Obsessed With Mountain Biking
The NSMB Podcast: Chris Porter (Pt.1)
Mountain bikes have evolved tremendously in the last five years but before then, media and marketing had already pushed the descriptor, longer, lower, slacker into the realm of cliché.
During this time, one person established a name for himself and founded Geometron, a company to serve riders interested in leaping ahead. Chris Porter is best known today for his unique approach to bike shape, one that’s becoming more mainstream with each model year. And whether or not you agree with his approach, it's certainly thought-provoking.
But who is Chris Porter and where is he from? What pushed his desire to innovate so far that he's been labelled the godfather of modern mountain bike geometry? For years, his thought-provoking ideas about mountain bikes have challenged what people believe to be right, and I wanted to know more about where those ideas stem from.
Chris is immensely passionate about riding on two wheels, whether on a motorcycle or a mountain bike, which is clear when listening to him share some of his experiences – genuine emotion can be heard in his voice. That love, coupled with a desire to improve the experience is a large part of what drives him.
While this episode, the first of two planned with Chris was primarily to discuss his background, there is some discussion on the technical aspects of mountain bikes in the latter half. We'll be connecting again shortly to dive deeper into some of these topics and poke the industry bear a little as well.
- Chris' ultimate riding location
- First motorbike experience (the CB100)
- Working as a dispatch rider on the motorbike as soon as able to get a decent bike
- Living in Italy
- Rolling interview with Fast Bikes Magazine
- Massimo Bordi (Ducati GM at the time) and wrecking one of his bikes (Ducati 900ss)
- GT Avalanche (Steel frame) with RockShox Mag 21 60mm travel fork. "It was the shortest bicycle you’ve ever seen in your life."
- Bike setup and its importance when considering coaching
- The beginnings of Mojo Suspension (Risse Racing, White Brothers upgrades, long travel kits and Judy cartridges etc.)
- GT RTS1 and shock issues
- Touching on suspension forks and some of the problems we’re seeing
- Bike shapes and specifically, HTA
- Fork load and how the damper and spring interact across the fork
- Why are mountain bikers 'weight weenies?'
- Breaking down sprung vs unsprung weight
- Experimenting with sprung weight
- Skinsuits at World Cup DH
- The Dirt 1:04 Track Experience (specifically, Sam Hill)
Links mentioned in this episode:
The NSMB Podcast: Obsessed with Mountain Biking is available on all of your favourite podcast apps:
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 0:04
Mountain bikes have evolved tremendously in the last five years. But before then media and marketing had already nudged the term 'longer, lower, slacker' beyond the edge of being a cliche. But during that time, one person in particular established a name for themselves and a company to serve riders interested in leaping ahead. Chris Porter is better known today for what was a unique approach to bike shape. One that's slowly becoming more mainstream with each model year. And whether or not you find yourself agreeing with his thoughts, they at least tickle the mind. But who is Chris Porter? Where is he from? What led him down the path to the current day, one where some label him the godfather of modern mountain bike geometry. For years, his thought provoking ideas on mountain bikes have challenged what people believe to be right. And I wanted to know more about where those ideas stem from. Chris is immensely passionate about riding on two wheels, whether they're a motorcycle or a mountain bike, which is clear when listening to him share some of his experiences, genuine emotion can be heard in his voice. That love coupled with a desire to improve the experience further is a large part of what drives him. Well, this episode, the first of two planned with Chris was primarily to learn more about his background, there is some discussion on the technical aspects of mountain bikes in the latter half. We'll be connecting again shortly to dive deeper into some of these topics and poke the industry bear a little, too. I'm AJ Barlas, welcome to the latest episode of the NSMB podcast and my conversation with Chris Porter. Chris Porter, welcome. How's it going?
Chris Porter: 1:41
Ah, it's going really good. I won't lie. It's passing down with rain here in the UK, as long as you can't hear it bouncing off the roof. That's kind of cool.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:51
Yeah, we're all good. We can't hear it. Has it been raining a lot lately? Are you guys been getting some good weather?
Chris Porter: 1:57
Oh, we've had, we've had all the British like to talk about weather. We just talk about weather all the time. And we can have winter, summer, autumn and spring all in the same day. And that's what we've had for the last couple of weeks. For April, it was absolutely gorgeous, but kind of cold overnight. So that was pretty good for riding actually, because it wasn't too warm. And then since then, it's just been filling up the reservoirs. So...
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:32
So you're back on the mud spikes.
Chris Porter: 2:35
Ah, no... it feels like giving up when you put the mud spikes on in summer. So, no, that dammit. Keep to the rock razor. Yeah, we're on it. That's it now, summer!
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:47
Cool. Okay, so we'll start with a couple of little warm up questions that I like to do a bit more simple than everything else we're going to talk about.
Chris Porter: 2:55
Yeah, no worries.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:57
So let's get into the first one. You like to ride abroad a bit it seems. What's your favorite location to go ride bikes?
Chris Porter: 3:05
Oh, after a year of lockdown almost anywhere. But yeah, I love riding in Spain. Absolutely love the country. Love the the history and the people and I if if I had to choose somewhere to ride I normally ride in the Ainsa area. It was Spanish Pyrenees. I really like the area. There's a lot of really big, big loops that you can do with lots of big climbs. Some of it you can kind of uplift. And some of it is not possible. Some of it is just you got to put in the hard miles. And it's always it's challenging. I really love it. There's this flow, and there's anti flow. In Ainsa. There's a lot of rock. And there's a lot of little rocks pietracitas... pietracitas, and they're just designed to work like ball bearings, take you off the bike. And so Ainsa has got this lovely mix between sort of above the forest, rock, square corners, gravel, really technical, and then you drop down into the tree line and ride through the trees. And you've got this lovely sort of cambered flow in trails and then drop down below the tree line again it gets back to the same as you were above it a couple of minutes ago above it. So you have this lovely mix of... you never get a full trail of hideous rocky and you neveer get a full trail of flow. They've all got a mixture of both. So yeah, I love it.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 5:09
I've done a little bit of riding in Ainsa, too, and I've only been there once. But it was a very cool introduction. I'd love to go back to this for the same things you said like just the the culture and the people on top of great writing. Like it's just so cool over there.
Chris Porter: 5:24
Yeah, who who doesn't love who doesn't love the red wine? Like La Crema? I can't remember the name. It's like the the tears of something that the red wine is called. It's absolutely delicious. I'm in tears every time I drink it, anyway.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 5:42
That was one of my questions here for the warm up; your favorite beverage when kicking about and relaxing?
Chris Porter: 5:48
Oh, it's got to be red wine. It's, ah, I just love the just love the fact that in most of Europe, they drink red wine for hydration. You know? You read the old Ernest Hemingway books and he's traveling around Spain with a goatskin bag full of wine and he's using it for hydration. I love that. I tried to buy a goat skin hydration bag for the Camelbak last time I was there but failed miserably.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 6:24
No one had any for sale.
Chris Porter: 6:27
I wasn't trying that hard. I should have tried harder.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 6:31
I'm sure you could find one somewhere. Hey, yeah. What's somewhere you haven't written that you'd really like to?
Chris Porter: 6:42
I guess you could say almost anywhere in the world. I try not to think about the things, the places you haven't ridden. Because when you think in that frame of mind, home is never good enough. So my favorite place to ride is
usually my stock answer is: 6:59
"from home". Because then you can feel stoked about going out for a ride, instead of saying, "Oh man, I wish I was in Whistler", or whatever, you know. Yeah. All these. Yeah, that there's great places to ride all over the world, and I think it's more about the people that are there riding and that you would be riding with than the places. So yeah, which is why the racing was always so good. You just meet people from all over the world and you're just doing laps and whether you're on the downhill, getting on the ski lift and chatting, or whether you're taking ages to go up a long enduro climb chatting, it's great to catch up with people's stories. It's it's rather than going to ride in wherever. Minneapolis or Minnesota? I don't know. Is there any riding there? Who knows? I don't know. Yeah. But instead of going all around the world, people come to the races and you have the whole world at the races. That's what that's what's so good about the racing.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 8:11
Yeah, it'll be good to get that back. Hopefully we see more this year.
Chris Porter: 8:14
Yeah,I hope it comes back good. Last year was a bit bit rubbish. Might as well not bothered really. So...
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 8:21
Yeah, it's a bit of a weird one. Yeah. And there's potential for it to be better this year. But there's potential for us to fall into the same trap as last year, isn't there?
Chris Porter: 8:29
Yeah, there is. We'll see what happens. We'll see.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 8:35
What's something that you enjoy greatly that isn't mountain bike related?
Chris Porter: 8:41
Drinking red wine. I play guitar obsessively at the moment. I played guitar quite low when I was young. And thought I could be in a band. I could have been somebody at the time. And then had a long time off that and picked it up a few years ago. And it's just been really good therapy. You just, it's something new to learn. Keeps your brain active. And if I'm using both hands while I'm playing, I also can't drink so this keeps me busy. Yeah, exactly. And I love motorbikes, motorbikes that their bicycles and motorbikes, the two wheel vehicle thing. It's like it's proof that God loves us, I think. Yeah, he let us have three twin motorcycles and two wheels all lined up. So the crazy little machines, aren't they? Yeah, I love them. bicycles, motorbikes, anything with two wheels. Great.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 9:55
With that, let's move into your your life a little so it'll learn a little A bit more about Chris Porter.
Chris Porter: 10:01
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 10:03
This one's probably been asked before but let's start there. Where did you grow up?
Chris Porter: 10:10
Born in Akron tun in Lancashire, which is the northwest of our rainy little island. It's one of the rainiest parts of the little island. But our parents moved us down sighs towards Somerset, which is a less rainy part and a bit warmer part of our rainy little island in the 70s. And it was like going on holiday. It was great. It's, it's not all grim up north, but it was less grim down south. And yeah, that's so that's where we that's where I grew up sort of Southwest UK, hanging around bathroom, Bristol.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 10:58
Is that what area you're in when you got into bikes and riding?
Chris Porter: 11:03
Yeah, yeah. Started. Yeah, we had bikes. Yeah, from a very young age, but we just used to try and get skipped bikes and build them into working bikes and get all the chuck tag bits and you'll end up with a front end offer rode bicycles on the back end offer. A three speeds sturmey Archer, commuter bike and you got this massive chopper thing going on, held together with sellotape and we're just yeah, we were just used to mess about with bikes a lot. And then BMX got invented. So I go into that, and couldn't quite afford the best one. So we ended up with one that essentially was just getting cracked every time I took it out for a ride. So I spent a lot of time at the local coach building place, asking them to throw some more weld at it. Really? Yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 12:07
So earliest days of Chris Porter and bicycles. You were like, pulling things apart fixing them?
Chris Porter: 12:15
Yeah, I'm not sure about pulling things apart and fixing them. We were just putting them together. We were breaking them. I did that. Yeah. Just said when you kids, you just write stupid stuff. Dang, if you had the bravery in the stupidity I had, then I'd be a lot faster now.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 12:36
Yeah, if we could switch our adult brains off for a bit longer.
Chris Porter: 12:40
Unfortunately, I have the ability to still switch my adult brain off and that's why I get so many injuries.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 12:49
There is a downside to it. If I remember right, motorbikes were a big part of your life too. How did you kind of get into that side of two wheeled adventuring?
Chris Porter: 13:00
Well, yeah, motorbikes. Yeah, like I said, proof that God loves us really. So the first first time I rode a motorbike It was my brother's Cb 100. Unfortunately, he didn't know I had it. No one else was in the house. I went off for a ride on it. And came back with very little skin on my right leg. Firstly, no skin on both my hands. laid it down. Yeah, completely. It's like, Ah, so I'm not Barry sheen. And the rule was you bend it you own it. So so although he had to carry on riding because I wasn't old enough to ride it, so but that's that's like a drug. When you get to ride a motorbike the first time it's like a drug so yeah. From then on, as soon as I could, as soon as I could get one I got a motorbike and yeah, started started riding. Yeah, it's good. Good Times first. First trips, going places on the old Cb 100. Oh, it's amazing. It's like freedom down down the roads because it's not big enough to be allowed onto the motorway.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 14:28
Alright. Take a little backstreets.
Chris Porter: 14:33
Yeah 120 miles to go and watch Sisters of Mercy in the in the Royal Albert Hall. And I parked outside the Royal Albert Hall I got there like a day earlier something full golf outfit, long coat off my motorbike and that load of Hells Angels decided they wanted the space is like that. I think that sisters still Tim's probably killed to get the Hells Angels to do the security like ultimate man remember ultimate and so they I was a bundle of nerves as they all picked up the motorcycle and moved into a completely different parking space.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 15:19
hurt by motorbike you're just standing watching this
Chris Porter: 15:23
oh fuck out. I'm gonna get involved.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 15:26
I was just wondering if you're watching from afar or you're right
Chris Porter: 15:31
now I'm just watching them do it. Oh, no, definitely. Off you got a boys you do what you want. It's like a you. I'm not remote. I'm a lover, not a fighter.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 15:46
So So how far did they move it?
Chris Porter: 15:48
They just needed that parking space. So I think they've just moved in like, one round behind the bins or something, you know, so yeah, Jesus. But no, it's all good, fun riding motorbikes. And it just gets, you're out traveling on a motorbike and people want to speak to you. That's the thing. It's like, when you're traveling on a bicycle or traveling on foot, people usually will speak to you when you're traveling in a car. You're in your own cocoon and your own steel, glass bubble, and you don't have that direct connection with people. So
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 16:27
it doesn't seem to even extend the same way for you in the car. Like because of that bubble, you just really without consciously thinking of it. He ended up just in your bubble and you don't go out of it. Whereas even on a bicycle riding around somewhere you've never been. Yeah, he said so much more. You chat to more people. You're more outgoing.
Chris Porter: 16:48
Yeah, for sure. And you know, and it's the whole thing about in charge your own little space. People who are perfectly normal, lovely people, walking, driving, talking drinking social situation, turning two decades behind the wheel of a car. Absolutely tense. And quite a lot. It's not like a small as a small minority. Many people like our dude, a minute later, it won't matter. Just chill. Says the guy that also has road rage. So
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 17:29
we all suffer from it, I think. So, like he got into modos. Before you even were old enough to drive one. There was an interest to you. Yeah. Did you flow down that path? Like did that become an obsession in the sense that you wanted to make it a job or anything like that?
Chris Porter: 17:50
Oh, yeah, no, I was a job. As soon as I could afford a decent bike, I ended up working as a dispatch rider, so I was delivering parcels on the motorbike. And that's pretty cool. Some days are the most perfect days, you know, you'll be picking up three or four different parcels in one town, and you get paid for three. For all four of those. It's not like if you pick up four parcels from one place that you get paid once, but sometimes you pick up four from different people. And you drive 150 miles to London across the south Danes and you take the sweeping roads or you got to Plymouth to the printers down there or north Wales to the printers up there. And some days it just be perfect, beautiful sunny weather, swooping around on your motorbike getting paid to deliver parcels. And then some days it's just fucking shit. It's like you wake up at five and it's battering down and it's sleet and your bike breaks down. And yeah, it's just like, or my favorite was, I was on a borrowed bike. It's a cx 500 they're horrible machines. And I I was delivering something into Bristol. And coming down through the outskirts of Bristol. I just written around some car and into the next one. I had this massive crash behind me as I was trying to wipe wind my way through the traffic and then saw the pannier from the rear of the motorbike overtook me in the in the in the ditch on the side of shit. So and it's just yeah, some days are good. Some days are bad, but yeah. It was kind of cool because you can make a living out of it but you're just wearing your bike out. You're just you look, you love your motorbike and you're just wearing it out by Write in it every day.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 20:01
Say, I guess your your maintenance levels would be pretty high if you're doing 150 miles here there and everywhere.
Chris Porter: 20:07
Yeah, I mean, I did, I did start being a cycle Korea and Bristol and as is for the motorbike No, no, it was during the same period, it's like this could be a good way to get in shape. And then it was it was even more tightly knit than the motorcycle guys, the motorcycle guys, if you know if you really if you really get on with the controller, and you're prepared to do the last job on a Friday night in the rain, and pull him out of the hole, then he'll reward you with the good jobs next Monday. Whereas, you know, as as a beginner on the bicycle, you're always going to be behind the good lads for a long time. So in the end, I just got the motorbike and started doing delivering with that instead for the for the same company. So yeah, just you've got to do what you got to do to keep keep going to survive.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 21:06
So this is is this all sort of out of high school thing.
Chris Porter: 21:12
So high school, so we got a set of exams up to 16 years old, and then we have another set of exams up to 18 years old. And then from there, we would normally go to university, but I applied for university for art school for fine art, but didn't get in. I did another couple of years just doing foundation courses to build up a portfolio of art. But mostly it was so that I could hang out meet girls playing guitar and being a band making loads of noise with the art school boys. I think that was the undertone is made that one but yeah,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 22:03
what was your medium that you enjoy? What is your medium that you enjoy?
Chris Porter: 22:09
I was pencil for me I can't deal with color. I paint this too many options, something like this. I have a breakdown if you introduce a color. It's like black and whites enough for me. So yeah, that's why it's
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 22:25
like lead. Are you doing all the lead shading and stuff? I studied art in school too.
Chris Porter: 22:29
Yeah. I was doing all sorts of Yeah, just I I used to just do pencil mostly and or charcoal and sometimes use white paint with the pencil and the charcoal. So it's all white. Yeah, blacks and whites and yeah, I didn't. Didn't do didn't deal with color very well.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 22:54
Did you end up finishing university with no
Chris Porter: 22:56
No, I didn't. I didn't get any. Now obviously clearly wasn't good enough. I was more interested in playing guitars than but it's that that's, that's fine. It's the way that I was happy. Happy riding riding bikes and playing guitar and drinking red wine and
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 23:23
even then you're in the red wine from an early day.
Chris Porter: 23:25
Oh no, then no. Geez, now we were when when we were in the band we had maybe I shouldn't say this because maybe maybe the owner of the bar is of the club is still around. But now we we had our bass player was he was sound engineer in a studio that was on the fourth floor of a big old warehouse building in Bristol. And you had so you had the recording studio in the roof area. You had a chill out club area below. A more noisy bar area then down to the first floor you had a full on club. And then down in the basement you had the practice rooms. So we would go in the evenings to the practice rooms which are these amazing sort of almost like wine cellars like arched cellos, the noise and that was amazing. It's amazing. I can hear at all the amount of vocal recording said those little stone rooms. But of course being the sound engineer from the fourth floor you have the keys to all the floors. So we did use to get through a lot of jack daniels once it once it had gone out to the stock room into the bar. It's not counted quite as well as it was in the stock. So yeah, Yeah, we got through a lot of jack daniels. Yeah, whatever is easy Hey, if it's free he's not going to Yeah. Made it made me look like slash but it didn't make me play like slash and that's for sure.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 25:21
So it sounds like music was a massive part of your life in the early years and you wanted to be a musician What happened there?
Chris Porter: 25:29
I just wasn't good enough
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 25:35
I mean it's hard to become a professional musician right?
Chris Porter: 25:37
Oh shit yeah, yeah, it is it's really difficult. We did a did a few years gig in and it was quite good fun. And yeah just you've just got to have amazing stamina and be able to keep going and in the end there was only me that had a job and all the rest of the guys were like like in the back doing not much and just felt like a heart You know what I I've tried this now. Give it a medal. It's time to move on. Yeah, so I got a job in a in a bar in Italy. So in fact, I got a job on a building site in Italy first but the guidance pay me and it was it was a while before I'd even realize that cuz in Britain, you it is normal that you would work a couple of weeks in hand and then you get your paycheck and, and it's not normal in Italy. And by the time I realize this shit. So I've been taken for an absolute Lil's Guinea English Kids SAP and sir, but it was quite good because it meant I had to go and have a look at Yeah, to go and do a lot of things in a lot of different offices that I wouldn't have done trying to get the money back through the syndicate, syndicate, which is the union but didn't work. But it forces you outside your comfort zone, you learn a bit more Italian. And then in the end, I just got a job in a bar with everyone else. So that was pretty cool. He spent a while there in Italy. I think did a season like six months or something. Okay. Yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 27:28
At this point, had you put down the guitar you're still playing it for fun on your own?
Chris Porter: 27:33
No, I did when I didn't take guitar to Italy but there were plenty of other distractions. Yeah. And we had we bought ourselves a couple of Piaggio Chow 50 cc motor arenys and I decided mine wasn't quick enough so I had it in bits on the kitchen table with a needle file and reflow file and trying to get more airflow through the ports on the two stroke and bolted it all back together ran like an absolute dog. Even though your effort Oh yeah. And then I took it rang to this old boy that was local mechanic, you know, ancient like in his 80s and he was just real he just took the spire plug he looked at it it with his like glass bottom glasses, gave it a tap with a hammer, put it back in and it ran sweet. Yeah, it was the fastest motoring in remedy Yeah. Again,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 28:38
you're you're sitting there customizing your stuff to try and make it work better. Yeah, this is a this is a trend that's been in your life since you were a young fella.
Chris Porter: 28:47
Yeah, this is a theme I suppose if you if you put it like that. Yeah, yeah, but didn't make the motoring handle any better.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 28:56
Probably made it worse a like it's too fast for her handling was
Chris Porter: 29:01
even a fast PR Jojo is not something that's going to give you the Will you you could it could be the fastest Piaggio Chow in the world and it's still not going to be intimidated.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 29:15
And I guess the old comment from writing a few more crotch rockets around. So it really felt pretty mellow.
Chris Porter: 29:21
No, no, at that time, I hadn't written that in any sports bikes. The first time I wrote a full size motorcycle was in Remini. There was this American dude called Paul he was cool as fuck. He's, his parents had moved him back to Italy. So they were like, Italian New York, you know, it's like had the accent. It's like proper, you know? What? Big Joe you know, it's like, it's got the accent and but he was so cool. And he had a Yamaha 10 array A 600. So you see single cylinder trail bike. Bass parents moved him over there because he was getting in trouble with drugs and motorbikes. So he just started getting in trouble with drugs and motorbikes and things in Italy instead, but it's less of a problem, I guess. But he let me have a go on his motorbike, and it was on the pavement. I remember. And he said, really gentle, letting the clutch out, give it a little bit of wraps and then let the clutch out. And I gave it a little bit revs and then let the clutch out. And it just fucking wheelie route read right up. And I'm really in dire in the middle of a busy pavement and reminisce. And then I pulled the clutch in and it came down a bit and then I just let the clutch back, come back up. And it's like Wally in like, completely controlled and the pavement as people would dive in off both sides into the street. Ah, yeah. That was that was a baptism of fire. But it's like, this thing is so cool. I want I want to be able to figure that out. Yeah. So that was the hook. Yeah, the Piaggio wasn't fast. pull away.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 31:14
So I like so you're fully into modos you're getting more into modos. Am I right? in understanding that you worked in media with the motorcycle world as well?
Chris Porter: 31:26
Yeah, we, I got a job with a magazine called fast bikes. It was a it was really funny. I'd done. I'd done. I just decided, look, I can do layout graphics, I can do that. I was a fine artist, dude, I can do that. So I got myself a little evening class. And whilst I was doing it, I made myself a little lamb CV based on a magazine article, so it's like an interview with myself. So Chris, you've passed it up against the wall, what have you been doing with your life? So then I just like put little pictures in it was like a question and answer interview. And it was like that you were drawing? No, no photographs of motorbikes and stuff me on motorbikes going places. So I use that to, to pan terrain, the motorcycle magazines. But the job I really wanted was the job at fast bikes, which didn't exist. They had, they had a graphic designer who had some skills. But the worst of his skills was the fact that he was into the coke, so I really couldn't. So he was he could do things quite nice one day, not too good the next day and erratic. So not that I knew this until I met him, mind you, but But anyway, so I thought that this magazine needs another layout artist, I can do that. So I send them the CV. And the editor rings up. And what unbeknownst to me, he's the week before he's put an advert in media press looking for stuff for the magazine, but not for a layout artist. And but he he ran because he was quite interested. He saw it and thought is fairly interesting.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 33:31
It's grab some attention when it's different. Yeah.
Chris Porter: 33:34
Yeah. And we had a really great chat. And I said, and he said, Oh, come on up next week, and we'll ever have a chat. See what see what's back. man can't come up next week. I'm off to I'm off to Wales. And he immediately thought set off to Wales to get his head together for fucking Led Zeppelin hippie. He's gonna be absolutely no good in central London. He'll be fuckin rubbish. So the every time I rang up after that, he'd say, No, I'm not here and I you could almost hear him in the background going now. I've retired now. No. Tell them I've moved to Poland. You know, you just hear him in the background or both. And then one day I rang odd and I must have been two months later. I thought this is the end of this. But I rang a one of the guys said really clearly. He's at Bruntingthorpe, which is like a proving ground where they go to do top speed tests and take photographs and stuff. I thought Fuck it. I'll go meet him. So I just got on the motorbike got to the security security checkpoint outside Bruntingthorpe and just said to the bloke, I'm with the fast bikes crew. Can you tell me where they are? Because Yeah, oh my God. He might have been from London. I don't know. So I just rocked up shaking by the end and said, I feel sorry. You've been avoiding me but and then so we had a chat and he gave me a rolling interview, which was basically can he ride to keep up with us going back to London? And and that was it so he said, Yeah, come tomorrow you can start tomorrow. So that's pretty much what I did. I did that. What
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 35:27
did you start as?
Chris Porter: 35:29
Yeah, exactly that. I thought I was styling as layout graphic design artists, but because I told him I, you know, you, you fluff yourself up in your own CV down? Yeah. So, first job he gave me He gave me a Cagiva Elephant motorcycle, which is like a big fat trail bike from the early 90s. Because I told him I was so into the trail bikes. And he said, right, back break on that's not working. Write it down to the office in Woking, get it fixed, ride it back, and then give me 4000 words on that. So it's like, oh, shit, that's the first day. And then I told him I speak Italian. So, he said, right. If you look on the Rolodex, you'll find Massimo Bordi's number he's the general manager at Ducati in Italy, asked him for a triple eight SPS, if you wouldn't mind. Which is like, you know, asking Enzo for a Ferrari F 40 to test. "Si, sono Chris della revista Inglese Fast Bike,"on the other end "awh fucking Fast Bikes." But it was ah, yeah it was good. So and then at the end of that day, so that day hasn't finished yet at the end of the first day. He says, I haven't had my copy from Barry Sheene. yet. Can you get on the Rolodex find his number, give him a ring. And if he hasn't got it ready to fax, get him to dictate it to you. And you can write down it's like, oh my god. Can you ring Barry Sheene here it's like... so from nowhere, from a standing
start you like: 37:29
"right. There you go. fix that motorbike, ride that motorbike give me 4000 words on how that motorbike rides. Then speak to Massimo Bordi try and get motorbike for me" then you're onto and that's in amongst all the other stuff that I was doing on the first day. And it's like, that's the best thing about being dropped in the deep end. Sometimes you float. And you go, Yeah, why would I want to just plod along like I was before. Why would I want to plod along. Yeah, so well. I finally did meet Massimo Bordi became for a Fast Bikes Christmas party. Am I speed talking? Does it sound? Good? Yeah, it's the same. Like I've had a flippin snort coke as well. I'm about four hours away from the last caffeine shot as well. Anyway, so Massimo Bordi, General Manager of Ducati. Everyone was fooling around, I met the officer Massimo Massimo. And it was everyone was really pleased to have him Ryan because he'd come to the Fast Bikes Christmas party, and that's a big deal. Yeah, it's a big deal, dude. And so anyway, I was trying to find out who had delivered delivered the, the, the pages to the to the repro house and somebodysaid, "no, they're still there". It's like "ah, for fuck's sake, they've got to be there by like five tonight" and it's five to five or something. So I just jumped on the first motorcycle, which was a Ducati 900 SS, with the courier bag on to drop the pages off to the repro house. Come to the first corner in front of a whole raft of courier motorcycles sat outside, drinking pints of beer as they've finished for Christmas. Fucking dropped it straight in front of them. Ducati motorcycle, scratch on his side flew. I was really hauling and it's just scraping and I can see the spikes coming off in So anyway, I'll go the pages to the repro house, limp to the motorbike back so I had to be the one to tell Massimo Bordi that I've just crashed his test motorcycle. But it's his own fault for spec'ing the Michelin A 59X plastic front tire. To this day, if it was a decent tire, I would have gone down now, I probably would have just gone down quicker.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 40:25
That's quite the intro to the, I guess the journalistic world hey, yeah, was that all in the first year? Like, Christmas party that year to?
Chris Porter: 40:34
Probably Yeah, well, it was a it was a it was absolutely high octane. You know, there was probably only four of us. And we were doing four or five of us. We were doing three magazines. Well, being like, throwing words out, like 1000 words in our and it on the, you know, shocking. Throwing words out like crazy. And yeah, just just getting stuff done. And just having a good time and pulling wheelies and doing burnouts. And, and yeah, being given new motorcycles by other people. So how, how can you not like that?
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 41:19
Yeah. But it's it's funny that you went there where you're applying to be the layout guy. Yeah. And he you actually like riding and testing? And did you find it more enjoyable doing that than what you were originally hoping to do?
Chris Porter: 41:35
Yeah, I get to do that. Much of that. I mean, some of the some of the test writers at the magazine were actually really fucking good riders, you know, national, national and international standard riders. One of the guys that had worked there ended up you know, racing at Moto GP level and qualifying i think is best qualified was a fifth you know, it's like, really fast guys. So yeah, no, I, but I could, I can pull, pull wheelies. So that was that. That's the thing though. It's like you do what you do what you can do and no one no one can ever take away from me the feeling of that big sports bike wobble as the front wheel starts to slow down. It's been up in the air so long. That the that it's starting to wobble a bit and you let the front wheel Dang. And you've got that. screech as the front tire hits the tarmac, like an aeroplane landing are amazing. I love it.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 42:44
Good. We'll even today on the modos
Chris Porter: 42:47
loves back wheel. Yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 42:51
So how did like how did you move from that into the black world? Were you interested in bicycles still or
Chris Porter: 43:00
not? Yeah, definitely. At the time, I tried to get sorted for racing motorcycles, because I thought this would be an amazing opportunity while at the magazine couldn't I wasn't good enough a blog and stuff to get it sorted. So in the end, I bought a mountain bike and started racing that. And so that's what I was doing.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 43:24
What did you see that made you want to do that? Like, you're like, I'm not gonna be fast enough to do the whole race thing on the Moto? No, no, I was the visual that was like No, race mountain bikes,
Chris Porter: 43:35
just literally cost. No, no, the the idea that I was going to buy a motorcycle to go racing meant that I had to buy a van to go racing with a motorcycle. And I had to have enough spares to make that list of weekend every weekend that you go racing. And you're going to have to do I think I can't remember how many ads do some of like five races before even last year novice jacket before you even you know, allowed to race with the big boys. So in the end, I just started racing mountain bikes because it seemed like the cheaper option and and made enough money with the mountain bikes to start racing motorbikes when I reached 47 and go there in the end, you know, it all just went a different way around. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, the mountain bikes were always that the bicycles were always there all along at some. I was using them for commuting around London when I was working on the magazine and riding around. I had an old gt Timberline and use that. Yes, it was always there in the background, but just couldn't afford to race. The motorbikes so decided to do downhill and that's where that's where the That's where all the bicycle businesses started from. Yeah. Was when
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 45:04
you started racing. Yeah, yeah. So what? What mountain bike Did you buy to go racing on?
Chris Porter: 45:10
A gt? avalanche? steel? avalanche? mag. 21. forks. 16 mil? Amazing. It was the shortest bicycle you've ever seen in your life. Then I bought one of those. Remember? The veliky iron horse? Do you remember that thing? in the middle? Guys like Dave Kalinin. raise some from like back in the day. God knows how they used to make the thing go around corners. I hated it. I'm pretty good at cornering is pretty good. Yeah. But how much better? Could he burn? If you had a bicycle? It didn't bend in the middle. It was the biggest piece of shit. But um, yeah, I I got rid of that almost as soon as I bought it, but Oh, well. Yeah, just it took ages until bikes got better. But yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 46:17
Did you? Did you find that your motocross, motocross your motorcycle world helped you understand what was working? What wasn't on the bikes? Even then? I think Lexi knew was not a not a good thing.
Chris Porter: 46:31
Yeah, no, I think it's some from the motorcycle world. Which is, that's the thing that's different to the bicycle world. If you're having a problem getting round a corner, you can solve it by being a better rider. Right. But you can also partly solve it by making the motorcycle fit you better or fit your style better. And with the bicycles, mountain bikes, any problem that a rider has, they pretty much always blame themselves, you know, didn't get around that corner. Well, that's my fault, I got that wrong. And the truth is, if the if the bicycle can be made to handle well and fit person, they'll get it right more often. Because, you know guys have well my age, let's say 55 this year, if you haven't learned how to do what you're doing by now, you're not going to learn it by being told to drop your heels, press USA, look around the corner, dig your elbows, this, that the other, there's a certain amount of stuff that you can be taught to make things easier, for sure. But you some of the blame has to lie with the bicycle. And that's, that's what I thought. I know. And I guess the reason I thought that was because I'd written so many motorcycles, right. And some I'd been really sweet in some places and shit and others and some have been really shut in others and sweet and other places. And then you get some that just a diabolical and you. And because you're trying to write a review or trying to, you know, add a second opinion to review or whatever it is that you're doing. You're looking for the reason why, you know, if it's, if it's really nervous, in that space between straight line and fully leaned over, you're trying to find out whether it's the tire profile, or whether it's the the geometry of the motorcycle, or whatever it is, you know, you'd be trying to find it so that you can point to and say I think it's this
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 49:03
rather than just say I just couldn't ride that section like that.
Chris Porter: 49:07
Yeah, because you know that in the end you get a lot of that with the bicycle stuff people got this bicycle is amazing. It's really fast. It's amazing. And you just go well that's six you've done that. So those settings so the other one that you said was shit that's almost exactly the same shape and has almost exactly the same kinematic you probably just didn't check the tire pressures, you know? Something as simple as that because you know it people don't generally check things and and so when you get accidentally when that combination of all the adjustments there on a bicycle from seat position to seat angle, to pedal platform height to crank length To chain ring versus anti squat all of these possible combinations, before you even start drawing things, big things like head angles, and bottom bracket heights and stuff. When all of those possible combinations come good, it can feel amazing. But you can similarly make it feel pretty rubbish. If you get the combinations all wrong.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 50:27
That's a way of thinking about bicycles that not many people do. And maybe that's changing now. Maybe it isn't. But I think
Chris Porter: 50:39
what, no, I think what's happening now is you wait, I don't know what you're like in the States. But there's, there's a huge acceptance of coaching as a way of learning how to go faster. Some of that's come from the motocross world, and the Supercross world, where rider coaches have been a thing for a while and a lot of the races in mountain biking, and I'll get shut down for this. I want to BS for the Supercross and motocross I think and they see that and they get there, they get the rider coach and but but what it has done, the positive thing it has done is it's meant that coaching is a thing in our sport now, which is quite good. But instead of and you also have from the other side, you have the electronics where the shock waves is in the data log in, and all of this kind of stuff. And none of those things are focused on the actual rider that's riding the actual bike. So very few of the very few of the coaches are going to look at the guy and say, You look really uncomfortable. Let me see if I can make you more comfortable before we even start trying to get you to get into this weird yoga position. Right? Yeah, so let me see if I can find out what it is that's wrong with what you're doing with the bicycle. And, you know, it's it can be simple things like, brakes are too far down. So you're, so you're relying too much on your forearm muscles in your thumb when you're trying to break because your hands roll right round can be simple things like that. Or it could be that your bars roll too far back like Harley Davidson. So whenever you load your hands, your elbows come in. And all of these things can put your body in the wrong position on the bike. So you've got less room to move around. And a short quiz is never going to tell you that. Yeah, true. A short quiz will just tell you where your suspension was, it won't tell you, it'll just adjust the bike to suit the ship riding position you've got instead of looking at the ship ride in position you've got and trying to find, you know, a way of saying, let's see if we can do this. Let's see if we can do that. Let's see if we can change this. And you know, not everyone is not everyone's going to enjoy exactly the same riding position or riding experience. But you can definitely tell when you're working with a customer one to one. Yeah, when that customer is feeling more comfortable, because they just look better on the bike straight away. Yeah, it's almost as if they've learned how to ride. You know, straightaways like that. Yeah,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 53:35
I can do the things you're asking me to do now?
Chris Porter: 53:37
Yeah, yeah, I've got room I've got I understand that I can feel the front wheel, I've got move, I've got amplitude to move backwards, forwards up down. I don't have to be in the stupid yoga position. And, or something like that. And and that is? Yeah, that's not. That's not something many people do. That's what I
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 54:02
was gonna ask you are there any coaches that you know of who are kind of going that way or have completely gone that way that you feel are doing a good job that
Chris Porter: 54:09
that, that there are a few in Britain who are doing a really good job to be fair, and there are a few. And there are a few companies doing a really good job too. And starting to understand all of that, because, you know, every idea has its time. And just the fact that we're talking about this now means this, this idea has already got its time and there'll be other people already around the world independently of us doing exactly the same things as we're doing with riders and watching them and adjusting things just because we're doing it. You know, we're we're doing it for our own reasons, because we want to create a really good experience for our customers. But that doesn't mean there aren't other people independently doing the same thing. You know? So,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 55:01
yeah, let's get into that a little bit. Let's like, I guess we'll start with Mojo because that was the first thing before you did the geometry on bike stuff. Yeah. Yeah. How did you end up starting Mojo? Well, that
Chris Porter: 55:13
was from Yeah, from when I was at the motorcycle magazine, but just was burnt out, I was doing like, stupid hours, 17 hour days, some days and you know, the, the monthly deadline was just crushing. And I just decided I need to scrap find do something else. And I was racing downhill at the time. And there were a lot of things in the states that you could buy that you couldn't buy in the UK. There was nobody bringing them in. And what's available. There was all the race racing and white brothers upgrades and, you know, duty cartridges and long travel kits and, and people doing replacement shock absorbers for popular models as well. So if you remember there is a specialized that Jason McRoy and Todd Tanner, wrote that amazing steel tube thing with a walking for by link thing. They had a coil shock in that. But you could only buy the bike with the air shock, right. So that was one of the first things I bought, I bought coil shops from Taiwan in the right length and got some laser cut linkage pieces that I could replace. So people could have that sort of red tube, steel tube specialized FSR designed bike with a coil shocking. And
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 56:53
we're these other races or just general people that you run into one of the
Chris Porter: 56:58
Yeah. Other other races and you know, crazy early adopters. I think one of the first customers is a guy called nebs callate. I never to this day, I still don't know his real first name was nips. And he had his first his first son was called Ty after an American desert motorcycle race. And then his second son was called Todd, after Todd Tana from that specialized team, because nebs had started racing mountain bikes as well. We were already in the old guys category by then he was a couple of years older than me. And we Yeah, he he was one of the very first customers to come up. I think he got the forks stuff first to extend the travel on his foot. And now his son Todd. is racing motocross at World level. Yeah. And his son Ty, is I think he's still filming the the world motocross series. I haven't spoke a couple months, actually. And you know whether there's any world level racing going down at the moment, I don't know. Yeah. So yeah, he was one of the first. Yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 58:34
So had you called it Mojo at that point? A we just ran these things in?
Chris Porter: 58:38
Yeah. Yeah. No, I just decided that Mojo suspension who do was a good, a good name, and I scribbled a little logo. And that followed us for a while till 2017. Really? So that original little scribble logo.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 58:58
So when when was this is this like? No, it was like 2000, late 90s,
Chris Porter: 59:03
late 90s. So started at 96. And then ended up working from a mountain bike magazine for for a couple of years in between and had had my brother in law run the company for a while. And that was so at the very beginning of dirt magazine. Yeah, they took the publisher took me on as a technical editor. And one of the other distributors didn't like the fact that I was going to be technical editor. So they employed a different self employed suspension expert don't see the difference myself, but I've done a load of work for that law. Issue, right? Because I need to get stuff done. I'd worked at a motorcycle magazine, I knew all the photographers, I knew that you just have to get off your ass and do it. You know? And just, they were the, the people they were talking about interviewing. It's like, no, why don't you interview Nico for Yo, that would be really interesting to me. Why you Why do you want to speak some guy from Kent? But anyway, I saw I had a whole raft of pages and stuff already done. stuff written, photographed. And they hadn't paid me at that point. And they, they'd asked, Well, you know, can we have that stuff that you've done? I was like, yeah, if you pay for it? Well, you did it for us. Yeah. But I'm doing it for money as well, you know. So, in a sense, I had like, a magazines worth of ideas and a portfolio of magazine articles and pages to tout around. And I ended up taking it around to the publishers that I knew from the motorcycle days to try and get magazine off, you know, the idea was, it was going to be called descent or misspelled to be French descent, so that you could, you know, just so you could kind of get the shades on Italian. It's this song Tom in French and descent, and it was kind of try and make something more international for the, for the racing and the downhill. And got pretty close to getting that up and going. But the the, the publisher that was going to do it was already in work at a different publishers. And there was there was a little bit of the eggs, all the chickens had to be in line before. And they didn't quite fall into line to allow him to give up what he was doing. So he got me a job out the publisher on their mountain bike magazine, sir. And then the first interview we did I just literally jumped in the car and drove down to interview Nico. So it's like, yeah, this is how you do it. Get it done. Yeah. I didn't even have any. I didn't even have any mountain bike kit, you know, that was that we could use because, you know, it's like, no branded kit, nothing. So it's like I just wrote down I think I took a we had a photograph on his bike, and I was riding my old motorcycle off road helmet, just so that I could get the photographs done. But yeah, good. Did you
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:02:53
have Nico in a Rolodex or something? Or to his house?
Chris Porter: 1:02:57
Well, I know you just you just rang people and find out. If you're a magazine, you can kind of get that done kinda. You know, but it's different now because there are so many different media outlets
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:03:10
that you can connect with people with so many different ways to Yeah,
Chris Porter: 1:03:13
but yeah, he was really cool. He's really thoughtful and he's really into the technical is you know, even back then know when? Yeah, even back then he was really into
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:03:26
it. You hear stories about like, tying like wire around spokes, so that he could run the spokes loose enough to get the feel he wants out of the wheels but not have the wheel just disintegrate and stuff. Yeah,
Chris Porter: 1:03:40
yeah. Now that said they did a lot of stuff hemin bosshard, who was boss suspension, but also they were that's who ran the sun, the sun factory team. I I tried to organize myself ago on one of the factory bikes. Yeah, a French round at Paulo in France, and organized it with the marketing lady. She thought I was really good idea. When I got there. I Olivier thought it wasn't such a good idea. And I just had the fucking customer by our tears. Livia, but but I did spend a really good couple of days hanging around with the sun factory team. And at the event was john Michel bail, who was one of the foremost French most crosses who was the first wave of Europeans to come to America to race motocross, and that was in late 80s, early 90s. And he was there riding mountain bikes. Yeah, it was pretty fucking good as well to confer and they had Mikhail Pascal Cedric Gus Gressier. No, it's the full team. And Caroline Shaw Saunders is the full team was there, you know, like loads and loads of them. Philly was around another guy called Phillips and that art anyway 1000s. And then there's me riding around on one of their x team bikes clunking along in the background, as ice did a couple of runs when they can say, you know, God, he was he was following me down actually, because I think he was just keeping an eye just to say, is the sky for real? You know? Is he just a joker? And you actually asked Olivier for a different spring rate when he got to the bottom. So I thought, well, maybe it's because he's going so slow that he had to. But no, he's he is an absolute bloody legend.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:05:54
Yeah, I'd love to talk to that guy, for sure. I'm sure he'd love to talk to you. Yeah, maybe one day I'll reach out.
Chris Porter: 1:06:02
I think my old cards are probably a day by now. So you started
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:06:09
Mojo in the mid 90s, then? Yeah. And, and you were bringing in stuff from Taiwan, Taiwan, Taiwan. You said?
Chris Porter: 1:06:17
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, just went straight to one of the factories in Taiwan. But then, we started doing more shock servicing and tuning. So we were then getting shocks from people that had blown up. You know how? Yeah, yeah. I mean, the GT RTS one with that lovely no lien shot that went down through the seat tube. With a long eyelash extension, beautiful little shock. But yeah, I did, I had a propensity to blow its guts out. And, and I just used to say I was just in battery, no rings, and measuring seals and buying seals one at a time here and there and buying stuff from American suppliers if I could get them. And the fox thing started, because one of the British racers had an outs for shark I think it was one of the really early sharks, and it blown up. It wasn't working. The national champs was the week after. And he sent it to me and said, Can you fix it, and I pulled it apart, and I absolutely could not figure out how you could do it without doing an oil bath. And I thought this, you know, this is stupid, nobody's going to be doing this. under an oil bath, it seems like crack in hell, there must be an easier way to do this, I must be missing something. So I actually rang and spoke to the tech guys in Fox. And I said, you do it in an oil bath. So from there, for the next 10 years, like, hands are always smooth, cuz you're always in your hands are always in a bath full of oil. And as soon as you start doing an ounce for the phone rings, so but and that started the relationship with Fox, which, you know, carried on till 2017 when they'd basically gone a bit more corporate. So we were, you know, yeah, if Dang. So, that's quite good, you know that the time had run its course that that time has gone on, it's good to do different stuff now. And again, if you do the same stuff all the time, you just end up doing the same stuff all the time. And on?
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:09:00
Is that why when you're working on stuff, you are always looking at ways to do it differently and improve it.
Chris Porter: 1:09:07
Now that's just cuz that's because I'm riding with the youngsters all the time. And they're faster than me. And but I've got to be able to try and keep up. So you're so you ride a bicycle and you go, you know, there's this little, there's still lots of places where I ride a bicycle, even with my limited bravery, skill, flexibility, strength to weight ratio, etc. You know, I've got a lot of weight to strength ratio, for sure, but the other way around, maybe not so and there's still a lot of times when I'm riding bicycles, and I go, come on your piece of shit go faster. So if I can feel that then you know that I could, if I can tailor that bike to go faster in those places. And and And not damaged too much the handling in the places where I'm already at the limit of my bandwidth, then you're hopefully making things go better.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:10:13
What What was the process getting there? Like? How did you get this mind for picking apart things? Is it just times of years pulling things apart and looking at things and reverse engineering? Or is the people you learnt from?
Chris Porter: 1:10:32
No, I think it's just trying to when when you, when you race, you have a certain amount of time to get faster from when you arrive to the point where the race starts, whether that's a motorcycle race against other people, or whether that's a downhill race against the clock, or you know, whether that's a ski race against the clock, or a running race against other people, you know, whatever the race is, from when you were you come to look at the course to when the flag drops, if you like, and you've got a certain amount of time to learn how to go faster. And that's a process. It's part of physical, yeah, for sure, there's a lot about learning how to ride that track better. But then there's a mechanical process, also allowing the vehicle to go faster over the ground, or better through the turns or allowing you to set up better on the entrance to the turn, so you can carry more speed through or whatever it is that you want to try. So racing gives you the structured testing process. And there are not many companies in mountain biking that go through a process in that linear fashion. Because when the product managers run the show, they just ask for something new. So you'd never get to solve the problem for the poor 50,000 saps the ball last year's pro that didn't work. So that you end up with a fix for that product that can carry on to this year, they just order a new product, we don't want that one anymore with that x y, Zed wizzy thing on it, we want a new one, and we want it to have this name and this amount of adjusters. And so they, you tend to see that the problems are designed out on a blank sheet of paper, you get a completely new design to solve the problem. And we from racing racing heads, or we can't do that, you know, you've turned up at the weekend. You got this? Yeah, this is how we got to fix it. And so there's a certain amount of bush mechanics in there, you know, your, your, your, your you're improvising solutions, for problems that the designer out of college who's working in the design department would just redesign it. Yeah. And to me, that's not a solution. To me. That's an insult to the people that already bought your product. And so we we always had that, that different way of doing it, we always try and solve the problem. Whether that was with the suspension, or whether that's what the bikes that we're dealing with, or the bikes that we were racing, or whatever it was that we would do it, we'd always try and just work within, within the parameters of what we've been given, rather than, you know, just saying, If as soon as you say I can't, then you've it's your fact, your racing effort. We can't do this, because you know what, this is what we've got, what can we do with it? Yeah, always think of the positive solution out of it, because as soon as you say, we can't do this, then you've already beaten yourself, you know, you have to just deal with the debt, deal with the situation you're in and we were always that was what that was the way we just developed things. That's how we've always done it. So
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:14:56
that mentality just carries through to the to the helping others. side, right? And they just send you a fork and you're like, Oh, yeah, we could do this to make this better. Have you found that problem with it?
Chris Porter: 1:15:09
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's the this, there's so many ways, so many ways to make things better in so many ways to make them worse. And, yeah, that the forks, I mean, there's, there's a lot, there's a lot to do little things that will improve forks. And, you know, the, most of the, most of the bicycle forks haven't really got a good enough negative. Let's say that, you know, as a really good example of this, the first debonair spring from the lyric in I think 2018 2019, was a really good aspirin, it gave you a lot of really well, pressurized, good length of negative air chamber. And that
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:16:03
was your go to fork during that period, too, wasn't it?
Chris Porter: 1:16:05
It was, yeah, it was really easy to set up. It had, you can just set the damper to four clicks on rebound and off on the compression side. And you could make that work for anyone from 60 kilos to 90 kilos. But that that aspirin worked really well, because it had a really nice positive to negative ratio. Now, it was changed to a smaller press, smaller air volume in the negative because people weren't getting their full amount of travel on the little anodised travel markers on the stanchion. So instead of moving the anodised, travel markers up the stanchion, they redesigned the air chamber, and it's not as good. It's just not as nice off the top. But you can, but you can get around that. So if I was racing that lyric now, then I'd be laying the pressure out and put in a zip tie down through the dust seal at full bar mounts so that you've got that bit of extra negative, so that when you fully pressurize it, you've got you don't have such a short negative anymore, it's actually only just extending into the negative because you've got almost a negative pressure in the lowers. And that works quite well for a lot of forks actually. Because now when you get to the travels of forks that we're getting, and the all the all the air chambers are now sealed. So you're looking at forks with bushing systems that were designed for 50 plus cc's of oil and now running on five to 10 cc's of oil. That's, that's not gonna splash, you know, 10 cc's of oil. It's literally two teaspoons. Yeah, pretty much disappears when you put it in. That's no good. So. So because of that, the reason they've done that is because there's no room in the lower of Obama, you've used the negative plate is getting to the point where it's building pressure in the lower I think we did, we did a test recently on one of our spring testers and we were we we've got spring curve from one of the manufacturers, and we're looking at now it's doesn't feel like what we're feeling. And so we actually plotted it as fuck, that's where and then. So then we plotted just the lower graph and the lows, you're looking at 85 kilos to bottom eight
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:18:50
lowers. Well, just a lower body a ton of pressure in there.
Chris Porter: 1:18:54
Yeah, that's, that's insane. So and that, so that, removing that by dropping the zip tie down as it gets to look, you know, bottom line. And like I said about, yeah, that idea is having their time You know, there are a lot of people already thinking about things like this. So there's a company in the states who are doing transferring our from our volume from the, from the left hand side where there's little air volume in the lower and they communicate with the air volume in the damper side, Southern you get a much straighter push. And there and there are, you know, other other companies working with a little bleed valves so that you can easily reduce the pressure and warn and, you know, it'll come that'll be a thing you know, that will have its time and no, maybe someday one, someone will figure out a little remote reservoir that carries the oil and squirts it back in so it hits the lower bushing at least You know, they go, you can have that on for free. And you know this, that these ideas will have their time and they'll come, you know, somebody will be able to afford to do it and someone won't. And yeah. But yeah, would
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:20:16
you say that stuff is the is the sort of biggest problems that you're coming across at Mojo these days? It's just the constant re jigging of things, I guess, more so than fixing?
Chris Porter: 1:20:27
No, no, no, there's some stuff is, you know, stuff is looking pretty good. At the moment, you know, mountain bike stuff is getting better. We don't see many people's problems, because we've limited ourselves to working with some quite high end brands. So we just don't see that many mass production problems. Which is quite nice. Yeah, for sure. It's, it's nice not to have to fix other people's problems all the time. It's. So yeah, that when you're working with the nicer stuff, it gives you more chance to actually do a good job with people and, you know, put the cream on top of the cake, rather than trying to make a cake out that shit ingredients. So you went, yeah, we're less less into dealing with problems now. But it's nice to keep your eye on on what everything else is doing and everyone else is doing. It's also nice not to have to do it to make money. So
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:21:42
do you ever spend time on other new like, if someone launches a new product, you try and get a hold of it, just to see what it's all about?
Chris Porter: 1:21:50
Usually, not. Most, most of the there's some really good stuff happening in the mountain bike world. Most of that really good stuffs happening with small, responsive, entrepreneurial companies. It's not happening with the big companies set up. Obviously, those are the new things that usually get the sort of time. You know,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:22:26
they're also the things that push the entire industry to do better. I find a lot of the time
Chris Porter: 1:22:31
the little guys do yes. Yeah, the little guys do. It's, you know, we weren't the first company to make bikes with 62 degree head angles. We weren't the first company to make bikes with steep seat angles. We weren't the first company to make bikes with low bond brackets. We weren't the first company to do any one of those things. But we were, you know, we were probably among the first to put all of these things together into an enduro style bicycle that allows you to ride the type of terrain you want, or the type of speed you want, up and down. And that has, those numbers are appearing on more more bicycles. You know, when when you look at all of the big brands, they're all talking about longer, lower slacker. And they're all talking about being able to shred hard or push right hard and push it buddy. Make and it's like, he spent so long reading their website, you go oh my god, I need a 120 29 or as well, no, no. propagandized. Now I don't I'm really happy with my bike. And, but it's just, they're using those same buzz phrases for their marketing now. It's like it's quite flattering. You no longer a slacker? Hang on. It was just four years ago when you're saying you'll never get this piece of shit round a corner. What you need is you need 67 degrees head angle, man. It's gonna be awesome. 29 or you need 2.8 tires. What the fuck happened to those pieces of shit? Damn. They folded.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:24:19
It was pretty funny watching that evolution through the media to like, when I was at pinkbike. Yeah. Paul Aston's articles would often get all sorts of hate. Yeah. And then in the span of like 18 months, it started to flick pretty hard the other way. And they did that survey where - was it a survey or? Anyway is a is a test that they did where they had each person's perfect bike and the majority were looking at Paul's bike and saying that sounds pretty sick. Yeah, like hang on a second. a year or two ago you were chastising him for riding anything near what he's talking about. Now. Yeah. And now it's the one you want.
Chris Porter: 1:25:01
Yeah, it's really funny. I think, I don't know what happened to the sort of second or third or whatever it was episode of The, the grim donut thing that they did. But it was like us that they got it, thinking it was gonna be shit. And you know that they wrote it and they were: "actually it's pretty fucking good innit?" You know that, you know that they wrote it down something really steep or something really fast and said, I see. I understand now, you know, cuz now people have raced with a 57-degree head angle, it has been done. And and if you do, if you're going fast enough and the course requires it, then that's going to be the correct angle.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:25:49
You know, this, this is not to say it's right for everyone.
Chris Porter: 1:25:53
That's not to say is right for everyone. But it's going to be righter for everyone then the 67 or the 66. You know, when we started the geometry project, we were I started looking at some I started looking at some other bikes geometries because people were shitting themselves when they were looking at bikes. And, you know, we sold a few and it was easy. And the journalists were really interested in them because they were different. But I just thought, oh, let's just have a look at what other people are doing. I'm doing. Fucking hell. There's people here trying to sell a cross country bike, we're 29 wheels, that steeper than this wilier road bike. It's got this willya road bike has got a slacker head angle, cross country bike, and you got up. How is that possible? You know, that, that you could have a road bicycle that's got more extreme geometry than a mountain bike. We just thought we'll just do our thing. There's no point doing what everyone else is doing. Because they're already doing that. Yeah, we need to do something different. And you didn't agree with what they were doing anyway? No, no. And now, it seems like the only thing they don't agree with the only thing they're scared of now is head angle. And when somebody finally cracks the 63 degree mark, and, and makes that into mass production, people will have better bites for it. The last thing they're scared of is head angle. And it makes me laugh because they all say oh, you can't have a head angle that much the force will bind. And it's like, hang on a minute, right, let's have a look at where there's four loads from right, you've got more than 160 mil travel, and you've got a lower, that's excellent. And a stanchion that sticks up there. So you don't have to be a genius to put the tape measure onto the stanchion and put that from the bottom of the lower to see where the lower bushing is. The bushing overlap is usually around 110 to 120 mil in most forks, that's less bushing overlap than there is for travel on something that is being loaded by 29 front wheel, or mostly, you know, got huge leverage ratios. And so they can't Yeah, so if you've got a 6080 degree head angle, you have loads a bushing section. Well, actually, when you load the bicycle slowly, you're loading it on the spring, when you try and load the bicycle fork quickly, you're resisting it on the damper. So actually, what you're doing is you're loading one leg at a time, the spring can move as quick as it once the damper can't. The damper isn't supporting you, the spring is so you've got this sort of parallelogram of the lower jiggling up and down the legs across because it's loaded from the center of the wheel. So you look at the angle from the the center of the axle where the wheel is loaded from and then project that axle across the bush at that angle across the bushes. And that's probably almost as bad as the 62 degree head angle in the other direction. You know, when you look at where the bushes where they don't where front to back, they were kind of three o'clock, six o'clock, seven o'clock and nine o'clock. They 10 o'clock, you know they're not wearing exactly front back.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:29:45
Do you think if there was a more equal? What's the word a more equal spread of that load between the spring and the damper. That would weigh about a default would work better all that kind So
Chris Porter: 1:30:00
for sure, but it will be heavier. So you'd never get past the bicycle industry. Because you need, you'd need a you'd need a spring medium and a damping medium and each leg. I've got I, I've been riding KTM, off road motorcycles for years, and you can buy a Cait, brand new KTM motorcycle, and you can flip a coin, and it'll come up either heads or tails. And if you think of heads as shit and tails is great, that's you're gonna get either a ship fork or a good fork, when you buy a new KTM. Sometimes they're great, sometimes they're not, I've got a particularly good fork on my current one. It's really nice. It's better than lovely, it's working really well. And that particular fork has got compression in one leg rebound in the other. And that is, you know, that should be that should be creating a problem with that, with that. Side loading that sort of loading, but but the fork weighs probably 20 kilos. So it's probably got enough material. I don't need to worry about it. And, and it's also got sliding bushes. So the bushing overlap increases as it goes through the travel and it's got bleed valves built in. So I can let the pressure out and I can lay it out at the height I want so I can get the feel I want. And all of these things could happen in a bicycle fork. Of course they could. But it couldn't happen at two kilos. Right.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:31:46
Why are we wait weenies? Where do you think that comes from?
Chris Porter: 1:31:52
It comes from the road bikes. I think it comes from the road bikes. It's like everyone obsesses about the weight of bicycles. But so the bicycle won't go up the hill on its own, it's not a remote control car, you can't send it up on its own. Because if you could, then sure, a lighter bicycle would probably get to the top quicker than the heavier one. But if the heavier bicycle had a better riding position than the light bicycle, and you put two riders on, then possibly the heavier bicycles going to get to the top quicker. And then when you get to the top, the lighter bicycle might have to be carried home after it breaks. Nice. It's Um, I don't know why we ended up so wait weenie, but once you start, once you start being, you know, facetious and narky with people and say, Go on, then send it off up the hill on its own. So you have to get on it. You're 80 kilos, it's 15 kilos. So now that one kilo. That's just over 1%, isn't it? That's fuck all, isn't it? Yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:33:13
What if you worked on losing some weight for the rider and well, creasing the strength to weight like, you know, the
Chris Porter: 1:33:21
weight? Yeah. If, if you want to, you know, if you want to go up the hill as fast as possible, crack on. There's lots of ways of doing that. But I would say you gain more by putting yourself in the more most efficient position possible for the angle of hill that you're about to time yourself on. Rather than just trying to make the bicycle lighter and lighter and lighter.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:33:44
Yeah, so the way heavier bikes in my experience, feel better going downhill. Yeah. And I've spoke to we won't get too into the E bike thing, because I want to get into that in part two, and let you go off on it. But I've spoken to other people and myself on my own a bike with just lackluster suspension, nothing like what I try and have on my everyday bike. Yeah. And that thing rides on real. Yeah. Because the weight pushing through that
Chris Porter: 1:34:20
suspension. Yeah. So whether with a suspended vehicle, you've got something you hear a lot about and suspension taught you've got sprung weight, and you've got unsprung weight. Now, the sprung weight in a normal vehicle, if you're in if you're in an off road car, and you're a really big guy, you would be calculated as part of the sprung weight. Right? Because you are in the part of the chassis that sat on top of the spring supported by the spring. On the other end of the spring. You've got the wheel, the brake Some of the suspension components that are on the other side of the spring, they are the unsprung weight. So you've got a sprung to unsprung weight ratio, the better you can make that ratio, the easier the wheels can move over the bumps without affecting the chassis. If you have a really, really heavy chassis, and really lightweight wheels, you can move those wheels. And those really lightweight wheels will put less energy into that really heavy chassis, or there'll be less ratio of energy going into it, so it won't move that chassis. Now, if you have imagine that off road car again, and put really heavy wheels on it with a really high air pressure, so when it hits the bump, that wheel has to ride over the bump is going to lift the chassis as well. So that that's how the sprunt unsprung weight ratio works. And it's why you might find a bigger, heavier old fashioned four stroke motorcycle almost works better in the boulders than something racing and lightweight in the motorcycle world, and it's the same in the bicycle. But the big mistake that a lot of people made maybe not making the mistake so much now is to consider the bicycle rider as sprung weight, the bicycle rider is not sprung weight, the bicycle rider can be sprung weight, and the bicycle rider can be not sprung weight can be separate all in. So, you have to look at the bicycle riders inputs separately from sprung weight or unsprung weight, when you start to think of it like that, then you start to see that you set the suspension of the bicycle for the rider not for the bumps the the ride the way that the rider loads the contact patches and therefore the bicycle is fully progressive. You cannot be putting load onto the bicycle in the air. If you if you win it flying through the air, then you are not loading the bicycle. And, and then you hit the bottom of a gap and you fully loaded and fully pushed into the bike. That's your maximum load from you to the bike. and everything in between. You've got every possible permutation in between directly correlating to the suspension usage, the rider isn't sprung weight. So when you are when the bicycle wheel is touching the ground, again, after being in the air, there's very little sprung weight, you're not part of it. The only sprung weight is the actual bicycle chassis, the upper part of the fork, the drive train, some suspension components, that's the only part of the sprung weight. So if you imagine that the sprung weight is seven or eight kilos, and the unsprung weight the wheels is probably four or five kilos. That's not a very good ratio. It's pretty close. So if you put a couple of kilos on the sprung bed, let's say let's say you were racing AWS A few years ago, and you're riding your super lightweight enduro bicycle, and you've got your backpack and you're getting battered around the place because you and your backpack are not sprung away. And then suddenly realize that you can put your water bottle on your bike, and all of a sudden your bike gets a little bit more comfortable. Then you can put another water bottle on your bike gets even more comfortable, then you can put your inner tube and your tools on the bike gets even more comfortable. And everything that you've taken off you and put onto the bicycles made that sprung to unsprung weight even, you know, there was you know, 2016 17 the AWS guys started going to coil shots, which you know, for, for most part, considered sprung weight. So that all of that really helped with making that bicycle But better in terms of suspension, so yes, that's exactly what you're finding with the E bike. And that's what we find when we did that experiments with race and with, you know, place in lead weights on the bikes. It can really help. You can remove a certain amount of stiction from a suspension system. But removing it entirely is a pipe dream, you know, you can't remove all of it. You can't remove all of the stiction and make it work, you know, for a weekend or even for a day. So if you can reduce that friction down to a couple of kilograms, and then put a couple of kilograms on to the sprung portion of the bike. Then, every time the rider hits that initial bump, two kilograms of what would it come through to the rider fatiguing him or her? Doesn't?
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:41:11
It's gone? Yeah, yeah.
Chris Porter: 1:41:14
There are positives and their negatives, as with everything, but certainly, in situations where the the bandwidth of what's coming at you is too much for you as a rider. And you're just having this, hang on and take it that adding weight to the bike will really speed things up there.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:41:38
I wanted. And that's I was gonna say that's perfect, because I wanted to talk to you about the weight experiments in that in relation to waiting the sprung mass a bit more, did you? Did you guys hit a limit with that or no, what happened with that experiment?
Chris Porter: 1:41:56
I started doing quite quite a long time ago. So it was trying to think when it was it's probably about 2007. Now 2006, maybe because I was getting ready to go and do a desert race, on a motorcycle. And on this desert race, sort of back off style when it was African. So the motorcycles have to carry a lot of fuel. And you're riding through the desert. So you have to carry a mandated amount of water. And you have to carry a certain amount of tools, which they will check in their scrutineering. And you're carrying navigation devices as well. So and I was put in a kit on a motorcycle that already existed a Honda CRF 450 X and I was put in a rally kit onto that. So I already had the motorcycle that weighed 115 kilos, right, I think approximately I can't remember now. I'm not can't remember exactly what it weighed. But the kit itself weighed another 20 to 25 kilos on top, before you start adding in more more fuel because I was going from 12 liters to 35 litres of fuel. So that's another you know, it's like 35 kilos. Yeah, so so in order to set the suspension because the kit wasn't going to come with a lot of time to test, I strapped weights to the motorcycle to get an extra I was looking for an extra sort of 20 kilos.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:43:56
Returning like Jim whites,
Chris Porter: 1:43:58
now on ice using things like like motorcycle chains in like Canvas bags strapped on really tight using ratchet, you know, like little tie down straps, I had a tank bag over the tank, so that that was so the extra weight of the tank at this height would be represented by the chains here and I put a backpack on at the back of the bike representing the weight that would have been in the pannier tanks at the back and had some I think just strapped on some kind of heavy tie leaves and spanners and stuff on the side of the backplate where I would have been carrying the tools and I think that's where the water tank went as well. But so I move the weight around as much as possible to where it's going to be. But with the same suspension setup, I noticed immediately the bike was So much better through the rocks. So I was getting less pitching annoying as I was riding the motorcycle through the rocks, then, but that's, but the suspension was no good at speed because it was too soft, then you know, I've added another 20 kilos. And it's on the sprung weight. So I can't sort of bend my knees and soften the input, it's there on the chassis. So when I got up to speed and started hitting stuff, it was just blowing through the travel, now it is pitching and you're in too much. It's moving around a lot. So then I'd stiffen the suspension up with valving and springs and got a really nice suspension setup, and then took the weight off and started writing that round. I thought, this actually still works really well. And then five minutes later, you got fat, but I can't hang on to it now. It's like five minutes is all I've got with this setup. I'm not tough enough to ride this for more than five minutes. But that sort of adding the weight to the same vehicle that changed the whole character of the vehicle was really interesting. I wanted to try that with the racing team. Of course, none of the racers wanted to try it. I mean, you try tell him, you try telling the main by racer, that it will make you faster, why don't you just try it, and then they're the least experimental people like that. But I was at Fort William, with Dan stanbridge, and Julian Cam aleni. And I just did one run following them down. And for the first couple of minutes. There's nothing to describe the top of from where you hit the boardwalk to where it goes in the woods. It's It's nothing but just brutal. Misery is just rocks, like the worst combinations of them. Some riders can ride them really nicely and make combinations and do things really smoothly. But most people will just be hanging on to get through there. And that's the part of the track where you use an all your energy, you know, that's right, you need it for the last minute, but you've used it up in the second minute. So I just jumped him behind the boys and they were happy. They were on a decent run. I'm not gonna kid myself, they were on a fast run. And Julian looked back and saw me at the end of the boardwalk, and it's like, oh, that's all right. You know, that's okay, the first minutes like, trail center isn't it's like nothing. And then we get down to pass the under the gondola, another sort of 40 seconds down the track. I've lost them a little bit. Because there's a couple of turns in there. I'm not as good at the turns as those boys. And he looked back and probably thought, Oh, that's him going back. And then there are a couple of turns following. But there's a couple of really brutal strikes after that. And one of the worst used to be was a straight, almost straight that ran into the woods. And at that point, Julian looked back and saw me right on his tail. And he did a double take it was like a comedy. And then it looks bad. It looked again, and it's like our ship. And then of course we got into the woods and they absolutely took a minute out of me in 10 seconds. You know, it's like the the skill level needed to pilot a bicycle on mostly straight lines through rocks. If you've made the bicycle work better on those rocks is less. I still needed their skill levels in the woods, but I hadn't invested in those 20 years ago didn't have them. So of course, but that should have made them think about how much easier it could have been to get to the woods, right? But of course, you're dealing with racism. The peer pressure from the paddock is so great. I mean, you see that with the skin suits thing you know, that's like the peer pressure for the skin suits. It's just half a fuck sake. You'll wear lycra on your fucking roadbike Ah, why? why when you wear it racing and it was you know, Dan was one of the best Dan stanbridge was one of the one of the best riders you'll find you know, he's a really, really good rider. He wasn't a very good racer because his head wasn't as strong as it could have been. Hopefully it'll not be listening to this now so you won't be able to pass but standing is a legend. A local legend now. But the race the national race before the Fort William World Cup, when we did the skin suits my been the year before actually. I made stanny. Right this skin suit for qualify for the qualifying. He qualified second behind MC, Hannah. Oh, no. So, so we're talking about, we're warming up at the top. little old Dan stanbridge little old motor race team, every other fucker has gone down the hill because they didn't come down as quick as death. And he's up there, limb warming up on his turbo Trainer with MC Hannah. He's the only other bloke that's going to be on the hill after Dan's gone. Instead of giving him the confidence, and the strength of mind to believe that he deserved to be there, all he could think about was that he was wearing a skin suit and he fell off on the first term. Second term,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:51:21
you must see how tight their outfits are getting now and
Chris Porter: 1:51:26
it's, it's hilarious. And the fact that after they introduced the skin suit ban, they introduced that stupid leader's jersey thing. So which Aaron gwin wore for most of the time, because that was his dominant period. So he's wearing this stupid pink lycra top. It's like, it's even got a fucking lycra label in it. You're making him wear a lycra top over his baggy shirt. Ah, and it that the whole the whole thing, it's just in a way, it's kind of pathetic. But you know, it's, it is what it is. It is what it is,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:52:07
with Dan running weights on his bike at the same time as those No, no,
Chris Porter: 1:52:11
no, he didn't try it. A couple of the lads in the one vision team tried it when we went 2016. We tried to 29 Yeah, we tried the 29 front wheel, and we tried lead weights. There were three lads. And we were trying all sorts of different things. And now we're getting really good times, you know, like, really good times. But unfortunately, the the lead was a step to fire for, for most lads. JACK ran the lightweight the year after actually, and, you know, used it to great effect, I think some of the some of the best results he's had to date really, you know, whether that was, you know, it's an aggression as well, it's not totally that on its own is it some, there's a whole bunch of things that got to come together to make a racer successful. But, you know, certainly given them an easier time on the hands for sure.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:53:17
And so you find it's more because of because of what it does with how your ratios are, and how the wheels are able to react to the ground, then it's more about the energy saving, then, like more grip or anything like that.
Chris Porter: 1:53:33
If, if you're moving the chassis less than you're putting less energy into the rider. And if you're putting less energy into lifting the chassis and the rider upwards, then that weight is still going forwards. That's my pretty basic,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:53:56
Chris Porter: 1:53:59
Card science view of it, you know, it's like if whenever you try and lift that forward moving mass or move it offline, if that mass is moving through space, if you use the same energy to move it offline, then you're using some of that energy of the mass to move into a different place. If the if the whole energy of that comes from gravity from its weight from its potential energy, then whenever you whenever you move that mass offline, so a perfect example of that was I can't remember the races name. It was um Fort William 20. t 17. Scottish Ryder road right around the outside of the big t so jump at the bottom of Fort William. And it was about two and a half seconds faster than doing the jump because he stays on the same latitude up Going down as he was previously, whereas if you go up the ramp, three or four meters in the air, then push yourself further into the air, push yourself eight meters in the wrong direction, essentially, the other rider that road round is already going down the hill underneath here, because he hasn't gone all the way up there. And then when you throw in a whip to make yourself as aerodynamic as possible. It's, it's it's almost, it's almost so fucking obvious. But, you know, it's like,
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:55:36
Peter used to say that, like staying on the ground was quicker.
Chris Porter: 1:55:39
Yeah, yeah. And, and Steve Pete was a real smart race. And, you know, almost every way he was, he came, he came out winning. You know, he was the very first race I went to. I'm coming down with a flick puncture convinced I was still in with a chance. I think I came in second from last. And Steve, one that you know, it's like, hey, what on earth? Is he three minutes faster than me? I'm a three minute cause. Slight? You know, it's how on earth does he do that? And I used to joke we used to, you know, we did a lot of national races where guys like Rob Warner and Steve paint and Tim Ponton. And we're longdon and Nigel page and all these sort of names from the classic bullies legends. Yeah. And these guys are racing. And you would look at, you would look at the tire tracks on any given corner. And there would be one set of tire tracks that were right out the outliers, and that Steve's he would always be out there. And that gives him less to think about, you know, it's just, this is what I do. That's where I go. I need a big ladder. It takes a lot of turning. There's no point him doing inside stair insides like Sam Hill. That was that was not his style.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:57:05
But I think anyone can do it like Sam, how can I
Chris Porter: 1:57:08
know? Maybe not even Sam anymore. But yeah, we had the dirt crew who used to be in the building that I'm looking at now actually, where Mojo and geometry base they were. That was the dirt magazine offices. And Steve Jones from dirt magazine lived down the road from me in Hek country. And he had his little 104 downhill track that we used to ride. I used to love that thing. Yeah, videos or whatever. Yeah, we used to so we used to go there. And we'd see one weekend, the one week it'd be Sam Hill, doing the 104 fabyan brow. Greg minnaar. Dan gf 10 you know, an amazing see all those people attacking the 104. And then we watched um, Sam Hill coming down. And the it was, it was an eye opener, the way that he did that, that track because everyone was following the brown line, right? And just doing a better or worse job of the brown line and pushing the brain line a little lot a little wider. Because that's what you do, gentlemen of the sport. Sam didn't see any tapes. Some didn't see any cost markers. And it just went straight over the top of this one boulder like flipping Tony boom from the trails videos, straight over the top of it and cut two corners, fucking flat out speed. And that's that kind of obstacle. flattening or obstacle. Management is what made him such a good enduro racer. He's got that ability. In I saw.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 1:59:14
I vividly remember the video was Sam. I think it was one of Alex Rankin's maybe one of the ones. Yeah. And Steve is just beside himself. He can't believe what he's saying. Is it because of things like that? Or was it literally just the way he was writing it? other nights as well.
Chris Porter: 1:59:30
I think he had a bike that really suited him in that Iron Horse Sunday. That Iron Horse Sundays got really nice balance of measurements, which for a guy of Sam's height, weight and stature really worked like a really nice bike. There was a Welsh downhill theme is called dragon downhill series, which you know really helped to establish the level Have riders in Britain because essentially, it was just, it was kind, it was nuts. You know, we've just, we just be writing down stuff that you, you've been going down, literally, if you can stop and have a pray you would have done, because it's like, I don't I really don't know how I'm gonna attack this section because there is nothing to there's no purchase. It's all off camber routes, and there's nothing to catch me at the bottom other than daiquiris and the angels. You know, hopefully the angels can catch me. But you know, you his tracks were really tough. And that was really good because it made you it made you reassess, you know what you're practicing on what you're riding on to practice. But one of the races, we actually went to race in France. So we had this motley crew of Brits that all jumped in vans and raced in France, meta bf, and the current masters World Champion, lived in meta bf. And he spent a bit of time riding with Daniel stanbridge, who was on our team at the time. Or was he? I can't remember. But anyway, he spent a bit of time riding with Daniel stanbridge, and was explaining to him that there is the correct line. Use that line. And Dan was saying, Yeah, but the rocks in the way. He's saying, No, that's the right line, you've got to go over the rock. So don't ride around the rug, that's the wrong line. The correct line is that one, and if the rock is in the way, then you go over the rock to stay on the correct line. And that, that, you know, there's like a lightbulb moment for Dan, it was like, right, I need to keep my speed up. When I reached that I need to be in a position to be able to lift that bike and over that. And I'll still have the same speed. I don't have to try and get rain that I can Dang, you know. And so it's like that incident with Sam, you know, it's like, you find the line. the straightest line over the hill is the best line diamond, the best line you can manage. And I saw it so many times when I started with the enduro, the Ws racing you know, where as the as the fats we we ended up going after I think we I think onset anyway, certainly some of the races. We were going after the fast lads. And you've practiced a section you're going fact now this is our This is real. This is a battle and then you come down and as you're going down to try to go back and others to try going over there. How did they get up there? Where the fuck? How did they get a new and then you're riding down going fucking alleys go over there. No way. It was a Danny MacAskill. And this is the the thing about the kind of top level of racers, they can ride at such commitment that they can kind of still do the pull up that we might be able to do in the car park to show off whilst they're at the edge of the limit speed and time at correctly and smooths that out. Whereas I left to slow down Go round it. Make three corners where he hasn't even an eighth one. Yeah. But if I tried it, I definitely be, you know, like, in the emergency room.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:03:35
It's full commitment.
Chris Porter: 2:03:36
Yeah. And it's amazing to see I love to see, I'd love to see that kind of full commitment racing. It's, it's, it's amazing to see people riding at that level. I just think, you know, enduro stopped being enduro, it started being a collection of several downhill races on one day with mechanics at the end of each and now it stopped it lost its back country vibe, a little bit. It certainly wasn't the same for me. That doesn't mean to say that. It didn't work for the corporates because they seem to love it. But I think downhill racing already existed. So danehill racing on trail bikes really wasn't a sport we needed to sort of push I don't think
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:04:26
getting back to geometry on Yeah, so it sounds but I'm interested to like confirm for me if the catalyst to start geometry on was wanting to ride capable bikes, say downhill bikes, but they could pedal is that what sort of got you to start it?
Chris Porter: 2:04:47
Well, that's that's what that's what everyone wants is a bike that
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:04:54
I used to pet on my downhill bike around Squamish. Yeah.
Chris Porter: 2:04:57
And that's, you know, I used to paddle downhill bike. Round as well, you know, I know a lot of people did a lot of people's cuz they they handled really well but they pedal like shit. So if you could get one that was, you know halfway decent. And it got to the point where downhill bikes got so soggy and so sticky that you had to be like really, really fast to be able to make them sing. Because you know you've got that much travel and that much suspension absorption that you're you end up running, it's so hard to avoid it taking the energy from your legs. Otherwise it won't give you any energy back, you end up hitting the positive surfaces of all the bumps so hard to try and use the energy of the ground, that you're just not actually going that fast. Whereas the trail bikes and got to the point where they'd become actually capable of for a rider that was riding that same section slower. That is going to make different combinations, then, you know your fabyan brows and your Greg monnaies and your sneak peeks and your our in Gwen's that the combinations that are normal riders gonna make will be better on a trail bike all of a sudden, because it's more dynamic. And instead of sucking the life out of you, if you're going 10 miles an hour slower, it will allow you to make that middle combination rather than the five combination that maybe Aaron and Steve again, allow allows you to be more dynamic as a rider than the downhill bike did. So there was a crossover point where the suspension for the enduro bikes if you like, became good enough to flatter the riders that would have been riding the downhill bikes, like we were on trails. And I think now there are probably very few riders who would be faster on a downhill bike, certainly outside of the World Cup circuit, most people will probably be faster in most places on a trail bike. You'd certainly be more accurate if you could get a dual crown fork into the mix and get the steering a little bit more accurate. But that rather than having the full 200 millimeter, sort of leg soccer, having a 161 70. Dynamic, energetic ride, most people would probably be better off on that night and benefit from
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:08:02
that. Yeah. So that sort of that sort of happened around the same time that you found the trail. Yeah, so we're getting good enough. Yeah, we
Chris Porter: 2:08:11
were I mean, NGO road started probably in the late 2000s. And I did a trans Provence in 2011, with an orange Patriot, which we dubbed to the portrait. Because it wasn't very stock at all. I put I put in a different shock. I had a shock on there with a shorter idi so that I could get the bottom bracket down and slack in the head angle and add a couple of little offset bushings in there so that I could adjust that to a certain extent. I had a fork that I'd made that had I have all the fox parts bins that have the height I wanted with the field that I wanted. And then I had a two degree head angle adjuster in it. So we had that down to 62 degree head angle. It worked really really well. It was quite flattering to ride in a lot of situations other than uphill because obviously I've slackened off the main triangle which means slacking off what was already a slack CG bangle, I'd cut all the brackets on the the the dropper posts I could move the seat further forward, but not it but you're still not getting into the realms of today's steep seat angles. Yeah, and but as good as that bike handled, that just wasn't the room, you know, between the wasn't the room between the head tube and the bottom bracket. There just wasn't enough material in, in in the front triangle. But on that Trans Provence in 2011 was Cesaro Rocco, who is obviously super fast Downhill Racer, and founder of say road design in Barcelona, which started doing work for bicycle companies. And he was designing a car with a concept for mondraker, which was the for geometry idea. Yeah, so what he wanted was he wanted an XL length bike, but he wanted it on a medium height bike. So that was the idea. I want this length of bike handlebars in the same place. But the wheels move forward underneath that three out of 10 mil Stan, and then add an XL front triangle length, and a medium, front triangle height. And I have a little ride around on the car park on it with the brakes the wrong way round. And you can immediately see that the wheel is further out in front of you, you feel confident when you're going downhill, the wheel is just further away. Because normally it would have been 50 or 60 millimeters further back underneath you, you can just see more of the front wheel. So your relationship with a contact patch is just in a better space already. So immediately, then it's like Ah, right. That's the future. So I got a couple of prototypes from mondraker, which, you know, confirmed the theory, essentially, I did run them with head angle adjustments as well move the front wheel even further. And things. Things started around then. And that's when we and that's when we started with Nikolai making the custom frames. And that's how geometry started from there really, from
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:11:56
that that was you already kind of going there. It wasn't like he hit the I was of the impression that you hit the mondraker and you're like, Oh, this is the future. But it sounds like you're already trying to go there with your orange before that.
Chris Porter: 2:12:10
No, no, that's right. We had. So we were we were also running their Mojo orange downhill team for quite some time and lanky fella. Yeah. Ban and yeah. And Dan stanbridge. And, you know, all the Chris ball and Paul Angus, you know, going back even further than that, we had generations of people that, you know, there's some hella names in the mountain bike. And that started on that Mojo, orange team like Chris ball, Rowan, surveilled and stanbridge. You know, all the all these people that come come through. But Ben cathro Chris Hutchins, I think he's now doing them wide open mag, and, you know, we've got all these people. But in the middle of our relationship with orange, while Steve was racing, oranges, himself. We got a prototype that they made for Steve, that was too low in the bottom bracket. And that was the wrong shape. Okay. He said it was too big, it was too slack. And it was too low for Steve. And I thought, well, let's try that. And we got that. And what was really funny about that bike, the first time I rode it was that there was a couple of really tight turns on one of the steepest downhill tracks in the area we had. And it allowed me to push so hard into that turn. Ah, this is what I've been waiting for, you know, and then that's me at six foot something. And then one of the other lads at five foot 10 wrote it. And he was faster than one of the other lads at six foot four wrote it, he was faster. Like everyone that wrote it. It just worked better. And it didn't matter how tall the rider was, it was just the right shape. We managed to make a shock that worked because we had enough parts that we could make a shock of the correct length with as much travel as we could manage. It made. I think we managed to get 180 travel out of it. So that's pretty much what most of the World Cup races run. Really, for most of the time. If they ever get more than that. It's a bit you know, it's a that's a big usage. And it worked really well. And that was the go to Team frame. for quite a few years. Actually.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:14:58
It was a majority
Chris Porter: 2:15:00
And unfortunately, instead of listening to us and making bikes that shape, but for each rider, they ended up listening to the rider. And, you know, they were making customers for some of the riders that were you getting back any output? What did you ask for this one? Look the head angle on this, like, Oh, my God. And but you know, you can't you can't be in control of the whole process unless you're the boss.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:15:35
Right? Is there? Is there one set up? Or even size that you find to be the most common that goes out? Is there a common one? Absolutely not.
Chris Porter: 2:15:49
The, the amount of bikes that go out identical is almost non. And even if we, you know, we might say, out of several 100 bikes in the last few years that have gone out. If we said that there were two that were identical home component wise, they almost certainly wouldn't be identical in setup. Yeah, they would be very different. Because that's how we focus it. No, we, we try and steer the customer to the choice of components that will work really well for what the customer wants to do with the bike. And so that that hardly ever the same. And unlike anything, you'll get a run on, you'll get run on things. You'll end up selling a load of smalls and mediums one month and then my god like where's this come from? Is someone really small, a big influencer in the city? In the Allegheny mountain bike industry somewhere? I don't know what just bought one or written one. And, and then the next month, we'll, we'll be sat on a pile of double XL bikes that we think oh my god, we're never gonna get rid of these. There's not enough tall people in the world. And then the next thing you know, you're ordering more. So, you know, it just is it cycles, the way things go, yeah, it's the same when we're selling the sharks. It's like, we, we think we can order shock sizes so that we can hold some on the shelf. And then all of a sudden, everyone in the world wants one that's 210. And we're sat on a pile of 230s. And so you just can't tell what's going to happen. You just have to. You just have to keep reacting. Just roll with it. Yeah.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:17:48
What's the like this? My last question, what's the most unusual location that you've had a customer come to you for a geometry?
Chris Porter: 2:18:09
We got it. We got. We got a group of guys out in the Philippines. And we've got another little group of riders in Hong Kong. kind of look at those mega cities out there. Anything. That's the least sort of likely place for a big travel big country mountain bike crew to be hanging out. Yeah. But there's some there's a couple of real strong cells. You'd expect it in Pacific Northwest, you'd expect in certain areas in Europe and the states. But you know, we've got now we've got a couple. We got a couple of guys out in those big Far East mega cities that this little cruiser guys cruising around on geometry on G ones.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:19:09
That's awesome. Yeah, and I'll probably keep going. I guess like one guy bought it. And then next thing you know, two guys bought it for guys.
Chris Porter: 2:19:18
Yeah, I hope so. You know, in the end. In the end, if you find it very hard to be angry with the world when you're riding your bike in the woods, that's that can be a good thing.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:19:30
It sounds like you don't like on my last point. They're saying how more people ride them and stuff. It sounds like you're not fast with World Domination or anything like that. You just want people to have a decent experience and enjoy their time and thereby god no, no.
Chris Porter: 2:19:50
We, we were running when we were in in Mojo. It's a real it was a really successful business for what it was and it had a Huge turnover and we had a load of staff. And as proud as I am of what we achieved as a group of people to make that happen, don't want to do it again. That's it'd be great. If more people are riding back components and better bikes, that's great. But I don't need to I don't need to prove anything else to anyone else. So that's required quite happy. If we could kind of carry on doing what we're doing. Yeah, it's a really good rewarding place to be.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:20:46
That's awesome. How many guys are working Mojo geometry?
Chris Porter: 2:20:50
I think we're six in total, including us as directors and everyone involved. So six in total, cool. work across both companies. Really? Yeah. Everyone knows no job. Everything. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So yeah. Busy little crew. And I'm half day, half pay. So you are that? Yeah, that means how that means that the lads have to do all the work because I'm only in half day. half day, no pay, half day half pay. So they have to do all the work, but they're, yeah, they're doing a good job.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:21:31
Awesome. Well, we'll wrap it up there, Chris. Yeah. Thanks so much for taking the time to connect. That's all right. No worries. And we will talk again soon for listeners. We're gonna have a part two that's gonna tickle the mind. Chris is gonna lose a little bit.
Chris Porter: 2:21:49
I'm gonna have to have a glass of wine before that. throat scam really dry. So and definitely not be so close to a cup of caffeine. I speed talking earlier on?
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:22:01
I don't think so. But yeah. Sweet. All right. Well, thanks. And we'll chat again soon.
Chris Porter: 2:22:08
No worries. Thanks, AJ. Cheers. Yes.
AJ Barlas / NSMB: 2:22:12
And that brings us to the end of the first of our two part conversation with Chris Porter. If he made it this far. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen, let us know your thoughts. You can also check nsmb comm for regular MTV content. We'll be back soon with a new episode for your listening pleasure.