Mountain Bike Reviews

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Mountain Bike History

vintage mountain bike 1991   Mountain BikesA mountain bike, or mountain bicycle, is a term used to describe a bicycle which is best suited for off-road biking, such as dirt trails, logging roads, downhill descents, and any other unpaved environment. The typical mountain bicycle features 26 inch rims with wide, knobby tires to accommodate for the rough, unpaved terrain which is often associated with mountain biking. Mountain bikes also normally feature front suspension, although it is quite common nowadays to have both front and back suspension, known as the full suspension mountain bike. As the times have changed, the brakes of mountain bikes have also undergone a performance makeover. Disc brakes are favored over cantilever and V-brakes.

The history of the mountain bike can be traced back just about as far as the advent of the bicycle itself. Originally known as Klunkerz, one of the earliest examples of bicycles especially fitted for off-road terrain is the expedition of the Buffalo Soldiers from Missoula, Montana to Yellowstone and back again, way back in August of 1896. Earlier in the 1900’s, mountain bikes get some more time to shine, as road racing cyclists used cyclo-cross in order to stay fit during the winter. Cyclo-cross eventually became a sport in the 1940’s, and had its first championship in the ‘50’s. The first use of the term mountain bicycle may have came from motorbike trails rider Geoff Apps, who in 1979 built a custom, lightweight, off-road bicycle suited for the wet and muddy conditions found in South East England. This mountain bike design was sold under Cleland Cycles until late 1984.

full suspension mountain bike   Mountain BikesIn the 1970’s, there were several riders who can take credit for the birth of what is now known as mountain biking. Riders from Cupertino, California and Crested Butte, Colorado experimented with bicycles and adapted them specifically for off-road use. In the middle to late 1970’s, modified 1930’s-40’s Schwinn bicycles were fitted with better brakes and fat tires and were used to freewheel down mountain trails in Marin County, California. At this time, there were no official mountain bikes. Instead, they used the frames of the Schwinn Excelsior because of its geometry, and they fitted them with gears and motocross or BMX handlebars. The Klunker was born.

In the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s, road bicycle companies began to produce mountain bicycles using lightweight, high-tech materials. Joe Breeze is the man who is credited with building the first bicycle for the purpose of mountain biking in 1978. Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, and Charlie Kelley had a partnership for a company called Mountain Bikes. Tom Ritchey had welding and frame building skills, and was the one who built all of the original bicycles. Later on, the partnership broke up and the company went on to be called Fisher Mountain Bikes. The bicycle industry did not take kindly to the mountain bicycle at first, labeling it a “short term fad.” The first mass-produced mountain bikes came from Mountain Bikes, Fisher Mountain Bikes, and Specialized. Specialized’s mountain bike came out in 1981, using Tom Ritchey’s frame design, but instead used TiG welding instead of fillet-brazing, because it was more cost-effective and labor-reducing for mass production.

hardtail mountain bike   Mountain BikesIn the 1990’s and 2000’s, mountain bikes went from being little-known to a mainstream sport. Mountain bikes and their gear and accessories used to be found only in specialty shops or through mail order, but as the times progressed and the sport became more popular, the bikes and gear were easier to find. In the 2000’s, department stores, including Wal Mart, began to stock inexpensive mountain bikes, equipped with full suspension and disc brakes. Also in this time period, many places opened up specifically for mountain biking. They are similar to ski resorts, and are often located in the same complex as a ski resort. Abandoned factories are also used as mountain bike resorts, with the concrete steps and platforms used as obstacles. In the summer time, mountain bike parks are used as summer time as leisure activities, and even feature chairlifts adapted to mountain bikes as well as a mountain bicycle rental service.