Breezer #1 Debut Ends in Victory

Joe Breeze at the bottom of Repack

One of the featured items in the Joe Breeze archive is a photograph of Joe Breeze, posing with the Breezer #1. It was taken in October 1977 at the bottom of Repack, after Joe Breeze won first place with the bike and obtained the second fastest time recorded in Repack history, at 4:25.55 minutes. From the raggedy clothing to the dirtiness of the bike, to the smirk on Joe Breeze’s face, one can see that Repack is a rigorous course, and winning first place with a self-built bike is an enormous accomplishment. The bike’s design differed from the original “klunker” bikes that were being used. The Breezer #1 had new features that no other bike had, such as a Campagnolo track drop out with rear derailleur mount, diagonal twin tubes for additional support, fork-stem reinforcement, and cantilever brakes. The bike parts ranged included Campagnolo Record headset and seat post, Phil Wood bottom bracket and hubs, DT spokes, Araya rims, Specialties T.A. crank set, Brooks leather saddle, and Shimano Dura Ace freewheel, giving the bike an overall weight of 38 pounds. The finish product of the Breezer #1 is blue, yet the same Breezer #1 in this photo is brown. Though this photo showcases the famous Breezer #1, Breeze did not paint the bike blue until after the Repack race. Many riders used Repack as a testing ground and generate and share new ideas to build the ultimate mountain bike. Ideas were always begin traded. Once a rider had a new modification, it was tested on the course. Joe wanted to test his new development and painting it blue would be the finishing touch, making it a finished product. If his new bike didn’t perform as well, he would have to strip the bike and weld it together before testing it out again. It defeats the whole purpose of painting it. The bike turned out to be a success considering that it won first place at Repack and was recorded the second fastest time. It was then painted blue.
Breeze had a passion for bikes, so when Charlie Kelly approached Breeze with a broken Schwinn beater and asked Breeze to build him a new clunker bike from scratch out of chrome moly tubing, Breeze kindly accepted the task.
According to Charlie Kelly, if he were to pick the day mountain biking got started, it would be the day that Joe Breeze rode his first Breezer bike in 1977. The Breezer #1 paved the way for future mountain bikes as it uncovered the possibilities of a geared, fat-tire off-road bike. The Breezer #1 is considered the first custom built, all-purpose mountain bike. Racers of Repack were using old 1939’s Schwinn Bicycles, the same bikes paper boys used, for downhill riding. Due to the harsh terrain of the hill, the bikes that rode Repack were often damaged, as forks split and pedals flew off and riders would have to fix up their old bikes with parts found at junk yards. Many riders were making adjustments to their own bikes in order to have the most durable bikes. Their mentality was to have bragging rights as the fastest rider based on skill, not technical failures.
Joe Breeze used the Schwinn Excelsior X as a model for his Breezer. He admired the Excelsior X’s performance and its geometry. The purpose of his design was to build a bike that would race down the hill the fastest, yet able to climb up the hill. Modifying his designs, the twin laterals were dropped and able to obtain strength and stiffness with a single larger diameter, thick- walled down tubing, thicker- walled chain stays, and a long wheelbase. This reduced the bike weight by three- fourths and for allowed smooth riding and neutral handling. Later, he changed the tubing angles to seventy degrees, after the Schwinn DX, because he felt that the seventy-degree angles handled better. The new bike was able to handle the use and abuse it was placed under. Breeze only built nine of these frames. The geometry of Breezer #1 is similar to that of today’s bikes. This is because after his design, many more mountain bikes followed after.