Not so many people know about the proper history of mountain biking. Before entering this niche, 20 years ago, I decided to dig in deep and find out who was the intelligent person to build and ride the first-ever mountain bike.
While doing my research, I found that sundry misconceptions have prevailed regarding the history of mountain biking because most people confuse it with the account and invention of the first-ever bike.
Well, a mountain bike differs from a simple bike, so their histories vary.
The invention of the first-ever road bike goes back to 1817 when a German inventor called Karl Drais invented a woodsy bicycle called The Walking Machine or The Draisine.
But these were not MTBs or off-road bikes. He built these two-wheelers for simple commuting to replace horses, intended to cut costs.
So, when did exactly mountain biking start, who invented the first ever mountain bike, and what was the date when the first ever off-road cycling competition was held; I have done a great home.
I will tell you all about the history of mountain bikes:
Where was mountain biking invented?
The country where mountain biking was created is the US and its state of California.
One person cannot be named here because a group of hippies in the Southern Californian Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County was seen cruising beaches with their retrofitted off-road bikes, running on sand in the late 80s, for the first time.
But, as numerous people were running off-road bikes in the 1880s, there is still a debate if the group of hippies was the first-ever rider of off-road cycles.
This could be true because we have many beautiful yet world’s best mountain bike trails in southern California that are many centuries old.
However, the discussion on the history of mountain biking doesn’t end here. I have prepared a complete background story containing dates and evidence about when the need for off-road cycling emerged and when people started entering this kind of riding.
History of mountain biking
As stated, there were so many people who entered the off-road two-wheeler cruising till the late 80s, so from here, the basic use of mountain bikes took place.
It is the date when mountain bikes officially came to light. Buffalo Soldiers from Missoula rode these cycles from Montana to Yellowstone as an exercise of their task.
Since 1940, we have seen such a development in the history of mountain biking.
1950: First-ever off-road race
There is not much to say about the duration till 1900, but until 1940 Cycle-Cross racing started, which officially became the first-ever championship in 1950.
1955: First-ever off-cycling organization built
RSF stands for Rough Stuff Fellowship; it was the first-ever organization to help off-road cyclists touring and conducting non-competitive off-road cycling races.
1966: Mountain Bicycle term officially used
Before 1966, there were many names used for mountain biking, such as rough road cycling, off-road cruising, or cross-cycling.
However, in 1966 a person named D. Gwynn, who was a member of the Chemeketan club, built a rough trail for cyclists and called it a “Mountain bicycle.” From there, the term really started off.
1968: First ever custom-built lightweight bicycle invented
There were no quite innovations before 1968 when Geoff Apps introduced his first ever custom-built lightweight bicycle to ride wet and muddy off-road conditions of southeast England.
He was also a motorbike trail rider, experimenting with building a lightweight mountain for many years. The main thing about his bikes were the tires that were 2-inch x 650b Nokian snow tires.
Many mountain bike brands contacted him to sell his design, and Cleland Cycles achieved to sell these bikes until the 1990s.
The 1970s–1980s: Evolution of mountain bikes
After the invention by a German mountain biker, various people started experimenting with mountain bike designs, and thousands of brands emerged.
You can say it was the time when the history of mountain biking flourished. That won’t be wrong. From a sport and hobby, now mountain cycling was started to be recognized as fruitful commercially.
Different brands introduced their mountain bikes with better tires (so different types of MTB tires were introduced), tested better brakes, and added better suspensions on the front, back, or both side wheels. Various features and gear for mountain bikes were introduced.
Along with this, BMX-style handlebars, clunkers, and other features were added. Besides this, many experiments and innovations were done with mountain biking weight.
Mountain bikes, without a doubt, are heavier bikes because of the gears and material they are made of. But as the history of mountain biking moved forward, different brands introduced bikes made in different materials to shed their weight.
The 1990s–2000s: Mountain biking became a world-famous sport
Mountain bike gears were not easily available before the business emerged and became a global sport. In the first decade of the 21st century, the gears and kits of mountain bikers became available at nearby stores. Before that, people used to get them from far-off locations via mail.
This thing diminished the prices of costly mountain bikes, and many departmental stores started selling these bikes at lower rates during this era.
The latest invention in the history of mountain biking was made, and All-Mountain Bike was introduced in the 2000s. These bikes are more sturdy and innovative than other types of mountain bikes.
These can trail off-road, used for Downhill Mountain biking, and go on all terrains. Something that all mountain bikers dream to have. However, the prices are not affordable to everyone.
I am also adding some questions here so you can get a good idea regarding the history of mountain bikes:
What year was the prototype of the mountain bike developed?
UC-Davis, aka, Finely, is the guy who built the first-ever prototype of a mountain bike in 1953. He used knobby tires and multiple gears, and modern mountain bikes are manufactured on the same prototype.
He called his bike Woodsie.
Which type of bike was invented last?
The Mountain bike is the last invented bike. Different people made several additions to the designs, and modern MTBs have some uncompromising features.
When was the bike made?
The first ever bike was introduced by a German inventor named Karl von Drais, who invented two-wheelers to replace horses because they cost less, didn’t need food, or water, got ill, and died.
In 1817, he officially brought his invention to the roads. However, due to the rough streets of that time, the bike couldn’t produce a smooth ride, and the idea seemed to fail.
What is the First mountain bike?
Breezer Series 1. Yes, in 1978, Joe Breeze, a mountain biking enthusiast, built and introduced his first ever mountain bicycle in lightweight as it was created by using Chromoly and not steel.
What is the First full-suspension mountain bike?
Mert Lawwill designed the first-ever successful full-suspension mountain bike. He was a cycle race champion formerly. He released his invented bike in 1992. The car design was inspired by the A-arm suspension design of sports cars.
This is how mountain biking emerged and became a famous sport. But do you know mountain biking is getting more popular day by day, and more and more people are entering this niche?
As per the history of mountain biking, we can configure how it started and flourished with time. According to 2023 updates, inventions in mountain biking have made more people enter and enjoy this sport.
I would say there has been a 100% increase in mountain biking in the past, and I know that is not wrong.