Clunkers to MTBs: The Evolution of the Mountain Bike
April 13 - July 1, 2012
When the bicycle was first introduced in the 1860s, it was nothing short of revolutionary. For the first time in history, people could travel on two wheels with ease, efficiency, and freedom. Following the birth of the bicycle, the machine has undergone a series of technical improvements, evolving from the iron frames and wheels of the originals to the modern bicycles we are familiar with today.
Yet, it wasn't until the 1970s—more than a century after the first bicycles came on the market—that a group of cycling enthusiasts in Northern California pushed the limits of two-wheelers and began clunking down hills in Cupertino and Marin County, California. Born of a recreational, rather than utilitarian impulse, they rode modified cruisers that did not include the lightweight frames, multiple gears, suspension, and shocks that are associated with mountain bikes (MTBs) today.
Over the course of the last few decades, mountain biking has grown exponentially. There have been tremendous advancements in both the design and performance of frames and components. The sport has gained popularity worldwide and diverged into multiple subcategories—from cross country riding to downhill racing—each with their own enhanced designs that make today's MTBs functional as well as fascinating.
Clunkers to MTBs explores some of the key evolutionary moments in mountain bike design and culture with a focus on the companies, designers, and riders based in Northern California. The exhibition brings together concept drawings, models, and finished products to highlight the art behind the ride, while integrating photos, video, clothing, and ephemera to illustrate the growth in MTB culture that has paralleled the development of the mountain bike.