Viewing 40 posts - 121 through 160 (of 164 total)
  • The start of mountain biking…not in the USA?
  • Elfinsafety
    Free Member

    So, to summarise; Repack and his mates coined a marketing concept in the name ‘mountain bikes’, Mike Sinyard then commercialised it effectively by mass-producing off-road ‘mountain’ bikes, and Shimano etc made loads of bits to make off-road cycling easier and more efficient.

    My mum told me about a conversation she’d had, in the early 60’s, with an Italian bloke who explained how he and some friends had adapted standard bikes by using fatter tyres and upright handlebars, which they then rode ‘off-road’. So of course others were doing what Repack and his mates were, and doing it earlier. What Repack etc have given us is the lifestyle concept. The put a name to an activity which others had been doing anyway, and one which fitted perfectly in terms of producing a marketable concept.

    Good stuff, nice one, but Repack no more ‘invented’ mountain biking than Clive Sinclair ‘invented’ the computer…

    Elfinsafety
    Free Member

    Dozy forum…

    B.A.Nana
    Free Member

    Kirkpatrick MacMillan invented the off road bike.

    Indeed, roads were no more than bridleways.

    However, I have no doubts as to whom my MTB bikes Grandaddy is:

    My 1979 Huffy Good Vibrations cruiser, with pefectly fitting trails rims, Kenda Nevegals 2.1 Stick-E and Gusset bar.

    mudrider
    Free Member

    druidh…
    “Ah – the Anglophile argument. Since most other countries use a different language, none of them could have “invented” the mountain bike”.

    mrmo…
    “You can say it is an anglophone argument, but apart from the france, mtb is common parlance to describe a type of bike”.

    When first introduced into Britain many manufacturers used the acronym ATB (All Terrain Bicycle) to describe their bikes. For instance the first British made mass produced bikes, the Ritchey copies produced by Saracen, were marketed as The Saracen ATB. However, the American aspirational term mountain bike, caught the public imagination to become the preferred title for off-road oriented bikes.

    Alternatively the logical French the adopted the equivalent of ATB, Velo Tout Terrain, VTT. This is a description that covers any bicycle designed to be used on all terrain, and so could readily be applied to the bike of Kirkpatrick MacMillan. Only when roads improved were bikes designed that were intended for road use only.

    Even though others claim to have used the term “mountain bike” earlier, it was the title that Fisher and Kelly attached to their bikes and in the main, went with the bikes when they went global. So the term “mountain bike” is connected with Marin and the repack style down-mountain racing against the clock. The French VCCP took a more motor cross approach whilst in both France and Britain there developed the Cyclo-cross tradition. Britain also had the two different off-road touring approaches of the RoughStuff fellowship, who were happy to get off and walk, and Geoff Apps who thought of having to walk as being beaten by the terrain.

    These activities all differ and each had developed their own style of bicycle. Their was no single invention. After the Marin mountain bikes went global, owners and manufacturers started modifying them for their own uses. Long may the invention continue!

    This process continues but is mainly sport led. This has resulted in a sporting bias in off-road bike design and fashion. One result of this is that many riders prefer to get wet than use mudguards when riding in the rain. I personally believe that there is scope for a more practical approach to off-road bicycle design. But even after all the years of bike development, this remains an area that has not been explored commercially.

    tree-magnet
    Free Member

    This process continues but is mainly sport led. This has resulted in a sporting bias in off-road bike design and fashion. One result of this is that many riders prefer to get wet than use mudguards when riding in the rain. I personally believe that there is scope for a more practical approach to off-road bicycle design. But even after all the years of bike development, this remains an area that has not been explored commercially.

    Yes the current crop of “all mountain” or “trail” bikes are quite clearly race led. 6 inch travel all day bikes and baggy shorts quite clearly fit the criteria for most that you have laid down.

    Oh, and as above, DH racing and the term “mountain biking” were invented by the repackers. Off roading wasn’t, but then that’s like arguing who invented walking.

    B.A.Nana
    Free Member

    but then that’s like arguing who invented walking.

    I think you’ll find that was Edward Whymper and friends, in the 1860s.

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    “We DEFINITELY invented downhill racing. “, so until you invented it what was two people trying to beat each other down hill called ?

    Where are the records, and who was the champion? We did all that, and we found that on a narrow and steep road where the good line is a foot wide, it’s impossible or dangerous to pass another rider.

    So we figured out how to run downhill races as time trials, which is the way most of them are run today, and we wrote down the results. Repack was a series, with records kept and winners awarded prizes. I still have the records of all but the first race. Two people racing each other down a hill does not leave a record or decide a champion.

    druidh
    Free Member

    Have another straw to clutch at…

    gusamc
    Free Member

    Well, when out with mum (*Raleigh 3 speed shopper, previous post)) and me on a tricycle (*therefore about 1963) whilst not racing and going up hill next to a river (*river was going downhill but as it was on it’s own it couldn’t possible be racing) I’m proud to say that seeing a large salmon in a pool my mum whipped her tights off and stuffed it down one of the legs. I therefore wish to claim that my mum invented fish net tights.

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    Sure, lots of people put together bikes for off-road before we started in California, and many used similar elements. But you couldn’t go to a bike shop and buy one, and the participants might have numbered in the dozens.

    There was nothing on the market like the Ritchey MountainBike before Gary and I introduced it. A few years later most of the bikes being sold looked just like it, and an entire competitive sport had grown from some crazy downhill races. As much as the others who rode similar bikes shared our passion, how many quit their jobs and staked their future on such bikes by opening a company to produce them?

    In 1983 a few of us got together and wrote some racing rules and bought insurance so we could compete openly. We called our organization the National Off-Road Bicycle Association, or NORBA. The rules we wrote became the international rules later on.

    1983.

    epicyclo
    Full Member

    I’ve had a bit of fun stirring in this thread but I think we should separate the concept of riding bikes in the mountains from “mountainbiking”.

    It’s fair to say that the term “Mountainbike” should be credited to the USA (Mr Repack & associates), and I remember how pleased I was that I was able to finally be able to buy a bike that I wanted without having to modify it. It certainly was USA style merchandising which popularised it.

    Unfortunately the emphasis on road sports was leading European biking up an evolutionary dead end as far as offroad bikes were concerned – blame the dead hand of the UCI which kills every technological advance. An offroad bike was a cyclocross bike with 32mm tyres.

    What I always wanted was a lightweight bike with decent sized wheels and tyres. 26″ was too small, but at least they came with 2″ tyres which had all but disappeared from sale for larger wheels by then. The use intended for my bikes was always mountain. Often on my shoulder and straight up the hill if there was no track visible, so lightness was important, hence singlespeed. Thanks to the mountainbike concept the path racer has been re-invented (only now we call it a 29er) so I am grateful to Mr Repack for that.

    But why oh why are mountainbikes fitted with a gearchange system which is guaranteed to be ripped off or bent if you ride it off track? (eg through heather) Just one more step to go…

    (Yes I am a member of the RSF)

    mudrider
    Free Member

    Here’s Joe Breeze talking about the origins of the mountain bike and mountain biking. He made Breezer No1 in 1977, which is widely regarded as the first mountain bike built around a purpose built frame. He talks about the importance of “critical mass” in developing the popularity of the new sport.

    Joe Breeze on the origins of mountainbiking

    Given enough time Geoff Apps’ ideas could have also developed “critical mass”. However in comparison to Americans, the British cycling establishment was extremely conservative. The letter at the end of this link gives a flavor of the many setbacks that Apps encountered whilst promoting his ideas in Britain.

    Letter from Dawes to Geoff Apps at end of link

    mcmoonter
    Free Member

    Great clip.

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWWjXID2vik&feature=related[/video]

    CharlieMungus
    Free Member

    It’s clear that repack and co. invented moutainbiking and its image. The only argument is who invented VTT?

    CharlieMungus
    Free Member

    Every mountain bike built before 1984 was copied directly from the one we introduced.

    What happened in 1984? What bike was it that didn’t look like the ‘original’ mountain bike?

    druidh
    Free Member

    CharlieMungus – Member
    It’s clear that repack and co. invented moutainbiking and its image. The only argument is who invented VTT?

    T.FIFY

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    What happened in 1984? What bike was it that didn’t look like the ‘original’ mountain bike?

    The date is arbitrary. By then a couple of years had passed since two manufacturers (Specialized and Univega) sent Ritchey MountainBikes to factories in Japan and said, “Make a lot of these.” As of 1984 just about every major manufacturer offered a bike suspiciously identical to the MountainBike, but that is not where the innovation was taking place.

    By 1984 a number of other American frame builders had taken up the craft (Potts, Nicol, Schafer, Chance, Bontrager, Cunningham, Parker, etc.) and had begun to expand on the original concept by adding their own ideas and tailoring their bikes for local conditions. It was the small frame shops, universally inspired by Ritchey and MountainBikes, that began the series of innovations that took us from that time to this.

    Now the small shops have all been run over by major companies, and the small manufacturers such as Yeti, Ibis, Salsa, Fat Chance, Gary Fisher, Bontrager and so on have all been sold. Mountain bikes have become such complex systems that the frames are not easily built in a garage, and the innovation has gone to the level of manufacture where expensive engineering facilities and test sites are necessary for incremental adaptations.

    What else would you like to know about these events?

    AV2010
    Free Member

    There have been several posts referring to the Cleland Aventura as part of mountain bike history.

    The Cleland concept really is a separate strand and does not compare with mountain bikes, an Aventura is designed for a different style of riding, the design philosophy is fundamentally at odds with the general thrust of mountain bike development.

    It is convenient to say that the Cleland design is a form of mountain bike when talking to people who can’t tell the difference, but it’s more like trying to compare a MotoX motorbike with a Trials motorbike ~ there really is no comparison.

    This is not to say either is superior to the other; each is designed for a particular purpose. In the case of the mountain bike and the Aventura, one is designed for speed and lightness, the other for no-compromise endurance.

    In terms of acceptance of the design, very little progress has been made since 1979; very few people even begin to understand what it’s for.

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    In the United States we were well aware of Geoff Apps, and we carried on a spirited correspondence. Geoff supplied us with Finnish Haaka tyres with studs for snow use, something we couldn’t get here, and he took advertising space in my magazine, the Fat Tire Flyer, which was the first publication for mountain bikers.

    Geoff favored several design elements that we did not, and the reason is that his bikes were not born from downhill racing, but from Rough-Stuff Fellowship style rides in the country. Highlighting these differences shows why the sport and the machinery that eventually emerged worldwide stemmed from the California concept of off-road riding.

    Geoff used drum brakes, for the obvious reason that they work better in wet conditions than rim brakes. We didn’t use them because they were not made for descending 500’/minute for extended periods, and wet weather is not nearly the constant in California that it is in England.

    The upright position of the Cleland style of bicycle is an aerodynamic disaster for downhill. These bikes were not made for riding FAST. We used a traditional diamond frame because it is an efficient design honed from a hundred years of experience. Geoff used an offset top tube to maximize his stepover height.

    No self respecting Cleland owner rode without mudguards, a deerstalker cap, plus-fours and argyle socks. The obvious cultural difference between California and England made such accessories a bit quaint to sell the concept to the teenage and twenty-something BMX/skateboard set. Because we were part of the very demographic that was going to buy and ride our bikes, no translation was necessary.

    Beyond cyclocross, there was no off-road competition anywhere but California in the ’70s and early ’80s. In California we RACED our bikes, and the racing spurred design development as well as attracting new riders. The kids had probably never heard of the Tour de France or the Rough Stuff Fellowship, but they understood competition. Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey were all very good road racers, and when California BMX riders like John Tomac and Tinker Juarez moved easily into mountain biking, they brought all their fans with them.

    By 1980 there were mountain bike races taking place all over California, about four years before the first one would take place in England.

    Elfinsafety
    Free Member

    Yeah yeah, but we invented football, so there! 😀

    epicyclo
    Full Member

    I must admit I had never heard of Cleland until recently and this is even though I have had a long term interest in offroad riding, but I wasn’t in the UK at that time.

    I was in Oz from the 70s onward and the ownership and use of a bike was regarded as for the poor or the mad/eccentrics until mountainbikes made them respectable again.

    About 1977 I did a 7 day tour through the bush on the bike and the best tyres I could get for offroad were 32mm tubulars – there were no fat tyres available by then.

    I think the first thing like a modern mountainbike I saw was in 1981 – it looked like a 1930s singlespeed with fat 26″ tyres (still in Oz).

    B.A.Nana
    Free Member

    Charlie Kelly, the original bikes you and your peers rode downhill were mostly (but prehaps not exclusively) converted cruiser bikes, right?. So, out of interest, why did the first frames you commercially produced look more like road frames with added fat tyres and flat bars?. Nowerdays, with all the Hydroforming and low top tubes, the modern mountain bike frame designs seem to more resemble the original Cruiser bike styling, with bendy tubes etc. I always wondered why, when the MountainBike started, the distinct cruiser bike styling almost immediately had disappeared?
    My thinking over the years, it might have been one of two reasons, fashion (at that time, ie cruisers were for kids) or design/materials issues ie weight/strength?

    AV2010
    Free Member

    It should also be remembered that Charlie and Gary are not only ‘responsible’ for the worldwide mountain bike phenomonen, their actions have led directly to an unprecedented resurgence of interest in cycling; the design and technology that was spawned by the original mountainbikes has now filtered through to every aspect of cycling today.

    cynic-al
    Full Member

    I would guess that Cruiser styling was not use because it is…styling.

    AV2010 does that mean we can blame them for Isis?

    AV2010
    Free Member

    Probably, indirectly…

    CharlieMungus
    Free Member

    So, out of interest, why did the first frames you commercially produced look more like road frames with added fat tyres and flat bars?.

    That’s what i wondered. Even looking at my late 80’s bikes, it is difficult to differentiate them from a road frame. Ok, maybe stronger and that, but only maybe. The early commercial mountain bikes weren’t as well engineered as the road bike of the time.

    mudrider
    Free Member

    Repack Rider wrote:

    The upright position of the Cleland style of bicycle is an aerodynamic disaster for downhill. These bikes were not made for riding FAST. We used a traditional diamond frame because it is an efficient design honed from a hundred years of experience. Geoff used an offset top tube to maximize his stepover height.

    Whilst it’s true to say that speed was not considered when the Clelands were designed, the reality is that BITD, in most off-road situations they were no slower than mountain bikes of a similar weight. In fact on soft or rough terrain I would say that their low pressure tyres gave them a speed advantage. My experience of riding alongside mountain bikes is not that of struggling to keep up but of being able to lead and overtake. Yes, headwinds can be a problem but you can lean forwards and rest your elbows on the bars in order to reduce the drag. For downhills you can use the high riding position as an adjustable air brake, with standing bolt upright for maximum air braking, and leaning forward and bent over for least air resistance. The Clelands riding position, with their high handlebars and weight over the back wheel are not that dissimilar to modern downhill bikes. And the heavy duty low pressure helped increase the speed at which vibration would result in a loss of control but did not pinch puncture.

    Today I often ride my old Clelands along side modern bikes and apart from hill climbs, where the Cleland’s weight is a handicap, I can keep up, though I overtake less these days. The Cleland’s Nokia tyres were slow on smooth surfaces an roads, but low rolling reistance modern tyres are fine. Riding a Cleland was, and is, a very different experience to riding a mountain bike. The riding techniques are unusual and it even feels as if different parts of the leg muscles are involved. They offer a real alternative experience to that of riding a mountain bike. Personally I love riding both styles of bike, though modern mountain bikes feel very different when compared to the early Ritchey inspired machines.

    When most people ride a Cleland for the first time they ride it like a mountain bike. It usually takes tuition and practice before people get the hang of these bikes and their many quirks. Interestingly though, motorbike trials,and BMX riders seem to know these techniques already.

    andy@innerhaven
    Free Member

    Contentious, but some claim Scotland is the home of mountain biking:

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/video/video.php?v=1711257623907&subj=1312111799

    😀

    samuri
    Free Member

    I was in Oz from the 70s onward and the ownership and use of a bike was regarded as for the poor or the mad/eccentrics

    If you live in the UK, nothing has changed.

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    the original bikes you and your peers rode downhill were mostly (but perhaps not exclusively) converted cruiser bikes, right?. So, out of interest, why did the first frames you commercially produced look more like road frames with added fat tyres and flat bars?

    I always wondered why, when the MountainBike started, the distinct cruiser bike styling almost immediately had disappeared?

    We used “cruiser” frames because that was all that was available. At first it was just good fun with cheap, virtually disposable bikes. You could buy one of those junk frames for peanuts, at least until we had used up the local supply.

    Then we started racing, and performance became important. Those cheap old frame were made out of tubing best suited for plumbing your house. The “cruiser” styling used far more of this heavy tubing than necessary to connect the dots.

    Cruiser bike frames did not last very long under me. I had to get a new frame every six months or so, and as the supply dried up, prices rose on what were considered the most desirable old frames. It made economic sense to spend money and get something that lasted longer.

    To my knowledge, the first frame built for fat-tyre off-road was one built for me by Craig Mitchell in 1976, It was a diamond frame also. The only design we ever considered was a traditional diamond frame. If you set a converted cruiser next to an Italian racing bike, it was obvious what you had to do to improve the bike. Build something like the Italian frame, but with dimensions suitable for the off-road components.

    Finally, a diamond frame is a traditional design that can be built in a garage, using methods a century old, and straight tubing direct from the foundry. Building a “cruiser” style frame is a lot more difficult.

    Our first frames were hand built, using untested designs, because that was the only way to get the bikes we wanted. Nobody sold them in stores. Until we did.

    cynic-al
    Full Member

    “air braking” best for some time! 😀

    AV2010
    Free Member

    At the beginning of this curious little video http://vimeo.com/2679372 there’s a brief shot of Cleland ‘profiling’ as we used to call it. It gave us the edge on mountain bikes in downhill sections in the early days.
    From this position, you could rise up and stand on the pedals and slow down quite a lot, without using the brakes, the brakes could give you additional stopping power as needed. That’s what mudrider means by air-braking.

    AV2010
    Free Member

    Charlie: have I got this right? On that video posted earlier, do you say that Gary’s time down the Repack hasn’t been bettered yet? I think you describe the bike he used on that occasion as a ‘sled’. I’m wondering what exactly a ‘sled’ is, and may it be an interesting experiment to create a replica ‘modern’ sled, and see how it does?

    ampthill
    Full Member

    What a great thread.

    It seems to confirm my view that riding off road has been a constant for along time, as long as we have had bikes.

    What happened in California was commercial and crucial. It led to products in shops that people like me could buy and use. A friend of mine had a muddy fox in the early 80’s and I road “off road” with him on my ordinnary bike. I broke a chain stay on a touring bike in the lakes. Some times we rented bikes in Elterwater. I’m sure they were copies of those first Californian bikes. Long on the chain stays, one piece bar and stem. I bought my first MTB, a muddy Fox courier in 1986 I think. Is that the right year for the first Courier?

    Charlie, to hear this all first hand from you is an honour. At the time how did you feel when your designs came back from the far East with other companies stickers on.

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    At the time how did you feel when your designs came back from the far East with other companies stickers on.

    How I feel about it now is a lot different from how I felt about it then.

    Who gets to affect their passion in life to any extent, much less take part in the most important change in cycling of the 20th Century?

    Getting rich at the same time would have been nice, but if you only get one of the two, I’ll settle for what I got.

    epicyclo
    Full Member

    1932 and earlier

    from this site

    The only bit of that lot I could ride is the middle photo 🙂

    ampthill
    Full Member

    Cheers Charlie, glad your not bitter

    Better to be there and done it

    Inzane
    Free Member

    There was early off road racing going on in NZ as well. From the comments I think this is from 1957 or so. Looks like quite fun terrain for the old bikes!

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfcIS2GBAig[/video]

    mudrider
    Free Member

    Bimbler – Member

    “I’d never heard of Geoff Apps before and I was an earlyish acolyte of (1986/1987) mountain biking

    Interesting stuff on Geoff Apps and Cleland bikes

    I have no doubt that mountain biking as we understand it, especially the gnarr rad-dude wing is an American invention. They merchandised it, industrialised it and through the power of marketing proselytized it”.

    “Lets face it if it wasn’t for American can-do-ism there’d be a few hundred mountain bikers in the UK paying £2000 for a 30lb bridleway blasters built by Geoff Apps and his ilk”.

    This last statement is probably pretty close to the mark. Though Cleland Cycles Ltd. stopped trading in late 1984, this wasn’t directly due to competition from American style mountain bikes. Geoff Apps had been promoting his designs for years but conservative British manufactures did not see the point of cycling off-road and so were not eager to make his designs. So he set up his own business making them. However the timing was not good as Britain was in the middle of an industrial recession, suppliers were jumpy and pulled the plug on credit facilities, and that caused a cash flow crisis. By then Apps had spent all his money and was not prepared to go into debt in order to keep the Cleland Cycles trading.

    However, Cleland customer David Wrath-Sharman, both loved the way the Clelands rode, and had the engineering skills to improve the design and build Cleland style bikes to order under his Highpath Engineering Brand. Meanwhile Geoff Apps’ frame builder, Jeremy Torr, carried on making Cleland style bikes under his own English Cycles brand. Both these ventures did well at first and I believe if the American mountain bikes had not been invented they would have carried on making expensive bespoke bicycles for a steadily increasing band of enthusiasts. But the high quality and relatively inexpensive mass produced mountain bikes, made the Cleland style bikes look increasingly overpriced, and Apps’s vision of affordable mass produced Clelands never came to pass.

    However Cleland style bikes did not disappear completely. Many owners still used their Cleland, English Cycles and Highpath bikes, often in preference to mountain bikes. Some like myself still do, and Geoff, D.W.S.and others enthusiasts continued to design, built and ride a wide range of developed variants. However it is only now with the backing of Brant Richards that the the dream of a mass produced and affordable Cleland is looking likely.

    If the mountain bike not been invented in the US would the Clelands have been more successful?

    I believe they would. As both the design, and the idea of cycling off-road for fun, are sound.

    There would certainly be”…be a few hundred mountain bikers in the UK paying £2000 for a 30lb bridleway blasters built by Geoff Apps and his ilk.” Things could have grown and evolved and got more sporty, sexy and less practical. There were UK based entrepreneurs who promoted mountain biking like Errol Drew of Ridgeback, or Drew Lawson and Ari Hadjipetrou of MuddyFox etc, who could have equally seen the potential in Apps’ ideas.

    Had the mountain bike not been invented, could Cleland derived bikes may have eventually gone on to be sold and adapted globally?

    We will never know, as mountain bikes were invented, and we can only speculate.

    RepackRider
    Free Member


    2retro4u
    Marin County, Cali

    I am leery of the word “invent.” The mountain bike was not so much “invented,” since it used elements already on the market, as it was “designed” to accomplish something no one had yet marketed a bike for.

    In no respect did any of the Northern California people expect fat tyre bikes to dominate the industry. We thought that “MountainBikes” would appeal to the same people who bought cyclcross bikes, perhaps a few hundred or a thousand a year, not enough for the big companies to bother with but a big enough number to keep our tiny shop in a rented garage busy.

    We were wrong about more stuff than we were right about.

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