If you flip back through the brief history of mountain biking you will find the names Joe Breeze and Charlie Kelly. Both Kelly and Breeze were at the forefront of the sport, leading its attitude towards fun on two wheels and also pushing the technology in the early days. When the act of riding bikes down mountains and through the woods began riders were given little choice for proper equipment. Early mountain bikes were nothing more than modified beach cruisers affectionately named klunkers. It was upon these klunkers that the likes of Breeze, Kelly, and friends such as Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, and Fed Wolf would hone in just what was needed to ride these dirt mountain passes.
In 1978 Joe Breeze would build the first purpose-built mountain bike. Taking what he learned from busting klunkers out on the mountain, Breeze built a bike that could stand up to the abuse they were dishing out. It wasn’t long before others caught on to the growing scene around the idea of mountain biking and by 1980 Specialized had released the first version of the Stumpjumper. The Stumpjumper would become one of the first mass-produced mountain bikes available to the public at large.
It was only fitting that during a recent release of the newest version of the Stumpjumper at Specialized headquarters that both Breeze and Kelly were on hand. Reminiscing about their humble beginnings and razzing their old pal Mike Sinyard (CEO of Specialized Bikes) it’s clear that both Breeze and Kelly are still in it for the fun and camaraderie. As Sinyard began to tell the surrounding group of journalist about the history of Specialized, he made sure to acknowledge both Kelly and Breeze for their contributions to the sport of mountain biking.
In its short history, mountain biking has moved light years away from its simple beginnings. As we toured the Specialized facilities filled with futuristic equipment and teams of engineers and designers it makes 40 years ago seem like 400. Compared to the originals the new Stumpjumper is as technologically advanced as a bike gets. From the suspension system down to the way the carbon molds are made, it’s hard to believe that this came from the rudimentary Klunkers where the sport began. While the bikes may look and ride completely different than the originals the end goal of getting out in the woods and having fun with friends remains the same.
There is a quote on the wall by Fred Wolf adjacent to one of the first Stumpjumper bikes that reads, “Klunking is best away from the cops, the cars, and concrete” It’s safe to say that the spirit of mountain biking is still rooted in those words. Whether you are on a top of the line Stumpjumper smashing at high speeds over roots and rocks or sliding sideways on classic klunker, it is all done under the banner of fun.
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