REPACK DOWNHILL. LEGENDARY BEGINNINGS.
The creator of the modern mountain bike's groundbreaking all-mountain machine that redefines big wheel handling and full-suspension efficiency is named after the first recorded mountain bike race and the birthplace of the modern mountain bike - a homage to legendary beginnings and game-changing technology.
In the early '70s, a group of riders and racers discovered the old dirt road west of Fairfax in Marin County, CA. Pushing their old balloon-tire bikes up to the top of the steep hill, they careened down the 2-mile stretch of twists, turns, and fast drops - testing the limits of just how fast they could make it to the bottom. The bikes' antiquated hub coaster brakes would get so hot that the grease would vaporize; after a run or two, the hub had to be repacked with new grease - hence the name.
Get a bunch of riders and racers together, and it was not long before these casual downhill challenges turned into full-blown races to prove, once and for all, who was the fastest. Charlie Kelly secured timers, and the first official Repack Race was held on October 21, 1976 - won by Alan Bonds.
In total, there were 24 Repack races. Among the winners, Gary Fisher posted the fastest time at 4:22; Joe Breeze had the second fastest time at 4:24 and the most wins: 10; and Wende Cragg was the fastest woman at 5:27.
The last two Repack races were held in 1983 and 1984 in conjunction with the new NORBA national race circuit, giving riders from outside the Bay Area a crack at the legendary course. Some of the sport's first pro riders raced in the final two Repacks. After the 1984 race, Marin County land and water managers declared Repack, the race, could be no more.
JOE BREEZE AND BREEZER. LEGENDARY BEGINNINGS.
Inspired by their experience on this now legendary stretch of fire road, Repack's riders went on to change the landscape of cycling.
For Joe Breeze, who started racing Repack on a 45-pound Schwinn Excelsior with 26 x 7 gearing, Repack marked the beginning of his now 37-year history developing innovative mountain and transportation bikes.
The lack of durability and ineffectiveness of coaster brakes forced the early Repack riders to seek alternatives. Klunker frames were modified to accept drum brakes - which proved more reliable - and motorcycle brake levers were utilized to provide increased leverage. Over time, derailleurs and 10-speed freewheels replaced the single-speed gearing, and frame failures led to the development of off-road specific bicycle frames.
Frustrated with the shortcomings of the old-milled, steel-framed Klunkerz, Charlie Kelly asked Joe Breeze, a local road racer, frame builder, and top Repack competitor, to design and build a bike that could withstand the demanding Repack terrain. The chromoly steel prototype - Breezer #1, the world's first all-new modern mountain bike now housed in the Smithsonian Institution - made its debut under Joe Breeze in the fall of 1977.
Joe built nine more revolutionary Breezers that year, marking the birth of the world's first and oldest mountain bike company, and shared his designs with other builders who would go on to become household names in the mountain bike industry (i.e. Tom Ritchey and Gary Fisher.) Among the notable Joe Breeze innovations are the uni-crown fork (introduced on the 1981 Kellie-Fisher Mountain Bike Montare), the world's first mountain bike dropper seat post, the Hite-Rite (1983), and the world's first 3-dimensional dropout, the Breeze-In dropout (1993) - half the weight and twice the stiffness of traditional dropouts.
Joe built his first full-suspension mountain bike in 1997, partnering with MIT engineer John Castellano on the SweetSpot™ suspension system introduced on the Breezer Twister: an XC / Trail bike with an unheard of 130mm of rear wheel travel. He decided to point his legacy in a new direction in 1999 by stopping production of his mountain bikes and working to design a new line of bikes for the everyday commuter. By 2002, Breezer was back to market, flying the new flag of "Transportation for a Healthy Planet." Taking the lead within a new category of American bicycle design once again, Breezer's fully equipped town and range bikes began setting new standards for practical and efficient bicycle transportation.
In 2010, Joe re-introduced Breezer mountain bikes world-wide, introducing an all-new Thunder and Lightning. And in 2011, he developed the new Cloud 9: Breezer's first carbon fiber model and first 29er. With the launch of Repack all-mountain and Supercell trail bikes, the creator of the modern mountain bike proves yet again that he simply can't stop innovating.