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Many early custom builders are obscure or nearly forgotten and have little presence on the internet. Should they be included in the timeline?

  • Saturn: The 1982 Long Beach Bike show lists as one of the mt. bike exhibitors as the Cupertino Bike Shop and their Saturn bike. As JFS and the CBS purchased 110 Ritcheys in 1979 (!), was this a rebranded Ritchey? Where did those frames go? Saturn was likely John Padgett out of Davis (where JFS lived) who mostly did road bikes. saturn info. Padgett did some work with Ritchey. See: vintagemtnbikeworkshop
  • Chris Pauley: Worked with Chris King and exhibited at the 1982 Long Beach show. Produced no mt. bikes until at least 1984? Called “Tierra”?
  • R&E Cycles: by Angel Rodriguez. At 1982 LB Show. ??
  • Rock Creek Cycles at 1982 LB Show. Erik Sampson continues to make road bikes today: sampsonsports - but no hint of ever having made mountain bikes.
  • Conley Bicycles. A few show up on ebay, but no mention other than “Anyone have info on Conley Bikes?”. example. Conley Alpine
  • Proteus: Super influential DIY frame builder group. More info here. They made a few mountain bikes, such as this 1985 example: Proteus
  • Meteor Lite: UK BMX maker apparently made a very early British mountain bike. Were more than one made? 1982 components. Unique brake bridge. No rear derailleur cable braze ons - they are strapped. Perhaps aspects of a mountain bike prototype from a BMX maker. Is this one of the earliest mountain bikes made in the UK? Meteor Lite facebook
  • Mountec : A very well sorted out frame - which is also unique. The seat stays, fork, lugs are all unique to the timeline thus far. Guessing it's a 1984-5 based upon the also unique use of SunTour ar gt II. From ebay, so the link, from Washington state, won't last. Absolutely no internet presence. mountec ebay
  • Scorpion: Scorpion BMX tried their hand at a true MTB: non-BMX cantilevers, 26“ wheels, decent gearing and even a snazzy head badge. No other examples found. Possibly 1982. Scorpion Scorpion facebook
  • Omni-Bike: 1981. A nice, early BMX transition bike from Omni-Bike International. Except that there's no evidence that such a company existed. It's got some authentic touches: side-pull calipers, matching pump, BMX forks and a triple spring seat. Omni-Bike facebook
  • Vista Mountaineer: Other than a nice product placement in the 1984 Bicycling Magazine Buyer's Guide bikeforums, not a hint exists that this MTB ever materialized. 1984 Buyer's Guide
  • Viga Round A Bout: Two examples found thus far, a 1984 and a likely 1985. Viga, Taiwan. No internet presence whatsoever. No trademarks, no Tawainese corporation. 1984 Viga
  • mystery bike: High quality, northern California mystery circa 1980. Unknown facebook
  • Various smaller European makers existed in the 80's and may have produced MTBs in the early 80s: Kalkhoff (Germany), Helkama (Finland), Tunturi (Finland)
  • Hunter Rowdy: Not to be confused with Hunter Cycles, which started in 1993. It's perhaps a one-off, or a modern recreation - but too many parts seem authentic. hunter.jpg facebook

To Ignore

  • Western Flyer Baja: bmx bike and likely all mt. versions were later home conversions. See: highly unlikely 1981 version
  • 1974 Tankagnolo: Was a dead end. See: mmbhof
  • 1953 Woodsie: By John Finley Scott. This bike can't be ignored - but it doesn't quite fit visually on the timeline. Perhaps a separate section for special mentions?
  • 1983 Checkered Demon: Only 3 made, one extant. A custom project with no forward influences? See: vintagemtbworkshop.
  • Procraft: A Tawainese maker of BMX tried their hand at mountain bikes for perhaps a single year (1984?)? See: 1984.jpg.
  • Colorado Bicycle Co: Made a “Roughrider” according to Fat Tire Flyer #13 (v3 n2), page 7. No internet presence whatsoever. Probably related to Don McClung who made mostly one-speed cruisers.


  • John Frey. Various online sources, such as Wikipedia list John Frey (Marin County mountain biking innovator) as an original partner in K&F MountainBikes. However, neither Charlie Kelly, nor Gary Fisher ever mention him in their books, magazines or online forums. There are no online pictures of whoever he might be. What was his role? Charlie Kelly contends that all significant funding came from J. F. Scott and T. Ritchey.
    • update: I edited him out of Wikipedia - but media/books/websites have propagated this vandalism far and wide.
  • Sakae Ringyo : Japanese maker of components and bikes. By 1980 they had plenty of road and bmx on the market but no mountain bikes until 1990? SR bought Suntour in 1988 and exists today as SR Suntour.
    • update: SR is completely unrelated to SR Bicycles and did not produce any bikes or frames of their own - so as to not compete with their customers. There was a “Sakae Litage” frame sold, starting in 1990 - but that is past the scope of this timeline.
  • BH Bicycles: Huge Spanish maker of many, many bikes. They used to own Peugot, Bianchi and Gitane. They definitely created a bmx mountain transition bike in 1983. However, due to my lack of Spanish, or a cultural issue of not posting pics with dates, or collecting catalogs, or discussing things in forums, there are zero pics with dates. Some resources: wikipedia, bhbikes, sanfermin. BH made all of their own components, so that compochronology is not possible. Teaser shot of 1983 BH Running Bull: Proteus
    • update : Google translate to the rescue. A BH entry was added.
  • Bruce Gordon: He can't be ignored - but his influence was indirect, as he likely built less than a dozen mountain bikes in over 40 years as perhaps the best frame builder in the US. remembering bruce gordon
    • solved: He definitely made enough mtbs to be counted. His cult followers have kept his web presence alive. See: Bruce Gordon.
  • 3Rensho: Did they build some of the early mountain bikes for Specialized/Ritchey/Fisher/Kelly? Do they deserve a separate section? See: mtbr, bikeforums
    • solved: 3Rensho built many early Specialized road bikes but not the stumpjumpers. They did build a few mtbs, which are now shown.
  • ATB26: A 1980 Chula Vista maker of off-road BMX mountain cruisers. Super early - maybe worth researching further. See: bmx museum. The owner has been trying to sell this for some time. Was $6000, now down to $3500. Not going to happen… ATB26
    • solved: Made 1979-80 as a atb cruiser only. Almost, but not quite an MTB. See: Facebook ATB group.
  • Beacon Cycles : This bizarre frame, with mid-80's MounTech, must have a history. This model is called a “Prospector IV”. Apparently related to Sekine, which was very popular 70's import. Earlier “Beacon” ATBs exist as well. Prospector IV
    • solved: Found a few examples with some connecting glue and crammed them into the timeline with no documentation as to what bikes really are about.
  • White Industries : Doug White apparently made off road bikes starting in 1976 (!) and was an early collaborator with Craig Mitchell. The following ATB is dated to 1976. source. 1976 Dough White
    • solved: After 1978, Doug hung up his welding torch and sold only pant leg protectors for 10 years…
  • FMSA: A BMX maker who made a few mt. bikes. No info to be found other than a lone craigslist listing, which looks like a 1983/4, with faux TA cranks & bi-plane fork: craigslist FMSA
    • solved: The lone example was enough to include this über obscure brand, especially as it has an interesting Diamond Back connection.
  • Otis Guy: Influential frame builder - but no pics of any 1983 or 1984 bikes. The oldest frame number I can find is this 1985 #56.
    • solved: There's probably a 1982 out there somewhere, but for now, there are enough examples to start in 1983.
  • Liberia: One time famous French brand, who supposedly, “In the early 1980s, Liberia was the first French company to manufacture mountain bikes, which it even exported to the United States. ” See: velovintageagogo. Which would place it ⇐ 1982, as Peugeot came out in 1982 and Motebecane sold it's Mt. Becane in 1984. The attached pic, house branded a Burdet but was made by Liberia. Note that this has a derailleur paired with an internal hub (how?) giving it 6x3x3=54 speeds (!) using a 1984 Sachs-Huret Rider type 2. So perhaps its not that old? Liberia velovintageagogo
    • solved: A puzzling brand, helped by Good translate and lots of staring at old component catalogs. There's more to research here.
  • Gecko Bicycles: mombat: Well documented - but no pics of any early bikes. Except w/people on them. Very few made (10/yr at the start.)
    • solved: A little digging showed that Ken Beach, the founder, is a prolific poster and collector of his own bikes. mtbr to the rescue.


If anyone has any clues, please add them to the following discussion box:


test196.242.84.112, 2021/12/16 03:02

Please let me know if you're looking for a article writer for your blog. You have some really great articles and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested. Cheers!

mtbtimeline, 2021/12/16 09:38


Thank you for your offer, but no help is needed at the moment. The original intent was to use a Wiki for collaboration, but after numerous successful hacks, most of this site has been locked down - except for the forgotten discussion page found here. If this passion project suceeds, it will be opened up to moderated public contributions but meanwhile I will continue to boil the ocean on my own, surveying all mountain bikes ever produced.

Unless, of course, if you have answers to any of the growing list of bike mysteries itemized above.

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research.txt · Last modified: 2024/04/26 13:42 by mtbtimeline