback from customers when they receive them as they didn’t expect the quality and detailing to be so impressive.

How important is being British Made to what you guys are about? 

Being British Made is really important to us which is why we wanted to design a collection that is made here in the UK, in Hackney to be exact. We wanted bags that reflected the London cycling culture and the style and craftsmanship of bags made here is something to be treasured. 

Do you remember the first bike you had? What was it like?

Yes it was a blue with two wheels and I loved it. Cycling without my stabilisers was the first moment I really remember feeling free. The wind in your hair as I went downhill faster than I thought was sensible was so exciting, and I still get it even now. Though I imagine the hills are slightly bigger today – then, I suspect, the slope was more of a molehill than the Green Monster!

What do you make of London as a cycling city?

London is a great place to cycle around. There is traffic but for me it is all about planning the route so you can avoid most of it.. There are some beautiful back streets and biking down them is a pleasure as well as an adventure. Cruising around on your bike means you stumble across pubs, cafes and little spots in London that you would never had discovered if you weren’t riding and I love the fact that I can just take a different road and see where it takes me … just because. 

London of course can be more cycle friendly and if you can get involved, support Space for Cycling, which is an amazing organisation pushing for better space and routes for cyclists. London has been dominated by cars for many years and it’s time we took some space back for the cyclists. http://action.space4cycling.org/

Are you keen cyclists yourselves? What part does the bike play in your life?

Yes. We all cycle. I use my bike every day and it is my transport really. I cycle to work, to the park, to the cinema and often to the pub as well. It’s a great way to get around town and it always brings a smile to my face. I am not a tubist but each time I get the tube instead of cycling I always wish I had travelled on my bike. It’s just more pleasurable, even in the rain. 

Where’s the coolest place you’ve ridden your bike?

Through Paris at 7pm in the evening after cycling for three days across France. Crossing the Champs-Elysee was possibly the most dangerous part of the trip, as cars and motorbikes seemed to be coming at us from all directions, but seeing the gleaming beauty of the Eiffel Tower getting nearer was priceless. That and the glass of fizz we had at the end! 

What’s new for Hill & Ellis this season?

We are about to launch a bag designed for foldable bikes which fits onto the Brompton C Frame bar. We have just been sent the final sample and it is rather handsome, even if we do say so ourselves. It will be launched at the end of November so follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to be the first to hear about these. We also need a name so if you have an ideas get in touch.

Cloud 9 Cycles stock a curated selection of Hill & Ellis British Made Bags. You can visit www.hillandellis.com to find out more. 

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Remember those dreadful ‘90s TV adverts for discount supermarket chain Netto? The tagline was ‘Netto, Scandinavian for value’? I think there may even have been one with Ulrika Johnson wearing a pointy-horned ‘viking’ hat.

Well I’m happy to announce this post has nothing to do with Scandi bargain-merchants and everything to do with Nitto, the high-quality Japanese component maker.

Let’s start with a little bit of a history lesson.

If you know the brand you can’t even think about Nitto without thinking of Japan, of fixies and of that uniquely Far Eastern sport of keirin. Keirin was created after the second world war by the Japanese government, to was intended to satisfy a hunger on the part of the public for a new form of gambling and as a distraction from the awful economic conditions in the country. It remains one of only four public sports on which people in Japan can legally gamble. 

In the ’50s, as often happens when large amounts of money are changing hands, the keirin tracks all over the country quickly became hotbeds of mob activity, with major public disturbances – even riots – occurring at races that were perceived to have been fixed by the gangs. A governing body was required, to keep the sport honest, and that responsibility fell to the Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai (which means Japanese Bicycle Association and is usually abbreviated to NJS). The NJS was also responsible for approving the parts used in keirin bikes, to ensure they were of the best quality and that the playing field was fair – an NJS-approved stamp quickly became a globally recognised mark of quality, with only a limited number of brands receiving this honour.

And that’s where Nitto come in.

The brand is as traditional as you like, still made entirely in Japan and still only making metal bike components. They had a look at carbon fibre, but decided they’d rather keep doing something they were the best in the world at than try to learn how to work with this new-fangled material. Their association with keirin also makes them very popular with the fixie scene, which takes a lot of its cues from keirin (whether it knows it or not).

We dug up this awesome video featuring the company president, Akira Yoshikawa, which sheds a little bit of light on just why they have a claim to be one of the best makers of bike components in the world. With gratuitously gorgeous definition and some hypnotic shots of machinists at work, trust us, you’re going to want to full-screen it.

Factory Visit to NITTO from Ryota Kemmochi on Vimeo.

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll have seen this recent build, which features a Nitto handlebar (bars are their ‘signature’ item, if you like). We love building with Nitto gear, because we have confidence that not only is it super-fly, but it’ll also last absolutely ages.

Nitto, Japanese for awesome.

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Based on the headline you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re getting excited about the new Star Wars movie, scheduled for release at Christmas. Actually we’re talking about Hope Technology, the awesome home-grown component manufacturer, and one of the latest brands to be stocked at Cloud 9 Cycles. 

Hope was established in the ‘80s by Ian Weatherill and Simon Sharp. Originally they made tools and fixtures for the aerospace industry. So far, so non-cycling related. It wasn’t till the founders started making disc brakes for their personal mountain bikes that they cottoned on to just how big manufacturing parts for the cycling world could be. The chaps quickly expanded into making all sorts of bike componentry and by 2000 the company had dispensed with any kind of aerospace work – focusing entirely on wheeled, rather than winged machines.

In 2015 Hope makes virtually every part of the modern bicycle you can imagine, except, for now at least, the frame itself (there are rumours and rumblings from within the Hope camp that this maybe about to change too). We’re happy to say you can get any Hope part you need through us, and we often include their components on our own custom builds.

The brand has also just announced its first commercially-available carbon component at this year’s Eurobike, a fixed seat post that you can get your hands on in January ’16. Impressively for carbon kit, which is nearly always outsourced abroad, the Hope seat post is 100% designed, tested and manufactured in Barnoldswick, England.

As well as a commitment to making the best bike parts possible right here in the United Kingdom, Hope is also dedicated to supporting some of the UK’s best talent in Downhill, Enduro, CX and Trials riding. Most notably, they’ve been behind Danny MacAskill since before he rocketed to international attention. Note their logo at the end of this, Danny’s breakthrough vid.

Inspired. Danny MacAskill from Dave Sowerby on Vimeo.

Check out their site for some more absolutely rad photos of the development of Hope throughout the decades and check their full product offering – which we can sell you 😉

Images taken from HopeTech.com.

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Titanium bike frames are lightweight, super-strong and they last a lifetime (if you look after them properly) and yet ‘TI’, as it’s often known, is frequently overlooked, in favour of classic steel, cheap aluminium or cool carbon. We wanted to fix that and so we’ve struck up a deal to distribute Lynskey titanium frames and start spreading the word of this marvellous metal to the UK.

Lynskey is a company from the USA – Tennessee to be precise – and they boast more than four decades of experience in bike-building. Titanium is a tricky material to work with and requires meticulous attention to detail – a bad weld can lead to some really spectacular failures – that’s why it’s important to go with an established builder who knows the material. Lynskey only build with titanium and they do it really, really well.

So why choose a titanium bike frame?

First up, a titanium frame is going to last you years. And years. They’re tough and they stay tough, unlike carbon frames which can crack at the slightest provocation, or steel which begins to soften over time.

A titanium bike frame will never be as light as a top-spec carbon equivalent, but it’s still lighter than steel! Enough to get you up and over the biggest Cols for sure.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, lifespan. Buy a titanium frame and you’ll be riding it 40 years later with the same amazing ride quality. This is really what makes it stand out from the other popular frame materials and what has garnered so much industry respect for TI.

So what are you waiting for? We’ll have a range of Lynskey titanium bikes for sale, both road and MTB, so come and check them out in-store soon!

Lizard Skin accessories now available

We’re also stoked to be able to bring you new bar tape and gloves from Lizard Skins, one of the leading names in the world of gripping onto handlebars and pedalling your heart out. The brand recently supported Alex Dowsett in his successful attempt to smash the World Hour Record and supply Andre Greipel and his team with equipment when they compete in Grand Tours. 

La Gran Familia Movistar Team from Lizard Skins on Vimeo.

If road racing’s not your thing, they also make gear for World Champion BMXer Sam Willoughby, MTB prodigy Finn Iles and cyclocross superstar Courtenay McFadden. Whatever your cycling passion, there’s a Lizard Skin product to fit you like a glove.

Slovenian DH Cup: Jure breaks record of Buzet.

A photo posted by LizardSkinsCycling (@lizardskinscycling) on

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Most keen cyclists will have heard of Brooks England, they’re the brilliantly British makers of high quality bike saddles and they’ve been around for more than 100 years. The company was founded by John Boultbee Brooks, whose father made leather saddles for horses.

Young John was a bit on a ‘early adopter’ and actually owned one of the first bicycles made available for commercial sale, and it was he who decided that the wooden seat most bikes of that era came with could be improved with some comfortable leather.

From that point on the company enjoyed massive success for many years, the Brooks name coming to be known as a mark of true craftsmanship and quality, but what you might not know is that in the early 2000s the brand nearly disappeared, suffering a sharp decline in profits until it was bought (saved) by a the major Italian owned saddle company Selle Royal. 

While building the Brooks brand back up into the giant of the cycling world that it deserves to be, Selle Royal introduced more products, including bar tape, multi tools and bags.

The most recent star in the Brooks collection is the extremely popular Cambium saddle, which offers unbeatable comfort and more than its fair share of heritage style too.

In fact, they’re so good that both the owners of Cloud 9 have one on at least one of their many bikes!

If you want a saddle to match your trousers the legendary jeans brand Levi’s has just teamed up with Brooks to launch a unique saddle, one that’s covered with denim.

They’re extremely limited edition so head over to the Brooks site to grab one before they go off sale.

It’s not the first time Brooks has partnered up with another company either, we’ve actually got an awesome limited edition Brooks by Vans saddle from a collaboration five years ago – come down to the shop some time and take a peek!

 

If you’re feeling really fancy you can have a custom saddle made by expert leather carver Kara Ginther, who adds intricate patterns and detail to what are already gorgeous Brooks pieces.

We’ve got a couple in the Cloud 9 shop, but they’re so beautifully made we’d never part with them.

Get in touch or visit the store to talk all things Brooks.

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We like to think every custom-built bike that leaves our workshop is a work of art. We put in the time to understand what each rider wants, we work hard to get it done and we even apply a little bit of creative flair to each build, so why shouldn’t every one be a masterpiece?

One brand that takes this approach another step further is Cinelli, the classic Italian bike brand that pretty much invented the street bike as we know it now. Since birth Cinelli has been producing amazing designs that blur the line between art and bicycles.

It all started with Cino Cinelli, the father of the brand, who took his keen eye for design and applied it to bike-making. He took inspiration from all over the place, blending cutting-edge technologies and construction techniques with sharp styling and flashy paint jobs.

Everything about the Cinelli approach went against the grain. Most Italian bikes then were built to the same basic requirements as they had been before world war two, and as such there wasn’t a lot of variation. Cino blew that all up by innovating constantly in the field of componentry.

Even the badge for the brand (introduced in the ’70s and still used today) pretty much threw out every rule about logo design there was back then. Instead of an intricate heraldic symbol he chose the bold ‘winged C’ inspired by British ’50s artwork. Instead of a fancy font he went with a clear, simple text for the brand name. An icon was instantly born.

 The iconic logo

The iconic logo

Since then the Italian company has gone from maverick outsider doing things its own way to a trend-setting, era-defining legend – with the help of a few artists and illustrators along the way.

A couple of years back Cinelli teamed up with artist / illustrator Mike Giant to work on some pretty fearsome RAM bars (pictured above) as well as some matching bar tape.

 A selection of Cinelli bar tape

A selection of Cinelli bar tape

Before Giant, Barry McGee turned his street artist’s eye to bike design creating a super-select range of Supercorsa Pista track bikes.

Barry McGee pic

Then, of course, there’s that Cinelli Lazer designed by artist and activist Keith Haring, featuring disc wheels with a beautiful illustrated print. Almost thirty years old and still looking devastatingly fresh! Here’s our very own Kris posing with the fabled machine alongside current Cinelli owner Antonio Colombo at his art gallery in Milan.

No matter the era, a Cinelli bike is the ultimate stylish choice for city riding. We stock the full range of frames, clothing and accessories in our stores and you can find out more info on getting your own custom Cinelli built here.

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