Now THAT Was a Bike: 1977 Breezer, Series-1

Jan 19, 2016
by Richard Cunningham  

1978 Breezer Series-1 owned by Otis Guy and restored by The Pro s Closet


Naysayers claim that the modern mountain bike was the product of convergent evolution - that road and BMX bikes on at least three continents had begun to develop the vestiges of what would eventually become the first recognized mountain bike well before Joe Breeze brazed together Breezer number one and then rode it to victory on its maiden voyage at the Repack Downhill race October, 1977 near Marin, California. Cycling is infamous, however, for its many revisionists, who incessantly rewrite history to defend their own cultures as the recognized birthplace of all significant inventions - so I'm calling bullsh*t on the convergent theory.
1978 Breezer Series 1
Suntour derailleurs provided the best shifting when six-speed freewheels with 26-tooth cogs were the largest options.

Breezer number one is the Homo Habilis of the modern mountain bike. While it may be true that creator Joe Breeze could not have escaped their influences; place an English three-speed, an Asian Flying Pidgeon, a Swiss Military cycle, a US Paperboy balloon-tire bike, or a 26-inch wheel BMX racer beside the Breezer number one, and the only possible conclusion is that they are lesser apes - undeniably, the lowest branches of the mountain bike's family tree. As Charles Kelly states in his book, "Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking:"

bigquotesThe most important bicycle of the 20th century. ...the first chrome-moly mountain bike frame assembled with all-new components.

Joe breeze, who now is the curator of the Marin Museum of Bicycling, is much too nice of a man to make such claims, but he did take the time to show Jarrad Lokes from The Pro's Closet his original Breezer, and walk him through the creative process, from conception through construction, of this beautiful and historical bicycle in the following video:

Views: 4,238    Faves: 16    Comments: 4


Joe Breeze made a number of his Series-1 models, most of which were snapped up by fellow Repack racers and San Francisco area riders who had been making do on converted Schwinn balloon-tire single-speeds. For a short while, Breezers dominated California's budding racing scene. The '78 Breezer Series-1 featured in these still photographs belongs to Otis Guy - a Bay Area pioneer and racer who was (and is) an absolute crusher on a mountain bike. I believe that it is Breezer number two.

1978 Breezer Series 1
Filet-brazed chromoly tubes were nickel plated - a Breeze signature.
1978 Breezer Series 1
French Ma-Fac cantilever brakes were designed for Tandems.

Breezers quickly evolved, and the twin lateral tubes were abandoned in favor of the simplified diamond-frame hardtail design used today. The nickel plating, however, remained the hallmark of Joe Breeze's handiwork. Before Joe moved on from frame-building to become a cycling designer and advocate, he and friend Josh Angel invented another product that would also alter the landscape of off-road cycling: the Hite-Rite seatpost dropper system. Eventually Joe sold the rights to the Breezer brand to Advanced Sports International, where he also resides as a consultant and ambassador.


Special thanks to The Pro's Closet for the opportunity to share its vintage photo and video collection.




95 Comments

  • + 152
 i'd have to ride that before i looked into the geometry numbers. otherwise i would think the head angle was too steep and not ride as hard.
  • + 16
 It's a 67.5* HA. So its only a trail bike. No enduro. Frown
  • - 1
 Not a Session, better!
  • + 1
 Needs more electric stuff on it to be cool.
  • + 33
 Must have been great time when all that was developed, but I am very happy that I was born much later.
  • + 11
 Nowadays the bikes are more capable but only because the sport has developed. Back then that was probably the equivalent of a DH bike. You can still hear him talking about all the cool little trick components he had on there, the same way we talk about the latest suspension or whatever.
  • + 27
 Right now the bikes are more capable. Back then the riders were more capable.
  • + 11
 @MojoMaujer you are right, but from other side, some of riders can do crazy things now, becouse bikes are much capable in these days; can you imagine 20 feet drop with that bike!
  • + 0
 @BartDM yeah, absolutely. Training, bikes and technique are much better now. But if you ever ridden a bike from the 70's or before, even a road bike, you 'll see what I mean. 50-28 was the bailout gear. Generation before us were way stronger physically, suffering had another meaning... they did not sit in front of a computer the all day.
  • + 0
 @keystonebikes is just DRAGGING that one out
  • + 9
 "50-28 was the bailout gear."

W
T
F
  • + 5
 90% rider, 10% bike.
  • + 1
 It's not the arrow... it's the Indian
  • + 0
 @MojoMaujer why are you so upset that people sit in front of computers, just go ride your bike.
  • - 1
 oops.... "it's the INDIAN, not the Arrow... sheesh"
  • + 2
 As much asI love my Full-Floaterâ„¢, ABP suspension and XX1 drivetrain I'd love to live back then for the rawness of it all.
  • + 2
 @MojoMaujer I have an old steel schwinn traveler from the late 70s and I love that bike. It flies like no other. It is only a little heavy compared to my s-works allez which is its downside. The schwinn is about 10 years older than me. Also I think more people are into the sport now than in the 70s.
  • + 3
 Thats back when they had wooden bike shorts, RAW was RAW.
  • + 31
 Well shit, dropper posts were already a thing in 1985 and I STILL don't have one.
  • + 18
 I'd highly recommend a trip to the Marin Museum of Bicycling to check out their displays. Oh wait, this is Pinkbike ... I'd highly recommend asking your parents to drive you to the Marin Museum of Bicycling to check out their displays.
  • + 19
 derailleurs have come so far
  • + 13
 Haha, can't beat a good sarcastic comment
  • + 18
 As an old guy, I'm happy to say old bikes suck and new ones rule.
  • + 1
 lol 37 OLD?!
  • + 3
 @TheOriginalTwoTone around here I'm (we?) are freakin' ancient.
  • + 1
 Ahem, I prefer "vintage". In pinkbike years, we may as well be a million. I do appreciate the amount of creativity, innovation, and change that I have been around to experience when it comes to bikes, though.
  • + 3
 Yep, it is cool. I remember when I thought brake boosters were an innovative idea. hahah
  • + 1
 Ha ha brake boosters!! Not sure if it was like it over there. But here all the add ons had to be anodised purple. Brake boosters, chain roller and bear trap pedals.
  • + 2
 I had some purple QRs and thought I was hot shit.
  • + 1
 I still remember racing on my Schwinn steel hard tail with tuff wheels- tank. After doing ok with the beast, my parent bought me a Team Mongoose for Christmas, Blue frame with gold Araya rims Bulleye hubs, Tuff Neck, Race Inc bars, and bear traps. Would be considered tacky today,man those were the days
  • + 1
 Riding a mongoose back then was serious! Ha ha. God bikes were so crap in relation now. Folding wheels and snapping cranks were a common summer holiday thing........
  • + 1
 No snapping cranks for me, Redline Flight.
  • + 16
 this thing would've been absolutely roasted on 1977 Pinkbike
  • + 2
 Looks like a...swiss military bike?
  • + 2
 @mrgonzo deffo. and wayyyyyy too many one-off parts! and why would you want to ride off-road anyways?
  • + 12
 You know this bike is really old because I saw "made in USA" on the tires!
  • + 9
 Very cool bike.

PinkBike, you should contact Mert Lawwill & the Koski Bros about the 78 Procruiser. Thats likely a lesser known bike, with an interesting back story.
  • + 10
 Yes, I actually know those folks and we will no doubt, be covering the Procruiser down the road.
  • + 2
 It wouId be good to also do a story on Cook Bros and their early innovations (e.g., uniclamp) to the mtb/bmx scene.
  • + 8
 26t cog! When men were men and you didn't need a dinner plate on your rear hub to make it up a climb.
  • + 1
 Most singlespeed riders ride right around a 2:1 ratio, which is what the low gear on that Breezer is. Pretty sure they shuttled to the top of Mt Tam back in the day, regardless.
  • + 2
 I own one of those bikes. No shuttles. That's why there were gears.
  • + 4
 Interesting that this story came about at the same time that I'm reading "Fat Tire Flyer". It's a great read about how the mountain bike and the Repack got their start in Marin county. For those of you that read books, give it a go.
  • + 7
 Thanks for the mention of my book. For 35 years I have had to hear about the thousands of people who "invented the mountain bike" before I learned to ride on two wheels. Building a bike for yourself is one thing, building new bikes, and opening a business to sell them to anyone who wants one happened only in Marin. When Gary Fisher and I decided to call our product a MountainBike, the idea was to trademark the name and use it exclusively for our products. It didn't work out that way, so now anyone can use it.

Two years after we started our business in a rented garage, the bikes we sold were reverse engineered and became the template for every mass produced mountain bike built before 1985.

My book traces the path from a goofy hobby to a revolution in cycling. It is a first person account because I took part in these events. Anyone who disagrees should write their own book.
  • + 3
 You bet. The further into the book I get, the more I want to recommend it to anyone that wants to learn about the history of mountain biking in California. But, besides that, I've just found it to be a good read. I'm at the part where you had some finger trouble and am eager to keep reading.
  • + 1
 @RepackRider: I find amazing that we live in an age where I'm commenting in the same place as one of the inventors of Mountain Biking!
  • + 4
 Thank you for the post, Richard. I ride MTB since 1986 and remember that era... Every rider I met on trail in 80-ties became a true friend. Now still riding out my late-era Breezer - the Twister. 19 years riding and racing and main pivot has no play at all. Match that Specializeds and Santacruzs.
  • + 1
 We need to see pictures of your bike.
  • + 2
 if you ever end up in west Marin county, or San Francisco, rent a bike or take yur own up to Pine Mtn. trailhead. then ride over to Repack trail. super ruts now, but worth the ride to see what kinda stuff they were ridin' then.
  • + 2
 1977 was the year me and my brother started "snurfing". Or as you may know it, snowboarding. We shortend tobagins and surfed the snow. Did we invent snowboarding? No way. The Burton's we eventually saw did not have as upswept of the front of our snurfboards did, and like modern snowboards do also. Was 1977 the first mountain bike? I don't know, but damn what a good year it was.
  • + 4
 The Breezer that hangs in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame exhibit in Fairfax is mine, Breezer #2.
  • + 3
 My first bike was a 1987 Marin palisades trail, can't believe how it now looks to me compared to my current bikes, my goodness I'm really old !!
  • + 0
 It's neither a claim or a theory Richard Cunningham it's a FACT. I personally rode and raced mates in the local woods on reynolds tubed (Cromoly) racing bikes with cowhorn (wide riser) bars and wider knobbly tyres in Scotland in 1977. Plenty other people did the same way before me.
WTF are you to call BS on others experiences?
  • + 13
 The people in Marin are the ones that come out with the fat tire formula.
And the name Mountainbike.
And the the idea to only race down the hill.

You were just riding cyclocross style bikes. In a cyclocross style race.
Off road races and riding are as old as the bicycle...


Raiser-bars-off-road-rubbed bikes were off the shelf items long before the 70's.

Look at old Italian catalogs.

In the 1910's Bianchi already had dual suspension off-road bikes.
Slack angle, super short stem, fat pedals...
Made to be ridden down the mountains.
3.bp.blogspot.com/-KcVtG1qYOL4/VK65z7bV7PI/AAAAAAAACD4/-wh8JwNNgxQ/s1600/02.jpg
  • - 7
flag G-A-R-Y (Jan 19, 2016 at 9:50) (Below Threshold)
 I'm well aware of all of the above.Maybe RC isn't though. When you tell him remember to omit the part about the Marin guys coming up with the idea of racing bikes downhill as they didn't think of it first.
  • - 3
 I don't know who made the first mountain bike and frankly I don't care, however I question the article's words too.
I'm not a revisionist, but I'll take the infamous bullsh*t theory. I find it more credible.
  • + 6
 I don't understand why it is hard to get. And what are these revisionist theories. Must be something pretty recent, right?

The marin people made the first bikes with 26 fat tires and derailers to be used on mountains.
They were the first ones to call it "MountainBikes". They package it.
The start point of what we know as mtb is there.
One great guy in the UK developed his own off-road bike, called Lailand (I think, sorry). Totally different bikes.

And saying that RC is not aware of history of mtb... he IS the history of mtb.
'nuff said.
  • + 3
 @G-A-R-Y. I don't always agree with RC, but he is actually mountain bike legend and was there. Who are you? Oh, a hypocrite who would discount another's first hand experience while promoting his own laurels of developments that never really went anywhere. Tell me about the mountain bikes you invented and I'll give you more credence. Unless of course this is Gary Fisher, and then y'all just remember it differently.
  • + 5
 This kind of thing happens all the time with innovations. It's not just about having new cool technology. It's a combination of that with marketing and being in the right place at the right time. There's a lot of people that tuned bikes for off-road riding before or around the same time as the Marin crew. But Breeze, Fisher, Kelly, Ritchey etc were the ones to follow through and set in motion the events that turned their little in-crowd hobby into a sport with millions of followers worldwide. They weren't the first to bike on mountains. They did start mountain biking as we know it.
  • - 6
flag G-A-R-Y (Jan 20, 2016 at 4:22) (Below Threshold)
 The Marin dudes simply put the words "Mountain" and "bike" together... and they weren't even the first to have done that.

Genius!
  • - 6
flag Benito-Camelas (Jan 20, 2016 at 10:09) (Below Threshold)
 @ak-77 Interesting points, however you're mentioning abstract ideas, you're not referring to technological revolution in any case because there wasn't such thing. That was a conceptual revolution, a bunch of guys who came up with an idea (like others) and developed it. And I fully agree with you on that.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put wider tires on a coventional bicycle and get an "alleged" mountain bike, right? I mean, my grandfather, a farmer, did just that on his old steel bike for riding offroad in the late sixties, and I'd never say he invented mountain biking.

The real technological revolution, which in my opinion made the difference between the "alleged" mountain bike and the classic bike took place in the mid-2000s, maybe earlier, when we began to see the first bikes with a very aggresive geometry, clearly designed for downhill riding (mountain bike was basically designed for pedaling so far), and reliable suspensions. That did start mountain biking as we know it now.
I also think the latest innovations introduced in recent years (wheel diameter, hub width, carbon frame, singlering....) did not result in a significant change.

Reading RC, I had never heard of him till recently, so I dont have an informed opinion about him. He seems to be a down to earth person, except when talking about avid brakes. I don't know if he IS the history of mtb, I thought the history of any sport were athletes such as Palmer, not journalists.
  • + 8
 Benito-Camelas You are entitled to your opinion that "mountain biking" started a decade or so ago, but you should know that RC is one of the most influential individuals the sport has seen. Your unfamiliarity with him says more about you than it does about him. RC and I appeared together on a cover of a bicycle magazine in 1984. You should look both of us up.

RC and I are both "journalists" in the sense that we have both written extensively about the sport, but we both had plenty to do with creating the sport that you seem to believe started 30 years after I more or less invented downhill racing. My friends and I were not the first to race downhill, but I devised the form of competition that is now used for all DH events, a time trial. The bikes were first defined and later refined by the sport. They didn't just pop up out of nowhere when you first noticed them

RC and i are both inductees to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. I was a unanimous vote on the first ballot, for whatever that is worth. If you are known for a contribution to the sport, please elucidate.

I wrote the only book that will ever be necessary on the history of mountain biking. You are entitled to write your own, but you won't. Check out fattireflyer.com After that, see my website: www.sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/mtbwelcome.htm
  • - 7
flag Benito-Camelas (Jan 21, 2016 at 4:12) (Below Threshold)
 Dis I say that "mountain biking" started a decade or so ago? No, I didn't. Read it again.
Is RC one of the most influential individuals the sport has seen? I dont know, maybe where you live he is but I'm pretty sure here, in Europe, most mtbikers have not even heard of him. That's a fact.
Are RC and you both "journalists"? I think so because both of you wrote and write stuff about this sport.
Do I believe mtbiking started 30 years ago? Frankly I don't know when the sport started, and frankly I don't care.
Did you more or less invent downhill racing? If so, good for you.
Did mtbikes pop up out of nowhere when I first noticed them? No they didn't. Read it again.
Were RC and you inductees to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame? If so, good for you.
...........
I'm not sure what's your point here. Are you accusing me of not hearing about you or your famous book? Should I? I dont think so. Is it a crime not to know RC? Should I? I dont think so.
I got the feeling you think that you all are the centre of the world, but you aren't.
Look, it's true, you Californians were the ones who invented mountain biking and the mountain bike. So what? Not that it's the theory of relativity, right?
  • + 5
 Benito the drama queen!
  • - 4
flag Benito-Camelas (Jan 22, 2016 at 0:50) (Below Threshold)
 anda chupame el mojo majo
  • + 1
 We've come a long way but wouldn't have made it without these now vintage classics! First decended Snowdon in 1990 on a rigid with canti's.......yeah, we've come a bloomin' long way!!
  • + 1
 That brings back memories, although it was 1996 for me on a cheap Raleigh with plastic cantis. Some guy told me you can only call yourself a proper MTBer if you've ridden down a proper mountain, Snowdon was mentioned. So next weekend I catch the train to North Wales somewhere nearish, ride to Llanberis, push up, ride down. I have never been so scared in all my life!!!!! Next time was on my Orange 5, so much easier I could actually enjoy it. We have come a long way.
  • + 2
 This is why Aaron Gwin has been so quiet - the article is not a co-incidence.
  • + 2
 Love this series. I am still hanging out for RC to put up a Mantis Pro Floater
  • + 2
 isn't it awkward that so many years later derailleurs haven't evolved pretty much nothing??
  • + 1
 It's crazy to see how much mountain bike design has evolved since '77. Look at today's bikes and the only thing that has remained consistent is that the wheels are round.
  • - 1
 I love this sort of stuff. Proper old school engineering. I bet if he made a nice steel frame with modern geo then it would be brilliant. Will outlast any fantastic plastic frame out there to.
  • + 5
 Corrosion
  • + 1
 Not if you look after it!
  • + 1
 @RepackRider She is still one of the prettiest, clean looking mountain bikes ever made! #steelisreal
  • + 2
 A good history lesson. Solid roots right here!
  • + 2
 under the seat, is that the battery of the electronic shifting?
  • + 1
 Electronic shifting was introduced to mtb in 1986 or so... Not that far
  • + 3
 It's a spare tube wrapped in a bandanna, attached with a toe strap. Just like the one on my Breezer.
  • + 1
 How they used to ride back then is as close to what enduro racing is today.

*puts on flame suit*
  • - 1
 Breezer 1rear Suntour V derailleur is to identical to Shimano 600 (6100), if anyone is looking for a vintage set I have a front and rear derailleurs for sale, great article thanks for sharing
  • + 2
 That front chainring is almost as big as the wheel on my BMX
  • + 1
 i'd still ride that to cruise around town on.
  • + 2
 The Lightning frame I have isn't quite that old compared to the one in this thread but, it's a classic nonetheless.
  • + 1
 My best friend has had a Lightning for going onto 2 decades (probably 15 years or so). I was there when he got it, I was jealous then, and I'm jealous now. Awesome bike.
  • + 1
 What a great video. Nothing better than a little history to start the day.
  • - 3
 Anybody remeber the specialiZed video w ned done by the same people a little while ago?
Where out of the blue the video shifted on a newer bike?
  • - 2
 The grips! It just needs the proper grips rather than the Maguras!
  • + 2
 They match the bars.
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