The first data on all-terrain bikes dates from the 1990s. The Missoula, Montana USA, Buffalo Soldiers unit rode modified bikes with only one speed adjusted for long rides on poor terrain, carrying equipment.
The next, more famous group of MTB pioneers were the Velo Cross Club Parisien in France in the early 1950s. They have upgraded their bikes with 27.5 “(650b) wheels (interestingly. This wheel diameter has been updated since 2008, as a compromise between the standard 26” and the more controversial but increasingly “common 29”) with some remarkable modifications to the era. They delivered gearbox cranks, wide tires, and even some kind of suspensions.
The next MTB pioneer is John Finley Scott, a person who, du’70s, the ’80s and ’80s, was closely associated with the official inventors of MTB as we know it today. He redesigned his 1953 Woodsie bike by positioning the gear shift levers, flat cormorants, and wide tires so he could ride it around the field. Yet nothing serious has ever developed from these attempts.
Most of the credit for the success of a modern mountain bike belongs to a group of riders from Marin County, California (Tamalpais Mountain) who developed their versions of MTB bikes during the 1970s. They also had the race they called Repack Downhill. It got its name because, after each downhill, they had to open the grease replacements and reassemble their coaster brakes. They rode Schwinn Excelsior bikes with wide balloon tires from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Although not the first to utilize wide tires, flat wheels, cantilever brakes, or even mountain bike speeds, they were the first to commercialize and promote the MTB and thus managed to bring it into the mainstream.
The most deserving names for the start of the MTB era are the following: Joe Breeze, Otis Guy, Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, Charlie Cunningham, Keith Bontrager, and Mike Sinyard. Many of these riders were competitors in the Velo Club Tamalpais, a club of road cyclists. All five are still in the cycling industry today, Gary Fisher is the founder of Fisher Bikes, Tom Ritchey Ritchey and Mike Sinyard Specialized.
Ever since these “guys” lit the wick, innovations have been falling one after the other to this day. They have customized their wide-balloon tire cruisers so they can ride on all types of terrain. The first MTB rides were downhill exclusively, with pickup trucks carrying bikes uphill to get them down the mountain. In October 1977, Joe Breeze built a light-weight tire that was only used on better road bikes (which he also made at the time). The bike had all the novelties, high-quality part”, and 26″ x 2.125″, Uniroyal “Knobby” tires on Schwinn S2 bandages and Phil Woods wheels. Joe made 10 of these first Breezers by June 1978. Since 1985, the Breezer # 1 bike has been in the permanent display of the Oakland Museum. It has also been exhibited in many places since then.
However, the first Breezer was preceded by a frame made earlier in 1977 by Craig Mitchell as Charlie Kelly. Like the Breyer frames, it was also made of airplane chrome-molybdenum 4130 tubes, and Kelly fitted it with parts from his Schwinn Excelsior. Those included SunTour gearboxes with tampers (lever-type shift levers that tighten and loosen the gearbox shaft), TA aluminum mid-drive Union brakes for drum brakes, motorcycle brake levers, Brooks B-72 seat, Schwinn S-2 bandhas, and UniRoyal Knobby tires.
Those were the best parts that clunkers (or clashes, carpets – as they were called) could find at the time. Nonetheless, Charlie returned to his Schwinn frame, which he rode until June 1978 when he bought BreeMitchell’sitchell’s frames were no longer developing. In January 1979, Joe and Otis, who were planning to break the record in transcontinental tandem driving, visited Tom Ritchey, who was making the frame for them, and Joe’s MTB. Peter Johnson (another seasoned frame manufacturer) and Tom were impressed with the MTB concept, which helped Gary Fisher get Tom interested in wide tire bikes.
Gary asked Tom to make a frame for him, and Tom made one for himself, one for Gary and one for Gary to sell. As Tom made nine more frames later in 1979, he failed to sell them in the vicinity of Palo Alto, where he lived and asked Fisher to sell them in Marin County. Fisher and Charley Kelly raised several hundred dollars and founded MountainBikes, which later became Gary Fisher Bicycles as the first strictly MTB business. Fisher o Kelly tried to register the name Mountainbike, but due to procedural or definitional errors in the application, they failed to do so.
Meanwhile, during the 80s, Bicycling Magazine organized a “give a name to “hat bike” contest that excluded the Mountainbike name that was before the registration board at the time. The winner of the competition was the name ATB (all-terrain bicycle). However, in addition to MTB, which expanded rapidly after the registration application failed, it still was unable to survive.
In the early 1990s, John Tomac and Ned Overend dominated the complete competitive MTB scene, only later to completely differentiate MTB disciplines. 1995 saw the first Extreme Games take place, and DH MTB became one of the disciplines. In 1996, MTB made its first appearance at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the gold medal went to Bart Jan Brentjens of the Netherlands.
Don’t miss our review of the best Mongoose mountain bikes that you can find right now.