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Dream Bike

01 February 2024

Words & photos: Richard Morley-Hall

A very long time customer of Ground Effect (#38) I have been mountain biking since the late 80s… back when front, never mind rear, suspension was just thought of but didn’t actually exist. Starting in Wellington with Mt Victoria, the Wainuiomata fire breaks… ahh the steep, claggy, miserable but memorable fire breaks… and of course the Karapoti races and more. I managed just fine on a rather special and extremely bright green Scott Pro Racer, bought second hand from the importer at the time, Noel Smith. Rigid, chrome moly, XT top shifters I thought I would never ride without, and who wouldn’t want a matching set of self-energising caliper brakes.

Although a somewhat slow adopter of new technologies (actually, even that is an understatement) I have still managed to work my way through a rather nice list of Scott, Cannondale, Specialised and GT bikes. All hardtails, all 26" wheels and all with seemingly impossible to ride narrow handle bars.

But a few months ago things took a massive change… for good. Angus is my eldest son. A mountain biker, climber, skier, surfer, tramper, LP collecting engineer and general tinkerer that introduced me to the formula for desired bike numbers, amongst other things. Whilst he was living at home I had my very own 'Bike Mechanic' able to straighten wheels, dismantle and re-build suspension, convert an old faithful to singlespeed and generally keep our combined fleet of 10 bikes rideable. Together we rode the Heaphy, Ghost Road, Wharfedale, raced the Karapoti for my 50th birthday and completed a long, long list of Canterbury rides and races over the years.

Mt Grey last century… on the original Scott Pro Racer... with regrettable front fork upgrade!

A wet start on the Heaphy. GT Zaskar Carbon 26" hardtail coping just fine!

Castle Hill… in September.

Ruapehu at it’s finest.

Morley-Halls attacking the Karapoti.

It was in late 2022 that Angus, now living in New Plymouth with a garage, forever filling with drill presses, metal lathes, welding kit and much, much more, surprised me with a brand new, highly spec’d, hand built mountain bike. Designed specifically for me – 55 year old male, 95kg, no jumping required, must be a good climber and built from the ground up, including a lathed head set and bottom bracket - I was left speechless.

I have long been a supporter of NZ manufacturing and my wardrobe has little that isn’t from Ground Effect, Cactus, Thunderpants, EarthSeaSky, McKinleys or Untouched World (for those special occasions!), and let’s not forget the Kingswood skis… mmm. With this in mind Angus was quick to choose a local source of chrome moly steel, sourcing wheels from WheelWorks and suspension from DVO.

With 29" wheels, wide handle-bars, XT spec’d gears and brakes and of course finished in the same glaring green of my original Scott Pro Racer, this is nothing short of a work of art, an incredible ride, a phenomenal climber and a true dream bike.

Thank you Fraser, Steve and Guy and the incredible team at Ground Effect for being with me for all of my 30 years mountain biking and thank you Angus, for my Dream Bike.