History of Mountain Biking

Mountain biking, an activity where special bikes are ridden on different surfaces, has come along way over the last fifty years. Since the 19th century, mountain biking has been around in some type of way.

Mountain Biking
Mountain biking originated in the 1970’s.

All roads were mostly unpaved back then, so riders rode where they could, whether that was through mud, gravel, and trails. Just like many other sports, mountain biking started on a whim and those who didn’t have a passion for it simply frowned upon it. A small group of riders in California and British Columbia shared a love for riding and building trails. It was because of them and a chain of events, that mountain biking has evolved all these years. Today, mountain biking has come a long way since the 1970’s and so have the bikes, gear, and trail building techniques.

“Klunkers” Were Born

In the 1970’s, riders in California made some changes to their bikes with modern cycling technology so that they would perform better off-road. They nicknamed the bikes “klunkers,” and this is when mountain bikes officially became a thing. Bikers created “klunkers” by changing up their balloon-tired frames using gears and motocross-type handlebars. Change after change was made and eventually, today’s form of mountain biking was birthed.

Repack Races

Bikers would compete against one another down huge mountains during the first ever regulated, downhill race events. These races caused the bike’s brakes to rub against one another, which in turn, caused them to have to ‘repack’ their brakes with grease after each race. Because of this, they named the races “Repack Races.” These competitions are what led to the first changes in mountain biking technology and also sparked interest of spectators, which led to more riders joining in the races. The original Repack Races were held on the downhill Repack Road near Tamalpais State Park, Marin County. The media got word of these races and new, emerging businesses developed and began selling off-road bikes. Before long, a new era of bicycling had taken off.

First Purpose-built Bike

In 1977, Joe Breeze, a life-long cyclist and member of the Repack gang, went on to build the first purpose-built mountain bike that was more fitting for trails. The bike that he built is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute. Several years later, Joe finished nine more bikes. The very first mountain bikes were your basic road bike frame, but in the early 80’s, Joe went on to build a new set of mountain bikes with a lighter frame design. All of Joe’s hard work paid off when he was recognized for his work in 1988 by being inducted as a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, formerly located in Colorado, opened in 1988. It is still open today, however, it is now located in California. Since the birth of mountain biking in the 70’s, it has become an international phenomenon and the MBHF’s only goal is to record people and events that contributed greatly and have had a major impact on mountain biking history. The museum displays several items for viewing that relates to mountain biking, and they’ve inducted more than 140 people and groups into the hall of fame since 2016.

Mountain Bike
Mountain biking has come a long way