The Breezer #1 is a golden relic of mountain biking’s modest origins and is on display in California for one night only.
The original purpose-built mountain bike is on display alongside 20 other vintage mountain bikes from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, November 5 in Davis, California, at the Bicycling Hall of Fame Museum at 303 3rd Street. The one-night exhibition will be the final display of the bike before it is installed in its new home at Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
Before Breezer #1 offered a purpose-built mountain bike available to the public, die-hards played in the dirt on balloon tires on retrofitted bikes with components cannibalized from a variety of road bikes and motorcycles.
The original mountain bikers developed ideas for crafting components and frames specifically designed for riding in the dirt by trail riding on bikes that could not hold up to the conditions.
Due to a lack of suspension, bikes became airborne over the slightest bump. Only the rugged survived.
Field tests were performed on Repack, the informal Northern California mountain bike race that started and finished at a line in the sand.
In the January 1979 edition of Bicycling magazine, Charlie Kelly describes the sensations of this new sport that seemed to boarder on insanity. “Sliding into an off-camber, eroded turn you make a micro miscalculation. Out of control, you must make a rapid decision, off the edge, or lay it down. Lay it down … damn … torn shirt, bloody elbow. No time to mess with that now (the shirt was old, so was the elbow).”
Breezer #1 first got its tires dirty on the course at Repack, captained by its creator Joe Breeze, who won the race. The pair would go on to win many more.
Predecessors to Breezers were termed klunkers, and the sport performed on them called klunking.
Breeze’s new bicycle validated the sport and necessitated a sleeker name. “The shiny, new Breezers really turned heads,” remembers Breeze. “People suddenly saw a bright future for the nascent sport and I was happy to share my drawings and ideas freely with other builders.”
The other bikes will remain on display through November, but the opportunity to see the Breezer #1 is for one night only.
The free admission will also give public the opportunity to rub elbows with celebrities from the origins of mountain biking such as Breeze himself, Gary Fisher, Jacquie Phelan, Steve Potts and Ned Overend.
Part of the event Saturday will be the induction of Specialized founder, Michael Sinyard, into the Hall of Fame. Visitors will also be entered to win a pair of the new Speedplay SYZR MTB pedals.
Mountain bikers in Davis should not miss this opportunity to connect with the sport’s roots and to revel in how far it has come.