Mountain Goat Cycles - History


Jeff Lindsay built his first road bike in 1972 as a grad project.  As often happens, friends saw the bike and wanted Jeff to make them a bike just like it.  Pretty soon, Jeff was making as many W.J. Lindsay road bikes as he could.  Towards the end of the 1970's, Jeff went back to glass blowing and put aside the bike building.  When the mountain bike emerged, Jeff took a look at it and decided to pursue the trend. 

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At the 1981 bike trade show, there were three custom mountain bikes. One each from Tom Ritchey/Gary Fisher, Victor Vicente and Jeff Lindsay.  Instead to using the Lindsay name, Jeff came up with Mountain Goat name to better suit the new style of bike.  Those early bikes featured ovalized tubing and custom made one-piece bar/stem combinations as seen to the left.  At this time, there were no mountain bike specific parts which left builders to pull together some interesting parts from varied sources.  Mafac tandem brakes and TA Cyclotourist cranks from France.  Suntour touring derailleurs and BMX pedals from Japan.  Phil Wood hubs from the USA.  Brake levers and cables from motorcycles.  Tires and rims from BMX cruiser bikes.   There was a lot of time and effort expended on collecting these parts from various sources and making them work together.

As the mountain bike market expanded in the mid 1980's, different models were designed for different purposes.  Jeff introduced the RAD (Ride All Day) geometry on the Deluxe model which was similar in construction to the earlier bikes.  The Whiskeytown Racer (named after a famous off-road race) was the lighter more agile race style bike.  You sacrificed some comfort for a more race-worthy bike.  The less expensive Escape Goat mimicked the RAD ride of the Deluxe but at a more affordable (TIG welded) price.  The classic green-orange team splatter paint job made it's debut and Goats were becoming known for the wild paint schemes and attention to details.  By June of 1987, a magazine quotes Jeff as having made 100 racing frames, 75 touring frames, 250 mountain frames and 8 tandems.

By the late 1980's, the mountain bike market was exploding and all the major manufacturers had jumped in with both feet.  This was bringing more of a "mass market" mentality to the market and prices were dropping with all of the bikes being imported from overseas.  Mountain Goat responded by importing the Trench Goat model.  Designed by Jeff and featuring the Mountain Goat ride, but at a more affordable price.  The Trench Goat was sold in a salmon color with white splatter on one side of the bike and yellow splatter on the other side and used the less expensive Shimano Deore components.  The Uni-Stay wishbone rear end made its debut in 1989 on the Whiskeytown Racer models.  Jeff Lindsay was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1989.

The early 1990's ushered in the era of the high-end CNC machined components.  Seemingly overnight, small companies sprung up and started making outrageously expensive and often brightly colored bike parts.   Mountain Goat furthered this trend by offering the "American Pick" parts group featuring Grafton cranks, pedals and brakes with a King headset, Mountain Goat stem, American Classic hubs, Kronos Ti bottom bracket with a Suntour XC Pro drive train.  1991 saw the introduction of the Route 66 which was a flat-bar 700c wheeled bike.  It was often seen in magazines with high end American parts or Campagnolo groups and listed for close to $3,000.  This could arguably be called one of the fathers of the current 29" wheel mountain bikes.  All the ingredients were there except for the current high-volume tires.  Suspension forks were becoming more popular and Mountain Goat often came with painted to match forks which even further enhanced the look of the bikes especially compared to the competition which was sporting stock black or silver colored suspension forks.

As the 1990's progressed, two trends started to take over the industry; the push towards lighter weight bikes and full suspension.  Switching to aluminum was one of the simplest paths to a lighter weight bike so Mountain Goat introduced the Mudslinger.  The Mudslinger featured the state of the art Easton Program tubing and used two "Tower of Power" CNC yokes to attach both the seat and chain stays.  On the full suspension front, Mountain Goat came out with the Whiskeytown FS.  The design came from Brian Hall who had designed it as his masters project at Chico State University.  Mountain Goat also started offering access to the paint shop and allowed customers to upgrade their current rides with new paint, braze-ons and suspension fork conversions.  1995 saw the introduction of the final new production bike from Mountain Goat, the Joule.  The frame featured Tange Ultimate oversize cro-moly tubing and was set up to run suspension forks which were becoming almost standard equipment on all bikes. 

Towards the end of the 1990's, there was a homogenizing of the mountain bike market.  The classic hand-made rigid steel bike had morphed into a Chinese suspended aluminum bike.  Many of the sports pioneering companies such as Mountain Goat, Breezer, Klein, Bontrager, Fisher,  Grove Innovations, Salsa and Interloc were either going out of business or being purchased by larger corporate entities.  In this atmosphere, Jeff went back to glass work with his own company, Cutting Edge Products.

Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the classic mountain bikes.  There are Internet forums, web sites and discussion groups dedicated to the vintage bikes.  The mainstream media has picked up on the trend and there have been articles in most of the bike-related publications about this renewed interest.  Several documentary projects have been launched to chronicle the beginnings of the sport and its colorful history. Mountain Goat has figured in this history with some of the most innovative bikes in each era of the sport.  With this in mind, First Flight Bicycles is proud to reintroduce the Mountain Goat line of bikes.  Take a look around the web site and witness the "Rebirth of the Legend".


Original Mountain Goat catalog scans (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

From the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

Induction Year: 1989

Jeff’s Mountain Goat bicycles were one of the first hot names in custom mountain bikes. As a rider, racer, race promoter, designer, and manufacturer, Lindsay has continued to provide expertise for the technical development of mountain bikes.

Jeff began road racing in his early teens in 1962 as a junior racer. He and Gary Fisher were in this together, and their association found them years later developing bikes neck and neck. Starting with road frames in 1972, he progressed to mountain bikes in 1981.

Center clamp type stems, braze-ons, and socket type investment fork crowns with the Mountain Goat Logo were Jeff’s ideas for furthering the technological aspect of bike building.


January 31, 2007

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