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Livo's Bike History

Livo's Bike History

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Livo\'s Bike History

Page Type: Article


Page By: Andy Livo

Created/Edited: Dec 19, 2009 / Apr 23, 2011

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Livo's Bike History

I have been riding MTBs for the past 20 yrs and after reading Eric's page I thought would put down my bike history. Its been great to reflect on those riding years. So here it is. Hope you don't get too bored!

Claude Butler Banshee Sept 1989

A Claude Butler Banshee 1989

We had just needed another mode of transport to work to free up Helen who was looking after our two young children. We couldn't afford another car and so I looked at motorbikes! However, a young lad in church suggested I try his mountain bike. I did and I was instantly hooked. I decided that my mode of transport to work was going to be via mountain bike. I spent many hours pouring over brochures. After much deliberation I decided to go for the Claude Butler Banshee. This was just above a budget bike with Reynolds 501 CroMoly main tubes. The group set was Shimano Country. This was the beginning of my mountain bike journey. I cut my teeth on this unforgiving fully rigid bike. It came on holiday with us and I practised riding rocky ascents and descents. Back then I never met anybody else on a mountain bike. Grizedale Forest in the Lake District was a steep learning curve for me. Some of the stuff done on the bike over 18 months included Walna Scar Pass taught me how to choose lines carefully and developed my handling skills.

Cannondale SM 700 Jan 1991

MTBing 1991 Style!
Me - Circa 1993 on a Cannondale SM 700. Look at that Helmet and the scaffolding for forks!!!

My younger son started school in January 1991. My wife was then able to take a part-time job and so I decided to upgrade to a proper mountain bike! I saw the Cannondale 3.0 Series with big fat tubes, looking like nothing else in its time. This bike was made of 6061 T6 aluminium and as light as anything. That frame was well under 5lbs! With Richie Logic rigid forks the complete bike was lighter than I thought possible. The difference was untrue. This was where my riding ability went to a different level. I started racing and doing quite well too and getting a mention in a couple of bike mags!! I became addicted taking the long way home from work in order to train for races.
All The Livos 1994ish

I upgraded to SPDs, Girvin Vector forks, Onza bar ends, Ringle QRs, Hope Hubs, Flite Ti saddle etc etc over the years and was out most weekends. Holiday time saw the opportunity to explore new trails, take the boys on rides, train and develop new bike skills. This bike has been everywhere and done everything, it was amazing.

Bontrager Race May 1998

Bontrager Race 1998

It was time for a change. Time for something different. I read a review of the Bontrager race in MBA and decided I needed to look at this. I went to the LBS and test rode one. This was a steel rig which was really compliant and absorbed a lot of trail noise due to the forgiving nature of steel. I bought it! I transferred all my parts from the Cannondale onto the Bontrager. The first incarnation saw it with Manitou Mach 5 forks and 135mm stem. I was still in race mode! This bike was truly an amazing handling bike. Far better than the Cannondale and the speed at which I went on this was at a different level. I'd given up racing by now, riding to work and still out at weekends. I love this bike. There were a number of changes, the main one being the purchase of Pace Evo II forks. These were the first proper forks I'd had which used hydraulic damping and springs rather elastomers. They were pretty good for the first 12 months and then were plagued with seal air and oil seal problems.
Bontrager Race

I was struggling with a lot of lower back pain every time I rode. It was becoming a real problem. I was concerned about the fact I may have to give up riding such was the pain. Every time I got on the bike the pain started. I tried changing the riding position using shorter stems and different seatposts but to no avail. I rode a variety of bikes when on holiday in the States all of which were full suspension, and had no back pain at all. I decided to go full suspension!!
Bontrager Race 2009

Ellsworth Isis July 2001

Snowdon 2001

I'd read a lot about this bike in magazines and on mtbr.com. All gave rave reviews. I managed to get a demo bike and rode it on one of my favourite trails in North Wales. It was awesome and no back pain! So I ordered a frame, the SL. I built it up myself with the Pace Evo II forks and all the other kit from the Bontrager, including my trusty Shimano XT Thumb Shifters which were still going strong! The bike was not equipped with hydraulic discs beacause I couldn't afford them at the time, what with having to buy new hubs as well made the cost prohibitive. I managed to get some XTR V brakes cheaply so put those on. With this bike I was riding at a completely different level. The speed it would go over rocks and boulders and technical terrain was quite literally unbelievable compared with the Bontrager. It climbed like a mountain goat and descended on rails! At first it scared me, the speed that this thing would go! Coming down Snowdon was unbelievable. It handled everything. In those days 4" of rear travel was bordering on free ride!! I tell you what this bike was way ahead.

Ellsworth Isis 2002

Ellsworth Isis 2003

Various incarnations have occurred for the Isis. The disc brakes being the best. Marzocchi MX forks and the short 70 mm stem. I am now riding with 130 mm Fox Talas forks which are the best I have ever used. Two years ago I upgraded the Fox Float to the RP 23. A great rear shock but with the Isis I don't need a lockout! Never have.
The Ellsworth Isis in 2009

I've never had a bike for this length of time and have no desire to change it whatsoever. It's the best bike I have ever ridden. It handles everything from fast downhill, all mountain and everything in between. And it looks pretty good for 8 years old too! And had no probs with lower back pain since 2001!!

Ellsworth Epiphany SST1 2010

My Dirty Epiphany!

Time for a change!!! It's been a huge decision to move on as the Isis has so many memories. Its like it is part of me. Anyway I had some money and been so pleased with the Isis and been totally impressed with the Epiphany Mk1 I rode in Moab that I decided to stick with Ellsworth. You can read my build up!!

And so another chapter opens. Totally impressed although fiddling still with set up and a few minor niggles but the ride is awesome as they say!!



[ Post a Comment ]
Viewing: 1-11 of 11

MalibuUK MTB Pioneer


Voted 10/10

Especially in your region of the UK on the Banshee in the early days of your riding experiences. Great story! Thanks

Posted Dec 19, 2009 11:28 am

Andy LivoRe: UK MTB Pioneer

Andy Livo

Hasn't voted

Thanks Dave. That was a quick response!! Wish I had more photos of back then.
Posted Dec 19, 2009 11:39 am



Voted 10/10

interesting page too ! I see that we have a point in common, riding to work !
Posted Dec 20, 2009 3:16 am

Andy LivoRe: nice

Andy Livo

Hasn't voted

Thanks Eric. I have to confess that I did ride to work for 15 yrs but do not anymore!! The roads, as you know, are mental and the shower facilities awful at work. I have some near miss stories etc!! When the boys were 17 we bought a beat up run around so they could learn to drive and that was it. I gave in and used the car!
Posted Dec 20, 2009 7:25 am

VisentinRe: nice


Voted 10/10

Well 15 years is not bad, I'm on my fourth one so only 1/4 of your way ! Btw I remember you did post once a non-amortized bike after the Isis, it's not on your Livo bike story !
Posted Dec 21, 2009 2:41 am

Andy LivoRe: nice

Andy Livo

Hasn't voted

You mean the frame on the track? Lol!!!
Posted Dec 21, 2009 1:55 pm

RayMondoGood to have kept all the pics


Voted 10/10

A nice history. I've not got rear suspension as I don't off-road much. Nor ridden with 4" of rear suspension. But I like that Isis. If you come across one, let me know.
Posted Feb 3, 2010 7:07 am

Andy LivoRe: Good to have kept all the pics

Andy Livo

Hasn't voted

Thanks Ray. Its unusual. They have ceased production of the Isis. They are pretty rare but occassionally pop up on ebay etc. Get one if you can.
Posted Feb 3, 2010 1:25 pm

rustybikeWhat a go !


Voted 10/10

I guess that being a born again urban mountain biker you can now proudly help others keep the faith ! Mind you, the first worldly posession of value giving some additional freedom of action (in terms of range) is the bike which eventually loses favor to more efficient means of transportation. Although if you are to stay in shape without the use of lazythin and keep in touch with the environment (nature) a mountain bike is certainly a good choice with further consideration for the additional freedom there is discovering back country trails which would otherwise be inaccessible..with a less sturdy bike !

I guess that we can learn from folks which enjoy creating hybrids which have certain advantages over the originals. Although despite my unending quest I have yet to find inexpensive wheels which do away with spokes such wheels offering a major advantage mostly once stuck in the woods with tons of luggage the spokes most often breaking after some use in rough terrain...A good replacement would be the wheels with 4 or so solid bars . Such wheels unfortunately sell at a very high premium...

On an ending note; Even if some people may take unusual potions (such as high quantities of unbleached soybean lazythin ) to lose some bulk , I surmise that considering the imperative to stay in shape in order to appear livlier than a slug the mountain bike makes the ordeal easier to bear !

Posted Feb 5, 2010 8:48 pm

ferdayright on


Voted 10/10

thanks andy

i couldn't possibly list all of my bikes...but this was definitely a fun read during our terribly long winter!
Posted Feb 16, 2010 10:43 pm

Andy LivoRe: right on

Andy Livo

Hasn't voted

Cheers Ferday. Go on it would be great to see what bikes you've been riding!!
Posted Feb 18, 2010 12:36 pm

Viewing: 1-11 of 11