Who was first? This questions often pops up in regard to mountain bike history in Europe. Just as in the US, the MTB’s motherland, there’s not just one name that fits the description. In the US it’s not all about Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and the like, who can be acknowledged as the founding fathers of the sport and culture of mountain biking.
Part 3: Heinz Günter Sattler – Technobull
Heinz Günter Sattler. Not a name we would immediately associate with the origins of the European mountain bike. In fact, the German frame builder and founder of the Technobull bike brand from Hausen (Hesse) was one of the first to focus on the mountain bike. He found inspiration during travels in the US and connecting with the overseas mountain bike scene. It was in 1983 that Sattler released his first ever mountain bike offering, the “Sherpa”. Experienced frame builder Sattler fillet brazed the refined, durable Reynolds 501 tubing and equipped the chassis with brazed rack mounts for a variety of uses. Thanks to this the mountain bike that was described by Sattler in the Sherpa brochure as being able to withstand the “toughest challenge in the heaviest terrain” was also available as a super strong adventure touring bike. One that easily carries a lot of stuff. As if that weren’t enough, Sattler powder coated his first MTB creation and used a sloping top tube for better control on the bike. Among the first to witness the Sherpa’s ride qualities was Arne Körtzinger, a travelling author, who used the bike during his ride across Iceland in 1984.
Furthermore, by realizing special customer demands for his frames, Sattler was one of the first ever European custom MTB-frame builders. Fans of his Technobull bikes – amongst them German lightweight guru Hans-Christian Smolik – rave about Sattlers precision manufactured steel creations. Besides MTB frames, he also produced forks and frames for road, touring and tandem bikes. He even fabricated his own headsets and hubs. Being an active part of the motocross and trial motor bike scene around Frankfurt/Main in his earlier days, he had also worked on motocross frames and suspension. His impressive quality standards may be seen as a result of his former work as a constructor in the automotive industry. Tragically, MTB pioneer Heinz Günter Sattler died from cancer in 1998 aged 59. His sickness is said to have been be caused by working with toxic, lead fumes during brazing over many years without ventilation. Sattlers heritage lives on in the robust steel machines he built – bikes for which collectors are willing to pay remarkable prices on eBay.