Biking started in 1817. This was when bikes were a mode of transportation, a chance to travel greater distances in shorter times. These bikes started out at being 100 pounds a piece. As the years went on, the types of riding evolved. From transportation means to off-road cycling fun, the function of a bike has completely changed.
According to the article by Frederic Saure, the number of mountain bikes sold from 1980 to 1990 went from 300 to 7,000,000 units in North America. An illustration of the increased rise in popularity would be the holding of the first international championship a mere 10 years after the sport surfaced.
The sport was also included in the 1996 Olympic Games, only a few short years after the sport held its first race. According to another article by Saure, the reasoning behind the inclusion of mountain biking in the Games was to “convey a more modern image of cycling.”
The first mountain bikes created, according to Paul Rosen, were called “clunkers.” This was based on the fact that they were “constructed from frames and components that happened to be lying around in people’s backyards.” The bikes were then culturalized, being assembled and stylized in such a way that they reflected the community the riders were a part of. As these “clunker” riders grew more experienced, they modified the bikes, adding derailleur gearing systems, front and rear drum brakes, motorcycle brake levers, wide motorcross handlebars, handlebar-mounted shift levers, and the biggest bicycle tires available mounted on heavy steel, rims.
According to Rosen, “mountain bike production is…disintegrated and geographically dispersed.” Most mountain bike companies focus on marketing and advertising. They leave the actual design and construction up to their foreign trading partners.
The design and construction is important to the bike. It is what decides whether the rider has a thrilling and productive day of riding or has a depressing, expensive day of riding. The act of making the trails the riders use is declared “an act of creation and destruction” by Dr. Sarah McCullough in her dissertation. She goes on to explain this statement by illustrating what it takes to maintain these trails. The maintenance, such as clearing away trees, cutting overgrowth, and building the shape of the trial to prevent erosion, happens anywhere from every year to every couple of years.
The bikes riders choose either make the trail riding experience fun or just plain painful. You can either ride the trail on a bike that fits your body, with the right shocks,handlebars, and seat or you can use a bike that is smaller or bigger than you and is uncomfortable.
The evolution of the mountain bikes has clearly changed from being able to assemble your own bike from parts you found in your backyard. The new-ness of the sport, the fun stories that come out of this sport, and the personalization of the sport’s technology have all helped increase the popularization of the sport itself.
Savre, Frédéric , Saint-Martin, Jean and Terret, Thierry(2010) ‘From Marin County’s Seventies Clunker
to the Durango World Championship 1990: A History of Mountain Biking in the USA’, International Journal of the
History of Sport, 27: 11, 1942 — 1967
Mechanical Intuitions: The Origins and Growth of Mountain Biking By SARAH ELIZABETH MCCULLOUGH
An Odyssey Fulfilled: The Entry of Mountain Biking into the Olympic Games by Frédéric Savre, Jean Saint-Martin & Thierry Terret
The Social Construction of Mountain Bikes: Technology and Postmodernity in the Cycle Industry by Paul Rosen