You have all heard of James Bond, but what about the UK's man of mystery? He has built v12 motor bikes, made bikes for his son, and worked on tanks all in the same lifetime?
Allen Millyard is a regular day Jimmy Neutron, and he has been in the spot light for a while now. Let's hear what he has to say about his revolutionary bikes and other covert operations.
Read on and be enlightened-
So you’re the international man of mystery. Do you want to state your name, and what you are doing here?
Allen & Stephen Millyard
We are here to solve all the technical problems in mountain biking.What made you decide to create this bike?
Because we were for ever cleaning chains, adjusting and replacing rear mech’s and fiddling with springs and damping settings. We competed in 22 races during the 2006 season and although Stephen finished most races on the podium, Stephen had several misfortunes with broken gear cables etc. Stephen said he needed a new bike for the 2007 season but he didn’t want a new bike because they all had the same problems as his current bike, a 2002 Orange 222. Stephen said lets make our own bike and sort out all the problems that had been niggling us all year.
Stephen sat down and drew up a list of what he wanted! Sealed drive system, internal gearbox, maintenance free design and be able to shift gears while not pedaling. The design was sketched out on a large bit of wall paper full size
and production started. I have the ability to work on inspiration without detailed plans or drawings, working on my 1950’s lathe and milling machine most evenings and weekends it soon took shape.What do you think you would have done without that inspiration?
Stephen would have kept his old bike and I would have worked on my many motorcycle projects, I have one in particular that I am very keen to get finished.After the first generation of your racing bike, was it Stephan that decided he wanted a new frame? Or were you sure you could refine it more? Are you anywhere near being done with the refinements?
Stephen wanted the mono arm bike last year on the 0001 bike, and we did talk about it at length, but I wanted to be safe and not push the limit to far because it was the first bicycle I had ever made.
Your most recent design of the frame utilizes a single swing arm, what have you changed about the rear end to compensate for this structural change?
Not much really, because the original design could have been mono arm, but I wanted to test it with a conventional twin arm set up first.
Is there any fear of the wheel crumpling under adverse pressure?
The wheel is as strong as a normal wheel, in fact it's stronger because there is no dish
! The mono arm system provides uniform distribution of forces to the wheel through the axle.With the single swing arm, is the bike still able to fold up like it used to?
Yes, this is important because you can fold it up and put it in the back of your car where it is safe, and it is possible to rig it to ride in a couple of minutes. I took the 0001 bike to World Championships at Fort William, which is a 500 mile trip, on the back of my Honda ST1100 motorcycle. It fit quite nicely on the back seat!
What is the weight difference between the old frame and the new one?
Folded On the Travel
The new frame is about 1kg (about 2 lbs) lighter, but the main advantage is the thinnest downhill rear end available at less than 100mm
, you can lift the front and manual between rocks, roots etc. without any risk of damaging anything on your bike, and the rear tire can be replaced in a few seconds!
Compared to a lot of production frames using Hydro formed tubing, or Monocoque, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a triangle based design?
First Bike was thin to start Second in thinner
A very stiff frame which allows the bike to hold its lines, rather than flexing around stuff.
The frame is all welded so its quite time consuming to make.
From scratch, what would you say this bike has cost you to create?
Hmm, a lot of hard work, cut fingers and sweat! How much time has gone into its creation?
The 0001 bike took about 8 weeks from the day we sat down and sketched the basics on a bit of wall paper to the day Stephen tested it on a track at his first race last year. The 0002 bike took around 5 weeks and was first ridden on the secret 1:04 track.Obviously you are a passionate man about what you create-lots of other ideas brewing in the tubes? Any you can share?
Hmm, a difficult one, all I can say is watch this space, I have many ideas and design improvements to make, but they are currently top secret!I think the rear shock is the part that gets a lot of people. If you don’t mind me asking, how exactly did this nitrogen charged shock come into play?
It's simple! You need to know a chap called Joe! Joe is the typical mad scientist boffin type! The one who you need to keep hidden away in a small white walled room with no windows, and only a computer terminal! He is super intelligent and is most happy when up to his eyes in spread sheets, and complex mathematical calculations. Joe became aware that I was making a new mountain bike and he said that he had a design for a suspension system that worked very well on 60 ton battle tanks, and it could be converted to fit on a 40lb bicycle!
I said wow, I am in! Over the next few weeks we ironed out the problems, I made a the prototype shock that is fitted to the 0001 bike.
How does tank technology come into play for mountain bikes?
Tanks use this stuff Full Compression
It's quite simply the best suspension system available for a vehicle that has to cross rough ground, and that’s what we do on bicycles.How do you think this shock compares to higher end shocks, such as the Curnutt, or the Cane Creek Double Barrel?
There is no comparison! Any one who has ridden this system on a rough track will be scratching their heads trying to work out what's going on, you have to ride it to believe it. Current damper technology is a compromise, and you as a rider have to pre-empt the track conditions and set to shock and spring so that it won't buck you off the big jumps, but is manageable over the ripples. Our system reads the track and responds to the actual conditions there and then, on the track, while you are riding. It's super smooth over small ripples, stairs and steps, but you can land a 20ft jump to flat with absolutely no recoil from the back end.Was there any technology you took from those shocks?
The eye to eye dimension, that’s the only thing we used. All internal bits are unique to this system.It has been said that you utilized geometry from the Orange 224 and the Iron Horse Sunday. Could you explain why you chose these bikes?
We called up Steve Jones from DIRT magazine and he advised I built the 0002 bike with his secret formula which is a blend of the 2 bikes with a few tweaks here and there !Explain your choices in the bikes geometry?
Being an engineer I wanted a high BB to miss rocks, so the BB height was always going to be a big discussion point between me and Stephen! That’s why the 001 bike has a 15” BB height. The 0002 bike has a lower BB because it improved the riding position so that you feel “in it” rather than “on it” In a recent photo of your bike, it showed the serial number, 0001, could this be a hint that you plan to take it into production?
We are planning to go into production so that every one can have the pleasurable opportunity of riding these bikes, and one day the 0001 bike will be a sort after collector's bike, but it will never be for sale!Would you be more interested in mass producing the bike, or a company buying your patent on it and letting them take it from there?
We are in discussions with a couple of big names right now, but I quite like the idea of forming a new bike company, it depends on what’s on the table?Let’s talk a bit about the gear box. What do you think sets your assembly apart from other gear boxes in the market, such as the Honda g-box, or the Nicolai setup?
Well this is currently a secret, but we use a Nexus inter 8 hub. As they say it's not what you use, but how you use it
How is it possible for the gears to change without pedaling?
Because Allen Can
Because it can!Why did you choose to have the chain completely lubed, compared to a closed lubrication system with the chain running externally along the swingarm?
The chain on the 0001 bike is enclosed with the rear swinging arm, and is splash lubricated with about 50cc of oil. The 0002 bike uses ZX1 grease.
What are you plans for the Millyard Racing bike in the next few years?
Splash Lubed Love
We are planning to do a lot! I will let you know soon when it's all finalized.Will we see you at Sea Otter again this year?
Stephen has his school exams this year in May so it will be a bit of a rush to get back in time after the races. We are planning to attend next year with a team.Anyone you want to give a hearty UK thanks out to
-descent-gear.comSteve Jones-Dirt Magazine
Elmar Keineke - SRAM