First Mountain Bike Ever - Interbike 2011

Sep 16, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  
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Many riders have legitimate claim to being the first mountain bikers, but Joe Breeze gets the nod for making the first purpose-built mountain bike. Breezer number one was being ushered into the expo area and we got some pictures of the beautifully restored machine that launched the sport. You don't have to be a vintage bike geek to appreciate the opportunity to see and touch such a relevant piece of history.

Side
Breezer number one uses twin lateral frame members in the hope that the extra tubes would extend its life on the local trails and downhill races north of San Francisco, California. The frame was crafted from chromoly tubes brazed together.

multi
Breezer frame details: (clockwise) Drivetrains were a bit simpler in the early 70's. Phil Wood made the only sealed bearings hubs that would hold up. Freewheels had five cogs (13 x 24) and road derailleurs were the only changers available • The girder fork design was borrowed from 26-inch-wheel paperboy bikes from the 1950s, although Joe's was hand made from road bike fork parts and chromoly tubes • French Mafac cantilever brakes were popular on tandem and cyclcross bikes at the time • TA, another French parts maker, produced the only cranksets with "low-geared" triple, or double-chainring options - if 48 x 38 could be considered low geared..

Bar and lever
Mountain bikes were even more international in the early years. The Beezer was typical of the early bike setups with two German-made Magura motocross clutch levers or brakes. Grips were two left-side motorcycle items from the US. Cut-down motorcycle bars or modified paperboy bars were preferred, and shifters were out-of-production thumb levers from Suntour of Japan.

The Breezer was pieced together from rare parts, many of which were either out of production or forgotten items of the time. Tires came from Uniroyal of the US, The only 26 x 1.75 alloy rims in the world were made by Ukai or Araya of Japan, and only three models of derailleurs in the world (two from Japan and one from France) could handle the 'wide-range' gearing (48 x 38 front and 13 x 24 rear). It's hard to believe that we've come so far in so short a time.


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72 Comments

  • + 125
 The sad thing is, Peaty would still beat me on this on a DH track and I was on his v10 carbon.
  • + 1
 that is johnny T territory there, before peaty's time.
  • + 5
 To be honest, this is long before even Johnny T's domination era Wink , but I think teamdoa just meant to point out the skills difference, especially that Peaty started his pro DH career on a steel hardtail (or even rigid? probably someone will know better), just like Johnny.
  • - 18
flag downlink (Sep 16, 2011 at 13:36) (Below Threshold)
 Woah man! Check out those 2012 parts on that thing.. Hope my bike can look like this one day Big Grin
  • + 11
 ...
  • + 8
 I raced my first DH race at a particular North-East UK DH event in the early 90s

a guy called Steve Peat was there, schooled the entire field of 320 riders, coming in 1st on a fully rigid steel Kona (explosif?)

I came 13th on a Bombproof Bikes D-1 full susser (AMP Research Mac-Strut 3" rear / Rockshox Mag 10 LT fork 2.3") about 5 seconds off his time, every rider in front of me was also on full-susser apart from Peaty!
  • + 4
 So wait, the first mountain bike was a downhill bike?
  • + 1
 HowStuffWorks "How Sarcasm Works"
Sarcasm is a way of speaking in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant.
  • + 25
 Scale shot or GTFO
  • + 3
 How heavy?!
  • + 1
 it's a 34F no doubt
  • + 20
 are they going to make a carbon model?
  • + 1
 boron fiber is the new carbon Big Grin
  • + 14
 awesome bike, love to see the roots of our sport!
  • + 8
 Courtesy of Dr S over at Retrobike.co.uk - A few errors in Pinkbikes write up though. Those grips are Preston Petty BMX grips and the bars are GSM motorcycle trials bars. Freewheels were six speed Shimano 600 not 5 speed as stated.
A few later additions to that bike too. The Mafacs replaced the original Dia Compe cantis and it originally wore chromed steel Ukai rims instead of those lovely Arayas.


More about the Breezer range here - mombat.org/Breezer.htm
  • + 2
 I'm pretty certain that Dia-Compe cantilevers came much later. MaFac was the only cantilever option even remotely available then. I'll ask Joe if you want to be sure. Also, Ukai was the first alloy 26 x 175 alloy rim, and Araya came almost immediately after. They were made for fancy beach cruisers and it took a long time for them to arrive in silver or black (anodized colors were the rage then). It was actually alloy rims that made mountain biking possible because rim brakes couldn't stop on steel rims and hub brakes were foolishly inadequate and heavy.
RC
  • + 1
 That would be great if you could ask Joe. Something this important to the sport deserves absolute accuracy. Salute
  • + 1
 If you give me your exact question, I'll pass it along to Joe Breeze.
  • + 7
 Thats awesome.

I love the way his pump is the same colour as the frame.

And the gear/ brake cables are similar colours too

The detail in that. He knew how to make his bike look good.
  • + 5
 People in a LBS did not believe me when I tried to explain how wide those old araya rims were, nor did they believe in the existence of 26 inch comp III tires with gum sidewalls. the bike I had that came with those in 1985 was a Hutch Trail star, and people don't even believe that was ever made. Maybe my early life was all a hallucination, but nobody has proven that it was or was not. Denial does not bear ontological rigor in this case.
  • + 3
 Just want to say..... do you see how far and expensive bikes have gone/become? Two rings front, 5 cogs out rear, the people who designed it just wanted to push the sport but have fun too!

Two sides to the coin I guess: Side one, its the spirit of innovation that pushes us. New frames, new designs, new approaches. The other side: We're going too damn far. its become too serious, to Big Brand and I am noticing how its becoming harder and harder for younger folk to get into the sport, due to the cost of bikes and parts now! Everything is becoming pretty expensive, with more and more needless features that most never use etc.

I am always happy to see proof of the days of simplicity Smile (not that I don't like modern design!)
  • + 7
 just blows your mind right?.....
  • + 5
 Thats so awesome now compare it to a carbon v-10 side by side and technology has ran wild lol
  • + 15
 Looks like a TR450.
  • - 1
 nah dawg it totally is a banshee MkII Wink
  • + 1
 Hmmm... moto and BMX parts, built with DH'ing in mind. Promising origins. So why was it decades latter until decent DH bikes started to come onto the market? In their day Breeze and his cohorts went onto sell what were basically burly road frames that had wide tiers and flat bars (e.g. Breezer Storm).
  • + 4
 And people bitch today about "standards"... think about breaking parts on one of THESE beauties!
  • + 1
 The beginning with Joe Breeze... The legend... and the legend bike... very exciting to see it.. ive read about it and the advancements at later dates from Fisher and others... This was very interesting photo shoot for me...
  • + 1
 I used to love it when I was 14, working in a bike shop in the dirty south and the little black kids would come in and say, "look at those Mafac's!" I guess they were awesome brakes. Who'd have known?
  • + 1
 Sickk bike. Breeze really had his stuff together to outsource all those parts back in the day- definitely an inspiration. Y'all gotta check out "Klunkerz" if you haven't already.
  • + 2
 My eyes bugged out a little bit and I just hugged my Shocker........awesome piece of history and great info for trail chatting.
  • + 3
 Six speed rear cassette and bolt through rear axle... Have we really come THAT far since then?!
  • + 3
 Think you might need to check your stuff mate, that is not a bolt through rear end...
  • + 3
 Its also NOT a cassette. Its a freewheel.
  • + 1
 Point^
  • + 1
 Yeah, not a bolt-through or a cassette hub if we need to nit-pick about it, but I think it's amazing how far we've come, with ten speed drivetrains, air-sprung suspension, dropper seat posts and hydraulic brakes, yet someone as quick as Sam Hill still prefers a similar rear-wheel setup to the one on this bike: www.pinkbike.com/photo/5412787
  • + 1
 I give credit to people who rode on bikes like this, no disc brakes, no suspension, that takes a lot of guts to fly down a hill..
  • + 1
 I still run mafac brakes on my old Peugot haha, This would be rad to see in person, let alone ride it down the repack trail must of been gnarly
  • + 1
 ya now i ride my sc bullit down repack, things have come a long way
  • + 1
 The one thing that's so crazy is how old that bike Is and to this day the parts we use are almost identical especially the shifting
  • + 2
 whats really cool is when i try to sell a breezer, the customer asks who makes that?
  • + 3
 Its amazing how far bikes have come!
  • + 2
 you could really get rad on that baby
  • + 1
 if you took the toptube off and the highest stay, looks like you could have a trial bike Razz
  • + 1
 jesus- look at the head tube angle!!! what is the trail on this bike- must be huuuuge!
  • + 1
 Shizzle... my first MTB was not that much different (but nowhere close as cool).
  • + 1
 i can't see the welded on this frame Big Grin
  • + 1
 dual crown forks, as standard of course
  • + 1
 What year was that thing built?
  • + 1
 1977 in Mill Valley, California.
  • + 1
 Maybe I was reading a bit quick, but did it say when it was built?
  • + 1
 the article just made reference to the 70's, bit of an oversight for an article about a historic piece...
  • + 1
 it's a Greg Herbold team DH.
  • + 1
 Brazing a frame together? No chance I would trust that on trails!!
  • + 1
 wow !
  • + 1
 wuddu beauty!
  • + 1
 Ageless beauty!
  • + 1
 no date?!
  • + 2
 1977... mombat.org/Breezer.htm

First real production version a few years later... check out those riser handlebars... not much different than what we use today...
mombat.org/83BreezerBike5m.jpg
  • + 1
 Two words: Head Angle!
  • + 0
 Lil slack I'd say
  • + 1
 sweet geometry
  • + 1
 i like stem Big Grin
  • + 6
 I love lamp.
  • + 1
 i want that
  • + 1
 pimped oldtimer Big Grin
  • + 1
 Trade ya a BMX for it..?

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