Bike Intelligencer » joe breeze All bike, all the time Mon, 20 Jul 2015 21:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is This Bike Worth $50? Sun, 12 Dec 2010 06:13:22 +0000
Last year Ikea employees, for their Christmas bonus, got a $50 gift certificate for a local restaurant.

This year they got new bikes.

Now a new bike for Christmas is everyone’s dream. If you’re a kid, it’s the best gift you can get. If you’re an adult, it brings back fond memories of childhood freedom and exuberance.

Ikea's gift bike. Tampa Bay Online photo.

Unfortunately, the Ikea bikes do not live up to the dream. We wonder if they’re even safe to ride.

Although it’s difficult to do detailed analysis from the photo, these bikes appear to be put together with the proverbial chewing gum and baling wire. The parts are outmoded and cheap. The wheels are undoubtedly flimsy and soft. The cranks look to be stolen from Wal-mart specials.

We’re most concerned about the integrity of the frame. It looks to be a suspension frame modified to a hardtail — a recipe for disaster. Notice the interrupted seat tube. On a typical hardtail there’s no reason to cut away the seat tube, and the design of this frame indicates it was initially planned to provide for a shock and pivot setup.

We can’t see the welds, but the seat stays seem too long and thin to offer the stability and strength that they would on a normal hardtail frame.

Without getting our hands on one and showing it to, say, a Gary Fisher or Joe Breeze, we can’t say definitively that the Ikea gift bike is a landfill magnet. And we don’t want to spoil the Christmases of Ikea employees by dissing their rides.

But if it were our choice, we’d definitely take the $50 instead.

]]> 2
Joe Breeze Video: The past and prologue Fri, 13 Aug 2010 17:02:22 +0000 We’ve interviewed mountain biking legend Joe Breeze on how his past contributions have helped guide his future thinking in the world of cycling.

Here’s a look at Joe on video, talking about his new Cloud 9 that we previewed last month.

]]> 0
News Cycle: Just rolling along Tue, 10 Aug 2010 07:24:39 +0000 We were out of town for the Dead Baby Downhill this past weekend, but fortunately BikeJuju was on the case again!

LeBron James is
quite the cyclist.

Check for “near real-time” coverage of the Leadville 100 this Saturday.

Beware potential con men on bikes!

The burning, er, pressing, um, well, how about musical question of the day: Should I buy my son a jockstrap for mountain biking? is ably answered by BikeExchangePDX.

The Cedar River Trail
east of Renton is closing from August 16th to September 3rd. More details from BikingBis.

Robb asks, “Does mountain biking require the mountain?” All you have to do is read our Sun Valley series on “Real Mountain Biking, in Real Mountains” to know we wholeheartedly agree. [And yes, Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher rode Mt. Tamalpais and Pine Mountain back in the day — and still do!]

]]> 0
News Cycle: Pedaling faster all the time Fri, 06 Aug 2010 14:25:44 +0000 If you ask the Forest Service, or most any public agency, why they cannot build more mountain biking trails, they will say it is a budgetary matter. Yet time and again, agencies are willing to spend taxpayer money to destroy trails. Not only that — in this case, they went so far as to cut down healthy trees to block an unauthorized trail. This kind of mentality is counter-productive on so many fronts, as we’ve discussed.

Washington Post discovers the joys of Seattle’s Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park, where they built trails under a freeway.

Colonnade run / Photo courtesy the MudBlog

Publicola tackles the logistical challenges of Sound Transit’s bike accommodations.

We’ve said it before and, regrettably, will say it again: If you have to go, mountain biking is the best exit you can pick.

Former president Bush ran the country into the ground and for all his considerable authority did nothing for the sport of mountain biking, but we cannot quarrel with anyone being out on the trails.

A while back we interviewed the legendary Joe Breeze. EcoVelo talked to Joe as well, with a very different and enjoyable take.

Many thanks to Mark Davidson and the great folks at Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz for the new trail head sign at Wilder Ranch State Park, one of Santa Cruz’s prime singletrack retreats.

We were on the road and missed the Tour de Fat rolling through Seattle. Fortunately, BikeJuju was on the case.

Cascade Bicycle Club has issued its endorsements for Seattle’s Aug. 17 primary. It hardly seems possible, thinking back a year ago, that Cascade failed to endorse bike commuter and club supporter Mike McGinn — but hey, it all worked out.

Belated congratulations
to Jonathan Maus and on its fifth anniversary. Note comments queue.

Lance Armstrong is bringing
stage racing back to Colorado (remember the Red Zinger Classic? The Coors Classic?) next year with the Quiznos Pro Challenge. Cycling Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, he of broken ribs fame, is 100 percent behind the idea.

Fresh off the best Tour de France showing by a Canadian in more than two decades, Ryder Hesjedal is a rock star in Canada! Everyone’s saying so.

Thoughtful piece from Michael Snyder at SeattleLikesBikes on Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan. The city already is moving past the plan in many ways, and to the extent that it provides a blueprint for progress, it needs updating.

]]> 0
Sneak Peek: Joe Breeze’s new carbon 29ers Sun, 25 Jul 2010 07:43:32 +0000

Mountain biking icon Joe Breeze, whose return to the sport he helped create we documented earlier in the summer, is about to unleash another round. At Dealer Camp in Deer Valley, Utah on July 29 (Thursday), Breeze will be showing two personal breakthroughs: His first carbon fiber frame, and his first set of 29ers.

Going by Cloud 9, a name we love, the new hardtails will hit the streets this fall, available in full builds (Limited Edition at $5,899 and Pro at $2,999) or as $1,799 framesets. It will have Breeze’s innovative twists, including rear brake calipers mounted on the chain stays for less howl and greater rigidity.

More to come! For now, here’s the eye candy …

Cloud 9 Pro (top) and Limited Edition

]]> 0
Joe Breeze Q&A: A legend revives his signature bike Wed, 23 Jun 2010 06:20:25 +0000
[Note: Mountain biking legend Joe Breeze announced a few days ago that he was returning to his founding sport after a prescient and hugely successful line of commuter bikes over the past decade. Joe graciously agreed to expand on his back-to-the-future path in an email Q&A.]

The day after you stopped making mountain bikes, your fans began begging you to come back. Why now, given the shaky economy?

Back in 1998, it was a tough decision to not make mountain bikes. I made the choice because I felt it was time to focus on transportation bikes, which were virtually unknown in the US and extremely important for many reasons. With me as sole designer, spokesperson etc for Breezer, doing mountain bikes at the same time would have been too big a distraction. Now transportation bikes are an established and successful category, with Breezer being recognized as a leader. Since I teamed up with a much bigger company, Advanced Sports Inc. (late 2008), I’ve finally been able to re-enter the mountain bike field. We’re still focused on transportation bikes, but ASI also wanted to do Breezer mountain bikes and so did I. I don’t know exact demand/numbers, but the level of enthusiasm of the people who take time to find me and ask for mountain bikes has always been an encouragement. We chose to start with a hardtail because 1) people had been asking for an updated Breezer hardtail, 2) it was relatively easy to do, and 3) hardtails are still quite viable.

Back in the day on the first Breezer

You talk about steel’s strength as a frame material and have gone with a curved downtube. How’s the process work?

Fork blades, chainstays and other tubes on frames are bent cold after the tube has been drawn. Breezer downtubes are hydro-formed, but structurally the result is essentially the same. The curved down tube is to allow clearance for the 100mm-travel fork. I could have continued the tube straight to the head tube without curving, but the tube would’ve intersected the head tube a long ways from its lower end. Without a gusset, that would’ve resulted in a weak structure. With a gusset, it would deaden the ride quality. A curved tube was the best solution.

”The lightest for their strength.” How lighter than ti, and how stronger?

I should have made it clear that I was speaking in the context of the bikes’ individual materials: steel (Lightning) and aluminum (Thunder). In each material, I work to make the lightest frame per strength. It is possible to build a titanium frame that’s lighter/stronger, but it’s a challenge. Unfortunately the gains with Ti are small or non-existent because Ti tubing and joinery is less sophisticated than the steel and aluminum counterparts, owing to titanium’s expense and difficulty to work with. Ti suffers from poor economy of scale.

Breezer's new Thunder Elite

You’re an American icon. Are these American made (why or why not)?

These 2010 Breezer mountain bikes are made in Taiwan. It really is not economically feasible to make this product in the USA. You may recall that some time ago in the USA, bikes equated to about zip. Zip was unappealing to build. Zip was eagerly taken over by countries where people saw a future in it. They built it. The industry grew there and it is there. It’s nice that you see me as a game changer or a visionary, but change that?

Breeze tears it up aboard the new Thunder Elite. Photo by Wil Matthews/

For us old-school detail geeks, can you say a few words about the head badge?

The badge is etched and painted brass and attached with drive screws. I arrived at the design in 1982. It is similar to the badges on the 1930s and 40s Schwinns we once rode, as is the “spears and diamonds” paint job. The badge depicts Mt. Tam in my Marin County backyard. The road down the middle is Old Railroad Grade, remnant of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Scenic Railway (1896-1930). This was the scene of my first fat-tire ride, in 1973. There are redwoods and blue lupine. The road in the foreground is Rollercoaster Ridge, and the tire is a Stumpjumper, the best tire of its day.

What can you say about the forthcoming 29ers?

In 2011, we will offer four hardtail 29ers, two in aluminum and two in carbon fiber. One priority has been to make them great climbers. [Note: See accompanying press release.]

Rather than sell your brand to Trek or a similar megacorporation back in the ’90s, you stuck with small and boutique. Assuming you’d agree it was the right choice, did it offer any advantages in the evolving marketplace?


It was never my goal to stay small, but it was my goal to follow my heart. From my teen years I’ve had a vision that bicycling in America can be huge someday. Mountain biking is merely a single stepping stone along that path. The road-racing stone preceded it. Transportation biking is the key to success for all three. Following one’s heart in a string of new, risky pursuits is rarely a surefire way to monetary success. I measure success in the ability to stay in business and effect change. My role has often been to encourage others in the business that, say, mountain bikes (way back when) or transportation bikes (more recently) could make them money. Once the bike transportation market heated up, as it did in 2008, it was time to turn up the volume. That’s when I sold Breezer to Advanced Sports Inc., makers of Fuji, Kestrel and SE Bikes. Their extra horsepower allows economy of scale for what is still a very personal brand. It led, for example, to Breezer mountain bikes being on the market once again. It has allowed me to focus full time on design rather than running the business.

What’s the biggest surprise to you about how the sport of mountain biking has evolved?

The biggest surprise to me came quite a few years back, and that is how big the sport became in Europe, or that it happened there at all — that an American product was embraced so fully. I had never felt that Europe needed anyone’s help regarding bikes.

What’s the most impressive innovation in cycling you’ve seen (that you didn’t do yourself)?

Indexed shifting.

Is your son faster than you? Or does dad still rool?!

As Tommy approached his teens I knew I’d need to get in better shape if I was going to ride with him for long. Last year he joined the Drake High School mountain bike team and became a top-10 Freshman in NorCal racing. I’ve stepped up my program, but increasingly he’s a speck on the horizon. I still give him a run for his money on the downhills though.

]]> 5
Iconic Convergence: Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher announce new lines Fri, 18 Jun 2010 05:56:25 +0000

That distinctive Breezer look

In one of those history-bending coincidences that leave you shaking your head in wonderment, Marin mountain biking icons Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher both announced new lines today.

Fisher, the klunker king who out of mountain biking’s core pioneers generated the most successful business enterprise, gained a boutique “Collection” but lost his brand ID at the hands of megacorporation Trek. Purchased by Trek in 1996, Fisher Bikes managed all the time since to retain its own line of mountain bikes, innovating further with the 29-inch models that Fisher invented and tirelessly promoted.

The Man then and now ...

But Trek said that as of the 2011 model year, Gary Fisher Bicycles will become the “Gary Fisher Collection.” That sounds pretty cool, and from a business standpoint it puts Fisher bikes into Trek’s huge distribution channel for improved efficiency (Rick Vosper estimates the move will gain Trek a cool $2.5 million in profit, and explains how Trek is able to get away with its dealer shakeup).

All well and good. But we’ve seen this movie before, with Gary Klein (inventor of the fat-tubed aluminum frame who was once king of the boutique brands), with Greg LeMond (who wound up in a bitter lawsuit to obtain his brand back from Trek) and with Keith Bontrager (whose wit and wisdom sadly faded from the scene as his brand became diluted with decent but unremarkable components).

To say that Fisher can endure where these other icons eroded would be blind optimism at its finest. Whatever sense it makes for Trek fiscally, we cannot see how Gary can maintain an individual identity in the huge Trek gene pool.

No matter what happens, to us he will always be The Man. When we left road riding for mountain biking in the early 1990s, Fisher bikes were the bomb. You’d see one on the trails and the encounter would instantly turn to inspecting the frame and components and commenting on this and that, and what a cool guy Gary was. He’s still a cool guy, and we trust that if the implementation strays from the vision in this deal, he’ll land on his feet for the betterment of us all. We can’t say we’d mind seeing him break off and start another something on his own.

Then there’s Gary’s early counterpart, Joe Breeze, who’s a much bigger name than the outfit that bought his brand in 2009 — Advanced Sports Inc. (ASI). And getting bigger: He officially announced his first new mountain bikes in more than a decade.

If there’s one word that sums up Joe’s reputation, it’s “class.” Or classic. His early mountain bikes are works of art that you can still find occasionally on the trails around Mill Valley and NorCal.

A long time ago in cycling years, Breeze abandoned mountain bikes to focus on commuter bikes, leaving his legions of fans scratching their heads while knowing Joe never made a foolish move in his life. As it turned out, Breeze correctly prophesied the decade of cycling as a transportation pursuit, evinced by healthy growth in bike commuting in metro areas.

So it comes as another out-of–the-blue surprise that Breeze is getting back into the mountain bike business. He announced three new models based on his uniquely strong and innovative tubing and design. Carrying the distinctive “Breezer” logo, they’re light, they’re bulletproof, and they carry the Breeze cachet all the way to the podium. The Thunder Elite with a fairly straightforward XT build clocks in at just over 20 pounds before even being weenied out. These things should fly.

We wish both these guys the best and will watch for their respective steeds out on the trail.

]]> 0
The bike is the bond: Riding with the legends on Turkey Day Sun, 29 Nov 2009 17:34:18 +0000 FAIRFAX CA — I’ve ridden the annual Turkey Day mountain bike ride, or “Appetite Seminar,” in Fairfax maybe half a dozen times over the years, and each one has been different in its own wonderfully unpredictable way. But Thursday’s edition will top my list for a long time to come.

My Seattle friend (and former world-class racer) John Loomis, who worked for Gary Fisher back at the industry’s dawn and who never misses the ride, was the catalyst. John suggested we meet at the orthogonally indescribable Jacquie Phelan’s eclectic estate and head out from there.

Jacquie is a Marin legend and her blog is one of my favorites. Although I’d heard of her since the late 1970s and exchanged email and was a big fan, we’d never met. But she greeted me like an old friend, gave me the nickel tour of her place, which could have served without modification as a set for my favorite movie, “Harold & Maude,” and then introduced me to another legend, her partner Charlie Cunningham.

Charlie looks just like his pictures from the “Klunkerz” days, with that curly boyish hair and incipient smile of his, and in his t-shirt and jeans he looked like he just got off a Schwinn cruiser after smoking down Repack. He couldn’t ride with us but Jacquie got out one of Charlie’s vintage aluminum bikes, so he was with us in spirit the whole way.

John rambled up, Jacquie donned her nose and glasses, feather-ornamented helmet and sequined wool gloves, joining a wool Peloton jersey, lush velvet skirt and racing shoes, and we were off. I’m sure there is historic significance to each article of clothing, including the funny nose and glasses, but I didn’t get a chance to ask.

Within moments on the climb up Bolinas Road, Jacquie and John were deep in conversation and off like bullets. Both were racers, and I had no chance of keeping up. Which was OK, because at my vintage I pretty much smile and go my own pace, thankful just to be able to keep turning over the cranks another day.

After another rider pointed out my low rear tire (it was 10 psi), and I helped another guy who had broken his chain, I finally pulled to the top. Jacquie had been worried enough to ride back down trying to find me, but hadn’t as she put it memorized the gear enough to pick me out from the hordes. You have to understand, Turkey Day is the biggest mass recreational mountain bike ride you will ever do. Getting an accurate headcount is impossible, because there’s no registration or support station. But I heard the thousand-rider estimate tossed around more this year than ever before, and that was undoubtedly conservative. I’ve been on organized rides all my life with headcounts in the thousands, and this felt like well over 1k. As Jacquie noted (see link below), the youth element was out in bigger force than ever in the past; Marin’s vibrant school teams are having an impact along with the GenX equivalent for sons and daughters of mtb fanatics. Plus people had been primed by a week-long bout of spectacular weather, even though it was a bit overcast and chilly out on the course.

John may have come all the way from Seattle but probably wouldn’t win any “furthest” award. I saw Colorado and Utah license plates in the lot, and overheard one group who obviously were from somewhere in the Deep South.

They really should be called Turkey Day rideS, because you can pretty much pick any route from a dozen or more configurations. There are so many places to ride from Fairfax. The standard route is to head up Bolinas Road to the Pine Mountain Loop. You can get back to Fairfax any number of ways from there.

Anyway, I rejoined Jacquie and John at the trailhead and we started up the vicious rubble-laden fire road toward the Pine Mountain loop. Unless you’re in supreme shape, every so often you have to stop and push a bit up the climb. Which was fine, because it gave Jacquie a chance to introduce me to more legends. First up was Joe Breeze, riding with his son Tommy. At the next stop Jacquie was holding forth when some guy crept up behind her and started planting little air kisses on her neck. Jacquie never did catch on, despite the big circle of grinning riders gathered around.

The guy turned out to be Gary Fisher himself, tall and wickedly fit-looking, riding Fisher colors and bike of course. So I got to meet the most famous name in mountain biking.

At this point I should say something about how real, grounded, open and humble all these folks were. Somehow the press clippings, fame and adulation haven’t worked a number on them — a real credit to their sense of what is truly important in life, which is just being yourself. As a result, they instantly make you feel like just one of the crowd, even if you’re just another guy on a bike who can’t keep up. It’s one of the things I love about the mountain bike culture: The bike is the bond. It’s like a secret handshake or tattoo or password would be in another context. If you have mountain biking in common, you know you have a world of other things in common too.

At the turnoff to the loop we met my final legend of the day, Scot Nicol, founder of Ibis Cycles and developer of my XC bike, the Mojo. I don’t have my Mojo in Cali so was riding my Firebird, but I mentioned how my Mojo-riding friend and I formed Team Carbon Copy in Seattle (after I pretty much duplicated his build on my bike; we’re both sub-25 lbs.), and have done various epic exploits around the Northwest under that moniker. “Really?” Scot said, “send me the links. I’d love to take a look.” I sure will. And I’m sure he will.

Due to time commitments I didn’t do the loop but instead headed up toward Repack with the intention of hitting Tamarancho for the ride back to Fairfax. But there was a huge group at the junction with Repack, which I hadn’t ridden in years. I decided to go for nostalgia and headed up the grade. Then I remembered I hadn’t seen the plaque commemorating Repack as the birthplace of mountain biking. I went back and looked around where I remembered it being, but either I was wrong or the plaque is gone. Or maybe it’s all just a figment of my imagination, or maybe I dreamed it; there certainly ought to be something marking the place.

Repack was a whole lot more fun, and shorter, than I remembered. It may be because I was on the Firebird, which is a real adrenaline stoker on the downhill. The road was in primo shape, great for launching at the water bars and risers, and some guys were screaming down the steep parts. It made me wish I’d been there back in the day, when John and Jacquie and Charlie and Joe and Gary were creating the foundation of a different way of thinking about cycling, a new way of riding bikes, and a magical way of bringing people together to ride.

Jacquie Phelan’s inimitable version of this year’s ride

Charlie Cunningham

Last year’s ride

The historical sweep, including the worst Appetite Seminar ever

]]> 1
Weekend Roundup: SF Bike Expo, How to get off with light sentence, Joe Breeze, LA’s “Dr. Doorstop” and more Fri, 20 Nov 2009 18:24:31 +0000 Tomorrow is the big SF Bike Expo at the Cow Palace. Since along with the jump competition and usual eye candy there’s a killer swap meet, I will be a lighter cyclist in the wallet this time tomorrow. Also, they just announced Cove Bikes will be showing up. Back in the day I’d hang out at Cove before tackling NorthShore stuff — this was when they had the station wagon from the seminal MTB film, “Tread,” out front. Cool folks then, still are. Some of them may even be at the Expo! Schedule here.

How do you shoot at someone’s head, come an inch from murdering them, and walk away with just a 120-day sentence? As DrunkCyclist explains, you do it by making sure the person you’re shooting at is riding a bike. If I’m not mistaken, DC is studying the law, so his deconstruction makes for edifying reading.

And in other anti-cycling news, David Zabriskie makes it easy for cyclists to put in a bad word for the Los Angeles physician recently convicted of intentionally injuring cyclists by jamming his car to a stop in front of them. The physician reportedly is gathering lots of letters of commendation; let’s counter with letters of condemnation. “The District Attorney’s Office is collecting these statements in support of the cyclists,” Zabriskie’s “Yield to Life” site notes. “She plans to submit the letters with the motion at the end of next week so we encourage you to submit a letter to her in a timely fashion so that she can include it in her packet to the judge.” All you have to do is click.

Just 6 days away: The annual Fairfax CA Turkey Day ride, or “Appetite Seminar.” Last year there were hundreds of mountain bikers climbing all over the hills, and this year’s weather forecast looks smashing. Never to be missed. See you there!

Robb at Mountain Biking by 198 interviews the venerable, the humble, the august, the acclaimed Joe Breeze.

]]> 0
Daily Roundup Returnz! Thu, 25 Jun 2009 03:51:34 +0000 Sorry all…I’ve been traveling, mountain biking, and collecting all sorts of new contacts. More later…but for now, here’s the newZ!

The City of Seattle intends to complete the Burke-Gilman “missing link” for cyclists, as we noted, but it won’t be easy. From the Ballard Tribune:

“Attendees at the meeting claimed that bicyclists do not need a bike lane on Nickerson, or even on Leary Way, because there are off-street bike trails nearby.”

This needs clarifying: The problem being that the trail is available at some points paralleling Leary, but not everywhere. On the Nickerson side, the same thing applies. Not sure what point “attendees” were trying to make, but in general more bike lanes are needed everywhere in the city, especially along east-west corridors. The other factor in play here is that mixing rec trails with commuter trails is increasingly a harrowing proposition. As bike commuting grows, it needs a conduit of its own to flourish.

A $500 billion Transportation Bill has about as much chance as Dick Cheney renouncing torture in this Year of Living Deficitly, but has a thorough rundown anyway.

I came within a couple of days of seeing the Ashland Super-D mountain bike race. But it was all the talk of the town even in the aftermath. When I rode Ashland, it was sunny and in the high 80s. More on that later.

You can go 50 miles an hour on this bike without pedaling, and not even downhill. It’s the only bike you can get at Best Buy, and here’s why.

The Godz of Klunkerz, Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly and Wende Crage, were on the public radio station KQED. Photo here (guess which one is Gary!), hear here.

]]> 0