Bike Gallery: Historic Mountain Bikes at SFO Airport

18 Sep

When I was searching the San Francisco Airport web site for details on how to bike to the airport last week, I was surprised to find “SFO Museum presents: From Repack to Rwanda. Now on view.” Who would have guessed that SFO had a museum and that mountain bikes would be on exhibit in time for my trip?

Despite the unusual location, the exhibit wasn’t out of place since the sport of mountain biking was born on the slopes of Mt Tamalpais across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. I already knew some of the early history from watching the movie Klunkerz, and from hearing pioneers like Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher speak at events hosted by our local mountain bike club. But I had never seen the actual early mountain bikes before.

Of the dozen or so bikes on display, my favorites were the 1941 Schwinn fat tires that the early riders modified to charge down a steep dirt road they named Repack because they had to repack the coaster brakes with grease after every hard-braking run. Maybe I was drawn to them because I just met Alex LaRiviere of Faber’s Cyclery, who sold Joe Breeze one of those 1941 Schwinns from his original shop in Santa Cruz.

Or maybe because they were the kind of bikes my dad and his brother rode to deliver newspapers in small town Louisiana during World War II. The streets were dirt and bike parts were scarce, so the boys developed some mad mechanical and riding skills tout suite. Even at 81, my dad rocks the bike off-road with surprising grace.

To see the Repack to Rwanda exhibit in person, visit the International Terminal at SFO airport through February 2013. No airline ticket is required. For more photos check out the online slide show courtesy of SFO.


Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Dirt Trails


7 responses to “Bike Gallery: Historic Mountain Bikes at SFO Airport

  1. TinLizzie72

    September 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    This is really great, thanks for sharing the exhibit. Now I’m sorry I’m flying directly in to Sacramento when I go home (home but for work!) later this year. I might make a side trip though…

  2. anotherheader

    September 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    SFO may be my favorite museum!

  3. Lorri Lee Lown -- Savvy Bike

    September 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    My first adult bike was a Specialized Hard Rock. I purchased it in the late 80s and it moved to CA with me in 1998.

    BTW, lots of suspension components existed for bicycles prior to the mountain bike. When the safety bicycle was first introduced, it was ridden for transportation on bumpy, rocky, dirt roads. To make them more comfortable, suspension components like forks, seat posts, stems, and saddles were invented. With the introduction of the pneumatic tire, most of these suspension components disappeared, only to be re-invented for the modern mountain bikes. Cool, huh? I learned that at UBI.

    • ladyfleur

      September 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      My first adult bike was a Specialized Hard Rock too. It’s the one I locked up at the airport parking for my trip. Those 80s and 90s mountain bikes are amazing. I see them all the time around town, still going strong.

  4. Lorri Lee Lown -- Savvy Bike

    September 19, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I trained for my first AIDS Ride on that Hard Rock for the first 6 months of training. The following year, I sold it to another first time AIDS Rider for $150. It was a great bike!

  5. Ken Dickson

    September 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Damn, we are not flying in till late March! 😦
    Would have loved to have seen it near it’s birthplace. Thanks for sharing Janet.


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