“In my day we just had a bike…”

I’ve always loved bikes as long as I can remember.  I grew up with the ’90s Mountain bike craze.  Rigid steel frames, cantilever brakes, shorts and a hoody. Riding the miles out of Hull to bomb around the tail end of the Yorkshire Wolds in the mud, then ride back.


After a while things got more complicated. Lycra clad road biking and super complicated mountain bikes. Road biking took a while to get dressed if nothing else, clippy shoes, overshoes, bib shorts, perhaps a gilet, the list goes on…  The mountain bike fun was also being eroded by the nagging doubt of some full suspension setting being off (I mean how much rebound do I need!?). In both genres I began to lose the simple pleasure of just riding.

In the midst of this I was talking to my Grandad, trying to explain the merits of mountain bikes vs road bikes.

His response…

“In my day we just had a bike”

It got me thinking I could make a bike that would cover everything I wanted? I’d never made a bike frame before, but I used to fix aeroplanes! and I’ve got an Engineering degree, can’t be that hard… 


After a few costly attempts I built the bike in the photos. A while back now I put together a lugged steel frame, 26in wheels, bit of room for a touring kit and super wide drop bars and it was like being back as that kid in the Wolds.  I could ride on the road see a bridleway and go for it or ride the distance on the road to and from the off-road bit or just ride on the road or just go mountain biking,  

So, the “just a bike” as the old man would say has “mountain biked” some of the best routes in the Lake District, done the Fred Whitton, a couple of 200Km audax rides and been to the shops…..lots.  

Thanks for reading 

Words and pictures – Neil Maddison

You can follow more of Neil’s adventures below…

Corsair Cycles 

4 thoughts on ““In my day we just had a bike…”

  1. I remember the days of just having a bike. I remember riding in the rain. I remember going across the grass down a hill and hitting the brakes until the bike skidded down the hill–collecting dirt in the handlebars.
    Now I’ve got Van Morrison in my head singing …”and I will never grow so old again.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Duncan

    I put something very similar together in lock down one, using my old diamond back mountain bike
    drop bars, bar end and rack. Great fun on tracks and road, put a few 50 mile rides on it. What a great way to put life back in to a bike.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh yes, just having one bike. That was basically the life I lived until I hit my 30s.

    I will say that Neil’s bike is cool, and basically the same type of bike that I had custom-built in 2015: roadish 26″ that can handle rough-stuff and touring. I love the bike, but I also get a thrill out of riding my Raleigh Superbe, probably the “one kind of bike” grandpa was talking about!

    Liked by 1 person

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