July 20, 2016 -It is with heavy heart that I say farewell to a friend who was an integral part of preserving mountain biking history. Jeff Archer was struck and killed while crossing a street this evening. The Charlotte Observer published details of the tragic and senseless event (and some excellent background on Jeff) that you can read by clicking here.
Jeff was the owner of First Flight Bicycles in Statesville, North Carolina, where his hard work and enthusiasm transformed the two-story brick building into much more than a bicycle shop. He turned it into a mecca for every self-respecting mountain bike geek by curating the largest collection of vintage mountain bikes in North America and possibly the world. Jeff’s historical documentation didn’t stop at mountain bikes. He had an insatiable appetite for collecting mountain bike components, magazines, brochures and memorabilia.
Our face-to-face friendship started at the 2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show when Jeff, who I had spoken to but never met, picked me out of the crowd and introduced himself. The photo above was shot seconds after shaking hands and it captures Jeff perfectly. He was a jovial, friendly and enthusiastic soul who you had to like immediately. Jeff’s energy was infectious. Jeff quickly became my go-to guy for any mountain bike historical fact checking because he knew his stuff, always made time to take my calls and he was never a snob (like so many “experts” I’ve come in contact with over the years).
Jeff was so totally nuts about mountain bikes that he resurrected the much-loved but long-dormant brand, Mountain Goat (the logo on his T-shirt). Jeff told me how the big business deal was put in place. “I was stuck in a traffic jam, so I called Jeff Lindsay, the founder of Mountain Goat, and ran the idea by him. His first questions was, ‘Do I have to do anything?’ I told him no, and his next words were, ‘Well, have fun then!’”
And “fun” is exactly what Jeff had with his little project. He did not bring the brand back from dead just to run to China, pick a frame out of a catalog and plaster a Mountain Goat sticker on it. Hey, don’t laugh. That has been done many times. Instead Jeff, who was always a fan of the early Klunkers, came up with the F-K-R (Fat-tired Klunker Replica). He worked with Curtis Inglis to design the frame that is unique to Mountain Goat. Special attention was paid to how the tubes flowed into one another. The head tube badge is cast out of the original mold, and the Goat Head coins were made by Jen Green. The classic “Goat’s Horn” paint was applied by Russ Pickett (AirArt), who also painted earlier Mountain Goat bikes.
Jeff was nominated in 2016 for induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and he was voted in on the first ballot. The honor was long overdue and serves as a fitting tribute to this wonderful man. Godspeed, Jeff. You are already greatly missed.