Anybody that has spent any time in the cycle industry will know Jake Ireland. From making tea for various magazines, to World Cup spannering, Jake is elbow deep in setting up his new venture, Sprung Suspension Workshop.
We sat down to have a chat with Jake while he is in the process of getting his workshop finished off to see what Sprung Suspension Workshop is all about and why it’s happening now.
Who is Jake Ireland?
Jake Ireland… Um… Well I like riding bikes, eating cake and playing with spanners. Let’s say I’m an enthusiast when it comes to all of the above. I’m also the main man at Sprung Suspension Workshop (shameless plug!) and I’m a massive geek when it comes to anything bike related so I’ll do my best not to bore you and keep this light hearted!
“I’m a massive geek when it comes to anything bike related”
What’s your background in fettling?
I’ve been parking in those car parks late at night for years, simply to look at the wildlife. Oh, fetttling! Well I’ve been a fiddler since birth, playing with cars and bikes while I still had nappies on. I’ve made frames (steel and ally), played with geometry, worked with bike and component companies developing product, and worked on both Dirt and Mountain Biking UK. I’ve been spannering on the World Cups with Katy (Curd) since 2012 and doing other race support stuff for a lot longer. Chances are if it’s got wheels or springs I’ve probably taken it apart at some point. I love to get geeky with suspension and geometry stuff. I should really have a beard and sandals but I don’t want people to think I’ve got a fat bike so sacked that look off!
What’s your background in suspension fettling?
I’ve always been a suspension and geometry geek, and always believed that a bit of set up advice can make any rider faster and also help them enjoy riding their bike too. Back in the early 00’s working on Z1s was where it started. I love the smell of fork oil and there’s something magical about the simplicity of damping that has somehow become a dark art. It’s just pushing oil through a hole, innit. But yeah, I love playing with suspension and trying to make it better. I remember the first time we modified a Boxxer damper on some sample forks with the 35mm chassis before they were released! An hour or so with a dremel transformed them for the better and it’s been a constant strive to make things better since.
Why now? What’s changed?
Sprung has been in my mind for years, and it nearly happened a few years back, but for various reasons it didn’t, and for that I am a glad man for more reasons than I could list. I was busy being a prolific writer for the biggest bike magazine in print, and I liked the lifestyle! I now do less #YOLO, and more housework, and contrary to popular belief, working for the big magazines pays peanuts and needs a serious volume of work to pay anything like the living wage. I know more than ever with the bouncers and after some discussions with the guys at Pedalabikeaway it was a goer. Months of not saying anything to anyone went by and now we’re actually building the workshop. Nuts.
Will you still be spannering for Katy alongside Sprung?
Yeah, I’ll still be heading to all the World Cups and BDS races with Katy. I’ll also be spannering for WideOpen pinner Charlie ‘Ginge’ Hatton at all the world cups. Sprung will be open every weekend that I’m not at a race, simply to offer advice, setup and on the spot repairs.
What will Sprung offer that others can’t?
I can’t compete with Mojo’s posh coffee machine but I can offer the best tea in the business. Sprung is in a great location, with a load of footfall. We can offer support to every major manufacturer’s suspension in one place, as well as proper internal tuning of it all too, if it’s needed. We’re also the only WSS Service Centre in the UK – which means we can supply some pretty trick upgrades for Cane Creek shocks.
How do you help a rider understand what they need from their suspension?
There are so many ways to help a rider understand suspension, whether it’s talking them through it, drawing it, showing them some stripped down parts or going out for a ride with them. I feel we’re in the best position of any suspension service centre in the UK to do this, as we can literally roll metres from our front door and onto one of the biggest networks of trails in the country.
“Try to gain a feeling of what you’d like to change before you go at all the adjusters like they’re going out of fashion.”
What would your one piece of advice be for riders looking to improve their suspension performance?
Try to gain a feeling of what you’d like to change before you go at all the adjusters like they’re going out of fashion. Check your sag too. It actually made me sick in my mouth a couple of weeks ago, seeing someone on a direct buy german brand bike with 165mm of travel in the car park at Pedalabikeaway. He was running about 75% sag in the fork, but obviously thought looked like a don because he had one of those silly removable chinguard lids. Take some interest in your suspension and your bike will be better straight away!
Are you up and running?
Not yet! We should be running by mid-February. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best people around to make sure our workshop is something to be seriously proud of, and it’s worth the little wait! Even down to specially moulded polyurethane bench top mats and underfloor heating in the workshop. It’s gonna be special.
Can you do custom tunes?
Yes! If they’re needed. I’m not just going to do it for the sake of it, as most suspension now is pretty damn sorted for the vast majority of riders. I’m also not going to fob people off saying I’ve ‘tuned’ something when I’ve just changed the pressure in the spring leg to match their weight. If you need proper custom tuning, we’ll do it properly. Come down, we’ll ride, and we’ll work out what you actually need. We have the facilities to be machining bits and bobs too, so we really can offer a custom solution in a lot of cases that the main manufacturers wouldn’t be able to.
How did you come to be based at Pedalabikeaway?
It’s where I’d always wanted to be doing suspension work, and I’ve known for a while that they’ve been keen to get some suspension based work on site. They’re pushed for space, and the investment involved in starting the business to the level we have has been significant – so I think I was probably as good for them as they have been for me. Ian (who owns Pedalabikeaway) and Gareth (who manages the centre overall) have been a huge help all the way through getting Sprung set up. It sounds ‘proper local’ but I love the place – it’s like a magnet and having worked and ridden in some pretty rad places all over the world, there’s something about the Forest of Dean that makes it really special. And I don’t mean six-fingered locals!