Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame – Fairfax, California - Atlas Obscura
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Fairfax, California

Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

Centuries of biking history are nestled in the shadow of the birthplace of contemporary mountain biking. 

Two wheels, an itchy seat, a kickstand: If there’s one thing people love about bikes, it’s their old-school analog humility. But this museum’s centuries-spanning collection illustrates that, in fact, the bicycle has traveled a long road to evolve to its current standard.

Nestled in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, the birthplace of contemporary mountain biking, this museum features everything from a replica of history’s first bike to the beast that won the 2014 Tour de France. To honor the museum’s proximity to those hallowed mountain passes, the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame relocated to join the museum upon its 2015 opening after nearly 30 years in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Museum President Marc Vendetti and Vice President/Curator Joe Breeze are both Hall of Famers, and the collection even includes the second “Breezer” bike that Breeze ever built. (Number one, the first mountain bike, is in the Smithsonian.) With a library, photo gallery, lecture hall and, of course, an eclectic arsenal of historic bicycles, this is the ultimate shrine to what William Saroyan called “the noblest invention of mankind.”

Just look at Karl von Drais’s 1817 Draisine—a thick, unwieldy slab of wood on wheels—next to the Michaux brothers’ 1868 “boneshaker” velocipede. The latter boasts a thin frame of sleek wrought iron, not to mention pedals and brakes. Follow that through to something like a 1940s fat-tired Schwinn, and you’re ready to ditch the streets of Paris for the stubborn clay of Mount Tamalpais.

Know Before You Go

The museum is closed from Monday to Wednesday, and for the first two weeks of January.