Old fashioned kids tricycle

Old fashioned kids tricycle

Schwinn Black Phantom

Schwinn Black Phantom

“My new Phantom sure is a beauty — All the fellows say it’s the swellest-looking bike in town.”

Sure is the swellest.  Built between 1949 and 1959, Schwinn Phantoms were the most bodacious, luxurious, and feature-filled bicycles on the road.  There was the deluxe leather saddle, the patented spring fork, built-in horn, streamlined tank, Schwinn fender lights and an automatic brake light, an integrated lock, kickstand, and a luggage rack.  “The most beautiful bike in the world” included whitewall tires, pinstripes and sparkly paint, with chrome all around.

Chrome fenders with lights built in

The tank has a built in horn

Phantom chainguard and paint detail

These bikes were so coveted and awe inspiring that no kid would even consider riding the Black Phantom on his newspaper route.  The bike was the prize that two years of saved route money bought in the first place!  The Phantom was the ride for sunny days and impressing the other guys in the neighborhood.  This wouldn’t end up a “work” bike, that job would still belong to the rusty old Roadmaster in the garage.

Black Phantom bike production was discontinued in 1960.  Balloon tire cruisers had lost favor with America’s youth, and the increasing popularity of “English Racers” (the generic term given to any bike that had thin tires and a few different gears) meant that Schwinn’s 67 pound Phantom was too heavy and inefficient for modern tastes.

“Fenderlite” and “stoplite”

The Swellest!

Schwinn-approved Black Phantom bar stool

This particular Black Phantom is a reproduction from 1995.  Schwinn didn’t overlook a single detail when they brought this one back for a limited production run (and an even smaller run of Phantom bar stools).  The chrome is just as thick, the saddle is still “Schwinn Approved”, and the pin stripes are as sharp as ever.

This bike is as swell as an original.

Ted Smith’s Claude Butler Olympic Sprint

Ted Smith's Claude Butler Olympic Sprint

Ted Smith’s Claude Butler Olympic Sprint

In the bike shop we sometimes get questions about this old bike racer named Claude Butler who seemed to be so famous in the 1940′s and ’50′s. We’ll try to set the record straight with this example.
Claude Butler is the guy who built this bike and Ted Smith is the one who raced it.
Ted Smith was quite an accomplished track racer, winning the Omnium at the National Championships in 1945, ’47 and again in 1948. Additionally, Ted was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 1948 London Games.

Butler head badge

Butler head badge

Butler adjustable stem

Butler adjustable stem

Olympic Sprint front end

Olympic Sprint front end

Ted was slated to ride the road race as well as the team pursuit at the London games. Politics and personal conflicts have derailed many Olympic plans over the years, and Ted’s experience in 1948 was no exception. National team coaches dropped Ted from the road race roster after he competed in local pre-Olympic British races against their instructions… Ted, primarily a track guy, complained that he merely needed some miles on his road bike to get used to operating a derailleur.

Claude Butler drivetrain

Claude Butler drivetrain

Ted did end up racing in the 4000 meter team pursuit event, with the U.S. Squad getting 9th place with a best time of 5:22.
To give you an idea of how aerodynamics, bicycle technology, training and even the technology involved with modern helmets and clothing has progressed in bike racing over the years, here is a comparison: The U.S. womens team did the 4000m team pursuit in Rio in a time of 4:14. That’s fast enough to lap the ’48 mens team 4 times on the 250 meter Rio velodrome.

1949 Flying Scot “continental” Tandem.

1949 Flying Scot Tandem

1949 Flying Scot Tandem

This Flying Scot tandem is a new edition to Jeff’s collection, but he’s had his eye on it for quite some time.

Twenty-five years ago Jeff made a vacation trip up to Vancouver Canada. Like any respectable bike guy, Jeff made it a point to stop in at Ace Cycles to say hello to Loren Atkinson. Loren had this very tandem in the repair stand that day, and as extraordinary as it is, it made an impression on Jeff.

Captain's bars

Captain’s bars

Stoker stem

Stoker stem

Scot front end

Scot front end

Custom bikes and stock models that came out of Rattray’s cycle shop in Glasgow, Scotland, have always been special. In post-war Scotland, Rattray’s cycle shop had become a focal point and meeting place for cyclists from all around Scotland and afar. The Flying Scot name representing the best in hand-built lightweight racing and touring machines.
Jeff had never before seen a tandem with the Flying Scot logo, however.

Brake detail

Brake detail

Panel details

Panel details

Curved seat tube

Curved seat tube

This bike is extraordinary. It was custom ordered by someone who rode it for years and eventually sold it to a local Vancouver resident. Lucky for Jeff it was never updated too much and the original parts were saved and never recycled.

Flying Straight Ahead

Flying Straight Ahead

This bike has a Cyclo twin-wire gear changer with a four-speed freewheel. All of the running gear remains the same as ordered in 1949. The Stoker’s and Captain’s handlebars slide on beautifully constructed and chromed stems. While the brakes work horribly by today’s standards, they look great and stop pretty well for 1949. The frame construction, with the short wheelbase and custom lug work is unique and really extraordinary. The craftsmanship is top of the line. The box lining, panels & pin stripes are great, the decals are intact after all of these years and the stove-baked enamel finish is unbelievable.

1960 Wilier Triestina Junior

1960 Wilier Trestina Jr.racing bike

1960 Wilier Trestina Jr.racing bike

With adult bike wheel for scale

With adult bike wheel for scale

Aw, isn’t this a cute little bike?

Perfect for the first-grader who wanted to beat the school bus home.
This was the race-ready rig for the rider who wanted to keep up with all of the older kids in the neighborhood.

It can be difficult to find a good little road bike for kids, even today. In the late ’50′s and early ’60′s kids typically had to choose between small balloon-tire bikes and mid-weight “English Racers”. The kid who originally owned this one was pretty lucky, considering that his bike weighed about half as much as other options and boasted some fine features.

Neat stem badge

Neat stem badge

Wilier Triestina

Wilier Triestina

Campione Gian Robert Derailleur

Campione Gian Robert Derailleur

We aren’t sure which parts were available off the shelf and which of this stuff was custom. Actually, the handlebar stem was obviously custom as it sports a nice Wilier crest. The handlebars, stem, saddle, brake levers, pedals and crank arms are all reduced in size and perfectly proportional. The drivetrain is a 4-speed, with a Campione Gian Robert rear derailleur and a single shift lever. The 22″ wheels run on tubular (sew-up) tires like any real racing bike, and the bike even came with a matching pump.

Wilier Triestina is an Italian brand that was founded in 1906 in Bassano del Grappa. Since the beginning Wilier took racing bikes very seriously. Offering a junior-sized racing bike would have been a natural choice for a company that has backed bike racers for 100 years. Today it’s the U.S. based United Health Care team, but 20 years ago it was Marco Pantani, and in the ’40′s it was Giro d’Italia winner Fiorenzo Magni.

1955 Norman

1955 Norman

1955 Norman

Bicycles are more fun than bombs.

In the aftermath of WWII, England needed some fun.  Fun and jobs.  Converting English industry from war material manufacturing into peacetime products was the name of the game.

The 1950s saw the creation of the British Cycle Corporation under the Tube Investments Group. The T.I. group owned bike brands like Sun, Phillips, Hercules, Robin Hood, Armstrong, and Norman Cycles (and would later merge with Raleigh).

Sturmey Archer 3 speed

Sturmey Archer 3 speed

Fingertip controls

Fingertip controls

Here in the United States we wanted to help re-industrialize post-war England, so tariffs on consumer goods like bicycles from England were light or nonexistant.  Around 95 percent of all bikes imported into the States in the 1950′s came from England.  Bikes like this 1955 Norman “English Roadster” came to the States by the boat load.

Norman head badge

Norman head badge

Made in England

Made in England

chain guard

chain guard

Built with light steel (for a 1950′s era bike) and sporting thin tires and three speeds, this Norman would have been considered a fast bike. Compared to the big and heavy (but popular) balloon-tire bikes of the American ’50′s, English bikes seemed to offer something different.
A quick look at the back pages of a Schwinn catalogue of the era would show a few American versions of this style on offer, but American bicycle brands (like their automotive counterparts) didn’t want to sell practical or efficient. American brands wanted to sell you something with white wall tires, fins, and a lot of chrome.

Jeanne (Robinson) Omelenchuk’s custom 1960 road racing bike

Omelenchuk road bike

Omelenchuk road bike

This is another bike that was made by George Omelenchuk for his wife Jeanne, an Olympic-level champion cyclist and speedskater.

Check out the other two Omelenchuks in this museum section. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Notice a trend here? It probably goes without saying, but Jeanne must have been pretty special to George.  Nothing looks easy on any of these bikes.  It seems that George went out of his way to fabricate every last bit of Jeanne’s bikes from scratch, or at least give everything a custom touch or two.

Campagnolo version Brooks saddle

Campagnolo version Brooks saddle

Campagnolo smooth pulley derailleur

Campagnolo smooth pulley derailleur

One of the notable features on this bike is the finish.  This is a chromed steel bicycle, but it doesn’t look like any typical bit of chromed steel.  Instead of polishing the chrome to a mirror finish (as is typical), Omelenchuk left most of the chrome plating in the natural pebbled state that occurs midway through the chroming process, and then completed the look with pin striping around the lugs and select polishing.

Custom stem and bars

Custom stem and bars

Campagnolo crankset

Campagnolo crankset

The wheels are customized for Jeanne and very hand-made. Not just pick-out-the-parts-and-lace-them-up hand made either. George cast the aluminum hub shells himself, producing hubs that were extremely wide by the standards of the day (heck, they’re wide by today’s standards, and we pack 11 cogs onto modern rear hubs). The rims were drawn or rolled or whatever the term is by George himself, and were lightened up for Jeanne with 32 half-inch holes machined out of the rim walls between each spoke eyelet. The spokes may be off the shelf (George made his own spokes for Jeanne’s track bike), we can’t be certain. We are certain that the spokes are wire-tied at each crossing and soldered for extra rigidity.

Extra-wide rear hub

Extra-wide rear hub

Rims with weight-reducing holes

Rims with weight-reducing holes

We have seen a lot of really great work by bike mechanics and wheel builders over the years. Cees Beers did some amazing things with his ADA wheels starting in the mid ’90′s, building custom carbon-fiber wheels for clients like Bjarne Riis or Jan Uhlrich. Master builders (and former race circuit pros) like Calvin Jones at Park Tools or Ric Hjertberg from Wheelsmith were the best. But these guys all look lazy compared to George Omelenchuk. George would take materials that were already on the cutting edge of technology, re-work the material and design from scratch, just to squeeze a little more performance out of them for just one rider.

1945 Schwinn New World

1945 Schwinn New World

1945 Schwinn New World

When you have an American-made bike and name it the “World Traveler” you conjure up images of trips taken abroad.  You make people think about exploring the countryside and seeing new things.  The “World Traveler” was a great bicycle name to sell Americans in the latter half of the 20th century.
In the 1930′s and ’40′s, however, Schwinn wanted potential bike buyers to think American.  The “New World” meant America.  As in “Take this bike and see what America has to offer”.  As in “Don’t buy any Old World brand, buy something American-made and ride it on your own streets”.
Before there was a Schwinn World Traveler model, Schwinn offered a bike called the New World.

A.S. & Co.

A.S. & Co.

Front drum brake

Front drum brake

Arnold Schwinn and Company

Arnold Schwinn and Company

Schwinn’s New World models were a great attempt to get American adults on bicycles, and to get them on something other than a British Raleigh.

The New World models featured comfortable upright riding positions and lots of user-friendly touches.  You had light but robust wheels. Coaster brakes for the back wheels and drum brakes up front.  There were chain guards and matching fenders.  On this particular version you had two speed shifting with the New Departure rear hub and its top-tube mounted control lever.

New Departure shifter

New Departure shifter

Blacked out New Departure hub

Blacked out New Departure hub

New World

New World

There isn’t much chrome on this bike.  A few people have asked us if the blacked-out parts on a war-era bicycle were an attempt to avoid being spotted from above during air raids.  No, those parts had a dull appearance for more mundane reasons.  The chrome plating process for shiny bicycle parts uses chromium, nickel, and copper.  All materials that were needed in manufacturing other items for the war effort.

For American bicycle manufacturers, World War II meant streamlined model offerings and no catalogs.  It meant stripped-down models that used less metal.  While Schwinn wasn’t worried about sparkly bicycles being seen during air raids, they did modify their production.  Some bicycle builders actually constructed items needed for the war effort.  Some manufacturers like Schwinn maintained their core business but worked around rationed, scarce and restricted materials while the war was going on.

Omelenchuk track bike

Omelenchuk track bike

Jeanne (Robinson) Omelenchuk’s 1956 track bike

This bike was made by George Omelenchuk for his wife Jeanne, who was a champion cyclist and speedskater.  Among the notable achievements in her athletic career Jeanne won 16 national speed skating titles, five cycling national champion titles (the first women to win the national championship in two major sports), and competed on three Olympic teams.

Dual-plate fork crown

Dual-plate fork crown

elegant front end

elegant front end

The front hub is as wide as the back one.

The front hub is as wide as the back one.

In order to be competitive in cycling you need good equipment.  Jeanne had the best.  Her husband George, along with brothers Walter and Tony, operated one of the most outrageously capable bike and sporting goods shops in the country.  Needed a part?  They’d make it.  Something broken?  They’d fix it.  George, a skilled gunsmith and clockmaker, had legendary machining ability which is proudly on display here.

Two holes between the spokes for the track rims

Two holes between the spokes for the track rims

Campagnolo model Brooks saddle

Campagnolo model Brooks saddle

Saddle detail

Saddle detail

The wheels are really hand-made.  From forging the hub shells to fabricating axles and rims, these wheels were made from scratch.  The rims are real beauties.  George lightened up the already svelte extrusion with some precise drill work (by the way, the wheels are still true). The laced wheels were then tied & soldered at the spoke crosses.  The front hub has the same super-wide stance as the rear wheel (130mm front and back, which is outrageous for a track bike).

The dual-plate fork crown looks great as does the gracefully curved handlebars and stem.

Hey, check out the Campagnolo model Brooks saddle!  No kidding.  This is one of the rarest saddle models you can find.

1940′s Grieder Flyer Tricycle

1940's Grieder Flyer Tricycle

1940′s Grieder Flyer Tricycle

Your first bike was probably a trike.
If you were a lucky little kid in the 1940′s you may have had a tricycle like this one.

If you were really lucky, mom would let you cruise around your block (No crossing the street! Stay on the sidewalk!) on your own.
This Grieder Flyer would have been a pretty sweet ride. Built with care and precision in Bowling Green Ohio, The Flyer was deluxe.

The solid wheels must have made this trike super fast, what with aerodynamics like a modern carbon fiber disc wheel.  Sure, it’s hard to get a tricycle going over 4mph when your legs are only 18 inches long, but with this spoke-less design you had the added benefit that with no spokes you were less likely to get your shoelaces stuck.

Sweet head badge

Sweet head badge

Tough trike deck

Tough trike deck

The Flyer came with a fender, so you could aim for the puddles, not avoid them!  The rear deck (the backbone of all high-performance tricycles) could handle scooter-style riding or carrying extra passengers with ease.

1959 Rickert “Ric Super”

1959 Ricert "Ric Super"

1959 Rickert “Ric Super”

German master frame builder Hugo Rickert fabricated this speedy rig.

For a while Hugo named his bikes “Ric” for short, probably wanting to cash in on some of the great name recognition enjoyed by cycling stars Rik Van Looy and Rik Van Steenbergen.  Mr. Rickert was a cagey businessman, but his plan didn’t last long. About a year after this bike was made, Hugo renamed his bikes Rickert after going through a little trademark dispute with the makers of Rik Super children’s kick scooters.

Ted filed these fork crowns when not racing

Ted filed these fork crowns when not racing

You can call me "Ric"

You can call me “Ric”

Frame detail

Frame detail

Our friend Ted Ernst was an American bike racer making his way in Europe back in the late ’50′s. During Ted’s down time between races he found himself working in Rickert’s Dortmund shop.
Like many apprentice bike builders, Ted spent a lot of time with a file (and probably a broom) in that bike shop. Ted recalls that he filed and cleaned up a lot of fork crowns and worked on the seat stays of quite a few bikes, probably including this one.

Andy Lindsey, Ted Ernst, and Jeff

Andy Lindsey, Ted Ernst, and Jeff

Stronglight crankset

Stronglight crankset

Besides the excellent file-work on the fork crown, there are a few other interesting areas we should point out on this old track bike. The Stronglight crankset is an unusual one with its 6-arm spider. The fork has narrow round blades instead of ovalized tubing, and the seat stays, while being plenty strong, are about the thickness (and nearly the same color) as #2 school pencils.

1955 Schwinn Starlet

1955 Schwinn Starlet

1955 Schwinn Starlet

Isn’t this a pretty bike?

A 1955 Schwinn Starlet in Summer Cloud White with Powder Blue trim.  Schwinn’s catalogue called it the “fashion leader for girls” and then went on with copy calling the bike “dainty, luxurious and with a completely feminine style that’s sure to please every girl — truly the queen of the line!”  Other fashion-wise paint options included Windswept Green with Luscious Lavender trim or Summer Cloud White with Holiday Rose trim.

Starlet front end

Starlet front end

B.F. Goodrich badge

B.F. Goodrich badge

Delta Rocket Ray lamp

Delta Rocket Ray lamp

Superficial ad copy aside, this was a well-built bicycle that was quite popular with girls of the 1950′s.  It featured Schwinn Typhoon whitewall tires, full fenders with pin stripes and darts, a kickstand, a luggage rack, a nice saddle with coil springs, and a Delta Rocket-Ray headlight.

Starlet chain guard

Starlet chain guard

Fender dart and pinstrpes

Fender dart and pinstrpes

Auburn bicycle license

Auburn bicycle license

Schwinn re-badged this particular bike as a B.F. Goodrich, and the tire company sold them at their chain of auto parts stores.  Probably a local bike too, as this one sported an Auburn bicycle license plate.

John Butterfield’s 1954 Peugeot

John Butterfield's 54 Peugeot

John Butterfield’s 54 Peugeot

A high point during bicycling’s lowest time.

Not many adults rode bicycles in America in 1954.  Percentage-participation might have been better, but overall the fewest adults got out on a bike in the mid ’50′s.  Our friend John Butterfield was an exception, and we have some great pictures that prove he was riding his Peugeot racing bike around San Diego decades before cyclists documented every ride with Strava and a GoPro camera.

John and his bike in 1955

John and his bike in 1955

When not working for the Navy, John raced at the amateur level (pretty well too, as he just missed making it onto the 1956 U.S. Olympic team).  He and his Peugeot tore it up in the Chicago area and on the west coast.  Bill Jacoby coached John, and considered him to be a good sprinter.  Besides racing, John kept bicycle wheels spinning even when he wasn’t riding.  John served the sport by managing the velodrome in San Diego and sitting on the American Bicycling League and United States Cycling Federation boards.

This old Peugeot is a good one.  Outfitted with Simplex’s LJ543 derailleur (named for Simplex chief Lucien Juy), a rod-actuated front derailleur, light weight racing wheels with Super Course rims and silky smooth hubs.  The bike has some solid equipment from a time when performance and reliability were suspect qualities for road bikes

Peugeot Head Badge

Peugeot Head Badge

Supercourse Ad-Hoc rims

Supercourse Ad-Hoc rims

Lever-type front derailleur

Lever-type front derailleur

The rear derailleur deserves some notice.  The LJ543 was really the best mechanism that Simplex ever came up with.  Two cables operate the derailleur.  Remove the steel cover plate, and you’ll see a steel pull chain (like on a 3-speed hub) sliding through the grease-filled compartment while it actuates the telescoping pulley arm.  The second cable rotates the pulley arm, fine-tuning the chain tension.

Simplex L. Juy 543 deraiileur

Simplex L. Juy 543 deraiileur

Tough as nails, the LJ543 could handle up to 5 cogs on the back wheel with a 12 tooth spread.  The 1955 Paris-Roubaix race was won aboard a LJ543 equipped bike, as was the mountainous Galibier stage of the Tour de France.

Sorry to break it to those of you who adored your mid-1960′s Peugeots and Gitanes, but the plastic derailleurs that Simplex came up with in those years were pieces of junk.

1953 & 1954 Schwinn Panthers

1953 Schwinn Panther

1953 Schwinn Panther

These are the bikes that every successful paperboy in the country aspired to own in the mid 1950′s.  Schwinn Panthers.

There is a funny story about collecting things that goes along with these bikes.  Jeff Groman, who owns these bikes and much of the rest of our museum collection, didn’t realize that he had two Panthers.

Jeff had bought the first bike sometime in the early 1990′s and had it on public display for years.  The bike was up on a wall in a Kingston, Washington pizza parlor and Jeff simply forgot about it.

1954 Schwinn Panther

1954 Schwinn Panther

A decade later a lady asked Jeff if he wanted to buy the old bike she had kicking around in her garage, and what do you know? It was a Panther.  Another decade goes by, the pizza place remodels (giving Jeff his bike back) and now two nearly identical bikes are hanging from the rafters in Jeff’s barn.

This past December Classic Cycle held a museum night event and we wanted some balloon-tire bikes to show off.  Jeff grabs one of the Panthers for us, but a mystery had sprung up.  Where did the 2-speed hub come from?  The 2-speed was a deluxe option that he was pretty sure he never had!

The steering tube lock made it hard to to steal

The steering tube lock made it hard to to steal

Speedometer

Speedometer

Luggage rack

Luggage rack

So we check out the serial number.  It turns out that the bike in the stand is a model year newer than the placard we had to go with it.  What the heck?  An extensive search of the storage held the answer: 2 bikes.

Panther front end

Panther front end

Panther chain guard

Panther chain guard

2 speeds with this lever

2 speeds with this lever

The Schwinn Panther was an awesome bike that had it all.  Just like Pee-Wee Herman’s big adventure bike, the Panther came with chrome fenders, a luggage rack, springer fork, lntegrated lock, headlight, chainguard and a horn in the “gas” tank.  Our 1954 version came with the New Departure 2-speed hub option.  This was a smart upgrade that made the 65 pound bike just a little more efficient when toiling up and over neighborhood hills.

1948 Roadmaster Luxury Liner

1948 Roadmaster Luxery Liner replica

1948 Roadmaster Luxery Liner replica

The Roadmaster Luxury Liner was a pretty popular bike in the late ’40′s and early ’50′s. Built by the Cleveland Welding Company (who happened to make bicycles for a number of different brands), the Luxury Liner was a fine bicycle produced by skilled builders and marketed by some of the greatest minds the advertising world has ever had.

This bike was so iconic that a replica was produced in the late ’90′s (seen here) to capture the imagination (and dollars) of the adults that had wanted one of these bikes as children.

Roadmaster badge

Roadmaster badge

Side bumpers below the headlight

Side bumpers below the headlight

A horn in the tank

A horn in the tank

This version with the boys’ frame came with bowed metal struts on each side of the bike. The ads called out these struts and named the Luxury Liner “The bike with bumpers!”. From the ad copy, we’re not sure if these bumpers were meant to protect the bike in the event of a crash, or if they were designing a bike for some sort of demolition-derby type of use.

Cleveland Welding Company

Cleveland Welding Company

Luxury Liner

Luxury Liner

Another advertising campaign suggested that the Luxury Liner was “The bike for leaders” and that a kid could rise to the top of the neighborhood hierarchy by riding one.
For the girls model, the folks at Roadmaster went straight to the parents. The Luxury Liner ads for the girls version told mom and dad “How to give that young daughter a thrill”. I’m guessing that the girls’ Luxury Liner was thrilling because they omitted the “bumpers” and let the girls out onto the streets with boys who were crashing into everything.

1961 Bianchi Competizione

1961 Bianchi Competizione

1961 Bianchi Competizione

A Bianchi.  Coppi’s bike.  Gimondi’s bike.  Argentin’s bike.  Pantani’s bike.  A lot of racing heritage over the decades with Bianchi, and a lot of magical properties associated with bicycles that are, after all, just bikes.

If you have checked out the other Bianchis in this section you know that we’re repeating ourselves.  That’s okay, because reproducing great (or at least pretty good) work over and over again was how Bianchi did things in the 1960′s too.

Campagnolo here

Campagnolo here

Cinelli Unicanitor

Cinelli Unicanitor

Campy Gran Sport

Campy Gran Sport

This is the mid-level Competizione model.  A popular bike for it’s sporty handling, good looks and solid components, Bianchi produced the Competizione virtually unchanged throughout the mid 1960′s.  It featured Campagnolo’s Gran Sport components along with Universal brakes, 27″ touring wheels and a Cinelli Unicanitor saddle.

Gran Sport drivetrain

Gran Sport drivetrain

Desimone's Cycle & Toy shop

Desimone’s Cycle & Toy shop

The thing with Bianchi was that even if you couldn’t afford the team replica bike or the higher-end Specialissima, you still got great styling and that Bianchi heritage.  Looking at this Competizione, you can almost feel the epic rides that were undertaken and the great stories that were told after the fact.

This particular bike came out of Desimone’s Cycle and Toy shop in San Jose.

1940′s Vanoli Randonneur

1940's Vanoli

1940′s Vanoli

Hey, all of you Randonneurs out there are going to love this bike.  Perfect for your local French-World War-One-Reenactment-bike-rides brevets, this Vanoli has it all.

650b-sized wheels, the latest miracle wheel size for mountain bikes, came standard on this 70 year old classic.  The aluminum Lefol fenders have a nice looking dimpled finish.  The elegant front and rear racks stylishly hold just enough stuff to complete a 500km randonée.  Check out the industrial hose employed as handlebar grips and the sweet bar-top brake levers.

Touring levers

Touring levers

I think that's 6 speeds

I think that’s 6 speeds

Simplex Touriste

Simplex Touriste

As for the drivetrain, the Simplex Touriste derailleur in back and rod-actuated front shifter manages a staggering 6-gear spread. Probably the most interesting tokens on this bike are in the cockpit area.

Stem washer nameplate

Stem washer nameplate

Randonee medal

Randonee medal

Front touring setup

Front touring setup

On the top tube we have an event medal, perhaps from Paris-Brest-Paris (it’s a bit worn and hard to make out) and on the handlebar stem we have a circular nameplate that identifies the rider.  Looks like this bike belonged to Paul Crestel, and he lived at 71 Avenue du General Leclerc in Bourg-La-Reine.

Warren Bare’s 1948 Claud Butler Avant Coureur

Warren Bare's Claud Butler

Warren Bare’s Claud Butler

This bike was originally owned by a cyclist from Reading, Pennsylvania named Warren Bare.

An excellent regional level racer, Warren won a national amatuer title, and won the Pennsylvania state championship multiple times.

The frame builder, Claud Butler, first opened his bike shop in London in 1928.  Claud was an innovator, and he pioneered many of the designs that we still use today.  Butler modernized frame design by shortening wheelbases and shifting the bike more upright from standard 69 degree seat tube and fork angles.  He developed a short wheel-base tandem in 1935 (check out our version elsewhere in this museum section) and he engineered a ride able three-speed adult tricycle.

Bi-laminate head lugs

Bi-laminate head lugs

Nice wrap around seat stays

Nice wrap around seat stays

This model, the Avant Coureur, first appeared as a stock model in 1948 and featured ”bi-laminate” lugged construction. What is a bi-laminate lug?  Glad you asked.  I think Claud Butler actually preferred to bronze weld tubing together when he made frames.  Tubing angles could be custom, the joints were smooth and plenty strong.  Problem is, everyone thought that the more ornate tube-brazed-into-fancy-lug construction was better simply because it was fancier or more expensive.  So for this Avant Coureur model, the customer would get a frame that was welded together, and then had fancy flat steel “lugs” cut and wrapped around each joint.  Extra strong, extra fancy, more money.

Harden hubs used sealed cartridge bearings

Harden hubs used sealed cartridge bearings

Bowden brake calipers

Bowden brake calipers

Simplex Tour de France type derailleur

Simplex Tour de France type derailleur

Warren’s bike has some other great features.  There are the nice lightweight racing wheels built with Harden hubs (an early design that used sealed cartridge bearings).  The hubs are fastened with neat Cyclo wingnuts.

1949 Claud Butler catalogue

1949 Claud Butler catalogue

Warren painted his BSA crankarms

Warren painted his BSA crankarms

Warren in action

Warren in action

There is the Simplex Tour de France derailleur on the back, managing a spread of 4 whole gears (by the way, we actually have the chain routed incorrectly through the derailleur in our photos. We know.  No angry bike-nerd emails please).  The Bowden brakes mounted to this bike are really light, simple looking, and yet they stop on a shilling..

1940′s Colson Flyer

1940's Colson Flyer

1940′s Colson Flyer

The restoration project.

Everybody loves good before and after photos.  A bicycle restoration project is great at showing the damage that the decades can do, and you get to watch as that damage is erased with fresh paint or new chrome.

A while back, this balloon-tire cruiser came to us as a rusty old relic.  The years were not kind to the old Colson.  While the rust was not deep, it was everywhere.  The owner, a fellow named Gerald Taylor, had a history with the bike and wanted to return the Flyer to its former glory.

Colson Flyer "before"

Colson Flyer “before”

Gerald’s father had purchased the bike upon returning to the Seattle area from the second World War.  Affordable cars were hard to come by in the months following the end of the war, and Gerald’s father figured he could get around on these two wheels just as well as he could with four.  The bike served as a trusty commuter for a number of years before transitioning to recreational use, and finally retiring to the back of the garage.

The crankset "after"

The crankset “after”

The crankset "before"

The crankset “before”

The wheels were beyond repair.  By removing the head badge and the reflectors, we were able to find clean bits of original paint, so the new colors would match.  Parts were stripped off of the frame, and the dents were rolled out of the fenders.

Off to the painter (CycleSmith) went the frame, fork, fenders, and chainguard.

Into the recycling went the chain, pedals, and wheels.

The fenders "after"

The fenders “after”

The fenders "before"

The fenders “before”

Rusty bits like the chainring, seatpost, fork struts, handlebars and stem made their way to the chrome shop (Art’s chroming in Bremerton).

Some of the parts that you find on old bikes are still made today.  No problem getting a Wald kickstand, and the reproductions of the pedals and saddle are well worth the price.  Appropriate fasteners are just a quick trip to the hardware store (no allen bolts or torx heads on sixty year old bikes, thank you).

The head tube "after"

The head tube “after”

The head tube "before"

The head tube “before”

Jeff, who started collecting balloon-tire bikes decades ago, dug up some great matching wheels and tires from a “donor” bike.  Fresh grease for the hubs and some new spokes made them roll and look just right.

Now, I’d like to say this was a quick project.  But it wasn’t.

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right parts.  You have to get on a painter’s schedule (some have months-long backlogs), and it takes a while to get chrome done (Art’s is actually quite fast).  You may have seen the car and motorcycle restoration shows on television where things move lightning fast.  They use an editor.

The headlight "after"

The headlight “after”

The headlight "before"

The headlight “before”

I truly wish we were able to finish this bike sooner, as Gerald missed the opportunity to see his beautiful bike all spruced up.  Gerald fell ill and passed away a few weeks before we were able to finish the project.

The “After” photo is the way this bike would have looked when Gerald’s dad first brought it home.

This bike is for sale from the museum collection.  It can be yours, fully restored, for 00.

Anthony Brothers Convert-O-Trike

Anthony Brothers Convert-O Trike

Anthony Brothers Convert-O Trike

Relatively unchanged for 65 years, the Convert-O-Tricycle is one sweet ride (and still available).

Made top to bottom out of cast aluminum, these tricycles are built to last.  The rear deck can be removed quite easily and replaced with just one of the rear wheels, creating a tough little bike.  Pedaling and balancing in bicycle mode is a bit tricky given that the pedals are directly attached to the front wheel (pedaling action will fight steering input and vice-versa).

Industrial engineer Tony Anthony (his parents really did name their son Anthony Anthony) developed his invention in the late 1940′s while working for the family refridgeration business.

Built to last

Built to last

Aluminum pedals

Aluminum pedals

Unbolt the deck, install one wheel

Unbolt the deck, install one wheel

Since the Convert-O-Trikes have remained the same for so long, it’s nearly impossible to judge the exact vintage by outward appearances.  Based on the previous owner’s recollection, we happen to know that this particular trike is from the 1960′s.

1957 Lenton (Raleigh) Gran Prix

1957 Raleigh Lenton Gran Prix

1957 Raleigh Lenton Gran Prix

Raleigh made the Lenton collection of club-racer style bikes for fifteen years.  Promoted by Britain’s greatest cyclist of the era (and Raleigh spokesman) Reg Harris, the Lenton was a popular ride.
Club racers like this one represent a great era in British cycling.  Earlier road models, typically outfitted with 3-speed hubs, handled slowly and were great for touring, but not for racing.  Later eras saw British bikes that were more specialized.  You had racing bikes with stiff upright frame geometry or stretched out touring bikes like those found on the continent.  Club racers like the Lenton could do it all.

Benelux rod shifter

Benelux rod shifter

Twist the rod to shift gears

Twist the rod to shift gears

The versatile design of the Gran Prix made the bike feel right at home, whether it was touring Welsh country lanes, negotiating its way through an American pack race or cruising a London time trial course.
This Reg Harris signature model has a lot of great bits.  The frame was made from Reynolds 531 tubing.  There’s frame pegs to hold the pump.  Bluemels fenders.  A Brooks saddle.

Reg Harris road model

Reg Harris road model

Lenton frame detail

Lenton frame detail

Benelux Mark 7 derailleur

Benelux Mark 7 derailleur

The steel crank set features the Raleigh heron stamped into the chainrings, and of course there’s the Benelux rear derailleur.  It has a plunger-style actuator operated by a pull chain and manages 4 gears in the back.  The front shifting (with a 3-tooth gear difference) is handled by a Benelux rod operated front derailleur.

All in all a fine bike with a really long given name (The Raleigh Lenton (Marque III) Gran Prix Reg Harris Road Model).

1951 Hercules King

1951 Hercules King

1951 Hercules King

Apparently, the brand name “Hercules” didn’t sound grand enough.

This is the King model Hercules bicycle, built to be as strong as it’s namesake out of seamless high carbon steel tubing.  The equipment choices made this a bike for someone with regal tastes.

Typical for a British touring bike from the early ’50′s, the frame angles are extremely relaxed.  The saddle is positioned well behind the crankset, which made it a little easier to leverage the pedals when pushing a hard gear.  The fork sweeps way out front, a design meant to flex up and down as the bike rolled over rough surfaces.

Vintage Hercules Synchro trigger shifter

The Synchro trigger shifter

Hercules front end

Hercules front end

Relax with these laid back angles

Relax with these laid back angles

Today we take fingertip controls for granted.  In 1951 it was pretty awesome to have the brake lever, the 3-speed trigger and a bell all within a few inches of the handlebar grip.

The finest bicycle built to day

The finest bicycle built to day

Who needs panniers with a seat bag this big?

Who needs panniers with a seat bag this big?

The 3-speed hub was a good one, it sported a Hercules labeled shell made under license from Sturmey-Archer.  To manage the shifting duties, the King used a Hercules branded synchro switch.

This bike was really the find of the 2013 Bainbridge Island rotary auction.  We would be really happy to hear from anyone who knows whose bike this was.

1963 Dick Power

1962 Dick Power track bike

1963 Dick Power track bike

Seriously?

If you can’t get throught this post without making crude jokes maybe you should skip ahead and look at the Schwinn Stingray instead.

Dick Power was a bike shop owner who made and sold some great racing bikes.  His store was located in the Sunnyside neighborhood in Queens, and it was a center for the New York City and Long Island racing community in the ’40′s, ’50′s, and ’60′s.

This is the most unusual design we have seen come out of Dick Power’s frame shop.  Built for a tall rider with a pretty powerful sprint, extra seat stays made for a rock solid rear “triangle”, and limited any top tube twist.

Dick Power head tube badge

Dick Power head tube badge

Dick Power front end

Dick Power front end

Tied and soldered spokes

Tied and soldered spokes

The wheels, built by Dick or another unknown mechanic, have held up beautifully.  They are tied and soldered at the crosses (by a very skilled hand) and each tie point was then painted red to match the frame finish. Tying and soldering spokes used to be a common wheel building procedure.  By bracing the spokes together, the wheels resisted twisting forces better, and spokes broke less frequently.

Dick Power Special

Dick Power Special

Extra seat stays

Extra seat stays

Extra bracing for extra stiffness

Extra bracing for extra stiffness

Dick made this bike with the intention that Arnie “The Governor” Uhrlass would ride it.  Arnie was a fierce and pretty successful competitor (hence the nickname).  Dick built this track bike for Arnie to ride at the Olympic trials, but we’re pretty sure Arnie rode something different for his event (4000 meter pursuit) at the games.

"The Governor" in action

“The Governor” in action

Arnie was a member of both the 1960 winter Olympic team (speed skating), and the 1964 summer Olympic team (track cycling).  As one of a very limited pool of athletes to excel at multiple disciplines, it shouldn’t be surprising to know that Arnie is an inductee in both the U.S. bicycling and skating Halls of Fame.

1960 Schwinn Continental

1960 Schwinn Continental

1960 Schwinn Continental

Brand new for 1960!

“The finest sports equipment you’ve ever seen.  The first really new bicycle in years.  Rides so smoothly, so fast, so responsively, that you’ll have to ride it to believe it.  Smooth action gear shift gives you 10 gear combinations for every riding situation.”  Only 86.95 with easy terms!

Yep, the new Continental was pretty sweet.  A great bike for just under 690 of today’s inflation-adjusted dollars.  A simplex Tour de France model rear derailleur managed five gears on the back wheel, while the Simplex Competition lever-style derailleur managed two chainrings up front.

Head tube badge with protective crystal

Head tube badge with protective crystal

Only .95 in 1960? That's 9 in today's dollars

Only .95 in 1960? That’s 9 in today’s dollars

Interesting frame details all around

Interesting frame details all around

Classy touches were found all over the bike, from the fillet brazed head tube junctions to the genuine leather saddle to the knight’s helmet decals and coat of arms.

The unusual Schwinn head tube badge looks extra radiant (goes well with the ”radiant coppertone” paint) with a thick plastic crystal covering the lettering.

Simplex rod front shifter

Simplex rod front shifter

The chain is indeed threaded properly through this Simplex derailleur

The chain is indeed threaded properly through this Simplex derailleur

While there is a lot of nostalgia surrounding vintage Schwinns like this one, the fact of the matter is that this Continental was a beast.  Regardless of Schwinn’s sales pitch, a real racing bike from the same year would have been smoother (with tubular tires), faster (probably 10 to 15 pounds lighter), and more responsive (with a shorter wheelbase and a fork sporting much less rake).

 

 

1947 Frejus track bike

1947 frejus track bike

1947 frejus track bike

From about 1945 to 1965 Frejus bikes were very popular in the U.S.

During cycling’s dark ages (at least in this country) bike racing enthusiasts would come in from the hinterlands to the few bike shops that carried the prestigious Italian, French, and British brands.

There was a bike shop in Stony Point, New York owned by the late Thomas Avenia.  Avenia’s was a popular neighborhood bike shop that became well known for importing Frejus and Legnano brand bicycles.

Cinelli track stem

Cinelli track stem

Cinelli stem with the old badge on it

Cinelli stem with the old badge on it

Made in Torino, Italy

Made in Torino, Italy

While many Frejus bikes feature rather mediocre workmanship, this one was built to perfection, and it shows through the sky blue paint.  Common to many Frejus machines of the era, this one has nice color with great contrasting panels, and lots of Italian character.

Inch pitch skip link chain was common on fixed gear bikes

Inch pitch skip link chain was common on fixed gear bikes

Ghisallo wood rims

Ghisallo wood rims

The components that Jeff selected for this old track bike are simple and elegant.  The Cinelli stem is adorned with the old coat-of-arms-style badge.  The new Ghisallo rims look great, with a nice orange tint to them (they-re also a lot straighter than surviving vintage wood rims).  The skip-link drivetrain (I think that’s a Magistroni crankset), bars and seatpost all gleam under fresh chrome plating.

1948 Monark Silverking Hex Bar

The Hex Bar, king of balloon tire bikes

The Hex Bar, king of balloon tire bikes

Your Silver King came with an insurance policy

Your Silver King came with an insurance policy

In our opinion, the coolest balloon-tire bike ever made.

The Monark cycle company in Chicago started out as a battery manufacturer.  When they started building bicycles, a creative switch was thrown and Monark became known for designing some of the most wonderful balloon-tire bikes of the era.

Art deco design on the head lug

Art deco design on the head lug

Beautiful stainless steel rack and fenders

Beautiful rack and stainless steel fenders

No welds. Just plug the tubes into the socket.

No welds. Just plug the tubes into the socket.

The hex bar Silver King is constructed of hexagonal shaped aluminum tubes.  Fashioned with a sense of style left over from the 1920s and 1930s, art deco touches abound.  The stainless steel fenders are so highly polished you would swear they were chrome (like the rack and chainguard).

This particular bike was purchased by Bart Fowler of New York City for seventy-nine dollars in 1948.

Can you see the badge behind the fork springs?

Torpedo shaped headlight

Antique bicycles usually don’t appreciate in value, but a find like this Monark does.  Boys balloon-tire bikes rarely survive the decades with the fenders, rack and lights intact.  Young street racers will often strip the heavy accessories off of their bikes, or leave crash-damaged and dented parts where smooth perfection once sat.  Today, this bike is one of the most valuable in the collection.

1950′s Sid Patterson

1950′s Sid Patterson track bike

This elegant chrome track bike is named after Sid Patterson.

Sid was one of the greatest cyclists to come out of Australia. He represented Australia at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Sid won world championship titles on the track while an amateur and as a professional.  In 1949 he won the world amateur sprint championship in Copenhagen, and in 1950, the world amateur pursuit championship.  In 1952 and ’53 Patterson won the world championship in the pursuit again.  By his final year of racing in 1967 he had 12 consecutive Australian championships titles to his name.

Patterson front end

Patterson front end

A.B.C... Australia Bicycle Corporation?

A.B.C… Australia Bicycle Corporation?

Sid Patterson downtube

Sid Patterson downtube

Sid was sponsored by the Malvern Star bike company for most of his bike racing carreer, so it is a little surprising to see that his signature bike has the insignia A.B.C.  We don’t have much information about the origin of this chrome beauty, so if anyone out there knows something about it, we’d be happy to hear from you.

1960 Olympic Team Schwinn Paramount Track Tandem

1960 Schwinn Paramount Track Tandem

1960 Schwinn Paramount Track Tandem

Racing tandems are a bit rare, which helps when we are trying to figure out the history surrounding a bike.

This particular track tandem was raced at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games.

Probably built with a few different riders in mind, it was eventually ridden at the summer games by Jack Hartman and David Sharp.  The young duo raced well, but were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2000 meter tandem sprint competition, ultimately in fifth place.

Schwinn Tandem badge

Schwinn Tandem badge

Dave Sharp's (the captain's) bars

Dave Sharp’s (the captain’s) bars

Jack Hartman's (the stoker) bars

Jack Hartman’s (the stoker) bars

Timing chain on the drive side

Timing chain on the drive side

1960 Schwinn logo

1960 Schwinn logo

This Paramount was most likely built by Ovie Jensen, the frame builder that Schwinn had in the Paramount division during this era.  Unlike most tandems that you see today, this bike was built with the timing chain on the same side as the drive chain.  We aren’t exactly sure of the reason for this little touch, but it’s possible that it was merely a bit of track racing superstition (like not having tire labels on the right side of the bike).  Then again, tandems are rare enough that there are relatively few “standards”.

1960 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team

1960 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team

In the U.S. Olympic Team photo with the bike (left to right) we have Wes Chowen, Dick Cartright, coach Walter Bresnan, Bob Tetzlaff, Dave Sharp, Herbie Francis, Mike Hiltner, Jack Hartman, Jack Simes III, Jim Rossi, Billy Freund, Allen Bell, manager Bud Thorpe, George Koenig, Bobby Pfarr, and Lars Zabrowski.

By the way, the Jack Simes in the middle of this photo is also in the family photo with our 1948 Paramount tandem (the little kid on the right in the picture).

1950′s Armstrong Club Racer

Armstrong 1952 Super Continental club racer

Armstrong 1952 Super Continental club racer

Armstrong head badge

Armstrong head badge

“Made by craftsmen especially for clubmen.”

The Armstrong Cycles Limited company was started by Henry Fearn in 1918.  Henry retired in the 1940′s, but his bikes continued to be produced by the British Cycle Corporation in Birmingham throughout the ’50′s and 60′s.

This model is a club racer type, built for more discriminating riders than the entry-level models.  The bike is a little rough, never having been restored, but it has some interesting details.

The cable continues on to the rear derailleur

The cable continues on to the rear derailleur

The cables run inside the frame

The cables run inside the frame

The Cyclo shifter manages a single tooth difference among the two Fortress chainrings

The Cyclo shifter manages a single tooth difference among the two Fortress chainrings

The frame is built out of Reynolds 531 butted steel, and features internal cable routing for the Hiduminium brakes and the Cyclo Benelux rear derailleur.

The Cyclo shifting system up front manages a one or two tooth difference between the chainrings with a swing of the derailleur lever.

Cyclo Benelux rear derailleur

Cyclo Benelux rear derailleur

Bayliss-Wiley 4 speed cassette and hub

Bayliss-Wiley 4 speed cassette and hub

Dunlop stainless steel rims

Dunlop stainless steel rims

The Benelux rear derailleur shifts over four cogs, giving the bike a massive total of eight gears bridging a six-tooth difference.  As a point of reference, the typical modern road bike has twenty or more gears spanning a 33 tooth difference.

The wheels feature an interesting Bayliss-Wiley cassette style rear hub and Dunlop stainless steel rims.

Late 1940′s Mike Moulton

Late 1940's Mike Moulton track bike

Quite a few layers of paint to scrape off before restoration

It is a little confusing.

There have been three different Moultons making custom bikes over the years.  There’s the British Alex Moulton who made neat small-wheeled bikes with suspension designed into them.  There’s Dave Moulton (also British I think, but he moved to the States), who sold bikes under the label “Fuso” (which means ”molten” in Italian).

And then there’s Mike Moulton, a Californian who made some great track bikes in the ’40′s and ’50′s like this one here.

Nice lines on the front end

Check out the head tube details

Looks like five layers of paint in the "before" photo

Mike Moulton lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Tujunga California. His day job was as a mechanical engineer for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank.  He loved building bikes.  His work shop was the unattached garage at the back of his house.

Mike built bikes for a number of local bike racers in those days. Among those locals was Joe Cirone, the junior national champion in 1947.

Great pinstriping on this restoration

Joe Cirone's chainring on Otto Eisele's crank arms.

Want to lose weight? Get the drill!

This particular bike was built for a guy named Rusty Baker, but we actually have Joe Cirone’s saddle and Chater-Lea chainring on the bike.  A lot of hand work is evident in Mike’s frames, and visitors to his work shop have noted that his tubing and frame fittings never touched a grinder but were all filed by hand.

Late 1940′s Bates B.A.R.

1940′s Bates Best All Rounder

This is the Bates Best All Rounder, a bike that could do it all.

Bates was one of the most highly regarded bike brands in mid-century England.  Started in 1926 and famous in their time for their riders’ racing victories, today they are better known for some of the weird and unique features found on their bikes.

This particular Bates incorporates the bulging “Cantiflex” frame tubing and curvy “Diadrant” fork.  These features seem like gimmicks, but were in fact actual improvements.  Like the frame shapes on modern carbon fiber bikes, the unusual Bates tubing gave the lightweight steel frame some nice rigidity.  The curvy fork absorbed road shock and made the front end more compliant.  These designs first showed up on sub-20 pound bikes back in 1935, putting the Bates company on the cutting edge of modern bicycle technology.

“Diadrant” fork with fender and light mounts

Horace Bates of London

Single speed durability in the geared era

The little knobs on the seat stays and the fork are mounting points for fenders and a headlight.  These little items made for an extremely versatile bike, and they are features that bike companies rarely get right even today.  Little port holes on the head tube, hubs and bottom bracket shell allowed bearing lubrication without disassembly.  A stopwatch holder on the handlebar meant that all of the latest training data was within easy view.

The bat bike. The lugs featured bat wing shapes

Hiduminium means High Duty Aluminum

That’s a stopwatch holder on the handlebar

By the way, there were two London bike builders named Bates.  Horace Bates and EG (Eddie) Bates were brothers and they initially produced Bates Brothers bicycles. The brothers went their separate ways after World War II with the original company continuing as Horace Bates (who built this bike), while Eddie Bates became known as EG Bates Cycles.

1960 Cinelli

1960 Cinelli Model B

This fabulous bike is a Cinelli model B from 1960.

More economical than the Super Corsa (or model “A”), this Cinelli still shows off all of the Italian flair that made Cinelli great.  Sold by Ace Cycles in Vancouver B.C., this classic steel rig would have turned heads as it rolled down the street.  The cool fastback lug at the junction of the seat stays and top tube looked sleek.  The flat-top fork crown made the front end of the bike feel just right, and the chrome sparkled in the sunshine.  The bright red finish was anything but subtle, but I’ll bet it brightened up many grey Vancouver days.

Universal Model 61 brakes

Magistroni crank arms, Simplex rings

Campagnolo Gran Sport

This Mod. B shows off with some of the latest equipment.  Campagnolo Gran Sport parts handle the shifting and spinning duties, while Magistroni crank arms provide power and Universal Model 61 brakes brings everything to a halt.  A new invention, the plastic Unicanitor saddle topped the bike and custom fenders kept it all clean.

1960 Cinelli

Great matching fenders

Sold by Ace Cycles in Vancouver B.C.

Viktor Kapitanov won the Soviet Union’s first Olympic gold medal in cycling aboard a Model B.  Of course, everyone always lusts after the top-of-the-line gear, and upon winning the road race at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Cino Cinelli rewarded Viktor by replacing the Mod. B with his very own Super Corsa.

1964 Carlton Catalina

1964 Carlton Catalina

Fred Hanstock founded Carlton Cycles in the North Nottinghamshire village of
Carlton-in-Lindrick in 1898.  A bike brand that spanned the better part of the twentieth century, Carlton’s heyday began after World War Two and lasted through the late 1950′s, with the company selling lightweight hand-crafted bikes under their own label and secretly supplying bikes to other manufacturers as well.  The company was purchased by Raleigh in 1960, and continued under Raleigh ownership until the early ’80′s.

GB Maes stem

Carlton headbadge

Carlton front end

This particular bike is a nice sporty model from 1964, the Catalina.  Visually a really interesting bike with Capella model lugs, that have really long and pronounced points, and a neat wrapover band at the seat tube and top tube junction.

A few British Olympians rode Carltons

Williams crankset

Capella lugs

Other interesting bits include the GB Maes handlebar stem with the centerpull brake cable stop and the bright and shiny chrome Williams cottered crankset.

1947 Paris Galibier

1947 Paris Galibier #3688

Head badge

Imagine seeing this bike in 1947.

You think disc brakes and suspension looks cutting edge these days?  Consider the impact this crazy looking bike would have had in 1947.

From the original catalogue:  “The object of this superior design, which incorporates larger dimesion tubes, is to produce a higher resistance in the transverse  direction, thereby resulting in a more efficient drive which uses to advantage every ounce of the cyclists effort.

Paris frame decal

Paris drivetrain

Paris main "triangle"

Simplex derailleur managed a 4 tooth gear difference

Adjustable stem, early waterbottle

Triathlon bike bottles use an old design...

The Paris Galibier model has a certain elasticity which allows it to flex in such a manner that the shocks received by the wheels are efficiently damped, and this noticably improves the holding of the road at racing speeds”.

For decades the ad copy has been nearly the same and every bike company claims that   ”Our bike is laterally stiff and vertically compliant.”

1948 Schwinn Paramount Track Tandem

1948 Schwinn Paramount Tandem

Schwinn’s Paramount division built this track bike for Jack Simes II in 1948.

Jack II is the second generation of four generations of a fantastically talented cycling family.  Jack Senior, Jack II, and Jack III all together had multiple national records, championship medals, and olympic berths (there is a Jack IV, and he is making his way as a bike racer too).

The Heid and Simes Families, Jack III is kid on the right

Jack Heid with Jim MacQueen, the Schwinn sales rep, and Jack Simes II

Simes partnered with his protege Jack Heid and tore up the track with this bike.

It was the first “Paramount” tandem ever built (Schwinn had made tandems for casual cyclists before, but nothing from the Paramount racing branch of the company).

Fillet brazed joints throughout the frame

Jack Heid stoked in the back…

Jack Simes II rode up here in the captain’s spot

The paint has been restored, good as new…

Schwinn Tandem Headbadge from the 1940s

A magazine article from back in the day

The fillet brazed lugs are magnificent, and the design of the bike was quite versatile, with enough clearance for large tires so that Jack and Jack could race on the occasional dirt track.

By the way, in the family photo, notice the little boy standing by the front handlebars?  That’s Jack Simes III, and he makes another appearance in this museum section with our photo of the 1960 Olympic cycling team and the 1960 Paramount tandem…

1953 Schwinn Varsity

1953 Schwinn Varsity

The Schwinn Varsity is probably the most important bicycle ever made in America.

You may remember the Varsity as that heavy old bike you used for basic transportation during the oil crisis of the 1970′s, or the hand-me-down that you took to college without fear of it getting stolen in the 1980′s. The Varsity should be remembered for more and better reasons than these.

Schwinn produced the Varsity as far back as the early 1950′s.  Feeling an obligation to at least try to keep people riding bikes past their teenage years, Schwinn made adult bikes for a nearly nonexistant U.S. market during the bicycle bust decades of the 1940′s, ’50′s, and 60′s. Profits from sales of kid’s bikes supported their attempts to get adults riding.  Schwinn kept advertising their adult bikes, and produced some great models.

Schwinn Tophat Logo like on the Paramounts

Headbadge with the little wings on the sides

Schwinn decal on the downtube

Schwinn believed in cycling for transportation, cycling for health, and in cycling for sport.  The company was persistant in their search for a model that would lure the non-rider into becoming a casual rider, or entice the casual rider into riding more frequently.  That bike model would turn out to be the Varsity.

Finned fender like on autos of the day

The Varsity was made for over thirty years

Three speeds and fenders on this "Lightweight"

Made in vast quantities using Schwinn’s electro-forging process, the Varsity became the bicycle world’s VW Beetle.  Cheap, durable, and appealing to lots of different riders, the Varsity is a still a popular bike, even today.  This particular bike was the subject of a spirited bidding war at this year’s Rotary Auction on Bainbridge Island.

1951 Flash Cycle made by Eddie Barron

Eddie Barron's Flash Cycles

This Flash bicycle is part of the legacy of Eddie Barron, a champion for the sport of cycling in general, and of bike racing in Western Australia in particular.

Following his service in World War II, Eddie returned home to Midland, a suburb in the Perth area of Western Australia.  Across the street from the old track was Ajax Cycles, and it was for sale.   Eddie bought the store, changed the name to Flash Cycles, and proceded to become one of Australia’s greatest cycling boosters.

Flash head tube lightning bolt

Anodized Airlite hubs

Flash crankset detail

Eddie promoted races on the road and at the track.  He ran the old Midland Cycling Club (founded in 1899) for decades, and put up prize money for local races.  While employing local cyclists to work the front of his shop, Eddie brazed wonderful racing rigs with his lightning bolt emblem in the back room.

Flash stem

Number 358

The Perth SpeedDome on Eddie Barron Drive

Today, one of the finest velodromes in the world is the Perth SpeedDome.  The SpeedDome arena covers a 250 meter track made from Siberian pine, and is located on Eddie Barron Drive in Midland.  It would be a great place to take this chrome Flash for a spin…

1952 Fiorelli

1952 Fiorelli track bike

The great Italian champion Fausto Coppi once rode on a Fiorelli.  When Fausto set up the Carpano-Coppi team, he equipped the squad with bikes labeled with his own name, produced by the Fiorelli Brothers (Rinaldo, Mario and Lino).

The brothers’ shop was based in the beautiful Piedmontese town of Novi Ligure, which Fiorelli helped turn into an Italian cycling capitol in the ’30′s and ’40′s.

The Fiorelli name lasted into the 1990′s, when the brand was purchased by Fratelli Masciaghi manufacturers, primarily for the rights to the Coppi name.

Original race bib wrapped around the rider's waist

The Magistroni crankset came with brass bolts

Fiamme red label track rims

This bike belonged to the son of a Minneapolis dentist.  It was raced hard in the early 1950′s, and was ridden in the Minneapolis Six-Day in 1954.

"Novi L. RE"...Novi Ligure, a beautiful village in Italy

Deep drop Ambrosio handlebars

The Cinelli Unicanitor saddle was light (but uncomfortable).

The bike was originally a split-pea green, but was refinished in 2002 by CycleArt in this gloss black.  The bike features Fiamme red label track rims, Magistroni components, a plastic Cinelli Unicanitor saddle, and Ambrosio aluminum handlebars.  Note the pencil-sized seat stays and the nice lugwork around the head tube and fork crown.

Tommy Smeriglio’s 1940′s Dick Power

Tommy Smeriglios Dick Power

Tommy Smeriglios Dick Power

You.  At the back of the class.  No snickering.

Dick Power made and sold some great racing bikes in the middle part of the last century.  Dick Power cycles was located in the Sunnyside neighborhood in Queens, and was a center for New York City and the Long Island racing community.

Sometime in the 1940′s Dick made this trusty racing bike for local star Tommy Smeriglio.  While not one of the prettiest bikes in the museum collection, this battered and bruised bike probably has the most race wins of any of our bikes stored up in its old tubes.

Dick Power Special

Dick Power Special

Tommy with Ernie Landis at a race start

Tommy with Ernie Landis at a race start

At least a couple of these were won on this bike

At least a couple of these were won on this bike

A very active amatuer racer on the east coast, Tommy specialized in long distance timed events and road races.  He raced in pretty much every bike race the Unione Sportiva Italiana held between 1938 and 1952, and set numerous records while doing so.  He won the 1938 USI two-hour team time trial, the 1939 Cocce Memorial 25 mile time trial, a 1943 USI 200 mile time trial, the 1946 USI sprint series, and the 1950 Worcester road race.

Oscar Juner’s 1962 Flying Scot

Oscar Juner's Flying Scot bicycle

In 1900, David Rattray and his sister Agnes opened their bicycle shop in Glasgow, Scotland.  Over the next 83 years, their business would become famous for producing Scotland’s premier lightweight bicycle, “The Scot”, sometimes better known as “The Flying Scot”.

In-house bicycle production started in 1928, and was quite brisk leading up to the war, when the shop was contracted to produce pins for Bailey Bridge construction.  In post war Scotland, Rattray’s cycle shop grew under the stewardship of Rattray’s partner Jack Smith to become a focal point and meeting place for cyclists from Scotland and afar, the Scot name representing what was considered to be the best in hand built lightweight racing and touring machines.

The pride of Glasgow

Olympic Rings for various British team members

The Scot head tube badge

This Flying Scot, while being somewhat custom and unique (as they all were), appears to be their “Continental” racing model from the early ’60′s.  It features Nervex Professional lugs and Reynolds 531 tubing, Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleurs, GB Coureur 66 brakes, a Brooks (what else?) saddle, Wolber rims, and sew-up tires.

GB Coureur 66 brakes

Campagnolo Gran Sport

That little knob is a grease port for the headset

This particular Flying Scot was originally owned by Oscar Juner, founder of American Cyclery in San Francisco.  Like Rattray’s, Juner’s bicycle store on the edge of Golden Gate Park was (and still is) a beacon to cycling enthusiasts from far and wide.

Flying Scot 1962 Catalogue

A former Six-Day track racer, and part of an immensely influential cycling family from New York (see brother Augie’s 1930 Appelhans), everyone in the Bay Area who frequented American Cyclery would have wanted to ride the bikes that Oscar rode.

Knowing bike shop owners as we do, it is likely that Oscar began importing Flying Scot bicycles originally because he just really wanted to ride one himself…

1940′s Andy Hamel

1940's Flying Gate by Andy Hamel

Andy Hamel

Andy Hamel, a well known bike racer and craftsman from Long Island, built this unique bike.

The crazy design is based on the 1936 Baines ” Whirlwind”, sometimes called the “Gate”, and made popular more recently by British builder Trevor Jarvis as “The Flying Gate”.

The ideas surrounding this design is that if you interupt the seat tube you can make the wheelbase extremely short, speeding up the handling.  Also, if you can create a bicycle that makes people ask “Hey, what kind of bike is that?” every time it is wheeled out into public, you can sell more bikes.

Funky severed seat tube design

St. Christopher Medal, Hamel head tube badge

Seat stays, tubes, beams, struts

Someone went crazy on his saddle with a drill

Custom dropouts to manage all those tubes

Since all of the tubing sizes, angles, and junctions are each a little unique, Andy brazed the tubes together without using custom lugs, as Trevor Jarvis would later utilize on his more ornate Flying Gates.

Check out the saddle on this bike.  The owner went a little crazy with a drill, customizing the seat to make it lighter (or more flexible and comfortable, not sure the actual motivation).

Andy Hamel built this bike in his Glendale, Long Island workshop sometime in the late 1940′s.

Late ’40′s Lazzaretti

1940's Lazzaretti racing bike

Lazzaretti Bike Shop, Rome 1915

This Lazzaretti shows off some of the most spectacularly detailed Italian craftsmanship found on racing bikes from the ’40′s and ’50′s.  With more ornate construction than our Legnano or Galetti museum bikes from the era, the Lazaretti stands out as a small production bike shop brand that probably had a very loyal local following.

Two brothers, Remo and Romolo Lazzaretti, opened a small bicycle and sewing machine repair shop in Rome during World War I.

Romolo's likeness on the badges

Fine top tube lug and Magistroni headset

Remo’s great entrepreneurial talent turned the little commercial venture into a thriving business, capitalizing on the racing exploits of brother Romolo.
Romolo rode full European racing campaigns, including the Giro di Italia, Milan San Remo, The Giro di Lombardia, and the 1925 Tour de France.  He competed alongside Binda, Girardengo, Belloni, Bottechia, and other cycling giants of the twenties, and won a stage of the 1924 Giro.

A cool bike from central Rome

Oil port on the bottom bracket shell

The post binder goes right through the stays

In 1939, the factory was tapped by the Fascist Government to manufacture aluminum water bottles for the Italian Army.
This bike is from the late 1940′s, an era that saw the Lazzaretti brothers return to their bike racing roots.   Today, the heirs of the Lazzaretti brothers still run two stores in Rome.  In 1996, Romolo Lazzaretti Jr. moved to Brazil where he set up a bicycle importing business.

1955 Schwinn Hornet

1955 Schwinn Hornet

For most of the 1950′s, one out of every four bicycles sold in the U.S. was a Schwinn.

This was the era in which Schwinn created an authorized dealer network and broke away from department stores. To be a Schwinn dealer really meant something.  Schwinn dealers received training on everything from repair and bike assembly to what parts to stock, suggested store design, service area set-up and selling techniques.

Authorized Schwinn bike shops flourished in the fifties and around 500,000 bikes were sold each year from 1950 to 1959.

The chainguard has a little cartoon hornet on it

The horn is built in to this tank with a button on the side

The "Spitfire" range was the Hornets, Panthers, and Black Phantoms

A rack perfect for carrying newspapers on your route

Springs front and back for major comfort

1955 Schwinn Hornet catalogue entry

The Hornet, the mid-level balloon tire bike in the line, was everywhere.  The brochure said it all:  “Here is a fully equipped bike at a price that’s hard to beat — and you get famous Schwinn quality and styling, too! Features include tank with horn, chrome truss rods and torpedo headlight.  Sturdy luggage carrier on 26-inch models.”  What more could you want?

I would have wanted a lighter bike.  Mid-century Schwinns were beasts.

This bike was hefty enough to keep you safe in the event of a tornado.  The 1955 Schwinn catalogue listed the boy’s Hornet at sixty and one-half pounds, so if a twister was threatening to carry you off to Oz, you simply had to hold tight to your handlebars and everything would be fine.

Jeanne (Robinson) Omelenchuk’s 1950′s Omelenchuk

Jeanne’s 1950-something Omelenchuck

Jeanne and George Omelenchuk

This bike was made by George Omelenchuk for his wife Jeanne, a champion cyclist and speedskater.

George, along with brothers Walter and Tony, operated one of the most outrageously capable bike and sporting goods shops in the country.  Needed a part?  They’d make it.  Something broken?  They’d fix it.  George, a skilled gunsmith and clockmaker, had legendary machining ability.

Spoke turn-buckles and machined dropouts

Custom machined stem

If it was hard to find good parts, just make them in house.

Hub casting (Tony Omelenchuk’s initials)

The front end is as wide as the back

Take a close look.  The brilliance is in the details.  Up front we have a custom front hub and fork, built as wide as the rear end of the bike, a design that must have been quite a bit more rigid laterally when ridden on banked velodromes.  Next, check out the rear wheel.  Built with a specially extruded rod rim, with a tubeless tire casing glued directly to the aluminum.  The spokes, having been soldered at the rim, are adjusted with little turnbuckles halfway down their length.  From handlebar stems to hubs to pedals, the Omelenchuk shop made their own equipment, and they made it well.

The Omelenchuks had quite an influence on athletics in the midwest.  Together with coach Mike Walden and the Wolverine Sports Club in Detroit, the “Michigan Mafia” took home countless national victories in cycling (and speed skating).  Jeanne Omelenchuk won 16 national speed skating titles, five cycling national champion titles (the first women to win the national championship in two major sports), and competed on three Olympic teams.

Charlie Bergna’s “Hill Cycle”

Charlie Bergna's Urago "Hill Cycle"

This is Charlie Begna’s 1940s era Urago track bike. 

Sometimes history isn’t pretty, as this bike proves.  Rough lugs.  An ugly saddle. Road bars on a track bike.  A brake bridge that has been hastily added to the bike, so it could be used on the road.  The components and design are tough and well used, but not very elegant.  For example, the aluminum-clad wooden welt meister rims were strong and fairly light, but don’t show off the beauty of the wood or a shiny refined extrusion of the metal.

Hill Cycle made it possible to use a brake for road rides

Repaired and repainted by Jerry Casale at Hill Cycle in Philadelphia, this bike is historically significant not by what it is, but by who owned it and who worked on it.  Charlie, the rider, and Jerry, the shop owner, helped to keep bike racing alive in this country during some otherwise dark decades for the sport.

Charlie was the national champion in  1937, and had a  professional career that spanned the war and into the late 1940s.  Charlie won numerous six-day races, including the Winnepeg Six in 1948 and Cleveland in 1949.  After his cycling career had finished, Charlie was one of Raleigh bicycle’s first two traveling sales representatives.  His vast sales territory included the entire eastern half of the United States.

Harold Gulbranson, Ray Mazelli, and Danny Morris at a Hill Cycle event

Charlie, shaving so he looked good for the fans

Jerry’s family started Hill Cycle in Philly in 1929.  Through trips to Europe and in consultation with professionals, Hill Cycle became the premier shop in the area, full of the latest top quality products that no one else had.  They staged early races such as the Keystone Open, and were instrumental in starting the Philadelphia International Championship (once known as CoreStates, the U.S. pro championship), one of the biggest races in the country.

Erhard “Butch” Neumann’s 1954 Schwinn Paramount

Erhard Neumann's Schwinn Paramount

Butch Neumann is the one with the waterbottle on his handlebars

This is Erhard Neumann’s Schwinn Paramount.

A beautiful green track bike built for a racer who primarily tasted success on the road.

“Butch” cycled as part of an Army athletics program, and along with George van Meter (see photo) was a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1956 games held in Melbourne, Australia.  Butch competed in the road race that year, and later made the U.S. national team where he raced the 1957 World Championships.

Adjustable Paramount handlebar stem

Schwinn made gear all over the bike

Early Paramount decals featured the top hat

Paramount decal on top of the downtube

Simple rear dropouts

Bottom bracket oil port, keyhole lugs

In the 1940s and 50s, most Paramounts were built by Oscar Wastyn in his Chicago shop, but as post-war demand for racing bikes (as well as interest in racing) fell dramatically, Schwinn hired a builder named Ovie Jensen, and attempted to bring production back in-house.  We aren’t quite sure if this is one of Oscar’s or Ovie’s builds.

1953 Huffy

1953 Huffy. From a time when Huffy made quality bikes

Huffy was founded in 1887 when George Huffman purchased the Davis Sewing Machine Company and moved its factory to Dayton, Ohio.  In 1894, Huffman adapted the factory to manufacture bicycles, and sold them for the next sixty years as the “Dayton” brand.

1953 is the first year that Huffman’s company made bikes with the “Huffy” name.

Over the decades, Huffy Bicycles has had factories in California, Oklahoma, and Ohio.  At their peak, they produced over two million bicycles (or as some of us called them, bicycle-shaped objects) per year and were the largest bike company in the western hemisphere.

1949 Galetti

1949 Galetti road bike

Galetti head tube badge

The Galetti bicycle company was formed in 1920 and named for Italian cycling legend Carlo Galetti.  Carlo won the Giro d’ Italia in 1910, 1911, and 1912.

Bike racing star endorsements go way back, and Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi, Greg LeMond, Mario Cipollini, Andy Hampsten, Chris Boardman, and Steve Bauer bicycles are keeping up a long tradition.

 

Vintage water bottles

Campagnolo's Paris-Roubaix shifter

The Paris Roubaix shifter. Sometimes known as the suicide shifter

This particular Galetti is a classic Italian road racing machine from 1949.  It is equipped with Campagnolo’s famous Paris Roubaix shifting system, made famous by the fact that you had to disconnect the rear wheel while the bike was moving in order to operate the derailleur (it was lovingly nicknamed the suicide shifter).  The 1949 model year of this bike also happens to be the same year that Carlo Galetti, the bicycle’s namesake, passed away.

The bike's namesake, cycling star Carlo Galetti

This small secondary bottle was for "energy" drinks and tonics

1949 was a famous year for Italian cycling, with Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali battling each other for the win first in the Giro d’ Italia and again on the dusty mountain roads of the Tour de France.

Since the original owner of this bike is unknown, it is most fun to imagine the bike far behind Bartali and Coppi at the Giro, under some struggling anonymous domestique…

1946 BSA Path Racer

Birmingham Small Arms path racer

Birmingham Small Arms badge

Birmingham Small Arms is probably better known for the weapons and motorcycles that they produced, but they should get a lot of credit for their wide range of wonderful military and civilian bicycles. 

For seventy-five years the BSA conglomerate took extraordinary care designing bicycles for every application.  Bikes for paratroopers, bikes for children, components for racing bikes, motorized bicycles, three-speeds designed for utility, racing bikes designed for speed.

Wrights saddle with brace

Nickel plated bar and stem

Neat wire toe clips on the BSA pedals

BSA drivetrain, wooden rims

This BSA racing bike was built in the mid 1940s and is an amazing example of the craftsmanship this huge industrial concern took with each of their products.  This one is considered a “Path Racer”, meaning that it would be equally at home on the velodrome as it would riding on the roads or dirt racing ovals.

Nearly every part of this bike was built in-house.  The frame, fork, handlebars, hubs, and crankset are all Birmingham Small Arms.  Unlike, say, Colnago bikes putting a “Colnago” labeled handlebar on their bike that was actually made by Cinelli, BSA meant BSA.

1940s Bianchi city bike

1940s Bianchi

Actually, calling this a “city” bike is like talking about an “acoustic” guitar.  Before we differentiated between “mountain” and “road” bikes (or “acoustic” versus “electric” guitars), this was just called a bike.

In this era, you wore clothing to go riding, not “cycling clothes”, and you were pretty likely to ride around wearing a “hat”, not a helmet…

This particular bike was built in the late 1940s, but the model was a very popular one for Bianchi for almost three decades.

Chainguard and center-style kickstand

Rod brakes pull up on the underside of the rim

Fantastic 1940s Bianchi pedals

Bianchi stem badge

Classic Piacenza bell

A fully enclosed chainguard kept the oil on the chain from attacking your pants.  The rod actuated brakes (with part of the mechanism housed within the handlebars) provided reliable stopping with little maintenance.  It had all the best features like stable block pedals, a wide leather saddle with springs, matching full fenders, an upright comfortable riding position, and an understated paint job with just a touch of ornamentation.

Does this 2011 Bianchi Smeraldo look familiar?

Hey, why don’t they still make bikes like this?

Well, actually, forty years after they stopped production on this model, Bianchi started building reproductions for folks who just need a “bike”.  (sorry, the Smeraldo is only available in Europe)…

1953 Viking Short Base Underslung Tracker

Viking SBU Tracker reproduced by Trevor Jarvis

This interesting track bike was made by Trevor Jarvis, and is a replica of the Viking SBU Tracker from 1953.  Trevor is well known for his ability to cut intricate and ornate custom lugs, and for reviving unusual designs like this SBU and the Baines-style Flying Gate (check out our Andy Hamel bike for an idea).

Alfred Victor Davies founded Viking Cycle Company in 1908 in Wolverhampton, England.  The company fortune ebbed and flowed with the World Wars and demand for their bicycles.  This model is from a high water mark in the 1950s.

Viking badge, Jarvis' lugwork

Original Viking decals, great details

Very innovative design, don't you think?

All custom joints on this bike

Trevor cut this dropout by hand

Maurice Bartle's original 1953 Viking SBU

This original ad explained the design

The original SBU bikes are a bit of a rarity, with only seven bikes ever having been produced.  The radical design of the chain stays was meant to produce a more stable, and at the same time a better sprinting, bike for the velodrome.

The reality was that the bikes were a bit whippy when sprinting out of the saddle.

1947 Claud Butler Tandem

1947 Claud Butler tandem

Removing the brakes makes it track legal

Curved tubes tucked the wheel in close

stoker seat tube and brake detail

Beautifully fashioned stoker stem and bars

Boom tube decal

Claud Butler head badge

Advertisements used to be a bit wordy...

This tandem showcases the true engineering genius and artistry of Claud Butler. 

This short wheelbase tandem rides like a dream both on the road and on the velodrome. 

By building this tandem with clamp-on brakes, and tucking short chain-stays under the stoker, this bike handles great when raced on steeply banked tracks, and is still safe and comfortable to leisurely ride on the open road. 

The fillet brazed joints and gracefully curved tubing were some of the finest examples in craftsmanship of the era.

Claud Butler started as a London bike shop owner and frame-builder in 1928.   His company was one of the most successful of the inter-war era with his racing bikes grabbing attention at World championships and Olympic games in the 1930s.  Ultimately the brand failed in the 1950s as changing British lifestyles and a changing economy took their toll.

1950′s Rochet Touring Bike

1950s Rochet touring bike

Grant Peterson did not develop his Rivendell or earlier Bridgestone bikes in a vacuum.  Rivendell’s aesthetic sense was formed from bikes like this French Rochet.

Rochet and similar randoneering bikes were made to be comfortable and stable for a few blocks or hundreds of miles.  Sensible extras like fenders and luggage racks are standard.  Headlights and taillights would let you ride safely around the clock, if that’s your thing.

Front rack with a cage around the head lamp

Lever actuated derailleur and chainguard

Although this bike is a bit faded and rough, you can see that it was once a real beauty.  Great care was taken to design simple and elegant luggage racks for the bike (check out the integrated headlamp cage).  A small custom chainguard shelters the riders’ pant cuff from the rod-actuated front derailleur and chainrings.  The front fork is heavily raked, a design meant to soften the ride across rough cobblestone roads.

Rochet print advertisement

I think that's a lion on the headbadge

Edouard Rochet and his father produced automobiles as well as fabulous bicycles.  In Between 1895 and 1901, the company built approximately 240 cars, mostly with single cylinder engines.  The motor car production and bicycle producing arms of the company eventually split, with automobiles joining the Berliet company after World War II, and bicycle production continuing under the Rochet name.

1959 Raleigh Blue Streak

1959 Raleigh Bluestreak bicycle

Raleigh bicycles of Nottingham, England designed this bike as a tribute to the British Blue Streak ballistic missile.

Armed with Huret derailleurs that managed eight stages of propulsion (gears), the Blue Streak had quite a long range.  A Brooks saddle stabilized the trajectory.  Cold road warriors aboard this missile were shielded from water attack by the matching Bluemels fenders, and an integrated guidance system (the head lamp) delivered the Blue Streak to its target every time.

This bike was a real rocket

Not much of a gear range...

Amazing graphics for its day

Raleigh fenders, painted to match

Raleigh and the Bluestreak program, the pride of England

Four D batteries in this one

The Blue Streak missile program ran in Britain and Australia from 1955 to 1972.

Raleigh bicycles have been made in Nottingham, England since 1887, and today we have a design team a little closer to home with Raleigh USA dreaming up bikes in our own backyard of Kent, Washington.

Don Hester’s late ’50s Frejus

Late 1950's Frejus road bike

Don Hester was one of the most prolific American bike racers in the 1940s.  He was the winner of the 1942 “To Hell With The War” unofficial national championship race held at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.  Don’s bike racing career, like many of his fellow sportsmen, was interrupted when he was subsequently called to active military duty.  After the war Don left the Navy and picked up right where he left off, winning every race he entered in 1946, including the official national championship.

Early Campy Record equipment

Campagnolo Record crankset

Understated, but still Italian...

Late 1950s Frejus headbadge

This isn’t a bike that Don raced on, but a Frejus road model that he bought for himself and rode around on after he retired from racing.  The bike is a Frejus road model, built with Reynolds 531 tubing and sporting a Campagnolo Record group and lots of understated Italian style.

Ever wonder what bike to buy for yourself?  It’s just as easy today as it was sixty years ago.  You just take a look at the bike a retired pro picks for himself (and pays for with his own cash)…

1961 Bianchi Specialissima

1961 Bianchi Specialissima

Bianchi headbadge and centerpull brakes

A Bianchi.  Coppi’s bike.  Gimondi’s bike.  Argentin’s bike.  Pantani’s bike.  A lot of racing heritage with Bianchi, and a lot of magical properties associated with bicycles that are, after all, just bikes.

Still an Italian classic, this is Bianchi’s second-tier bike from 1961. 

Classic design in the downtube decals

Campy derailleurs of this vintage had no teeth on the pulleys

Campy Record equipment and a matching Silca pump

In the decade or two surrounding Fausto Coppi’s career, Bianchi had achieved mythical status, and this bike was a popular model in the U.S.  Bianchi was easier to find than other more esoteric labels, and was typically a good value.  The Specialissima came outfitted with great Italian components, with Cinelli handlebars, Fiamme red label rims and Campagnolo’s Record component group. 

The celebrated "celeste" color

Not all of Bianchi’s bikes were painted celeste green.  There are a couple of myths surrounding the origin of Bianchi’s signature celeste paint color.  Some say celeste is the color of the Milan sky, or the eye color of a former queen of Italy.  Knowing bicycles and bicycle people, I’d say that the story about it being a mixture of surplus navy paint makes the most sense.  Anyway, this bike is rootbeer, a color that was only used on bikes that were exported to America.

1948 Malvern Star

1948 Malvern Star 5 Star

Here is a terrific import from the land down under, and although this bike is from the southern hemisphere, it still goes counter-clockwise around a velodrome.

…Sorry, bad track racing joke for you there…

Malvern Star bicycles have been making some fantastic machines in Australia since 1902.  Long before Nicole Kidman was a “BMX Bandit” on her Malvern Star (seriously, check out the 1984 movie), you could have ridden around on a bike like this beauty.

"The worlds super cycle"

Five stars are better than two or three...

Not a repaint. This is the original hand painted frame

Gas mask hose for grips

Painted BSA crank set

Hand painted downtube

This model, a Five Star, is the top of the line from 1948.  The amazing paint details on this bike are original, done by the steady hand of Ken Dickie, a talented artist working in Melbourne.  Like many early racing bikes, this one had a place for a pump and a front brake for training out on the roads.  Check out the cool grips on the handlebars.  They are made out of military surplus gas-mask hose.

Bill Jacoby’s 1950 Kennis Motorpace Bike

Bill Jacoby’s Kennis motorpace bike

Bill won more than a couple races aboard the Kennis

No, the fork is not backwards.

This is a motorpace bike, sometimes known as a “stayer”, and it is designed to be raced behind a Derny or a motorcycle (check out the old photo of Willy Appelhans for an idea).  The reversed fork keeps the bike stable at the extremely high speeds associated with motor paced events. Kennis built this bike in the late 1940′s for our friend Bill Jacoby.

Adjustable stem with stabilizer bar

Nice lugs with lots of fine detail

Great paint on the Kennis downtube

Bill, a Chicago  native, is a former six- day track racer and road racer.   Bill rode this bike throughout Europe where motorpaced track racing was still big back in the day.

That’s an oil port on the bottom bracket shell

Imagine looking down at this at 50mph

With his pacer and the bike that preceded the Kennis

After retiring from bike racing, Bill went back to work as a bicycle designer for both the Schwinn and Roadmaster bicycle companies.  Later, while working for AMF, Bill supplied Indiana University with the bikes they used at the annual Little 500 race, including the bikes used in the movie Breaking Away.

1947 Legnano

1947 Legnano road racing bike

When cyclists get nostalgic and talk about mythical Italian racers of old, they recall Legnano, whether they know it or not.  Legnano was the bike Bartali rode when he dueled with Coppi.  Alfredo Binda won the Giro d’Italia five times on a Legnano.

Emilio Bozzi founded his bike company in 1908, and named it Legnano, after his home (a northwest suburb of Milan).

100 years later and Legnano survives under the ownership of Bianchi.

Legnano head badge

Internal cables in 1947

The double lever Paris-Roubaix shifter

Front end detail

Legnano Crankset

Ideale flat rail saddle

This green beauty has a lot of cutting edge features for a bike in its sixties.  It features thin walled steel tubing resulting in a twenty-one pound racing bike.  It has internal cable routing for a nice clean look, Campagnolo’s two lever Roubaix shifting system for a few different gear options, aluminum rims, a unique flat-railed saddle, and a tiny front fender to control spray off the front wheel.

This Legnano has been around the world.  It was found in Attilio Pavesi’s shop in Buenos Aires.  Under Juan Peron, talented young Argentinian athletes were given bicycles to race for their country… This bike was probably ridden by several of them. It was restored to new condition in the ’90′s.

Bertrands Trike

Bertrands Racing Trike, 1960's

Racing adult tricycles in the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s (when they enjoyed modest popularity) must have been a hoot.

When going around corners at speed, the bikes tended to tip up onto 2 wheels.  The riders would lean to counterbalance the bike like sailors leaning out over the edge of their catamaran.  Heavily crowned roads posed a problem, as the drive wheel on these trikes would sometimes lose contact with the roadway.  Beware the British-made (meant for the left side of the road) adult trike when riding on the right side of the street, as the differential won’t work to your advantage.

A super short wheelbase made for quick handling

One cable pulls up gears, one pulls down

Multiple gears and a differential

Watch out for Jeff riding by on one of these on slippery winter Bainbridge Island roads.  He sometimes chooses the trike since ice and moss pose much less danger with three wheels on the ground…

Bike Appraisals

Have an old bike that you’d like to get appraised?

We can help, but we have a few guidelines that we’d like you to understand.

First, we have no idea what your bike is worth without seeing it. We’re just not that smart. Don’t call us and try to describe it over the phone. Serial numbers do not help. Instead, you can send us an email (please use complete sentences, we don’t do well with abbreviated texts) with some pictures attached or bring your bike in to the store.

Take a photo from the "drive side" in front of a neutral background

Take a photo from the “drive side” in front of a neutral background

To make the appraisal more accurate, prepare the bike and take photos like you would if you were going to sell it. Clean the bike, remove any broken or rough-looking accessories and put some air in the tires.
Take pictures straight on in front of a blank background, and take close-up photos of areas that may generate interest (or confusion).

There is no “Blue Book” value for bicycles. Bikes are simply worth what someone else is willing to pay for them. Bicycle values tend to be highest when the weather is warm, in places where it’s pleasant to ride, and wherever there are a lot of people who like bikes.

Badges or labels on the tubes help with identification

Badges or labels on the tubes help with identification

Close-ups of the parts tell a lot about your bike

Close-ups of the parts tell a lot about your bike

You know more about your bike than we do. If you just bought a bike for , you have just established the value of the bicycle (and you are not likely to be able to sell it for 00 to somebody else). You know when you bought it, so you have a good idea of the age, and you know if it was a high-end racing model or a basic bike from Walmart.

Rarity rarely helps determine value. If you have a one-of-a-kind bicycle, it may mean that no one has ever heard of it and/or nobody is looking for one.

Popularity is no indicator either. Bikes that were sold in large numbers could fall into one of two camps. You could have a bike that will never sell (Schwinn Varsity) because there are still thousands of them out there, or you could have a bike that will cause a bidding war (Bridgestone MB-1) because people rode them into the ground and they want another one.

If what you’re really after is to get rid of an old bike, keep us in mind. While we don’t buy bikes outright, we’ll likely take your old bike as a trade-in for something new….

About our museum…

The bikes featured in this museum section are privately owned by Jeff Groman, as well as other employees and friends of Classic Cycle.  We display them in this space to share their beauty and showcase the skill and creativity that went into making them.

This website is not intended to be a research archive.  While we like to be accurate in our descriptions, we don’t really care if a particular bike was made in 1952 or if it was 1953.  A bike built today could be labeled a 2016 or 2017 model.  It could be exactly the same as a 2014 model, and may not get sold until 2018.  In 50 years it would be really nice if folks just went out for a bike ride and didn’t bicker over the exact vintage of their Classic bike.  In other words, if you’re really concerned about dates and serial numbers, figure it out yourself.

To the serious bike collectors out there:  We don’t care if the saddle on our 1972 Colnago isn’t “period correct.”  Enjoy looking at the collection or don’t.  Plenty of brand new bikes roll out the doors of modern bike shops sporting saddles or bottle cages that were new during the Reagan administration.

Likewise, this museum section is meant to be interesting and entertaining, and we would never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

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