First Mountain Bike in Europe? 1976 Klunker on GMBN Tech.

pete_mcc

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Cute story but a heavy chunk of hyperbole really. We had frankenbike MTBs like that in Europe well before 1976. Just look at bsa paratrooper bikes, flat bar cross bikes, trekker bikes and the like

We shouldn‘t fall for the myth that Gary Fisher invented mountain biking, he was just a great self publicist and promoter. We, and all of Europe, had a healthy off-road scene before hippies on bikes rode down Repack, we just didn’t make it look cool or give it a name other than the umbrella term ‘rough stuff’.

Just one example is Geoff Apps, who was converting bikes into off-road 26ers before 1976 and had made his first Cleland by 1979, a far more refined ‘MTB’ than any clunker that was really only designed to go downhill.

 

greencat

Senior Retro Guru
Cute story but a heavy chunk of hyperbole really. We had frankenbike MTBs like that in Europe well before 1976. Just look at bsa paratrooper bikes, flat bar cross bikes, trekker bikes and the like

We shouldn‘t fall for the myth that Gary Fisher invented mountain biking, he was just a great self publicist and promoter. We, and all of Europe, had a healthy off-road scene before hippies on bikes rode down Repack, we just didn’t make it look cool or give it a name other than the umbrella term ‘rough stuff’.

Just one example is Geoff Apps, who was converting bikes into off-road 26ers before 1976 and had made his first Cleland by 1979, a far more refined ‘MTB’ than any clunker that was really only designed to go downhill.


Quite, I can remember bringing home my first ATB in 1990 and enthusiastically telling my Dad about mountain biking - and him just grunting and saying they used to call it rough stuff in his day and they didn't need special bikes for it either.

The US certainly managed to get ahead in naming and popularising mountain biking as we know it today though.
 

Tsundere

Retro Guru
Quite, I can remember bringing home my first ATB in 1990 and enthusiastically telling my Dad about mountain biking - and him just grunting and saying they used to call it rough stuff in his day and they didn't need special bikes for it either.

The US certainly managed to get ahead in naming and popularising mountain biking as we know it today though.
The US were quick to market something that had been going on for more than a hundred years, as others have said all you need to mountain bike is a mountain and a bike, any mountain and any bike, but we are living through a unique period in human history, the age of the consumer and so everything now comes mass produced with corporate branding.

What is special about the period we are all here to celebrate though, the late 70's to mid 90's, is that there was still plenty of innocence back then, it was a time when people were striving to make the thing they loved more accessible, to share their passion and expertise by working in sheds and workshops and exchanging ideas, it was a true golden era of genuine creativity and innovation with actual visionaries pushing the envelope of what was possible before it gained mass appeal, before the corporations moved in, took over, slapped a price tag on it and sucked the very soul out of it.

What these particular Americans were doing was important, in their own inimitable way they were carving out foundation stones and adding to the work of others in order to drive the development of this pastime, this hobby, this sport, this form of entertainment that for a while at least would exist as something truly magical.

It's exactly the same with almost anything that suddenly becomes popular, look at video games now compared to the crazy homebrew inventiveness of the 70's, 80's and 90's when it was still considered an uncool and niche hobby for geeks, that was the golden age for gaming too and it's no coincidence that they overlap so closely.
 

greencat

Senior Retro Guru
I wonder if how much of that represents reality v our own nostalgia though. Certainly by the 90s there were multinationals supplying many (most?) mountain bikes - cf Specialized, and even today there are smaller frame builders and companies doing interesting stuff. Similarly, home computing was big business by the mid/late 80s - even if some of the brands gave the impression of being scrappy underdogs. The Raspberry Pi is the natural successor to the true home brewers.

Things have changed, but the sport is also much bigger now too - for better & worse. There is almost nothing to interest me in today's mountain bike mags - and they were avidly read back in the early 90s. But I still see plenty of kids tooling around on bikes having fun and spills.
 

Tsundere

Retro Guru
Of course nostalgia plays a role, but things don't become classics unless they are in some way exceptional, usually that is defined by its overall quality. There have been literally hundreds of violin makers but I bet you can name only one, and that has nothing to do with nostalgia because none of us were around when he was making them, I'd be surprised if many of us can paly them. And the same goes for cars, bikes, furniture, anything that was made by craftsmen as opposed to cheaply mass produced equivalents.

Members here aren't interested in every bike from the era of their youth, of course we all have strong emotional attachments to anything from our youth, but those things we owned and loved as kids don't necessarily command high prices because they aren't automatically granted the status of a classic. I think it's almost undisputable that the Fishers and Ritcheys et al of the cycling world were making things of exceptional quality, and even the more mainstream manufacturers and brands were making things of superior quality when compared to similarly priced (adjusting for inflation) items today, Raleigh for example, Shimano, Suntour, even the mid range stuff, the tange/reynolds frames, the welding, the quality of the materials used in DX shifters. there can be no doubt that the bar was set higher at that time because there was so much innovation and competition.

But technologies eventually become solved, innovation becomes less necessary, there's nowhere to go once you figure out the best materials and geometries, the game becomes about making things cheaper and less durable and how to recycle old ideas on an annual basis. As corporations gobble up larger and larger market shares fads and crazes, rather than emerging organically from kids play, are created in boardrooms and pushed by advertisers, look at the Gravel bike™ meme, gravel biking is basically 90's trail riding with salsa drop bars, which is just riding anywhere except on the road and is as old as the bicycle itself - rebranded by an industry devoid of fresh ideas and desperate to appease their shareholders.

No, the period we all love was a golden era, we were just fortunate enough to have experienced it as it unfolded.
 
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grey-beard

Orange 🍊 Fan
I can't really agree with the any mountain any bike will do. I remember putting a BMX type stem and Motocross bars on my Raleigh 10 speed Racer in about 1981. I didn't like the drop bars. I managed to destroy the wheels and bend the forks, I got my first BMX not long after that. The Americans made it look cool and going downhill fast is cool. For me, trudging through mud and slogging up hills wasn't cool, to be fair I still don't like that side of mountain biking.
 
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