Breezer #2  (1)

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.

Breezer #2  (7)

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.

Breezer #2  (6)

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.

Breezer #2  (13)

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.

Breezer #2  (12)

Campagnolo Headset

Breezer #2  (4)

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.

Breezer #2  (2)

Breezer #2  (14)

Can you think of anything more fitting that a Brooks B72 Saddle for this bike?

Breezer #2  (15)


Breezer #2  (5)

Breezer #2  (8)

Before Ultegra there was Shimano 600.

Joe Breeze Breezer #2

Breezer #2  (10)

Campy dropouts. You can’t say those bicycle riding hippies from Marin didn’t have good taste….

Breezer #2  (3)

Breezer #2  (11)

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! 

Breezer Bikes


  1. Rich W. on

    @Roy–chrome rimes actually brake very well. Chrome 48-spoke wheels were the must-have component of the late 80’s/early 90’s BMX Freestyle scene.

  2. Charlie Kelly on

    @Rich W. It’s my bike, and on a wet day the brakes barely worked. A BMX track is a controlled environment, and you don’t race there in a downpour. Riding that bike through wet grass was a brakeless experience.

  3. warthog on

    A couple of things need corrected about this article. The first is, it is a Cook Brothers fork. Not a Kook Brothers fork. Just a typo more than likely, but still. The second is, while those Araya rims, there are most definitely not the 7X model. The 7X was an aluminum rim and that is clearly a steel rim. Also, the 7X model wasn’t introduced until 1980.
    Normally I wouldn’t be so nitpicky, but since this bike is such an important part of mountain bike history the facts should be accurate.

  4. warthog on

    Have to agree with Rich W. The rims on the Breezer are chrome because they are steel, but on aluminum rims, a chrome rim has more stopping power than an anodized rim. At least they do when dry. Get them wet however and it’s a whole other story.

  5. Jim Kelly on

    Tom Ritchey was at the signing too – the fourth big wheel of early mountain bikes; Tom built the first commercially available mountain bike frames after Joe’s 10 bespoke examples. Charlie and Gary turned them into completed vehicles and the rest is history.

    Charlie styled his magazine with the American spelling – Fat Tire Flyer – which is also the title of his book by the same name, now available on Amazon and in bookstores. It contains numerous pix and technical details of early mountain bikes as well as a first-hand account of their initial development and promulgation.

  6. Charlie Kelly on

    @warthog I don’t know why the writer veered into Araya territory. Joe Breeze would not take him there, because Joe knows and is a stickler for accuracy. The bike is currently equipped with Schwinn S-2 steel rims because that was the original spec. Aluminum rims (Ukai) did not become available until more than a year after the bike was built.

  7. Saris Mercanti on

    @Warthog and @CharlieKelley,

    I was actually trying to imply that wider rims were not a modern phenomena with the example, but I’ve nixed the paragraph for historical accuracy.

  8. WannaBeSTi on

    I remember wanting a Breezer when I first got into mtn bikin’. I didn’t notice when they left the scene, but I have a Breezer now.

    Dig my Supercell Team…

  9. Bob on

    For those of us old enough to have ridden those types of bikes, it brings back memories though when it comes to braking, not all good. For those just getting into the sport, look closely and be very glad that technology has come a damn long way.

  10. Darryl on

    Regarding fat rims, the industry moved away from them because the rims of the day were not very good at taking direct hits and we all found that narrow rims with wide tyres offered the rims protection from direct hits and were therefore much more reliable.
    The narrower double walled alloy rims also being a little taller were also able to hold a much higher spoke tension.
    There being no suspension of any kind and still mostly 1.9 tyres, the wheels really took a pounding.
    It is so easy to build a good wheelset now compared to back in the day.

  11. GH on

    Being a “stickler for accuracy” strikes me as a good thing. In that vein, I’m curious about the title of this article and references within it to this bike being Breezer “#2”. I think many people would assume that’s a reference to the bike’s serial number. Most of the material I’ve seen on the Series-I Breezers indicates that Charlie’s bike is serial #7… and that’s not counting Joe’s own first bike (now at the Smithsonian). I HAVE heard that Charlie’s bike was the second one that Joe completed and delivered (after his own)… irrespective of the actual serial numbers stamped on the bottom bracket. Perhaps Mr. Kelly can clarify?

  12. jeff on

    Several years ago I was given an invitation to go up and stay at Joe’s house, and do some of the local rides, at the time I couldn’t make it….kick myself in the head, that would have been awesome, Joe is definitely one of tje coolest people in the sport!

  13. Geoff Dewhirst on

    In 1965 I built my first mountain bike. I was 16 and it was a crude lash up of and old frame, steel rims, single speed, cycle speedway handlebars. I used to ride out to the moors and hills in West Yorkshire, UK, push it up to the top and then enjoy (terrify myself!!) coming down.
    I took it to university in 1967 and gained notoriety for riding it down the steps outside the students’ refectory.
    So…….I lay claim to the origins of MTB riding!! I just wish I’d had the entrpreneurial drive to go with my youthful enthusiasm – I wouldn’t need to get my hands dirty keeping my bikes on the road, would I?
    I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work

  14. Charlie Kelly on

    “Most of the material I’ve seen on the Series-I Breezers indicates that Charlie’s bike is serial #7… and that’s not counting Joe’s own first bike (now at the Smithsonian). I HAVE heard that Charlie’s bike was the second one that Joe completed and delivered (after his own)… irrespective of the actual serial numbers stamped on the bottom bracket. Perhaps Mr. Kelly can clarify?”

    I don’t know where you get “most of [your] material on the Series-I Breezers.” You could always JUST ASK JOE, and he will tell you my bike is Breezer #2.

  15. Trail Psycho on

    Geoff Dewhirst – 09/29/14 – 1:10pm
    In 1965 I built my first mountain bike. I was 16

    So now there is this guy?! And When I stood up on my plastic Sled and rode down the hills in 78 I lay claim to the first snowboard.

    Rock ON Joe, Charlie and Tom !! THANK YOU Gary too

  16. Mike on

    eadm – I stuffed a 5-speed derailleur into a stingray and called it a dirt bike – in about 1973. This ran well (UPhill as well as down) even if it did weigh 40 pounds. It went 1000 miles easy with only 1 breakdown – a brake cable. Goodyear Eagle MX tires (20″). It was full-on Schwinn steel all the way, the only stuff that wouldn’t break under the pounding it got on the trails.

  17. Monkey Scratch on

    I’ve also heard that the second Breezer made is serial #7. Mr. Kelly, GH is agreeing with you it’s the second one made but what is the serial number on the bike?


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