top of page

Paul Brown Santa Rosa Vintage Mountain Bike

First, an introduction to Paul Brown, a very well-respected bicycle mechanic and bike shop owner of Cycle Dynamics previously based in Novato, California. Paul was involved at the 1985 Coors Classic Bike Race, driving his shop Vanagon which carried the Dutch and Russian spare team bikes and mechanics. He is also a very talented glass blower, having started blowing glass at the Sausalito Art Center in 1970 and then having his own studio in Whittier, before moving back to Marin and working part-time at Sunshine Bikes in Fairfax alongside Gary Fisher, Craig Mitchell, and Doug White, all of whom need no introduction!

Paul personally designed and built his prototype ‘Santa Rosa’ vintage mountain bike as an art piece for ‘The Art of the Mountain Bike’ show held at the Braunstein-Quay Gallery, in San Francisco. The show was open between December 1989 and January 1990. See my IBIS Carbon Titanium bike which was also featured at the exhibit.


Paul owned a Flying Junior sailboat and enjoyed tightening and loosening the shrouds to warp the mast for prevailing winds. When he was asked to build a bike for the show, his first thought was a central beam with adjustable cable tension.

Without stating the obvious, when you look at Paul’s bike you can see it is very unique in the fact it uses cables in place of metal tubing. Paul used cable tension to allow the rider to change the characteristics of the bike's riding behavior, allowing for either a responsive ride for challenging trails or a more relaxed slacker geometry.

In Paul’s own words;

One of the things that always bothered me was getting the tubing gauges right for the rider's weight. It's harder to do for small, lightweight riders. An adjustable cable tension bike potentially allows you to dial in the appropriate tension for light or heavy riders. I used to have a little FJ sailboat. And I could also warp the mast for different wind conditions. On my cable bike, by loosening chainstay cables and tightening seat stay caves, the chainstay length would grow, the head and seat angle would go, slacker, the wheelbase would increase, and the bike would act like an early MTB, for sliding it through corners. If you tightened the chainstay cables and loosened the seat stay cables, it would raise the bottom bracket (BB) height, steepens seat and head angles, and raises the BB, making a more responsive rider for technical courses. I built the prototype for the Art show, life got in the way, and the next one resides in one corner of my brain....


The metal tubing that does feature is Tange Prestige. Finally, Paul had Caroline James of Cycledelix paint his bike. Take a look at my Steve Potts CCR bike which Caroline also painted.

On a personal note, what Paul has created is nothing short of amazing, and I would love to ride this bike and experience the adjustable tension.

A huge thank you to Paul, for relaying his thoughts to me, he has a great memory! And if you are the owner of the first photo, please let me know as I'd like to credit you.



bottom of page