“Mountain Bikes became the dominant bikes in America. Sales tripled every year from 1980 onwards in to the 1990’s—to the point by 1987 in America, road bike sales were eclipsed by mountain bike sales. It was huge. Mountain bikes actually helped to get more people on bicycles in America than the 1890s (the previous height of bicycle usage in America). Here was a bike that was upright, with a comfortable saddle; it lent itself much better to getting around than a road racing, or racing-style bike.
Out of the Woods and Back into Town
Joe began building road racing frames in 1974. In 1977, he built his first ten Breezer mountain bikes. Joe has a very well equipped shop in his house, and he’s fanatical in his attention to precision and detail.
“So I took the next step,” continues Breeze. “In 1995 Shimano came out with their Nexus 7 internal hub. This hub had a wider range and closer ratio than their old three-speed internal hub. I tried it, and I really liked it. I was just really floored by the performance. As a Cat 1 racer from the 1970’s, I really wanted performance in whatever bike I rode.”
“In 1996, I came out with the ‘Ignaz X’. This was my first foray into transportation bikes. ‘Ignaz’ came from ‘Ignaz Schwinn’, the founder of Schwinn, and the ‘X’ was from ‘Excelsior’, which was one of the better Schwinn balloon-tired bikes of the day. I put on the Shimano hub, and a few other concessions to modern-day life. It had a chain guard. You could use it to get around town and in your busy life. I actually wanted to build a line of bikes around that hub—it was that good.”
“It was my metaphor for ‘out of the woods, and back into town’”.
“Also about this time the whole cruiser bike thing was starting to happen; the Ignaz X was a sort of a poser bike. What I saw as the real deal was the European town bike – but that was too laid back with not enough performance. In 1997 I got a couple of Specialized Globes – they were just winding down production – they couldn’t sell them. I was generally getting around on a road racing bike, or a mountain bike – with a backpack and separate lights, and fenders – and it wasn’t until I had all of that stuff on the bike that it hit me how silly it was to grab all of these different things. It really hit me – having a bike that was fully equipped was the solution. It was liberating to not have to ride with a backpack – there was no sweaty back, etc. When you have a fully equipped bike engineered for the job, it’s so easy!”