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Jürgen Beneke: the German Who Stole the Title from Americans

By Adam Marsal

Welcome to our brand new Legends of Mountain Biking series! We decided to start with a big one – Jürgen Beneke. Those of you that are new to mountain biking most probably never heard of Jürgen, the first man in the history of the nations who won the mountain biking downhill world cup.

THE LEGEND: It was back in 1993 when a full suspension bike was like a revelation for most of us. Jürgen came from Germany and defeated the entire mountain biking elite, mostly from North America. Downhill as an official discipline was totally new for everyone. It also looked much different than today.

The bikes were mostly derived from ordinary cross-country models. The frame tubes were thin, the geometry rather climbing-friendly, the suspension had a fraction of a travel than we have now, the disc brakes were the story of the future and the UCI World Cup was supported by Grundig.

In the nineties all the brands just took their first steps in engineering, which results we find self-evident today. Even if you don’t understand German you can still enjoy the atmosphere of early downhill events, captured at the Cap D’ail downhill race held in 1994. Many riders looked rather funny but Jürgen Beneke was here with a lot of power and skills.

He began with cycling at the age of twelve, originally with road cycling and cycle-cross. In 1992, he discovered the magic of mountain biking and without hesitation took all the stages of Tour de Suisse. The following year, he decided to take his chances in the first edition of UCI World Downhill Cup while racing for Marin Bikes. He stole the title, which has remained his greatest international success so far.

In the following years Beneke became three-times German champion and won a couple of World Cup races. In the overall standings of the World Downhill Cup he reached the second place twice. Additionally, he has also the gold medal from X-Games under his belt.

In 1994, he even made it to the finals of the Reebok Eliminator in Mammoth Mountain, California. With the speeds attacking 100 km/h it was considered the fastest downhill race in the world.


TODAY: In 2000, at the age of 28, Jürgen Beneke temporarily ended his career. He started again with no training with a World Cup race in Canada in 2007, where he finished seventeenth.

Jürgen currently lives in the USA and is still cycling a lot, mostly on road or gravel. He has stayed in the business. Retired for over a decade now, he hasn’t lost his love for bikes and is now selling his own invention. It’s a simple-yet-effective bicycle-and-helmet storage shelf called Shelfie. Rather than trying to accommodate varying frame designs and sizes, the Shelfie supports the bike from the nose of its saddle. As you can see in the pictures, it’s a very practical solution that could help storing bikes even in the smallest flats. You can check the product on Jürgen’s site.