At Interbike this year, the unholy trinity of Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, and Joe Breeze gathered at the Breezer Booth to sign copies of Charlie’s upcoming book – The Fat Tire Flyer. The event brought a ton of fan fare and publicity for obvious reasons. So after the party had died down, I swung by to shoot some pictures of the vintage Breezer on display. While I was there, none other than Joe Breeze happened to walk over.
As we discussed topics ranging from helmets to klunking (Joe says the secret is to keep your feet on the pedals), I asked him to tell me something about these first Breezers that most people didn’t know. He thought about my question for a few seconds before pointing to the top tube.
On modern bikes, it’s common for the top tubes to slope downwards towards the seat for increased standover, but this early Breezer is the reverse. This was due to the limitations of the components from that era. At the time, there were few replacement parts available, so Joe made all of his headtubes the same size. That way if the custom Cook Brothers fork broke, it could still be replaced with the more easily sourced Ashtabula.
The other limitation was the length of the seatposts. The longest ones available at the time were only 180mm, so to get the appropriate saddle height for tall riders, the frames had to have long seat tubes and sloping down tubes.
This bike on display at the show was Breezer Number Two. It is was built in 1978 and is owned by MTB Legend Charlie Kelly (who cofounded the first MTB shop with Gary Fisher and produced the sport’s first magazine). It was one of the ten bikes that Joe built in the first ever production batch of mountain bikes.
According to Joe, all ten are still accounted for. One is on display at the Shimano Museum, and another owned by Larry Cragg just sold for $26,000. And Breezer Number One? Well, it was unable to make an appearance because it is currently on display at the Smithsonian.
Funny to think Magura was and still is churning out Moto brakes. Their latest four piston brakes were actually inspired by the calipers they produce for BMW motorycles.
This bike is the only one of the first batch to be made with a butted Columbus top tube because Joe ran out of the material.
After the first ten frames, Breezer went away from this twin lateral design. He stated it was mainly because it saved him from having to do eleven extra welds.
Can you think of anything more fitting that a Brooks B72 Saddle for this bike?
Before Ultegra there was Shimano 600.
Campy dropouts. You can’t say those bicycle riding hippies from Marin didn’t have good taste….
Special thanks to Joe for taking a few minutes to drop some knowledge. We look forward to seeing him again when the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame re-opens later this year in its new Fairfax, Ca home!