Klunkerz – A Film About Mountain Bike History
Years ago, long before my suburban assault rides, I used to be a mountain bike rider. I still am in spirit, just not so much with the body. After all those years of hitting the trail in the late 80s and early 90s, I had no idea where mountain biking started. So, when I heard about Billy Savage’s movie Klunkerz (released in 2007), I bought a copy and really enjoyed discovering how it all began.
You’re probably wondering why I’m just now doing a review of this movie, especially when you can probably Google a dozen, well written, reviews about it already. First, I thought I had already done a review. However, checking my archives, I discovered that I haven’t. Also, I like to support independent film makers who take the time to do stories about the things that I love – especially bicycling. I hope that the more we support these film makers, the more we’ll get stories like Klunkerz.
Klunkerz is a brilliant documentary that does an excellent job of telling the history of the mountain bike. The movie takes you back to the early 1970s (20 years before I was into it) – where it all started in Marin County, California. Adventurous thrill seekers were dragging old, stripped down, Pre-World War II newsboy bicycles to the top of Mount Tamalpias and riding them at full speed to the bottom and into the pages of bicycle history. What they didn’t know at the time was that they were ‘re-inventing the wheel’ and starting a new era of bicycling.
Eventually, through necessity and innovation, the bikes evolved from single speed ‘Klunkerz’ to custom built mountain bikes with gears and stronger frames. By the early 1980s, it had grown so much that almost every bike company was making mountain bikes. By 1986, mountain bikes were outselling road bikes.
Among those thrill seekers and innovators were folks like Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Alan Bonds, Charlie Kelly, Tom Ritchey, Russ Mahon, Mike Sinyard, Bob Burrowes, Wende Cragg, Charlie Cunningham, Otis Guy, James McLean, Steve Potts, Jacquie Phelan, Chris Lang, Robert Stewart, Fred Wolf and John Finley Scott – some names you may recognize, some you might not.
Every time I watch this film, I’m inspired to get on a mountain bike again and hit the trails.