I’m an old mate of Britain’s best-known bike designer (his words, probably) and I’m sad to have to say that he’s now on his last lap of the velodrome. Mike has been dealing with lung cancer for the past three years but in the last few weeks it’s taken a big lurch in the wrong direction, and he’s at home being given palliative care with a prognosis of a few weeks at max. I spoke to him this afternoon and he’s remarkably calm and reflective (for him) and not in pain.
I shall be going up to see him next week to say goodbye - we had hoped to go for one last beer at The Fat Cat in Norwich but sadly he’s too sick, and he says that as he has no appetite and no taste it’d be a waste - it’s actually one thing that’s really pissing him off, as he loves his ale.
So I’m going to head up anyway and I’ll be taking lots of goodwill messages from people who know him, and people who know of him, of which there are many. Mike doesn’t do social media. Or computers. Or mobile phones. A fax machine was about as high-tech as he ever got. So he’s not going to see a lot of the lovely messages people from people since we announced the news on the BHPC and IHPVA groups. So I’m going to collate as many as I can and take them up, and print them out or read them to him or whatever.
I know there’s a bit of love for the mad old bugger on here, so if anyone wants to write a few words I’ll make sure he gets them, and it might make his last couple a weeks a bit more enjoyable, because he was genuinely surprised at the response on the club site, and and he says all he’s doing at the moment is watching a LOT of daytime tv and getting hooked on Bangers and Cash, and anything is better than that.
I hope people don’t think this is a bit mawkish, but I’ve often read people comments and heard eulogies at funerals and thought how much the person concerned would have liked to hear them, only they’re in a coffin. So seeing as we have time on this occasion, I thought it’d be a nice thing to do.
Edited to change the visit to Monday week as I got stuck in Folkstone on Sunday night due to football!
I don't really know a great deal about Mike Burrows, but I would have thought that arguably without his input-no Lotus super bike, and arguably no gold for Boardman, and without that iconic bike/gold non of the interest in cycling that helped bring about recent generation of success for British Cycling, and the subsequent recent surge of interest in cycling in the UK. He contributed a huge amount, he helped make the bicycle cool again,(not to mention bringing it bang up to date in engineering terms) and that, silly as it may seem, has done as much as anything to bring about the current resurgence that this forum is arguably part of...
Mr Burrows once shortened a pair of cranks for me, which notably failed to make me any faster!
Notwithstanding this, I was prepared to give him a second bite at the cherry: the years passed should have made my knees appreciative. Regrettably, I could find neither my cheque book nor my quill pen...
Hey-ho! I'll just have to add "How Mike Burrows held me back.", to my village hall chat (along with "I used to race on Mike Burrows customised cranks, you know.").
I’m really sorry to hear this. I figured that he would go on for decades yet, rubbishing ill-thought through cycle designs from his recumbent/ rocking chair.
Mike is one of the most opinionated (but smart) people I know and I enjoyed listening to his pragmatic but off-beam solutions to problems that few others have ever thought hard about. Not always the right solutions mind you but always with good reasons for them. He was right more often about bikes than just about anybody else I know.
Thanks Ian. I was aware I'd not seen him around in a while. By circuitous route, Mike once made me a carbon 'Rightie' but I only ever received the axle (ti?). I felt pretty awesome about it in the anticipation. It was nice to touch a bit of cycling history for someone who really only came to cycling as an adult, I guess in a simple way, I was star struck. I don't know Mike but we did chat a couple of times and he was a part of my life that I will remember.
I once listened to Mike talk at length about how any shape except round was a stupid idea for tubes and I'll take that wisdom to my own grave. Would love to have picked his brain about cargo bike design, I'll miss spotting him around Norwich on his contraptions.
We used a Mike Burrows eight-freight for the sound system on the Wednesday night skate.
Sorry to hear about his health; a good innings had though I think.
When I was a kid my mum told me about someone her friend knew who had designed the lotus bike and lived in Norfolk and I thought she was lying. I regret never looking him up when I grew up in Norwich. Not many people have changed the game like he has.
I've never met him but as someone who's raced fully-faired HPVs in Australia (Greenspeed) and then spent a good 10 years trying to get faster doing British TTs I'm sure his work has had an influence on my setup at some point. May his Crr and Cda be forever optimised. hippy
Very sad to hear, I have always admired his work, such a range of stuff from HPVs to utility bikes. Certainly a source of inspiration for my framebuilding, not that i do anything as innovative or interesting. You would struggle to have more of an influence in the bike industry, so much has come from his work, its unfortunate that he's not more well known/celebrated. Real epitome of the shed engineer. Im sure his work has inspired many more than me, hope he is aware.
Absolute top man. I remember blatting around Norwich in the mid 80s (I think) on his recumbent on the basis of a 10 minute chat followed immediately by 'go on, have a go!'. His influence, particularly with the work he did with Giant, can't be underestimated.
I remember the excitement around that Lotus bike when I was racing as a teenager, and hoping that one day I might ride a carbon, aero-optimised bike like that, before dismissing it as science fiction that those ideas would ever become mainstream.
While I know in hindsight that lots of other people were working on similar ideas, I'd like to think in some way he made the idea seem possible, and anyone inspired by Boardman or the Lotus bike in the 90s, who's now riding round on on a Madone, Venge, or similar (and certainly a TCR!), should raise a glass to Mr Burrows next time they get in from riding it.
Jolly sorry to read this. I met him just once in Borwell’s Cycles in Norwich and still remember a slightly random conversation about the suitability of using grease in wheel bearings and whether forks needed to be curved …
As has been said he did an amazing amount to make cycling part of the national consciousness.
In 1982 there was exhibition and congress held in Amsterdam: “Cycling in the Eighties.” It could have been that time that Mike Burrows was there presenting his Windcheetah. Anyway I certainly remember doing a test drive inside the RAI congress center.
On the Windcheetah!
A trike was the bike par excellence!
I was hooked. Still totally addicted at 77 yoa.
Thank you so much, Sir Mike Burrows
Thanks for all the messages guys. I got to see the old fella one last time this afternoon, he’s very weak as he’s operating on only 1 lung and even that lung is fucked, but he’s still got his mind, even tho it’s being deprived of oxygen. The funeral is going to be very, very private but Andy Pegg and I will be looking to organise a memorial for Mike at his workshop where anyone who wants to can turn up and talk shite and browse amongst the memorabilia (of which there is loads) and then ride to his favourite pub, The Fat Cat, to talk bollocks. All will be welcome. Details will follow.
@hippy, I had no idea. I used to race Mike’s recumbents too, first a Speedy, then the 2 wheeler aka the UFO, then a fully faired Mk 7, around the UK and Europe. The last race we did together was at the new Eastway about 5 years ago, where he lapped me. Twice. Despite me being being 20 years younger.
Sad to hear this. Mike's a class act. Do prove them wrong, Mike, you've done that before, haven't you?
Here's hoping he'll have a decent quality of life for as long as possible.
Fuck!! Missed adding my voice. Zoomed around Victoria Park in Speedy with a crazy artist who had two trikes as furniture in his front room / workshop / portrait studio. Much luv. Waiting for the carbon shafted pitchfork...
Lots of fond memories of Mike, as a Norwich local I spent a lot of my teenage years loitering around Borwells cycles then over at Mousehold Heath on my mountain bike. During his Giant years there were a lot of amazing shop bikes that we borrowed, some of which were cast offs from Rob Warner when he was sponsored by Giant.
I cracked a Giant ATX 990 frame just weeks before I went to Switzerland to ride the 97 world DH champs. Mike somehow fast tracked me a new frame, got me a Hardtail frame (that I still own) and a fresh pair of Marzocchi Bomber forks along with a Giant payed for and sponsored GB jersey! What a fucking top bloke!
Another fond memory is having him fly past me on either a faired recumbent or a pre-Lotus monocoque bike nearly every week during the local Tuesday night 10 mile time trials!
So sorry to hear that he isn’t doing well, I’d love to visit the workshop again to celebrate him when the inevitable unfortunately happens. It’s been years since I’ve seen Ian at Borwells and Andy Pegg. Such a great motley crew, I guess I need to thank them, as well as Mike obviously, for influencing my love of bikes!
If you have a GCN subscription there is a program all about him, watched it last night, lost count of the amount of times i said “oh you did that” “now thats clever” “why can’t you buy one?” .
suitability of using grease in wheel bearings and whether forks needed to be curved
suitability of using grease in wheel bearings and whether forks needed to be curved
Now I need answers ...
A good egg. Loving the first hand anecdotes above.
Edit: albeit with a tear in my eye
I'm really sorry to hear this.
He is a total legend up here and is mentioned all the time by people since I moved up to Norwich. I saw him a few times blasting down the main road and he used the airfiled I'm based at for speed trials fairly recently, I was really hoping to meet him.
I'd be keen to raise a glass of ale to him at some point. I'll start with one tonight.
Thank you very much and everybody else here also. Heartwarming wishes to a great man! I always admire and envy a little people who can conceptualize things in their mind and execute it with their own hands
There’s only one Sir Mike Burrows!
Very sad to hear this. I really enjoyed the velo-ads mini series where he visited mike to talk about his ingenious shed creations
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