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Inspiral Cycles

Auckland Cycle Works - the story so far

Auckland Cycle Works 1898:
Subsidiary of the Lingford Gardiner Company, iron foundry and engine works, Railway Street, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England. Manufacturer of fine bicycles including the Rational Umpire full-suspension safety bicycle.

Auckland Cycle Works 2023: Company founded to build mountain bikes with the patent pending KOLARP suspension system. Originating from within Inspiral Cycles, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England. Situated just 200m from the original Auckland Cycle Works, we exist to develop mountain bikes that perform better.

Auckland old map

October 2020 - The Auckland Cycle Works project started as a "what if" experiment.

June 2022 - Alicia at tells the story of how Auckland Cycle Works started:

October 2022 - Gary and Fiona exhibited the Auckland Cycle Works Marra and Reiver at the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show 2022 at Lee Valley Velopark. We're massively proud to be the first winners of the Mike Burrows award for invention and innovation.

Bespoked blog - Auckland Cycle Works

October 2022 - Jessie at Bikerumor writes even more on the history, development and tech:

Mike Burrows award
November 2022 - Guy Kesteven gets the world exclusive first proper ride review on the Auckland Cycle Works Marra first prototype. "This thing is dramatic", "Like a Forbidden Druid on crack", "The most amazingly carefully metered and damped suspension stroke".

April 2023 - Gary let some words fall out of his brain. Petor at BESPOKED was kind enough to put them on their blog:

pencil sketch Marra
June 2023 - Gary raced the 2023 Trans BC enduro race on the Marra V1 prototype – Auckland Cycle Works scored an honorable mention for the best home-made bike that survived the whole event with zero mechanicals. No chain drops. No adjustments necessary. The Trans BC Enduro was 6 big days, a total of 118 miles and 28660ft (8735m) of climbing – blind enduro racing down the most relentless gnarly janky BC tech at Vedder, Seymour, Fromme, Squamish, Pemberton and Whistler. Gary says that Marra allowed him to plough through the rough stuff, stay efficient and smooth on the climbs even when they got techy, and the incredible braking performance and chassis stability kept him safe when he overcooked it – which happened often!

Gary with Marra V1 at Whistler - Trans BC 2023

October 2023 - The Bespoked show at Dresden was amazing. The new Marra V2 prototype was only completed a few hours before the shipping deadline!

December 2023 - dedicated a whole page of actual printed media to Auckland Cycle Works!

Bikemag Germany two page spread

Pinkbike article, Jan 26th, 2024:

Jessie May Morgan test rode a version of the Marra prototype and Dan Roberts crunched some numbers. Unfortunately, Marra was not set up correctly.

Gary made a special journey to swap a broken 215 x 65mm stroke shock, this was replaced with a 230 x 65 assuming there would be enough adjustment in the forward mount to allow this – It only became clear just prior to publication that Jessie had been riding the bike with the BB 10mm too high. This was enough to put all the forces out of balance with each other: Set up correctly the rider sits properly between the wheels, the radical axle path balances against the extreme leverage curve, and at 25% sag the spring rate balances perfectly against the braking anti-rise.

In a rushed meeting Gary made a setup mistake which tainted the whole review. It’s worth noting that raising the BB height by 10mm and then pumping up the shock to decrease the sag would have negative consequences on any bike. We also learned that a 59Kg test rider would benefit from a lighter shock tune.

Dan Roberts’ analysis is very interesting. Gary stopped using these graphs very early in the development. Above 100%, applied to the KOLARP design, the values seem to increase disproportionately to their effect. These graphs might enable comparison between similar bikes, but Marra wasn’t designed by looking at what everyone else was doing, and these graphs did not reflect with what was learned from the early prototypes.

Dan’s analysis also proves that the KOLARP suspension system is an outlier in every possible way, to the extent that Marra should be completely unrideable. Under hard sprinting efforts the pedals should smash into the ground, under hard braking the BB should dive alarmingly, the radical leverage curve should make it impossible to realise more than 100mm of travel from the bike, yet this has not been reported. Even with setup problems, it should have still been apparent that Marra performed better than the analysis predicted.

Conclusion: When set up correctly, (we’re now working on easy-to-follow setup guidelines) there is an exquisite balance between the radically curved axle path and the wild leverage curve. There is also balance between the braking anti-rise and the spring rate. It’s a shame that Jessie didn’t get to experience the incredible suspension and braking performance, outstanding chassis stability, and super-confident handling that we love and believe in.

We do accept that Jessie’s article is fair, as it accurately describes the prototype as she rode it. We’re just sorry that the setup was rushed and a mistake was made. We're still loving the journey and the learning that this this project brings!

Finally - Does this Pinkbike article actually infer that only a genius could make a good bike out of such wacky kinematics? Let’s see what future reviews say!


Watch out for independent reviews in the coming weeks and months.