Large list of American
serial numbers (including American Breezer) are available for
(Courtesy of Joe Breeze)
JBX1 First Prototype bike, curved fork blades with additional fork braces.
This was the very first bike that was built specifically for the purpose and
outfitted with all new components. Earlier bikes had been modified balloon
tire bikes that were not up to the stresses placed upon them. This bike
had been purpose-built and used the best parts for each function whereas the
earlier bikes used whatever was "laying around the shop". This
specific bike now resides in the Oakland Museum, #2 is in the Mountain Bike Hall
of Fame and #9 is in the Shimano Museum.
1976 and 1977 drawings:
JBX1 drawings (with and
Series I (Ballooner II) Next 9 "production" bikes that followed JBX1.
Still have the extra frame laterals. 9 of the first 10 were nickel plated.
Built using straight gauge cro-moly airplane tubing using the basic geometry
from the Schwinn Excelsior balloon-tire bike. The complete bikes
sold for $750 with pump, water bottle, spare inner tube and repair kit.
The first bikes had 22" seat tubes to accommodate the 180 mm seat posts of the
day. The top tube sloped down to the 5 1/4" head tube which would accept a
standard Schwinn fork.
Ballooner II spec sheets:
Series II, before there were any mountain bike specific parts.
Check out the French touring parts (TA cranks, Mafac brakes), Italian parts
(Cinelli stem, Campy quick releases, seat post and headset), English Brooks
saddle, Japanese drivetrain, and USA hubs. Imagine trying to pull all
these parts together from all these different sources.....must have been
entertaining! Series II loses the frame laterals.
page from the 1980 Trailmaster catalog:
Breezer spec pages from 1980 plus fork crown drawing:
Series III, the Breezer stem attaches to a brazed-in stub in the fork
(similar to the current Ahead stem). The forks were Reynolds steerer tubes
and tandem blades with a Cunningham designed tubular 4130 arch. 1983 is
the first Year for the Shimano Deore XT "deer head" components. Frame sets
(frame, fork and stem) retails for $1,100 and they were distributed by
MountainBikes (Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly) for a time.
Multi-maker bike review, including Breezer,
from March 1983:
1983 Spec Sheet:
One of two chrome
plated Breezers. Number 48 was full chrome while this one was
partially painted. Photos by Mush Emmons:
Breeze interview from Mountain Biking for the Adventure, June 1985:
"Descend with Conviction"
ad from 1985:
First year for American Breezer
made by American Bicycle Mfg. Corp in St.
November 1987 Bicycle magazine article with several
different mountain bikes including the American Breezer:
American Breezer aluminum frame made by the American Bicycle Mfg. Corp. in
St. Cloud, MN. Also available with the Browning automatic transmission.
American Breezer, also available with the Browning Automatic transmission.
American Breezer with the new Shimano Deore XT II group.
Experimental Breeze-built bike with a 78!!
degree head tube
Kite Bike made for the
December, 1989 through January, 1990 Braunstein-Quay Gallery, in San
Francisco, show called The Art of the Mountain Bike.
available with your choice of Shimano, Campy or Suntour
drivetrain. Magazine lists aluminum fork??
February 1990 Breezer
First year for the new Breezer models not made by American. Moves to
a full steel line up as opposed to the American aluminum bikes. Two
Lightning models with Shimano Deore XT parts. The Lightning Flash is the
higher end fillet brazed frame made by Shitamori in Japan.. The Thunder and Storm have a little less
expensive components. A model named Sky was sold in Canada and England.
The bike used mainly LX components (one step below the Storm) and never appeared
in a Breezer catalog.
January 1991 Hite Rite ad:
1991 Breezer catalog,
courtesy of Joe Breeze (PDF, click below):
Two Lightning models with your choice of Shimano XTR or Suntour XC Pro
with Racing Geometry. The Thunder and Storm have stouter tubing, longer
chain stays and higher bottom bracket. A model named Sky was sold in
Canada and England. The bike used mainly LX components (one step below the
Storm) and never appeared in a Breezer catalog.
August 1992 Mountain Bike
Action magazine Thunder review:
November 1992 Bicycle
Guide Lightning review:
New Cloud 9 model with Titanium bolt kit and super-light parts kit, bike
weighs in at 20.9 pounds. The Lightning continues as the XTR equipped bike.
The Softride Suspension stem is optional on all models including the Beamer
which features the Softride Beam rear suspension. The Storm is now an LX
equipped "budget" bike. There is a new Panoramic tandem bike as well as
the Venturi road bike with an Ultegra and Dura-Ace mix.. Clipless pedals
(Shimano Deore XT SPD) show up on several models.
The Lightning becomes more affordable with an XT mix of parts. Threadless
forks and stems with Dia Compe Aheadsets come on all bikes. The Beamer continues
with the Softride Beam rear suspension. Grip Shift makes an appearance on
the Beamer and Jet Stream. The Storm goes entry-level with a bunch of STX
parts. The Venturi road bike continues.
1994 Breezer catalog:
below describe the improvements made for the 1994 model
August 1995 Breezer Beamer
Breezer Cro-Moly tubing on all models with optional Breeze fork, Rock Shox
Judy or Rock Shox Quadra 21. Introduction of the Ignaz X, a "tribute" bike
to Ignaz Schwinn the founder of Schwinn bikes. The
Ignaz X is loosely
based on the early mountain bikes that were made out of converted balloon tire
Introduction of D-Fusion tubing with a D shape at the head tube to
distribute stress. Two models (Thunder and Storm) use aluminum tubing for
the first time since the American Breezer models. The Twister is a new
full suspension bike with "Sweet Spot" technology. It is a unified rear
triangle (URT) design with 5 inches of travel. The Ignaz X continues on
and the Venturi road bike is available as a frame only.
Pretty much a carry over year from 1997. The Lightning and the Storm
are D Fusion Cro-Moly and the Jet Stream and Thunder are D Fusion Aluminum.
The Tornado adds to the Sweet Spot family of full suspension Breezers with a
nice high-end parts mix. The Ignaz X gets a new color and the Venturi
continues as a road frame
Breezer changes to "transportation for a healthy planet" bikes.
Mainly geared towards city riding with several internally geared hubs, fenders,
racks, lights and kickstands. There is also a line of folding bikes.
For details of the current models see
First is order of sale (Charlie Kelly wanted to be first production buyer) and
is not stamped on frame. Stamped on outside face of left (track) dropout
is a 3-digit number. It is effectively the serial number. These three numbers
represent the sequence of sub-frame assembly. That is, the first digit is
for main frame, second for rear stays, third for twin laterals.
Sequence sold, serial number, original owner; where now
1, JBX1, Joe Breeze; Oakland Museum (now Smithsonian Museum)
2, 7.74, Charlie Kelly; Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
3, 2.81, Otis Guy; Otis Guy
4, 5.68, Fred Wolf; Frank Hawkins (sp?)
5, 8.12, Larry Cragg; Larry Cragg
6 (10?), 6.99, Wende Cragg; Joe Breeze
7 (9?), 4.47, Jerry Heidenreich; Jerry Heidenreich
8 (7?), 9.23, Terry Haggerty; Matthew Seiler
9 (8?), 3.35, Michael Ducks; Shimano Museum
10 (6?), 1.56, Fritz Maytag; Fritz Maytag
Series II: The serial number is stamped on the bottom of Bottom Bracket
shell. Sequence is like: J.B./B.80.12 (written on two lines)
"J.B." is for Joe Breeze. "B" is for Breezer. "80" is for 1980. "12" is for
12 of 25 in this series which lasted through 1981.
Series III: The serial number is stamped on the bottom of Bottom Bracket
shell. Sequence is like: J.B./B.82.34 (written on two lines)
"J.B." is for Joe Breeze. "B" is for Breezer. "82" is for 1982. "34" is for
34 of 75 in this series which lasted through 1986. Only about 60 of these
were completed. Series III numbering began with #1, not 26 (see update below).
New information indicates some of the information, for the
Series III bikes, above may be incorrect. Using the number of
tube sets ordered by Joe, and the timing of the serial numbers, it
appears as if the Series III bikes started with serial #26 and not
serial #1. The highest known serial number is #49 (MOMBAT
bike) so there may have only been 25 Series III Breezers as well.
Large list of American
serial numbers (including American Breezer) are available for
(Courtesy of Joe Breeze)
Breezer (1991-2000): H6C3 8835
"H" is for Hodaka. The fabricator. The second digit is for the year, in this
Many Thanks to Joe Breeze for providing many of the materials used to set up
this page and his patience in answering our questions.
From the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
Induction Year: 1988
Joe Breeze is one of the central figures in the development of mountain
biking. He is perhaps best known as builder of the first successful modern
mountain bikes. His Breezers were the first all-new bikes built with rugged
frames specifically for what would only later be called "mountain biking."
Breeze became a leading designer and proponent of a sport that has gotten more
people on bikes in the western world than at any time since the 1890s. Breeze
attributes his successes with mountain biking to his passion for bicycling,
which is evident in his oft-quoted line, "We were just havin' fun."
Born in 1953 and raised just north of San Francisco in Marin County,
California, Joe had been introduced to bicycling by his father whose love was
lightweight, efficient vehicles. Throughout the 1950s, father Bill Breeze would
often ride his road-racing bike from their home in Mill Valley to work at his
"Sports Car Center" in nearby Sausalito. Joe learned from an early age how
useful these kings of lightweight efficient vehicles were for exploring his
environs, being healthy, and to just get places he needed to go. Yet in the
America, this kind of bicycling seemed like a well-kept secret, being seen in
the 1960s as just a kid's sidewalk toy.
It's only natural that when we find something enjoyable, we want to share it
with others, and so Breeze set about to turn others on to bicycling. He and his
friends were soon riding beyond town, and at the age of 14, he and his brother
Richard rode to Lake Tahoe, some 200 miles distant. To Breeze, road racing
seemed like another way to advertise how far and fast a bicycle could go, so in
1970 he took up road racing. After all, a squib in the local paper could
broadcast bicycling's benefits to a much wider audience. Joe raced road bikes
from 1970 through 1979, eventually at the top level.
One avenue he thought of along the way was to restore and display old bikes
from bicycling's golden era--the 1890s--to inspire people about this marvel of
mobility. One day in 1973, while scrounging through some old bike shops in Santa
Cruz, the best old bike Joe could find was a forlorn 1941 Schwinn-built
ballooner, a fat-tire paperboy bike. On a lark and with encouragement from his
friend Marc Vendetti, Joe paid $5 for it, scraped the frame down to the original
"featherhead" paint job, and rode it down Mt. Tamalpais' Railroad Grade. It was
a blast! Joe showed up to Velo Club Tamalpais meetings aboard his fatty, and
friends followed suit. Soon, Gary Fisher sported a Shelby Traveler, and Otis
Guy, a 1947 Schwinn. More were to come and many rides on Tam ensued.
By 1974, Joe was building road-racing frames. He was also still having fun on
Marin County's dirt roads and trails with friends and fellow road racers, on old
Schwinns and other balloon-tire clunkers. But those old frames weren't built for
such abuse. They were not only heavy, they were breaking. Fellow racer/rider
Charlie Kelly asked Joe to build him a frame for mountain biking, and Joe
As Joe worked on the design and fabrication of his prototype in 1977, he took
orders for eight more. Those 10 bikes, called Breezers, are considered the first
successful modern mountain bikes. He welded the frames using cro-moly steel
aircraft tubing, and built up the bikes with all-brand-new parts. He finished
Breezer #1 in September 1977 (and rode it to victory at Repack, its maiden
voyage). He completed Breezers #2 through #10 by Spring 1978. For the next few
years, while still focused on road racing, Joe continued to refine and share his
design ideas, helping shape the next generations of mountain bikes. While
building more Breezer mountain bikes in the early 1980s, he taught frame
to several friends, including Steve Potts, Scot Nicol (Ibis), and Otis Guy.
As a machinist, Joe Breeze worked on many component innovations. Among them
were the Unicrown fork design and his patented Breeze & Angell Hite Rite seat
adjuster, which was one of the new sport's first accessories. In 1983, he helped
found the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) to promote mountain bike
racing and trail access. He even drew up the NORBA logo, which was used,
untouched, for over 15 years. Always focused on progress in bike and component
design, Joe insisted that NORBA adopt a racing self-sufficiency rule. His intent
was to ensure that mountain bike companies develop vehicles upon which any rider
in the wilds could depend, and which would subsequently develop better bikes for
Of Marin County's seminal Repack races, Joe Breeze won 10 of the 24 races
held between 1976 and 1984. His 1977 Breezer #1 is on permanent display at the
Oakland Museum, in the Cowell Hall of California History. Breezer #2, built for
Charlie Kelly, is in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame collection at Crested Butte,
Colorado, and so is Joe's beloved 1937 Schwinn Excelsior. Another first-10
Breezer is at the Shimano Museum in Osaka, Japan.
Joe has researched the roles of many players in early mountain bike history.
He championed the MBHOF inductions of Ignaz & Frank Schwinn, the Cupertino
Riders, and the French VCCP riders. In 1999, Joe helped spearhead a movement to
acknowledge European contributions to the sport of mountain biking. That
mountain biking became so popular in a land where people already understood
bikes was a great surprise to Joe. That October, he went to Finale Ligura,
Italy, to help set up the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame collection and oversee the
overdue inductions of some of the sports leading players.
Breeze designed and produced his Breezer mountain and road bikes throughout
the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Breeze continues to advocate the wider use of
bicycles for recreation and transportation. His new line of fully equipped
Breezer bikes is dedicated to bringing fun and fitness into the daily lives of
North Americans. See http://www.breezerbikes.com