Interview with Billy Savage, Klunkerz director.

Today we have a treat for you, we had the opportunity to E-interview Klunkerz director Billy Savage. Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard or seen Klunkerz. Being relatively new to mountain biking, I learned a lot when we attended the premier of Klunkerz at the Film Festival.

Billy and myself at Interbike

MBR: Billy, thank you for taking your time for this E-Interview. As you may recall, we were at the Hollywood Premier of Klunkerz and we had a great time.

Klunkerz Cast at the Bicycle Film Festival

MBR: What inspired you to make the movie Klunkerz?
Billy: After seeing all the bike porn in the shops, I thought the community was ready for some counter-cultural programming. Of course, Dogtown and Z-Boys was a big inspiration. I saw it at the Director’s Guild before it came out and it got me thinking about the mountain bike pioneers. I was working on a script about Marin in the 1970s and it had bikes it, so my head was already wrapped around the time and place. I knew there had some disagreements with some of these guys over the years, and I was hoping there had been enough water under the bridge for them to come together and try and set the record straight.

The Klunkerz cast signing autographs at Interbike

MBR: Are there any clips that you wished made it into the film but didn’t?
Billy: I shot almost 100 hours of footage, and I looked all over the world for the archival stuff, so pretty much everything I wanted in the film is in there. I wish I could have had access to the work tapes from the KPIX news broadcast in 1979, but those master tapes had been destroyed. There’s been some really fun stuff during the festival tour that I wish I could have put on the DVD extras, like racing Penny Farthings (High-Wheelers) against Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly in Scotland last month.

Gray, Charlie and Billy racing on Penny Farthings

MBR: Was there a founder that particularly impressed you with their vision of mountain biking?
Billy: All of these people are impressive. Their vision of mountain biking, collectively, was coming from a really pure place. They just wanted to have fun. This all came about from a pure love of cycling, not marketing, building brands, or any other commercial aspect. They did it because they loved it. Sure, that other stuff came later, but at it’s inception, it was just a way for them to get their ya ya’s out. And they’re all still riding today. To me, that really made an impression, that, or the most part, they all still rip. Of course, John Finley Scott was of particular interest, since he did all this same stuff in the 1950s, a good 20 years before Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher and the rest made their mark. He did tons of stuff for the cycling community, and his murder shook all of us to the core. I dedicated the film to his memory.

Charlie Kelly

MBR: Bikes have come a long way from the Klunker days, how do you feel about the tremendous technology changes and the incredible popularity of MTBs in America?
Billy: It’s amazing. The same technology that goes into a NASA satellite or a Formula 1 race car, goes into these bikes. I think it’s really cool that, if you have enough money, you can get a bike with these exotic materials. Of course, it won’t really make you a better rider. The popularity of the mountain bike in America has waned over the years due to ‘The Lance Effect’, but it’s still huge. Road bikes are now outselling mountain bikes in the U.S., but it wasn’t always that way. The off-road bikes had the dominant market share for quite a few years. It’s not huge just America, either. Mountain biking is huge in every corner of the globe, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe, people are riding mountain bikes. To me that’s what’s so amazing, these guys built a better mousetrap in their garages and backyards, and it took the world by storm. Good, old fashioned, American ingenuity at it’s finest.

Mountain Biking Legends: Tom Ritchey and Joe Breeze

MBR: Do you race or compete anywhere?
Billy: I’ve done the cross country course at Sea Otter a few times, but it took me most of the day. I usually make it back to the finish when the trash guys are coming in with the empty water bottles and energy bar wrappers. It’s a little embarrassing. I’m not much of a racer, or rider, for that matter. You can ask the guys who’ve ridden with me, I kinda suck. That’s the beauty of mountain bikes, you don’t have to be Ned Overend to really have a lot of fun. Just getting out in the woods with your friends and having a good time is what it’s about for me. Sure, guys like me suck up a lot of dust from the guys in front, but that’s all part of it.

Priceless: MtnBikeRiders T-shirt signed by the Klunkerz cast and Billy Savage

MBR: Are you working on another bike related film project?
Billy: I’m trying to get my feature script set-up somewhere. It’s a coming of age story set in the 1970s in Marin. It’s got bikes in it, but it’s not really focused on them. The bicycle is a source of inspiration for the main character, though. I’ve got a few other projects that I’m researching. I’d love to do another cycling documentary that I’ve been developing, but the time’s not right. I put my name on the note for KLUNKERZ, so I’ve got to sell some DVDs and get the loans down. Speaking of which, KLUNKERZ is available at or at your local bike shop. If your shop doesn’t carry KLUNKERZ, tell them to order copies from VAS Entertainment at ( Ride on!

RL, Jeremy, Gary Fisher and Myself would like to thank Billy for this interview and for creating Klunkerz, a must have video for all Mountain Bikers out there.

5 Replies to “Interview with Billy Savage, Klunkerz director.”

  1. I really digged Klunkerz Billy. Great meeting you at the Film Fest in Hollywood and great seeing you again at Interbike. I can’t wait to see your next project. You bet I’ll be getting that DVD!


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