As part of our test of the Mountain Cycle Goat Horns, Twenty Nine Inches invited Wesley Davidson and Jeff Archer of Mountain Goat cycles to answer a few questions about Mounatin Goat. Many of our readers may already know about the storied marque. Some of you may know that Wes and Jeff also run probably the world’s most well know mountain bike museum. Maybe you also are aware that Mountain Goat Cycles does a few 29″ers too. We talk about all this and more with two guys who quite possibly have the coolest job in mountain biking.

A Mountain Goat Route 29 with a Russ Pickett applied “Bamboo” paint scheme.

Twenty Nine Inches: My co-writer on Twenty Nine Inches, Grannygear, and I have been around mountain biking a long enough time that we both knew about Mountain Goat. That said, our readers may not know the history of the marque. So, why not give us a brief run down of that. It’s more than a clever name for sure!

wESd: 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 of using the “Lindsay” name,(Jeff Lindsay was already building road frames under his name at the time: Editor), Jeff came up with Mountain Goat name to better suit the new style of bike. Jeff Lindsay produced some of the most innovative bikes for almost 20 years. The “Whiskeytown Racer” was the classic performance bike, the “Deluxe” was one of the most beautiful bikes, featuring fillet brazed oval tubing, the “Route 66″ was a 700c flat bar bike that was a decade ahead of the whole 29” movement. Russ Pickett would take these frames and wrap them in some of the coolest paint jobs ever laid on a bike. As full suspension bikes started to become the norm in the late 1990’s, many of the innovative mountain bike companies went under or were purchased by larger companies seeking “instant history”. These smaller companies had to rely on a relatively small but rabid customer base in their struggle to survive. Because of these market forces, Jeff Lindsay, Mountain Goat’s founder, decided to go back to his previous life of working with glass. This was around 1997. In 2005, we revived the Mountain Goat name with Jeff Lindsay’s blessing.

TNI: How did you get to be involved with Mountain Goat?

wESd: Jeff Archer(Owner of First Flight Bicycles) and I had talked a little about doing a custom line for the shop that would allow us to blend some of our favorite things about the vintage bikes we love and new technology. Very similar to what Gary Boulanger did with Cycles Gaansari or Grant Petersen with Rivendell. When we started talking about names we figured the allure of “First Flight” as a bike brand would not have a lot of pull so we made a list including some names from the past and both of us had Mountain Goat as our number 1. Jeff(Archer) called Jeff(Lindsay)[yes that can get confusing] and explained what the idea was and to see if he would have any issues with us using the Mountain Goat name. Jeff Lindsay was very happy to hear that we wanted to carry the brand on and said that if he did not have to have anything to do with it and we had his blessing.

Jeff: Mountain Goat had always been my favorite brand of “vintage” bike (we have about 25 old ones at the shop) and I hated to see the brand fade away. Wes and I had talked about doing a new bike that mixed the best of the new and old and figured it would be neat to bring back one of the defunct brands. Since Goats had always been our favorites, that was our first choice. Heading home from the shop one night, there was a huge traffic jam where everyone had turned off their cars and were just waiting for the mess to clear. I figured I would make good use of the time and gave Jeff Lindsay a ring. He listened to the pitch and just had one question “Do I have to have anything to do with it?”. When I answered “no”, he said to go for it and have fun!

The klunker inspired FKR 29″er by Mountain Goat Cycles.

TNI: Mountain Goat isn’t a “retro” company with “replica” bikes. You are not re-creating the past, but what exactly are you guys up to? There seems to be a brew of past and present here.

wESd: Our main goal has been to blend some of our favorite things about the older Goats but make them to the standards of today. We receive many calls at the shop (First Flight Bikes) with people asking how they can update their beloved bike. This is when the reality of changing standards rears its ugly head: 80mm-100mm travel forks alter the geometry, 1″ steerer suspension forks are almost non-existent, 135mm wide rear hubs don’t fit in the 126mm space, cantilever levers don’t pull enough cable for “V” brakes, shifters are part of the brake lever, disc brakes, no way!…… seems to be a never ending cycle of changes which doesn’t make financial sense and alters what was loved about the bikes.

Jeff: Whenever someone drags out their old bike, one of the first things they seem to do is Google the brand name. When they do this, usually pops up pretty high on the list. The next step is usually to send us a message or give us a call. It usually goes something like this: I loved the way my old XXX rode but I’m getting older and have been spoiled by my new WunderBike with suspension and disc brakes. This is followed by our standard: 1”threaded head tube, cantilever brake, 130mm spacing, non-suspension correct speech. Basically, you need to spend lots of cash to convert your bike and then you will have ruined what you loved about the bike. What we wanted to do was offer them an option with the Mountain Goats. You can get the ride and the feel that you don’t have with your 2010 WunderBike but use the modern brakes and suspension that you want.

The “Escape Route” 29″er will be available by late 2010 with the ability to go geared or single speed as shown here.

TNI: Mountain Goat does a couple of really cool 29″ers, the Route 29 and the FKR. We have seen a little of a new model that Mountain Goat has on tap. That’s the Escape Route, right? Can you tell us more about that one?

wESd: The “Escape Route” is based off the Route 29 with the biggest exception of being made in Taiwan versus all our other Goat being made in the US. This will allow us to have a frame that will retail in the $700 range versus $1400 for a US frame. The Escape Routes will be a 29er with the option to run geared or SS via sliders. We have had two prototypes made and ridden and have made some revisions being worked on currently so hopefully we will have our first order of frames in the near future.

Jeff: The two things holding a lot of potential Goat owners back is the cost and the wait. A base Route 29 frame is about $1400 and it can take 4-6 months to get the frame. Some folks get all bound up trying to figure out every minute detail for their new frame. The Escape Route should help these folks out. Two colors, three sizes, no waiting and about half the price of a custom. Our goal is to get the same ride as the Route 29 but just change the nationality of the builder. We started this project in late 2007 so it has been quite an adventure. We hope to see the light of the tunnel by fall/winter this year.

A 1983 Mountain Goat Deluxe: One of many early mountain bikes preserved by the Museum Of Mountain Bike Art and Technology.

TNI: Okay, I am a retro mtb/history nut. Part of your Mountain Goat brand came out of the growth of the Museum Of Mountain Bike Art and Technology, (MOMBAT)). Tell our readers what MOMBAT is all about.

wESd: When I started working at First Flight in 1997 there was a collection already in progress but it mainly consisted of bikes from the balloon tire, muscle bike and lightweight eras. Jeff had a few really cool Mountain Bikes that had come from trade ins that were too old for most people to want but also too nice to just sell for nothing so they stayed in the “collection”. Jeff had worked in shops all during the early days of mountain bikes and could remember seeing and wishing for something cool like a bike from Tom Ritchey but on a college kids wages he could only wish so when we got the opportunity to buy one for $300 you just couldn’t pass it up. What we found was that there were lots of bikes like that out there that could be purchased for a song and boy oh boy were they much easier to clean than a 1950’s bike that had been in the shed for years and repainted umpteen times. Any of the guys who were considered the masters of collecting in other eras of bikes had all started before anyone else and they were able to find so much cool stuff. We were getting really cool bikes, parts and literature for the old mountain bikes and people were really glad to be getting rid of their old “outdated” stuff. By 1999, the museum bikes were being listed on the web site. The early 1999 version has a whopping 10 mountain bikes pictured. Since our web site was up and running fairly early, we received good placement with the various search engines which got us some good exposure when people search for bike history. When we purchased a bike, we tried to research the history of the brand. As we did the research, it was easier to put it all on the computer so we knew where it was. From there, it was just one step further to put it on the web site so we posted it there as well. Over the past decade, it has just kept growing and has become one of the most recognized vintage mountain bike web sites. Over the past years we have separated to just doing more of the shop stuff and needed to have something for the vintage bikes so we asked for some help in naming the museum and the Museum Of Mountain Bike Art and Technology was decided upon and the site was created and the vintage collection/information has been transferred. MOMBAT is dedicated to preserving the history of mountain bikes and having a place that people can see many of the old bikes and how they relate to what we have today.

Jeff: Back around 1990, a bike collector moved into our area from Arizona and was scrounging local shops for old bikes. At the time I had a his-and-hers matched set of 1970’s Schwinn Paramount bikes. I got some story about how he would like to ride those with his girlfriend and that he would trade me a couple of older bikes for them. I drove down to Charlotte and picked out a couple of older bikes and as I found out later came out on the way short end of that transaction! But, it did get me started on the bike collection so it wasn’t all bad. We recently found an article from 1992 which featured our then-paltry collection of a dozen or so bikes, including our first couple of mountain bikes. And in the interest of full disclosure, there may have been a mullet sighting as well! When I would look at fellow collectors, that had the killer bike collections, they had started when that style of bike was just considered obsolete. The best balloon-tire guys started in the 1960’s and the best Stingray collectors started in the 1980’s. By the time I was looking in the 1990’s, the cool stuff was already squirreled away in collections and trading hands at premium prices. We had taken a couple of older mountain bikes in on trade and they were just used bikes by then. The newer bikes were much improved and the old stuff was relegated to running to the mailbox with slick tires. We started picking up bikes at one-tenth the original prices. It was so cool to pick up bikes that I could only dream about as a $5 an hour shop rat. In the mid 2000’s, we wanted to “formalize” the collection and started looking for names. Ross Shafer suggested giving a nod to the art of the mountain bike along with the technology…….the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology was born. MOMBAT sounded pretty cool and was a wink and a nudge to Jacquie Phelan’s WOMBATs. The next step was to find a logo and Kris Henry of donated his time to make it happen.

When I first started researching the older mountain bikes, I would make notes of specs and what parts were available in what years. All of this was being entered into a spreadsheet but I only had access to it at work so I started posting it on the web site so I could use it from home as well. Initially, it wasn’t even linked on the web site but when I started getting questions, I starting putting up the links. Once it got too big, I moved it to and started trying to organize it better. If you spend enough time on the web site, you’ll eventually find some pages from the 28.8 modem days with little tiny dingy pictures of bikes leaning up against the counter. Sad.

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The retro-inspired “Goat Horns” handlebar/stem combo on our test mule.

TNI: So does being around all this classic mountain bike stuff help create ideas like the Goat Horns handlebars we are testing and the FKR? Or is that from customer requests? Do you guys have a “wish list” of things you’d like to see modernized from the beginnings of mountain biking?

wESd: Definitely, One of the things I have always liked in many of the vintage custom bikes is that most builders painted the frame/fork/stem to match in some form or another. In 2004 I had Jeremy SyCip build me a custom single speed and I definitely wanted matching rigid fork but other than just having a custom stem made I really wanted something different and the first thing that came to mind was the bullmoose bar design. I talked to Jeremy about building some bullmoose bars and Jeremy had been building some bar/stem combos but the bars he was using were an old stock bar that was pretty narrow (22″ IIRC) and had a 25.4 flare in the center so using them for bullmoose would fail on two accounts for me.I thought about a pair of old Salsa steel bars that I had, measured them up and they were 25″ and the bars were 22.2 made to be used with a shim to make them 25.4 so they would be perfect for bullmoose bars. Unfortunately, the old Salsa bars just did not have enough bend in them or width for my liking so I really never used them much. When Jeff built his FKR he had the same idea and called Paul Sadoff to make some bars for us but with more bend and wider to bring them up to todays standards. Since then we have also had them made in Titanium here in the US and a new batch of steel ones made overseas. The FKR is definitely a tribute to the Klunker era of mountain bikes. We have toyed around with a few other ideas but new standards make it hard to do some of them

Jeff: We often discuss ideas of what else to offer. Maybe your readers can shoot us some ideas. Some of the small CNC guys such as Paul Components and White Industries are making modern interpretations of some of the cool vintage stuff. It is great to see those guys still making a living. We’ve already had the Panaracer Timbuk II tires made for us out of the original 1988 moulds so we can offer a natural tan skinwall tires. Black wall tires just look so wrong on 1980’s bikes. There is also a couple other possibilities for bringing back other tires. The problem is finding the moulds. If you can’t find them, new moulds are prohibitively expensive. Grab On made us a batch of the original MTN-1 grips in the original density foam. The grips currently available use a foam that was about half the density of the originals. Obviously, the Goat Horns bullmoose style bars are now available in steel and titanium. We approached a couple of companies a couple years ago about making some colored components and couldn’t find anyone interested. Looks like we were just a little bit too early on that one!

TNI: Wes and Jeff, this seems to be perhaps the coolest job in mountain biking. On one hand you are helping to preserve the history of the sport, and on the other hand you are bringing something of that forward to the 21st century. What is the most rewarding thing for you from that perspective?

wESd: Its definitely an interesting job. In one day you can help a regular family get ready to ride on the local greenway, clean up a vintage bike for the museum and go through every detail of a custom Goat from braze-ons, paint, geometry and more. We are always working on something different around the shop. I really enjoy hearing the great comments on the Mountain Goats whether it’s a happy customer or another rider on the trails. While doing a six hour race a couple months ago I had a guy pass me (yep I’m slow like that) but he slowed back down to tell me how sweet the Goat was and he even knew it was one of the prototype Escape Routes from the blog, then he took off again.

Jeff: The best thing about having First Flight Bicycles, MOMBAT and Mountain Goat is the ability to move between them and keep it fresh. At the shop, it is getting a child their first bike or hearing from the customer who has lost 43 pounds and become addicted to riding. With Mountain Goat, it is being able to work one and one with a customer to design their dream bike. One of our earlier Goat customers was a gentleman who had lusted after a Goat “back in the day” but figured he had missed his chance for ever. His wife thanked us for bringing Goat back so she didn’t have to keep hearing about “that damn bike”! With MOMBAT, it is the glazed look on someone’s eyes when they come down from the attic shaking their heads. Or maybe, playing the “do you have” game. They come down and ask “do you have a xxx” and we go to a display case and find one. It usually doesn’t end until they stump up which can sometimes take awhile. The common thread to all of our projects is the people. At the shop, we make friends to ride with. With Mountain Goat, we make friends that we may have never meet in person. With MOMBAT, we make friends with the people who started the sport we love. So you are right, we do have the coolest jobs in mountain biking!

TNI: Finally, if someone wants to get in touch about a Route 29, FKR, or the new Escape Route, how do they do that? How does the process play out in terms of getting a Mountain Goat 29″er? (Or any Mountain Goat bike, for that matter)

wESd: You can call the shop at 704-878-9683 or send an email to or and can discuss exactly your preferences of wheel size and frame style. Goat updates are usually posted first at

Twenty Nine Inches would like to thank wESd and Jeff for their time in answering our questions.