Additional reporting: Si Paton
The father and son team of Allen and Stephen Millyard have been designing unique bikes and parts since the mid-2000s that have never failed to spark intrigue in bike nerds like us. Allen originally built a bike with a Ducatti-inspired trellis design frame and an 8 speed gearbox for his son to race on at the British Downhill Series and that bike was soon followed by an even wilder version with single-sided stays. By all accounts, it rode entirely different to the bikes of the day and was heaped with praise by Dirt mag's Steve Jones among others. Stephen Millyard showed that the hype translated to the race clock as well as he was podiuming in the amateur classes at the British national series despite only having 120mm of travel.
There was more to it than the frame and the gearbox though as at the heart of both of those bikes there was also a custom shock built called the Hyper Ride.
Details were always pretty thin on the ground for the Hyper Ride shock but it was based on oleo struts that are used in tank suspension and plane landing gear but adapted for a much lighter application in mountain bikes. It was originally nitrogen charged but that was apparently later changed to argon as it was simpler, cheaper and easier to transport. We later saw Nito Shox's take on the same lines but like Millyard's first attempt at replacing traditional mountain bike dampers, this seemed to fall into obscurity for reasons not related to its performance
Now Stephen and Allen have returned to the shock and created a second prototype although this time it's not for a downhill bike but for Stephen's Transition Sentinel.
Like the original Millyard shock, we can see there is very little external adjustment aside from a charging port. To set up the shock all you do is set the correct pressure for the rider weight using a portable bottle (up to a maximum of 4,200 psi!) and the shock is apparently good to go with no washers, shims, valves or adjustments. The original shock used to get so hot that a 'do not touch' sticker had to be added, which obviously affects the oil viscosity and gas pressure, so cooling fins have also been added to this latest design.
The story gets even wilder when you get into the construction of it. Stephen Millyard says: "The project began in the garden shed where we were able to find old vehicle parts, that would later form the key components of Hyper Ride 2. A phosphor bronze bush forged from a 1950s BSA Gold Star valve guide serves as the bottom pivot and the main strut is a reengineered Land Rover steering damper. The main body was turned from a solid block of aluminium left over from the 2006 Mk1 Millyard downhill race bike using a 1974 Colchester Lathe and finished on a 1950 Elliot milling machine."
Another quirk of the shock is that the Millyards recommend you run high tyre pressures, as they did back on the original bikes. Stephen says: "Harder tyres are better because a soft tyre is an undamped spring. The suspension does give better grip which compensates for the harder tyres. I used to race with 45 psi front and rear."
There is no plan to sell these publically, it's just another demonstration of the wild creativity of the Millyards and their engineering ingenuity. However, we've been told they have been working on a pretty out-there idea for a fork so watch this space for more Millyard madness in the near future.