Back in the day when freeriding was absolutely massive around the globe, Australia had one rider who was at the very forefront of the ‘gnar’. We are of course talking about Grant Allen.
Then, in 2011 Grant suffered a near life ending crash. His injuries included 12 broken vertebrae which lead to Grant being paralysed from the waist down. However, throughout the entire nightmare ordeal Grant managed to stay mentally as tough as ever. Even though he knew he’d never be able to walk again nothing would stop him from trying to figure out a way of riding a mountain bike.
Grant Allen sending it on home soil back in ’02 over the one and only Zoli from Volatile Visions.// Matt Holmes
Having spent years researching and tinkering with heavily customised parts, Grant has managed to create an awesome set-up which allows him to once again take to the trails and shred with his buddies.
We recently caught up with Grant over on his home turf to learn more about his one-of-a-kind Trek Session.
Words // Darren Mallard Photos // Ryan Finlay
[R]: It’s amazing to see you out there again on a mountain bike mate. How does it feel to be backbehind a set of MTB bars after all those years?
So first off can you give us an overview of your set-up. Obviously, you’ve got a heavily customised seat on there as well as a drive unit and a heap of other cool things going on?
Honestly, most of the bike is pretty stock but, most of the add ons are quite custom. The motor is from a company in Italy and has a custom tune for my riding. it mounts using the bottom bracket so the frame doesn’t need any work to make it fit. The front end had to be raised because of the extra height in the seat.The cranks are gone due to my feet not reaching the pedals, this is why they are not attached at the rocker link. Other than the GX eagle setup the rest of the bike is pretty stock. Oh, I did put bigger tyres for a bit of extra traction.
That carbon seat looks super cool! Has it been customised specifically for you?
Tell us a bit about the ultra-trick pedal mounting set-up you’ve got going on here?
Yeah, because the seat is so high and I sit deep in it my legs don’t reach the pedals in their standard position. The next best place was to put them at the top of the shock. Now there is basically a 3 piece system that replaces the mounting bolts and spaces out the pedals. The first part is like a long shock mounting bolt to secure the shock in the frame, the second part steps down the size so the pedal can thread into the system, and then that screws into the first part. The smaller part is made from regular steel instead of stainless, both to save weight and hopefully act similar to a derailleur hanger in the case of an accident.
What kind of power and battery life does the motor give you?
The motor is from a Greek company named Paradox Kinetics. It’s a carbon cased motor that provides 1500w of power and it really matches the bike in quality. Super light at only 2.8kg as well.I am not 100% sure of the battery size but, I did a 2 hour ride with the boys the other day and only went through ¼ of the battery.
What made you opt for a Trek Session for this build rather than something else?
I know that you’re pretty handy with the tools (as a bike mechanic) did you manage to do all the custom work on this bike yourself?
I did the seat myself at home firstly shaping the core, wrapping it in carbon, and then using a vacuum bag moulded the carbon around the foam.
Myself and some mates with access to machining equipment made the seat bar as well as the attachments. I machined the pedal axles myself on my lathe at home. Honestly, I was a part of every custom part I needed because at the end of the day it is very specific to what I need.
Was it important that the bike had a specific amount of travel in order for it to work with your set up and be comfortable for you?
Not really, I went with the Session because I want a bike that could handle anything with confidence.
Have you had to adapt the bike’s suspension settings as well?
The suspension is completely off the shelf. Because the actual bike weight isn’t too far off the stock weight, and I am a light guy, there was no need to do too much. I do run the High Speed Compression a little slower just to keep it calm in the rough stuff.
Have to ask, what is it like to ride? How does it work, do you hop on, clip in and throttle off? What happens when you come to a stop, etc?
It takes a couple of guys to help me get out of my wheelchair and into my seat. If I have something of a similar height and my bikes against the wall I can get in myself.I can clip my feet in by reaching down and have had to do this while riding so it’s not a tough thing. Stopping on the trail is easy as long as I am close to a tree I can lean on or someone is there to hold me up. Crashing is the hard part as people have to help me backup but, thankfully that hasn’t happened much.
Is it still a work in progress or are you happy that it’s perfect as is?
It’s finally at a point that it is reliable but, I will always be tweaking to make it feel better.
Final question, have you been able to get this thing airborne yet or is it best if you just keep it ‘rubber side down’ out there on the trails these days mate?
Of Course!!! It actually feels really natural to jump over longer smoother jumps but, as I can’t use my legs to “pop”, shorter take offs are a lot harder.