The birth of mountain bikes

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neilbardsley
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The birth of mountain bikes

#1 Post by neilbardsley » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:02 am

I attended a talk last night in London given by Charlie Kelly and Joe Breeze. Who were involved in the birth of mountain bikes in the 70s. Although they freely admit people have been ridding their bikes off road for much longer. This all happen in northern CA near San Francisco when some kids that were road racing deciding to try going into the dirt paths on the mountains.

Joe created the first mountain bike and eventually Charlie/Gary Fisher started a company from which Specialized copied to start massive production.

Joe's father Bill was also involved in car racing. He raced a Jaguar and owned the Sports Car Center in Sausalito.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWf5e0egOo8/

There is a very nice book written by Charlie

https://www.velopress.com/books/fat-tire-flyer/

Bob Watts
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#2 Post by Bob Watts » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:26 am

Might there also be a new Porsche bike coming?

http://www.clydejamescycles.com/
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Martin Bruechle
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#3 Post by Martin Bruechle » Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:16 pm

I recall about 1981 when 3 of us bought mountain bikes. They were pretty new in the Los Angeles area.

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EricMcKinley
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#4 Post by EricMcKinley » Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:36 pm

Don't know much about mountain bikes Neil, but when I was young I raced bmx bikes in Belfast's first bmx track.

Here I am in 1983 on my mongoose, I loved that bike, wish I still had it.
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#5 Post by Bill Coghlan » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:42 pm

Very cool bit of history.

I remember seeing an old film about the early mountain bike days in Mammoth Lakes, CA - they have an annual event named the "Kamikaze Trail" - riders would scream down the hill on their fat tire bikes and just lay them down at the bottom to stop (the event sponsors generously stacked hay bales to assist with the braking). The event is still held annually but, fortunately for the riders, the bike technology has made leaps and bounds in safely.
 

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#6 Post by M Penta » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:59 pm

Nice history on mtn bikes, heard something along these lines before. What is surprising now is how much BMX and trials are happening in Europe, some amazing skill there. Mtn biking of course is also big there, I have a distant cousin in Germany who was seriously injured on a pro DH course, I will be visiting him later this month.

We just got back from some mtn biking today. I am pretty low tech when it comes to equipment, still on a hard tail 29er but I can hold my own. Growing up on dirt bikes helps, but dirt bike trails are all being shut down while new mtn bike trails are being added all the time.

Eric, love the pic with the 83 Mongoose. They are quite desirable now!

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#7 Post by neilbardsley » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:34 am

M Penta wrote:I am pretty low tech when it comes to equipment, still on a hard tail 29er but I can hold my own.
Nothing wrong with a hard tail! I do my commute on one :)

Eric, your bmx was the one all the cool kids had! I so wanted one.

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#8 Post by Richard Troy » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:49 pm

...There was something wrong with my Registry account stopping me from commenting, so I was looking for a thread to test posting on and stumbled across this thread!

Like most kids, I got around by bicycle from about 5 years old, definitely long before the expression "mountain bike" was coined. We didn't have much for "mountains", but my friends and I would take our bikes on the most hilly terrain we could find, through what we would call "the woods", mud, you name it. One of the most interesting places we had to ride was a double or triple sized lot (heck, now that I think of it, it was probably bigger than even that) which had some former construction that was incompletely razed, decades or a century before, long since fallen into ruin, and left to grow over for many decades. It had lots of high and low spots, sharp turns, and injury was frequent, but not usually severe. The worst accidents were usually the occasional head-on where someone else was coming down the same trail in the reverse direction and there was simply no place to go!

We never had all the nomenclature of "road bike" "beach cruiser", "fat tire bike", etc, just bikes with various features. The nearest actual bike shop I could recall was around 20 miles away but our local Western Auto store had a good selection of inner tubes, chain links and such to keep 'em going. I ended up commuting 18 miles or so each way to work at my first W-2 paid job on a brand-new Panasonic 10 speed I bought for the purpose - year was maybe 1978. Of course I got what we now call a "road bike". I got easily removable panier style baskets for the back and a smaller basket for the front, but it was too skinny tired to do much off-roading with.

Today, decades later, the streets around me and the steep hills where I live makes a mountain bike a good choice. The streets are poorly maintained and a road bike's narrow tires just won't cut it. The steep hills demand good gearing and great braking. ...I'd been using my bike as my means of getting regular and hopefully sufficient exercise, using it to run errands, and I'd been using an old Raleigh replica called a Legran. Sturdy as hell road bike, but the tires were too damned small. Then, I was injured - hit by a car as a pedestrian! - and couldn't even get my leg over the Legran. I re-injured myself during the healing process many times, making the injury much worse. So... I decided to give up on a bike I can't safely get on and instead build my own new bike to my own specifications.

Here's the Legran I gave up on - it was my errand-bike for quite a while. Both front and rear baskets are easily removable... OH, and to help me with the hills, I converted it to an e-bike. This type of e-bike system is called a mid-drive and has no throttle; you get assistance if you want it, but you still must pedal! It helps me with the steepest hills and makes possible errands I'd otherwise require a car for - the battery is attached to the seat-tube, the motor is below the "bottom bracket" where the pedal crank goes through the bike frame.

Image

One key for my new bike was I had to have a deeply low step-through frame so I could get on it even while injured. Another was much fatter tires. I required a "suspension" front fork like most modern mountain bikes have - to handle the super-crappy roads around here - and, of course a suspension seat post to be a little easier on the butt. Basically, I've made a mountain bike with a few compromises to suit my particular needs. Knowledgeable bike people classify it as a "hybrid:" It's part mountain bike, part road bike, and part cargo bike:

Image

I'm not done with it yet, though! I'm adding lighting, and a front disk brake. Here, you can see the brake mounted:

Image

I hope to be done with it by Christmas! :D
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#9 Post by Dan Kalinski » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:10 pm

Check this fabricator out:


http://www.44bikes.com

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#10 Post by neilbardsley » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:26 am

Richard Troy wrote:...There was something wrong with my Registry account stopping me from commenting, so I was looking for a thread to test posting on and stumbled across this thread!

Like most kids, I got around by bicycle from about 5 years old, definitely long before the expression "mountain bike" was coined. We didn't have much for "mountains", but my friends and I would take our bikes on the most hilly terrain we could find, through what we would call "the woods", mud, you name it. One of the most interesting places we had to ride was a double or triple sized lot (heck, now that I think of it, it was probably bigger than even that) which had some former construction that was incompletely razed, decades or a century before, long since fallen into ruin, and left to grow over for many decades. It had lots of high and low spots, sharp turns, and injury was frequent, but not usually severe. The worst accidents were usually the occasional head-on where someone else was coming down the same trail in the reverse direction and there was simply no place to go!

We never had all the nomenclature of "road bike" "beach cruiser", "fat tire bike", etc, just bikes with various features. The nearest actual bike shop I could recall was around 20 miles away but our local Western Auto store had a good selection of inner tubes, chain links and such to keep 'em going. I ended up commuting 18 miles or so each way to work at my first W-2 paid job on a brand-new Panasonic 10 speed I bought for the purpose - year was maybe 1978. Of course I got what we now call a "road bike". I got easily removable panier style baskets for the back and a smaller basket for the front, but it was too skinny tired to do much off-roading with.

Today, decades later, the streets around me and the steep hills where I live makes a mountain bike a good choice. The streets are poorly maintained and a road bike's narrow tires just won't cut it. The steep hills demand good gearing and great braking. ...I'd been using my bike as my means of getting regular and hopefully sufficient exercise, using it to run errands, and I'd been using an old Raleigh replica called a Legran. Sturdy as hell road bike, but the tires were too damned small. Then, I was injured - hit by a car as a pedestrian! - and couldn't even get my leg over the Legran. I re-injured myself during the healing process many times, making the injury much worse. So... I decided to give up on a bike I can't safely get on and instead build my own new bike to my own specifications.

Here's the Legran I gave up on - it was my errand-bike for quite a while. Both front and rear baskets are easily removable... OH, and to help me with the hills, I converted it to an e-bike. This type of e-bike system is called a mid-drive and has no throttle; you get assistance if you want it, but you still must pedal! It helps me with the steepest hills and makes possible errands I'd otherwise require a car for - the battery is attached to the seat-tube, the motor is below the "bottom bracket" where the pedal crank goes through the bike frame.

Image

One key for my new bike was I had to have a deeply low step-through frame so I could get on it even while injured. Another was much fatter tires. I required a "suspension" front fork like most modern mountain bikes have - to handle the super-crappy roads around here - and, of course a suspension seat post to be a little easier on the butt. Basically, I've made a mountain bike with a few compromises to suit my particular needs. Knowledgeable bike people classify it as a "hybrid:" It's part mountain bike, part road bike, and part cargo bike:

Image

I'm not done with it yet, though! I'm adding lighting, and a front disk brake. Here, you can see the brake mounted:

Image

I hope to be done with it by Christmas! :D
Some interesting work there. Thank you for sharing.

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#11 Post by M Penta » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:35 pm

I like a nice commuter/town bike, and miss being able to ride into town and pretty much anywhere I needed to go (especially since I was with out a license for a few years... ). Now I live way to far from town for bike commuting.

I just picked up a Scott FR730 Enduro/Down hill bike. Since we did not have down hill bikes, my kids and I rented bikes at Killington and rode the excellent lift service down hill trails there. I ended up buying the bike from the rental shop. Its a 2016 in great shape and got a nice deal on it. There are less and less trails available for our dirt bikes and tons of new mountain bike trails of all sorts around here, so we are expanding the mtb line up and focusing more on that. It was really fun, down hill bikes are a totally different animal for such trails and perform beautifully. I would have wrecked myself on my old hardtail cross country bike! Amazing how far bikes have come since the "birth of mountain biking".

Neil, Danny Mcallister must be a national hero in the UK. His skills; its just not fair!

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... ijoK7UrYtc
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#12 Post by neilbardsley » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:19 am

M Penta wrote:Neil, Danny Mcallister must be a national hero in the UK. His skills; its just not fair!
Well funny you should mention that because my son William studies in Glasgow and has seen Dan filming around town. However, in the family we are massive cyclocross fans. We both raced a little and have been to Belgium a number of times to watch races. Unsurprising our favourite Dutch athlete isn't Jos Verstappen but the much more talented Mathieu Van Der Poel! This is Mathieu 1 second after winning a very tough race. He almost didn't make it across the line.

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#13 Post by ralph bauer » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:15 pm

Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, Charley Cunningham and Otis Guy were right there with Charley Kelly and Joe Breeze as pioneers in the mt. bike development. They initially used traditional balloon tire bikes with coaster brakes to ride on dirt trails/fire roads on Mt. Tam and Pine Mountain outside of Fairfax. One run on Pine Mt. required them to stop part way down and repack the rear hub/brake with grease. Hence the name of that run locally is referred to as simply Repack.
In the early 80's I substituted a new mt. bike for a normal touring bike on a 7 week cycling trip to Europe. Big mistake. Panniers front and rear, canti-lever brakes, good gearing and comfortable ride.The big downside: the fat tires created so much drag on the hot asphalt pavement in the afternoons that it was a real challenge keeping up with the other 3 riders on normal touring bikes. Lesson learned.
(P.S. If you are ever in the Bay Area there is a Mt. Bike Museum in Fairfax, 20 miles north of San Francisco)

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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#14 Post by Erik Thomas » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:46 am

Californians claim to have invented mountain bikes. Perhaps. Around Boston, circa 1970 we did the same sort of things, but typically used Raleigh 3 speeds as the basis of the conversion, instead of cheap, heavy Western Auto type bikes. A typical modification included a lot of road bike parts, the drive train from a 10 speed. Fenders were discarded, Etc. We rode and raced on trails and in the woods.

Here is a pic of a current bike prototype I am working on for a customer. The 18 speed gearbox is made by Pinion in Germany, by some Ex Porsche transmission guys. This bike folds to an airline allowed suitcase size, yet has the fit of a normal road bike. Brakes are hydraulic discs.
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Re: The birth of mountain bikes

#15 Post by neilbardsley » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:22 pm

Erik Thomas wrote:Californians claim to have invented mountain bikes. Perhaps. Around Boston, circa 1970 we did the same sort of things, but typically used Raleigh 3 speeds as the basis of the conversion, instead of cheap, heavy Western Auto type bikes. A typical modification included a lot of road bike parts, the drive train from a 10 speed. Fenders were discarded, Etc. We rode and raced on trails and in the woods.

Here is a pic of a current bike prototype I am working on for a customer. The 18 speed gearbox is made by Pinion in Germany, by some Ex Porsche transmission guys. This bike folds to an airline allowed suitcase size, yet has the fit of a normal road bike. Brakes are hydraulic discs.
Very interesting. I have to use a folding bike on my commute to/from the countryside to London because it involves a train. I have a single speed as it's less maintenance. I have occasionally web browsed some of the clever internal hubs but always came to the conclusion that weight/cost we both too much for me.

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