A meeting with the UK Man of Mystery - Millyard Racing Interview

Jan 25, 2008
by Jordan Holmes  
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.

First Design

First Design


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.

Second Design

Second Design


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!

<center>Folded</center>
Folded
<center>On the Travel</center>
On the Travel

What is the weight difference between the old frame and the new one?
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!
<center>First Bike was thin to start</center>
First Bike was thin to start
<center>Second in thinner</center>
Second in thinner


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?
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.

Structural Love

Structural Love


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.

<center>Tanks use this stuff</center>
Tanks use this stuff
<center>Full Compression</center>
Full Compression


How does tank technology come into play for mountain bikes?
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.

Because Allen Can

Because Allen Can


How is it possible for the gears to change without pedaling?
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.

Splash Lubed Love

Splash Lubed Love


What are you plans for the Millyard Racing bike in the next few years?
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?
Si Paton-descent-gear.com
Steve Jones-Dirt Magazine
Elmar Keineke - SRAM
Quad Brakes
ZX1 Lubricants
Burgtec Components


Views: 27,668    Faves: 50    Comments: 28



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Must Read This Week

90 Comments

  • + 23
 well done mate , only the smartest of people can accomplish what you have done, i want to be like you one day
  • + 15
 hes a hero. this is the future of bikes. amazing that 1 man can make a bike that is far superior to anything that is out there. the millions of pounds and dollars that are spent by 'the big bike companies' trying to tweak current designs, just seems wasted now
  • + 14
 We need this kind of scientists to this sport. They think out of the box and can bring something fresh for us. Nice bike and good article!
  • + 10
 i hope to god these get put into production... it el kick all the other lazy fuckers up the arse... such as orange... 1,600 quid for a single pivot frame design thats hardly even changed... ye it works.. but is it really worth that ammount.... narr dint think so
  • + 9
 From the Interview I get that the shock is a unique and important part of the design. Would it be possible to just get the shock and make a current production bike bet many of the benefits? I'm sure the geometry of this bike is fine tunned to work even better but even if we could get some of the performance that would be something.
  • + 7
 As many as he likes, its his son! Big Grin

Seen it in he flesh, cool as fook! Wantone soo bad!
  • + 4
 It mentions the weight of the bike in the article. Read the fucking thing. Awesome bike guys. I hope you go into production and make your millions. We need fresh blood in the bike industry and this looks like exactly what we need. Love the enclosed drive train, perfect for lazy bastards like me!
  • + 5
 wow i remmber seeing the pics a long time ago of just the frame and now that i seen the pics of the bikes i would love to have one of thows
  • + 4
 Mr. Millyard, you sir, are a genius! I am very happy that you guys will go into production with that revolutionary bit of machinery. The privateers will crawl over broken glass to get one Wink
  • + 2
 It's nice to see something new. But everyone who comes out with a new shock claims it's 'revolutionary', why should this guy's claim deserve more credit than anybody else's. And how much does this thing weigh? Gracia and AC ruled on POS Canondales for years. Fabian kills it on a Stab, and not to dis Kona, but it aint the best DH bike out there. Fancy machines should do fancy things... just my opinion.
  • + 1
 the Honda bike was special, this rivals it.... and imo is better
  • + 1
 the honda didnt touch this, it was a derailer in a box. and johny, fabien never rode a stock kona
  • + 1
 The shock weighs 800grams.
  • + 0
 trev, what pro ever rides a stock bike? My point is that there are better linkage systems out there than what Fabien rides... dosent seem to slow him down much. I still say it's like 90% rider and 10% bike. Thanks for the reply on the weight, what does the built bike weigh?
  • + 0
 that shock is classified by the govt... its that good.. yes, the honda di touch this, its not all about the gear box. the only reason the honda g-boxx was a derailer in a box was because it was simpler, lighter, required less maintenance than their original design that could shift while stationary. actually the original honda g-boxx had no set gear ratio, constantly variable transmission. the new frame is 1kg lighter than the old one, i'd say its lightSmile
  • + 2
 Man ... it's peope like you that put dudes on the moon.. good thinking.. you should get gvt grants for that effort haha Thank Mr.Millyard, thanks alot for making bike go forwards.. and yah . i agree, it loks smooth and sticks to the ground
  • + 2
 konarrider how simple could yr comment be? yeh it looks like that but i think a highly experienced and intelegent enginear knows what theyre doing. If it wudnt hold it wudnt be there. It takes a boffin to come up with something genious, and people as simple as you to criticise when you dont have a clue..
anyway sick bike must be amazing to ride from the sounds of it
  • + 1
 please make an all mtn version of this and put something like a "righty" version of a Lefty on it up front not just for tire change convenience but for the sake of making it look and function like an even more artistic masterpiece of engineering. the second design with the one sided swing arm is just too beautiful.
  • + 1
 I read about 0001bike in Dirt and my jaw pretty much dropped. It's great to see someone from outside the mtb industry engineering something quite so different to the norm. I can't stop looking at the pictures of it. Please try to mass produce this as a new Millyard brand (not that I can afford it)! Stephen is a lucky guy, Allen is bringing back some quality UK engineering. Ex Mech Eng student myself. Wow
  • + 1
 seriously cool bike. Amazingly clever guy too. But the only serious perforance improvement I can see is that trick shock. To be honest I've never thought my bike's rear end was too wide! Still, sick machine, I'm just not going to get too invovled in the whole "the bike to change all bikes" hype just yet.
  • + 0
 I have a gearbox bike as well. Its called a 2006 GT IT-1
the gearbox design is the best innovation that has come to mountain
biking ever. you can change gears whether your jammin on the pedals or
not pedaling at all. no waitin for the gear to change when u got what gear you
want instanteneously. Its great!!!

gear box bikes are #1 !
  • + 0
 hey due, i've heard good stuff bout this GT iT... sens to be an amazing bike!
  • + 3
 THIS IS THE BIKE THE WORLD HAS BEEN WAITING FOR......... end of discussion.
  • + 2
 ok that bike looks amazing but what are u doing with the drive? howdose that work.
also are u putting these bikes into production cause i would just love to have one.
  • + 0
 the folding bit is genious; it uses gearbox design which is a desire and intrigue in the mountain bike world these days. the frame resembles a radio tower to me but if there is some genious at work here there is no doubt about that
  • + 0
 The whole bike is amazing, but that rear shock it's the future. i hope you start mass producing it. If the big companies start to develop frames and linkages/pivotpoints to take the maximum performance of the Millyard shock, i guess we can expect the best FS bikes of all time coming soon.
  • + 0
 whether that shock is released or not we're still gonna see the "best fs bikes of all time":? but i doubt it'll be released any time soon, its classified by the govt... its that good..
  • + 0
 Ahh beautiful frame for sure, i would sure look into buying one as soon as they come into production, love the ingineering and the fact the chain runs through the swing arm is pure genius! Great work, keep it up and hell, let us know how much and when one would be available please Smile
  • + 5
 I want one!
  • + 0
 my mate bought 'Stephens' Orange 222, and he came home, and was like "ah yeah, this bloke, he's amazing,you should see the bike he's built". Was very funny! love to see this in production
  • + 2
 love the design, i would love to try that shock compared to the 5th element. now how much would a frame cost?
  • + 1
 Nice to know that reknowned British engineering has survived SOMEwhere...
You mentioned a team for '09. Is that hinting at production by then?
  • + 1
 he's just made all the major bike companies with there fancy welding techniques, hydroforming machines, and 100's of boffins...look like a bunch of muppets
  • + 1
 btw steve lives near me and i have seen the bike round his house, it looks sweet and btw schiestel it aint heavy at all it reallllllllyyyyyy light
  • + 0
 i agree with milanboez, shure people could think like kona rider but that would get our sport no where. we need people like Allen Millyard to keep pushing the boundarys of our bikes and how they are made. A Great design.
  • + 0
 all of these are good questions, cant wait to see some big names tearing up a coarse on one! romaniak would tear up gillard!!!!!!!
  • - 1
 Steve Romaniuk is not a dh racer, talented freerider yes but he's not about speed...
  • + 0
 saying that, he's still f*ckin fast, he would most likely beat most of us humble PBers
  • + 1
 I'd love to get one of this... But even if they sale it, can the average Joe afford it?
  • + 0
 if the chain snaps or stretches then how are u gonna change it when it is in th swing arm???? I like the design looks sick but how much does it weigh???
  • + 1
 im sure that the drive system can all be taken apart, it wasent all welded together..
  • + 1
 i would much love one of those fine rear shocks.. they should be put in production
  • + 0
 i doubt it, its calssified by the millitary
  • + 1
 those are sick! i met those guys at sea otter and beat him by like .095 sec =]
  • + 0
 and for the strength,of the single sided swingarm,high end ducati motorcycles use it and they are way heavier than a dh mountain bike,so it must work
  • + 0
 truly amazing, i sure hope they get put into production, thatd be sure to push the bike industry forward, keep up the good work!
  • + 0
 i luv the new dh with the single sided swingarm,man you rock,and keep making bikes for ur son,and maybe some for the rest of us 2!
  • + 3
 amazing!
  • - 2
 can someone tell me why Ducati corse dropped using a singlesided swingarm for racing 4 years ago? oh yeah, it was heavier and the fookin thing flexed and needed a huge heavy bearing to support the wheel, maybe mr millyard could provide data to show how his swingarm is better cos as I see it its got to be heavier, carries a load of unsprung weight and cannot be as stiff using the size of hub bearing it has

This ain't anything that Karl Nicolai didn't do 4 years ago the shock may or may not work but I'd question why companies like ohlins ain't using it on the TTX Rossi rides?
  • + 1
 no one else uses it cause its classified.. dont you read??? and about ducati, how much does one weigh?? and how much larger are the forces on a super bike swinge arm??? and we wont even go into the torque from that 999cc, 250bhp engine that acts on and flex's that swing arm... you my friend, weigh not even half as much, have a quarter of a ducati's top speed and do not have legs that produce even 5bhp each.. think about it for a sec
  • + 0
 I would imagine the folks at ohlins do not have the minds and the money that the dept. of national defence does. i can't imagine it's not that they people won't employ this sort of design, it's that they don't have the ability to do it (granted it's as good as they say). not to mention you can't just go buy a US tank to study it's suspension design like you can ohlins suspension.
  • + 0
 ^^^ exactly. he probably didn't even read the whole article.
really love this desgin and if it went into production that would be great for both you and us riders.
  • + 0
 i saw them testing them today both the single and double swing arm in the forest of dean they are fast as fuck and make no noise at all silent!!! and super sweet!!!
  • + 1
 i just hope he gets patents and what not, (which im sure he has already) so the credit gets given to its rightful owner.
  • + 1
 i want to see more vidios with this bike !!! Thanks !
  • + 1
 wow thaTS A CRAZY GOOD DESIGN FOR A BIKE!!!!! I want one lol
  • + 0
 Amazing progress and innovation here. I'm glad to see people working independently.
  • + 0
 the only way i can think of making it better is a floating brake? but thats more preference than anything.
  • + 2
 very clever man
  • + 1
 saw it recently both frame they soo smooth
  • + 0
 I´ve just added one of those frames to my "Things I need"-list... Big Grin


PLEASE put´em into production!
  • + 0
 i love this frame completely ingenious design
  • + 0
 one more thing, TELL US THE WEIGHT OF THE BIKE! thanx
  • + 0
 Does it still make the clicking sound when you dont pedal?
  • + 0
 no this bike is silent. no click as it has no freehub.
  • + 0
 i remember seing this guy on top gear or some kinda show. loll
  • + 1
 It was a discovery channel program called Big Big Bikes.
  • + 0
 who ever is in your team is fuckin lucky man sweet bike
  • + 0
 what does the full bike weight?
  • + 0
 I would like to try the shock...
  • + 0
 that is amazing !!! man i wish i could have one of those!!!! good job
  • + 0
 the video really shows how nice the bike actually is
  • + 0
 how hevey is the frame
  • + 0
 this is sick
  • + 0
 ya thats dope
  • - 3
 That bike is really noisy going down the trail haha.
  • - 2
 it says stephen waaaay to many times
  • + 5
 Ok, lets clear something up. Stephen is Allens son. Allen made the Millyard racing bike for his son Stephen. Allen does not ride mountain bikes, so hints why he refers to Stephen so much.
  • + 0
 yeah - i know that. Didn't you ever hear the 'dont say said' rhyme in high school!?
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