Mountain bikes are specially designed off-road bicycles, usually with very rough terrain. The history of mountain bikes is quite interesting. Jon Breeze is credited for introducing the very first ever mountain bike in 1977. However, some other inventions and events contributed to the invention of the mountain bikes we see these days. Read on to discover.
In the 1970s, cyclists in Marin County assembled the clunkers bikes using salvaged paper-boy bikes. Clunkers was a vintage cruiser bike mountain bike with drum brakes, balloon tires, and fork braces that were used to keep the frames from bending during off-road biking.
The mountain bike riders in the Marin County, California raced with the Clunkers at the event known as “Repack Races.” The event name “Repack” was due to the hub-based brakes on the Clunkers that lose their effectiveness when it inevitably over-heats. The bikes will then need to be repacked and reassembled with a fresh ear before they can ride down the mountain.
Cyclo-cross & The Rough Stuff Fellowship
In the 1940s and 1950S, the cyclo-cross was ridden off-road. Initially, it was used as a means to exercise and keep fit during winter, but it became a sport of its own in the 1950s. It was used at the first world championship that took place.
In 1955, The Rough Stuff Fellowship was established by off-road cyclists in England. One of the members of this fellowship D. Gwynn, built a rough terrain trail bicycle for off-road riders, in 1966. He called his invention a “mountain bicycle.” The name was given with the intention of having the bikes rode during mountain and off-road biking.
Breezer 1 Mountain Bike
The “Breezer 1” was the first-ever mountain bike. It was hand-built by Joe Breeze in 1977, and designed specifically for mountain biking. It was constructed with components that could resist the multiple pounding that comes with mountain biking. The “Breezer 1” had components such as Araya brand 26” steel rims, Phil Wood hubs, Sun Tour derailleurs, and Dia-Compe brakes.
It also had the Magura brand brake levers, which were taken from motorcycles and adapted to the “Breezer 1’s” stem and brake calipers. The Magura motorcycles had a great brakes which made it easy for the motorcycles to ride in wet conditions. Joe Breeze also used steel alloy tubing and twin lateral tubes which were diagonally around the frames, to make the bikes stronger.
Breezer 1, also had the Sun Tour thumb shifters. The left-hand thumb shifter was used to control the front derailleur, while the right-hand shifter was mounted backward. The Breezer 1 design was modified on the vintage cruise design known as the Clunkers; which was also used for mountain biking. The Breezer 1, however, set a benchmark and standard for the mountain bikes we see around today.
A team of Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly, and John Frey brought mountain biking to the masses. They built frames for mountain—biking and founded a company known as MountainBikes. Tom Ritchey was a welder who had skills in frame building, he was also part of the inventors of the original bikes.
The company was eventually purchased by trek and the frames are still available as Trek’s “Gary Fisher” line. The team’s contribution played a vital role in bringing innovative mountain bikes to the world.