We visited a lovely museum called Marin Museum of Bicycling (Mountain Bike Hall of Fame) in Fairfax, Marin County, CA. Little did we know, the mountain bikes were born right here in Marin!
We were very lucky to have the knowledgeable Joe Breeze as our tour guide throughout the visit. He’s the curator of the museum, as well as bike framebuilder and designer for Breezer, the first all-new mountain bikes. As a road bike racer through the 1970s, he was among the fastest downhill racers at Repack, mountain biking’s seminal race held west of Fairfax, California.
We went through a complete history of bicycles, from the very first ones nicknamed “boneshaker” (with wood frame and iron tires!), the high-wheel bicycles (a giant wheel and a small one), all the way to how the mountain bikes were born and the top athletic bike that won the Tour de France in 2014.
We noticed that since the bicycles were first commercialized in the 1860s, revolutionary improvements quickly came one after another. They looked very much like modern bikes today. This feels very similar to when the computer industry just started soaring.
People keep perfecting bikes today. For example, the bike frames changed from steel, aluminum, titanium to carbon fiber, making bicycles as light as 15 lbs, but not so many revolutions in terms of, say, shapes. Joe said he’s wondering if revolutionizing bicycles has become a much lower priority, ever since a few of the early 20th Century bicycle makers shifted into the motorcycle and automobile industries — apparently, those are the hotter areas.
I’m from China – it’s said that’s the “kingdom of bicycles”. I had my first bike, a mountain bike, when I was in 3rd grade. From then on, I biked every day to school, all the way to finishing high school. So, I have a very deep relationship with bikes.
Although I’m not a visionary for bicycles, I’m very much looking forward to new ideas that will make bicycles even better.