The mountain bike is a new resource that will soon prove its value on a global scale. It will come to be known as a sane, friendly technology bringing solutions to the world's pollution and transportation problems while helping to heal humanity through contact with nature.
Awards/ArticlesOriginal founder of Wilderness Trail Bikes. Severed ties to the company March 2002, along with Steve Potts.
The first aluminum mountain bikes were custom built by Charlie Cunningham for the sport's earliest champions. Riding aluminum gave a racer about a five pound advantage on everyone else, a fact that was used to its fullest by the sports pioneer, Jacquie Phelan . "Steel is Real" --flimsy motto from the early eighties. Aluminum was considered by the competition to be inferior to steel, yet "hams" are all still ridden today--a testimonial to the durability of a well-crafted work. The most famous one, "Otto", had a ten-year career in the pro ranks, ridden by Phelan, who went under the nom de knobby "Alice B. Toeclips". Sometimes an old bike is not in the possession of its rightful owner. In the early days, mountain bikes were like thief magnets, and you never left one unattended. Even locks weren't a guarantee against a determined bike thief. Charlie's bikes cost nearly three times what steel custom-built bikes cost, an added liability to the hundred or so Cunningham clients.
Charlie's personal bike, with hand-machined brakes and many unique touches, was stolen from a display case at the museum exhibit of the United Airlines Terminal in San Francisco International airport in 1989. Of the ten custom bikes displayed, the "Ham" proved irresistible to ...someone, we'll never know! We just hope some day it will find its way back home here, scuffed but rideable.
His design work suffuses the entire body of off-road componentry and a long list of now-common innovations are traced to his drafting table from 1978 to the present. When there is time to list them all, we'll add them to this site. Charlie Cunningham and Steve Potts, founders of Wilderness Trail Bikes, are no longer associated with that company as of March 19th 2002. For details about the changes read the following in-depth interview with Grant Petersen of Rivendell.
Bike SpecificationsName: "Charlie Cunningham Indian"
Weight: 25 1/2 lbs.
Size: (Center to top) 21"
Wheel Base: 41 3/8"
Standover Height: 30"
Top Tube Length: approx. 22"
Head Angle and Seat Angle: 71 degrees and 71.5 degrees
Fork Rate: 1.875"
BB Height: 11.8"
Chainstay Length: 16.875"
Frame Materials: Heat Treated 6061-T6 Aluminum
Derailleurs: Modified Shimano front, Suntour rear
Wheel Size: 26"