Topical History

History of Mountain Biking

Early History

One of the first examples of bicycles modified specifically for off-road use is the expedition of Buffalo Soldiers from Missoula, Montana to Yellowstone and back in August 1896.

Another early example of riding bicycles off-road is when road racing cyclists usedcyclo-cross as a means of keeping fit during the winter. Cyclo-cross eventually becoming a sport in its own right in the 1940s, with the first world championship in 1950. The French Velo Cross Club Parisien (VCCP) comprised about twenty-one young cyclists from the outskirts of Paris, who between 1951 and 1956 developed a sport that was remarkably akin to present-day mountain biking.

The Roughstuff Fellowship was established in 1955 by off-road cyclists in the United Kingdom. In Oregon, one Chemeketan club member, D. Gwynn, built a rough terrain trail bicycle in 1966. He named it a "mountain bicycle" for its intended place of use. This may be the first use of that name.
In England in 1968, Geoff Apps, a motorbike trials rider, began experimenting with off-road bicycle designs. By 1979 he had developed a custom built lightweight bicycle which was uniquely suited to the wet and muddy off-road conditions found in the south-east of England. They were designed around 2 inch x 650b Nokian snow tyres though a 700c (29er) version was also produced. These were sold under the Cleland Cycles brand until late 1984. Bikes based on the Cleland design were also sold by English Cycles and Highpath Engineering until the early 1990s.

Recent History

Throughout the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, mountain biking moved from a little-known sport to a mainstream activity. Mountain bikes and mountain bike gear that was once only available at specialty shops or via mail order became available at standard bike stores. By the mid-first decade of the 21st century, even department stores such as Wal-Mart began selling inexpensive mountain bikes with full-suspension and disc brakes. In the first decade of the 21st century, the trends in mountain bikes include the "all mountain bike", the 29er and the single-speed. The "all mountain bike" is characterized by 4–6 inches (100–150mm) of travel, the ability to descend and handle very rough conditions and still pedal efficiently for climbing. 29er bikes are those using 700c sized rims (as do most road bikes), but wider and suited for tires of two inches (50mm) width or more; the increased diameter wheel is able to roll over obstacles better and offers a greater tire contact patch, but also results in a longer wheelbase, making the bike less agile, and in less travel space for the suspension; thus the 29er is not suited for small riders and small winding trails. The single-speed is considered a return to simplicity with no drivetrain components or shifters, but thus requires a stronger rider.

-Wikipedia