Mountain Biking Past and Present

An early Specialized Mountain Bike

An early Specialized Mountain Bike

Mountain biking first started becoming popular in the 1970s.  The term ‘mountain bike’ is basically a bicycle which is designed for off-road use, travelling over rocks, through woods, steep inclines, dirt trails and generally rough terrain.

The history of mountain biking is a bit of a mish mash of cyclo-cross from Europe and the Roughstuff Fellowship from the UK. However, the first use of the word mountain bike came about in 1966. It was reference to modified heavy cruiser bicycle which could freewheel down mountain trails and tracks without too much damage to wheels and the frame.

Mountain biking only really became recognised as a sport during the 1970s in, you guessed it, the U.S.A. (California to be precise).

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, bicycle manufacturers started to cash in on the mountain bikes craze. Frames were being constructed with high-tech lightweight materials, such as M4 aluminium, although in recent years, titanium, hydro-formed aluminium, and carbon fiber frames have become more common and can be quite expensive.

Modern day Cube Mountain Bike

Modern day Cube Mountain Bike

Specialized were the first company to mass manufacture mountain bikes for the commercial market, their 1981 made Stumpjumper was the ‘must have’ for mountain biking enthusiasts.

The 1990s and 2000s witnessed mountain biking become a very popular pastime and sport with competitions and circuits held worldwide. The sport is now an event in the Olympics.

Mountain bikes require a far tougher frame than road bikes, and they also require components which can  withstand the stresses of off-road use with obstacles such as logs and rocks. Tyres and wheel rims will also need to be sturdy to deal with the rough terrain and punishment of rocky tracks. Grip is also essential for better off-road handling. Possibly one of the biggest advances in bicycle manufacture mountain biking has brought about is suspension technologies.

Some of the more popular mountain bike manufacturers and brands include the like of Specialized, Orange, Kona, Fuji, Marin, Trek, BMC, Cannondale, Dawes, Gary Fisher, Mongoose, Ridgeback, Scott and Cube bikes.

Stores around the UK cater for these brands and although many bicycle stores exist online, it’s aways an idea to visit a store to physically get a feel of a bike before you buy. Frames will often need to be measured to fit your height and length of leg, after all, this is for safety as well as comfort. A bike which is too big or small could result in an accident and the rough terrain will be enough to deal with without worrying bicycle proportions.

Mountain biking remains a popular sport and will continue to evolve with technologies and components.

Article by Simon Lucas

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