The History of Mountain Biking

July 11, 2017

Mountain biking is a thrilling and amazing sport of its time. Joe Breeze from Marin Country, California has the credit of building a first fat-tire bicycle for rough terrains. Joe was riding on the rocky terrains near Mt.Tamalpais, with some friends, when he recognized the need for such bike. The men used coaster brakes with one-speed bicycles from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. They used the term “my mountain bike” instead of “my road bike” for early vehicles.

 

According to Joe Breeze fat tire bikes were also used in Santa Barbara for mountainous trails.  Joe and his bikes were professional road bikers and raced for Velo Club Tamalpais. Their blue and gold jersey carried a mountain logo as well.


Building of the first ever mountain bike
It was in October 1977, when Joe built the first fat tire bike. He used lightweight tubing inside of fat tyres. Earlier such specifications were used for fine quality road bikes only. Other specifications included Phil Wood hubs, Schwinn S2 rims and 26 X 2.125 Uniroyal Knobby Tyres. Joe built the first batch of such bikes. Breeze’s first bike made it to the various museums. Since 1978, it is on permanent display at the Oakland Museum.

 

Innovation and Marketing

After building the 9 more cycles, group needed to sell their product. Earlier it only included Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey and Charlie Kelley. From frames to fat tire, every bicycles builder added their specialty. After building almost 9 frames, he needed to sell them but didn’t find enough business. There existed a gap, but people needed to realize this. Later Fisher and Kelley launched their Mountain bike business to sell Tom’s bike.

 

Trademark name of bike
Later Fisher and Kelley started efforts to trademark the name Mountainbike. Perhaps there were procedural deficiencies that resulted in the rejection of name. Later, Bicycling magazine started the “name that bike” competition that saw a massive failure. The contest didn’t include the Mountainbike name because it was already rejected. ATB won the contest, but it could not stand before more natural MTB (Mountain Bike which was relatively quiet natural).

 

Finding a gap and trying to fill it with some offering is not enough. A complete mechanism is required to give marketing push to the product. Fisher and Kelley made enough efforts to launch and then ensure sales of the mountain bike. Even in present day, the most popular mountain bikes are the Breezers made by Joe Breeze. 

 

Earlier, an organization like USCF and UCI presented some resistance to mountain bikes. The number of NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) racers increased than USCF racers, the later back pedaled and made the new product inclusive.

 

Introduction of Mountain Bikes into biking industry
The first mass produced mountain biking made to the industry in 1982. At this point, biking industry didn’t believe that idea would go beyond a fad. It thought that mountain biking would remain a short term trend which has arrived to vanish soon.  
It is pertinent to mention that no mainstream cycling company including, Schwinn and Fuji showed interest in adventure sports. Only new companies (above mentioned one) innovated and introduced the downhill and off road biking. They also introduced suspension forks as shock absorbers. Light weight frame, after passing through different experimental phases, also proved to be a special support for biking on rough terrains. 

 

It was in later 1990s when mountain biking amassed plenty of enthusiasts. The adventure gained the status of sports resulting in the rise of the industry. After this period, a couple of more innovations followed. Most common structures that can be modified include the lightweight gearing, front suspensions, disc brakes and full suspension. 

 

Future of Mountain Biking
One thing is obvious; it was the design of bikes that made them stand distinguished among the contemporary fleet. Builders focused on improvements in gears brakes and structure. We are not clear what further technology would be incorporated into these bikes for making them more developed and latest. Most probably innovation would focus on improving the same structure that made the design to stand distinguished.
 

Future of mountain biking also depends upon how thrilling upcoming generations find it to be. The reason is that development of technology has introduced more adventurous forms like water sports and air sports; both these games are attracting the attention of youth.

 

Yes, mountain biking can see its share divided among other adventure sports. But it would remain intact in term of preserving its own identity. People who love hiking have an equal affinity of biking on tough mountain terrains. Hence, prospects for mountain biking to evolve and become more adventurous are still glorious. It all depends on what the companies bring to keep the spirit of this sport alive.
 

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