If you have any interest in mountain bikes, you should know the name John Finley Scott. Though he is not as well known as some of the other pioneers of the sport, J.F. Scott really was the first person to create a purpose built mountain bike. He built the “Woodsie” bike that you see pictured here in 1953 while he was a student at Reed College in Oregon. Notice that the bike has flat bars, multiple gears, good brakes, fat tires, etc. It is really not all that different from the “klunker” mountain bikes that would show up on Mt. Tam 20 years later. By the way, if you still haven’t yet seen the film Klunkerz, I suggest that make a point to do so. That excellent documentary about the early days of mountain biking contains some of the last interviews with the late Professor Scott.
I had seen pictures of the “Woodsie” bike before, but this drawing of a “Cow-Trailing” bicycle from 1950 was new to me. This illustration, found on Finley’s property after his passing by Vance Sprock of the Cupertino Bike Shop, proves just how far ahead of his time he really was. Check out the part specs too! This drawing is definitely an important part of mountain bike history. It was many, many years after 1950 before bikes like this would become a reality.
Unfortunately it will be posthumous, but John Finley Scott will finally be inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame this year. Billy Savage, director of Klunkerz, is putting together a short tribute film for Scott, which will be shown at the induction ceremony at Interbike this year. I am really glad to hear that J.F Scott is finally being recognized for his accomplishments (thanks to guys like Billy Savage, who featured him prominently in Klunkerz, and to Charlie Kelly, who originally nominated him to the MTB Hall of fame way back in 1989). It’s about time that Scott is recognized for his significant contributions to the development of the mountain bike.