Source: Retro Mountainbike Videos

Mountain
Biking
Evolution

How mountain biking has changed over the decades.


The roots of mountain biking can be traced back to the 19th century, where the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps modified road bikes to carry gear and supplies over rough terrain.

US 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps
US 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps Source: Marin Museum of Bicycling

Where it all began

It’s widely accepted that today’s sport of mountain biking originated in Marin County, California. During the early 1970s to 1980s, locals would modify old Schwinn bicycles to ride down Mt. Tamalpais. They’d couple these old cruiser bikes with knobbly tyres and parts from motorcycles and race as fast as possible downhill. These bikes became known as Klunkers, which eventually evolved into the first purpose-built mountain bikes.

Breezer Series 1
Breezer Series 1 Source: Pinkbike

The first of these purpose-built bikes were built by Joe Breeze and was known as the Breezer Series 1. They were built from Chromoly instead of the heavy steel bicycles traditionally constructed out of. These bikes were basically road bicycles with more reinforcement and wider tyres.

Then came the first mass-produced mountain bikes: the Specialized Stumpjumper and Univega Alpina Pro. They featured 15-gears using derailleur shifting and geometry more suited to off-road use. Mountain biking was still regarded as a ‘fad’ at the time, and these bikes saw mixed reception from both the bicycle industry and the public.

The first Specialized Stumpjumper
The first Specialized Stumpjumper Source: Marin Museum of Bicycling

The Great Mountain Biking Video

Regarded as the first mountain bike film, a film titled The Great Mountain Biking Video was released in 1987, demonstrating how to ride a mountain bike. The film helped demonstrate the appeal of mountain biking to the masses.

west Watch the trailer