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Keith Bontrager started in 1965 building lawnmower engine powered mini-bikes, motocross, road racing and drag racing motorcycles. 1) Early on, he worked at Fox Racing in Santa Cruz, commuting by bike 15 miles each way and thereby getting into cycling. 2)
He later worked with Paul Turner to develop the original Rock Shox. 3)
He switched to building his own bike frames in 1979, “as he was [unwilling] to part ways with the wad of cash the Italian road frames of the era demanded.” 4)
Designed the first full suspension mt. bike in 1988 for Kestrel. 5)
“Not many of our frames broke. Our reputation spread. That was the core of our business. We made bikes for people who broke other bikes.” youtube, Ask a Founder: A Talk with Keith Bontrager
Keith's cramped garage adventure-journal.com
1980 Bontrager bikeradar
It's very hard to find pictures of old Bontrager mountain bikes. Super rare?
1982 Bontrager bikemag
1983 Bontrager mtbr
1984 Bontrager clamped BB shell facebook
1984 Bontrager facebook
SunTour MounTech 4900 (1982-84), TA cranks, unicrown fork
Shimano Deore XT v2 rear (1985-86), Campy C-Record front & shifters (1985-88), bullmoose bars, standard BB, Specialized black flag crank arms (1985?-91). It could be a 1985.
1987 Bontrager mtbr
Aluminum? Shimano XT M732 derailleur (1989), LX cranks (1989), Phil Wood hubs. Frame gussets at head tube and bottom bracket. Wishbone seat stays.
1989 Bontrager craigslist
Bontrager bicycles ever increased in reputation and popularity until he sold the company to Trek in 1995. The Bontrager brand continues to exist in Trek components and apparel but the last frame to bear Keith's name was made in 1999. 8)
I hadn't understood the nature of the business as it was changing and becoming a fashion business. … We did all this without realizing that within a year you wouldn't be able to sell a steel hardtail. So, we sold the company. I didn't sell my soul, I sold my company. youtube, Ask a Founder: A Talk with Keith Bontrager
Keith, today, living with his ghosts
. all unknown