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.
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.
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..
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.