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Craig Mitchell Overview

Craig Mitchell was asked by Charlie Kelly in 1975 to build what would end up being the first custom designed mountain bike. Finished in the fall of 1976. 1) It used all klunker components with light weight road tubing, similar to Ritchey's later bikes. It didn't work for Charlie so he then asked Joe Breeze for a new frame in 1976.

The first custom mountain bike frame that I know about was built for me in 1976 by a friend named Craig Mitchell. The idea was good, but the resulting frame didn't have the desired handling characteristics, so the bike was dis-assembled. Charlie Kelly, in Richard's Mountain Bike Book

The bike has been lost to time (in Australia somewhere?2), or perhaps Japan? 3).)

Craig later went on to help found White Industries.

E. T. Whippet
E. T. Whippet. Charlie Kelly's Website

1976 Craig Mitchell

The true first mountain bike? It used all klunker components with Excelsior geometry. And proved to not be good enough.4)

This is the only known photograph of this bike.
Charlie Kelly going down Repack on the first Craig Mitchell.
Charlie Kelly's Website


Craig Mitchell on a Sunday Morning ride. Shimano 500/600 rear derailleur (1976-82.)

1977. Photo by Wende Cragg. facebook


The same bicycle as above, hanging in Sunshine Bikes, Fairfax, CA.

Note the elevated bottom bracket for improved ground clearance. Shimano 500/600 rear derailleur (1976-82.) Drum brakes rear. The date is based upon components and evolution.

1977. Photo by Gene Maruszewski. facebook


Perhaps the first downhill specific MTB, and it is built for speed. Gigantic front ring, fairing, super-relaxed geometry and uncomfortably aero. Competed in the March 9, 1980 Reseda to the Sea, organized by Victor Vincente of America.5)

1980, photo by Dean Bradley smugmug


SunTour Vx-GT rear derailleur, 6) (1980-81) (34T capacity). SunTour Cyclone front (1976-1982). MAFAC Criterium brakes (1946-1985) (painted black).

1981 mtbr


“What's a mother to do?”

A slightly more evolved downhill machine than the faired downhill cruiser from 1980. Yet the components look more primitive. Drop bars, caliper brakes, perhaps a Shimano Altus derailleur (1970's-80's).

1982, Photo by Gene Maruszewski. facebook


Craig Mitchell, facebook

Craig made parts as well… facebook

Production Notes

[1]. First bike in Fall 1976: Charlie Kelly's Website . See details on page: Charlie's Mountain Bike Hubsite

[2]. Craig Mitchell continued to produce a limited number of custom mountain bikes. The Birth of Dirt (3rd ed.) by Frank J. Berto.

See production note prod1.
retrobike “[Charlie] sold it back to Craig and the last I heard of it was in Australia. ”
“That bike frame was commissioned by Charlie Kelly yet it just “wasn't there” unfortunately so over time, it rested in a lotta hands, including mine at one point I 'believe' that it ended up in a Japanese cycling museum so if true, its prob'ly worth more all the money that was paid out for it every time it changed hands.”Stephen Wilde (K&F employee) on facebook
Gary Fisher won the day, with no mention of Craig's effort, according to the race report.
“The B-screw had eclipsed the fixed stop by 1980.” velobase
mitchell/start.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/14 16:48 by mtbtimeline