by Matt Hayes

This is a documentary by Billy Savage that recounts the pioneering days of mountain biking. I bought it on a whim at the Alpine Shop just after Christmas and finally got around to watching it. Originally purchased as “motivation” during longer trainer sessions, it never made it to the basement as I’m unfamiliar with long (over 60 minutes, are you kidding??) indoor training sessions. Too hard, too boring.

So it made perfect sense to zone out on a Thursday night in front of the bigscreen and continue to “recover” from the Ouachita Cha!!enge. A bowlful of Easter candy and a Miller Light on the table meant it was showtime.

Klunkerz tells the history of mountain biking through interviews, narratives, archival footage, and still photos. Industry legends, as well as some obscure characters, ride the way-back machine to set the record straight.

The documentary is almost 90 minutes not including the 5 bonus features. Like Dogtown & Z-Boys, the old film footage is jumpy but it’s simply amazing that someone even captured the action in the mid-to-late seventies – remember this is before ipods, wikipedia and cell-phone video recorders. Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, Charlie Kelley, Joe Breeze and Charlie Cunningham, among others, provide extensive insight into the past through their interviews, photographs and home videos.

Using crusty, bomb-proof Schwinn Excelsiors, the guys rode all around Marin county and Mt. Tam. Much of the historical footage comes from the Repack races and a few awesome crashes are captured. The best part of Klunkerz is the verbal flowchart that ties all the big names together. You learn that Ritchey was utilized by Gary Fisher’s upstart company who was financed by an outsider who had been-there/done-that 20 years prior off-road, how the manufacturing pioneers slowly grew apart and that basically they were all hippies who eventually became businessmen.

I learned a lot about the sport. I learned that no matter what bike I’m riding I’m not allowed to bitch about its spec, weight or handling. It’s a great documentary and DVD. The small budget coupled with very limited archival media raises a few minor viewing issues. (Editor’s Note: Billy Savage responded with some terrific insight on the making of Klunkerz in the Blog comments area. Check his comments here.) There are several repeated clips and the interviews are a bit static. For every character in the film the same interview location was used for their respective segments. What’s important – and this is where Klunkerz shines – is that the riding masses discover where the awesome fun-ness of off-roading came from. Rumors are unravelled, personalities are explored and we find out that racing is in fact the mother of invention.

The bonus features include a philanthropic segment on Joe Breeze, Tom Ritchey, and Gary Fisher, a brief recap on the making of Klunkerz, and some other Klunkerz-related video clips.

Out of Easter candy and after midnight, I crashed out and dreamed about riding Pearl Pass in Crested Butte, CO. This is a must-watch DVD that ranks among the top 5 that capture the essence of mountain biking. Unlike YouTube quality, adrenaline-hyped 35 minute bike porn that Pricepoint.com literally shovels into your shopping cart for $1.99, Klunkerz sits on the top shelf with the likes of 24Solo and Off-Road to Athens. Support director, writer and producer Billy Savage by buying Klunkerz. I heard he took a financial wrecking ball to the chin for this film and it’s not helping when people download his hard work on Torrent-shopper.russianbackup.ru/fo’real.

Watch it.