1898 C.A.E. Bicycle
We can only guess what C.A.E. Stands for. The 1890’s, just like the 1990’s, was a boom period for bicycles and for the companies that made them. Manufacturers sprung up overnight and disappeared just as quickly the next day.
A huge portion of the bicycles that were being built during the 1890’s came out of Ohio. The Wright Brothers and Huffman bikes were located in Dayton. Miami Cycle manufacturing was in Middleton. Fisher Mfg., Hanauer & Brothers, Evans, and Schleuter Cycles were all made in Cincinnati.
Shelby steel tubing came out of Shelby, Ohio. Columbus bicycles from Columbus. Hercules bicycles (not to be confused with the English Hercules brand of the 20th century) made their bikes in Cleveland. Cleveland bicycles? They actually came out of Toledo.
Hand painted head tube badge
Adjust them low and narrow or high and wide
Kelly adjustable handlebars, made in Cleveland
So what does C.A.E. Stand for? Cleveland American Enterprise? Charles, Arthur & Evans? Cycles, Armaments & Engines? Computer Aided Engineering? Probably not that last one.
To be honest, we’re not 100% certain that this bike was made in Ohio, but all of the components and a lot of the design elements suggest that it was.
Beautifully made crankset
120 year old pedals
Sager saddle after 100 years
This bike is in remarkably good condition for its age. The clincher style wooden rims and Goodyear tires appear to be original, and not only do the tubes still hold air, everything tolerated a recent (careful) ride around the neighborhood. If the Goodyear tires are in fact original, then they would have been from the first year that tires rolled out of the Akron plant.
The handlebar is a Kelly Adjustable model. Kelly handlebars were made in Cleveland. The adjustable stem pivot has about 25 notches in it which allows for 25 different height and width positions without changing the pitch of the grips.
The Sager saddle (made in Rochester, NY) looks like it could have been made in 1997, not 1897. By the way, Sager made seats that were pneumatically adjustable for plushness in the 1890’s. Campagnolo attempted to revive that idea with their own version in about 1995. Some ideas just keep resurfacing…
Eccentric dropouts to adjust chain tension
New Departure hub
Seat post collet
The CAE features a New Departure coaster brake hub (that part is from
Connecticut) and some really narrow pedals that squeeze the sides of a size 9 foot. The bike features a set of eccentric rear dropouts to help easily adjust the chain tension. It has a really good bell (that still works), and a neat collet system to adjust and lock the seat post height.
1920s Arrow Racer
The Arrow “Racer” bicycle from Australia
This is an awesome and unusual racing bike from Australia. The tubing sizes and frame angles suggest that it was a mid-level racing bike bike from the 1920s. The paint is more ornate than what would have been original, and it is fairly likely that the same painter who worked on our purple Malvern Star, a man named Ken Dickie, did the marvelous detail work on this bike. Ken, a talented artist whose bicycle detail work spans decades, was crazy. Hours and hours of painting are on display here, and it is clear to us that Ken could not have been paid adequately for his masterful brush work.
Paint details like this cover the bike
An adjustable stem made the fit custom
Lovely hand striping runs down the fork
In great condition after eighty years
Not really a separate badge, but part of the head tube
Wooden rims and BSA components
Jeff showed this bike to a local artist who has done some amazing paint and striping jobs himself (like on our Paramount tandem), and he was taken aback. The level of intricate paint work on this bike would make even the most patient craftsman go cross-eyed.
1917 Iver Johnson
1917 Iver Johnson Truss bike
This is what a hundred year old commuter bike looks like.
It has everything you need for a run to the market or for your ride to work. It has pedals. It has tires. It stops and it goes. There’s a basket to carry some stuff. It’s very deluxe.
A hundred years ago, having the latest features on your bike meant that it had a coaster brake (instead of a fixed gear), not that it had hydraulic disc brakes. The latest in puncture protection and/or tubeless tires? In 1917, people were still talking up the fact that they had pneumatic tires in the first place. Gearing “features” a hundred years ago meant roller pin chains and the ability to coast. Nobody mentioned the need for more gear combinations (certainly not 11 speeds versus 22 or even 30).
Iver Johnson head badge
Speaking of features, this Iver Johnson is built around their trademark truss bridge style frame, which was claimed to be “structurally and mechanically correct in every detail”. These bikes rode pretty smoothly and had great handling characteristics. Remember, the early 1900′s were a time when roads were primarily made of cobblestones, bricks pavers or dirt. A “road” bike had to handle similar demands to that of today’s off-road bicycles.
Corbin-Duplex coaster brake hub
A well-preserved Troxel saddle
This bike is remarkably well preserved. The original leather Troxel saddle looks terrific. The wooden rims and old tires, which would normally be dry and brittle on a bike of this age, look ready for many more miles. The original iron basket is also quite a find. It’s big and stout and it will still handle a big load of market supplies.
Not a reflector, but really nice looking.
Iron bike basket
Truss bridge decal
Now, if you were looking for a deluxe bike to take the place of a car (or horse), you need it to be ready to ride regardless of the weather or the time of night. You’re pretty much all set with this bike. The fenders are in great shape, and there’s a “reflector” on the back. All you need is a lantern and you’ll be ready to roll.
1999 Hetchins Millennium
Built in honor of Hetchins' finest work
I know, this bike is confusing. The label seems to make it too new to belong in a museum, and the components and construction style would suggest that this is a really old bike. Seems like we’re trying to pull a fast one on you. We’ll try to explain.
The most similar analogy to this bike that we can think of is the retro-looking record players available now that have jacks to hook up to your iPhone. Or maybe it’s like an old car that got hot-rodded with a modern engine and suspension. Unlike a hot rod, this bike has the old engine and suspension but a new body. It’s a remake of a more “historic” bike, and a true classic itself.
Oh no! My bike is melting!
Imagine how long it took to file and polish these
Built in 1999 to commemorate the new millennium, Hetchins offered bike junkies like our friend Jeff a chance to ride around on a piece of history by bringing back one of their oldest and most ornate lug sets.
The steel tubing joining those lugs is thinner and lighter weight than what was used in the ’30′s, but the ride quality is similar.
Jeff commissioned this bike to be a replica of the Hetchins that star athlete Tony Merkens rode at the 1937 Crystal Palace six-day race.
Bicycle hub or cheese grater?
Head badge or a coat of arms?
Photos from the time suggest that his bike got more attention than Tony did. In an era when bicycle frames rarely had any identifying labels besides a head tube badge, the wavy tubing and the lacy lugs would have really stood out and been an eye magnet for people who liked high-performance bikes.
This Hetchins is pretty unique even today. It is one of 15 Millennium models that were built, and as far as we know, one of the two that were sold in North America.
1920 Wastyn Special
1920 Wastyn Special
Emil's Wastyn head badge
In 1910, Belgian bicycle builder Emil Wastyn emigrated to America. Emil opened a small bicycle store on Fullerton avenue in Chicago and began an American cycling dynasty that would last more than a hundred years.
Emil crafted fine racing bicycles for many greats of the time. Track racers Cecil Yates, Alf LeTourneur, Jimmy Walthour, Jerry Rodman, and Al Crossley all rode a Wastyn.
Front end with adjustable stem
The knob damps the steering response
In 1941, Alf Letourneur piloted his Wastyn-made Paramount to a motor-paced speed of 108.92mph, breaking Frank Bartell’s six year old record in the process.
This sturdy relic has some interesting features. Up on the head lug we have a knob that tightens down on the steerer tube of the fork, damping the steering response. Also unusual for the time are the rear stays that make up the back of the bike, which are built of triangular shaped tubing. Lastly, the top tube has a slight downward slope which positions the racer in a low aerodynamic crouch when gripping the bars.
The original decal is too fragile to restore
Simple and smooth rear dropouts
Chainstays of triangular tubing
If the Wastyn name sounds familiar, you have been paying attention. Emil built the very first Schwinn Paramount in 1937, and Oscar Wastyn sr., Emil’s son, took over Schwinn’s high-end construction division in the 1940′s. Emil’s grandson, Oscar jr. and great-grandson Scott are the current owners of Wastyn Cycles in Chicago. The store is still humming along at 2634 Fullerton avenue, just two blocks from the original location.
Al Sellinger’s Brennan
Al Sellinger’s Brennan
We’re the first to admit that there are a lot of plain-looking old track bikes in the collection. If you look carefully, however, you’ll see some real history rolling around on wooden rims.
This is Al Sellinger’s Brennan track bike. Al was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 1936 Berlin Games.
The bike itself looks like a lot of pre-war racing machines. There are a few details in common with other Brennan bikes in the collection, but there are also details that make this one stand out.
The seat stays and chain stays are much larger in diameter and thicker-walled than any of our other bikes. It’s a sprinter’s rig. Al must have had quite a bit of horsepower to require such stiff construction for the back end of his bike.
Skip-link block chain
Constructed for a powerful sprinter
Brennan front end
Al was the U.S. Amateur sprint champion in 1935, a distinction that nearly guaranteed his inclusion on the ’36 Olympic roster.
Al raced with distinction at the “Nazi Games”, finishing in 9th place in the men’s sprint competition (won by Germany’s Toni Merkins) and 10th in the 1000 meter individual time trial (which was won by the Netherland’s Arie Van Vliet).
In the tandem sprint event Al and his partner William Logan made it into the quarter finals but were beaten to the line by the Italian team of Carlo Legutti and Bruno Loatti.
1930′s Debacco Special Racer
Frank Miserndino’s Debacco Special Racer
A great old machine, and one of jeff’s most recent acquisitions, this bike was built in the northern New Jersey work shop of the DeBacco brothers Angelo and Joe.
This “Special Racer” model was specially built for a racer named Frank Miserndino. Frank was apparently a road guy, so the bike mainly saw the roads of North Jersey and the surrounds. Frank’s name has come up more than a few times while researching the ’30′s East Coast racing scene and Frank frequented the shops owned by both Joe Kopsky and John Brennan.
Debacco front end
Lam steel brakes
So you’ve heard about paleontologists finding preserved fossils encased in amber for thousands of years, right? This was the bicycle equivalent. The Debacco was packed in cosmoline to protect the chrome for over five decades. The bike popped out of its crate like you see it, just as the last time it was ridden.
Chater Lea hubs, BSA wing nuts
80 year old saddle
The Debacco is notable for its blend of top quality equipment. There’s a BSA crankset (no rust on it either) with a skip-link chain. The wooden rims are still true and ready for more road miles. The wheels spin around on smooth Chater Lea hubs, and the bike stops quite well with the spectacular looking (and fairly rare) Lam brakeset.
Ted Bendi’s 1925 Copper Plated Appelhans
Ted Bendi's 1925 Copper-plated Appelhans
This beauty was created by Willy Appelhans, an accomplished bike builder in the Bronx, New York.
The bike was originally owned by Ted Bendi, a successful track racer and the president of the Union Sportive Italiano cycling club in the twenties and thirties.
Standard track geometry of the era meant that the bike was comfortable for long hours in the saddle, as well as having a nice “snap” for the sprints. Instead of enamel paint or even chrome plating, Ted asked for copper. It was a real eye magnet. Imagine this bike, seen from the stands, gleaming copper in a sea of painted bikes.
The head badge lists the shop address
Not restored. Pretty good condition for 85 years.
Imagine the copper gleam from the stadium lights...
The bicycle builder, Willy Appelhans, was highly regarded by the professional racers of the era. The 1935 land speed record holder, Frank Bartell, rode an Appelhans, as did many of his contemporaries.
1939 Malvern Star
1939 Malvern Star
A great bike from the land down under.
This is a Malvern Star.
To be specific, it’s a Two-Star model from the Australian bicycle company Malvern Star.
The bike is a mid-level model that was meant to be fast and tough but not as pretty or as light as the flagship Five-Star model.
I don’t know, this one looks pretty spectacular to us.
Like the ’48 Malvern Star and the 1920′s Arrow Racer that we have in the collection, this one sports an impressive finish. The beautifully painted frame details appear to be the handiwork of Ken Dickie. Ken was an artist who lived in Melbourne and applied his brushwork to some of the coolest bicycles we have ever seen anywhere. Ken worked with a steady hand, a great eye for details and a tremendous amount of patience.
Adjustable stem, road bars.
Cyclo Twin Wire shifter
Good lookin’ bike
Despite the lack of brakes (Jeff was still working on it when we took the photos), this is a road bike. It had three or four gears to help even out hilly terrain and frame geometry that smoothed out rough roads and handled high speeds.
Cyclo twin wire derailleur
3 speeds: All fast
Modern shifting, pre war
The shifting system is cutting edge technology from 1938. A Cyclo “Oppy” twin wire.
Using two cables, the top-tube mounted lever would pull the derailleur, which dragged the chain sideways across the multiple freewheel cogs that were fitted to the rear wheel. The Oppy, which was named after Hubert Opperman, was an improvement over the popular Cyclo standard derailleur of a few years earlier. The Oppy replaced the standard’s long chain tension spring with a coiled spring around the derailleur piston. It looks like we have a 3-speed freewheel mounted on the Malvern, so with a 15 to 17 tooth spread you would have had it easy compared to your single-speed riding partners…
1937 Claud Butler Tour d’Angleterre
1937 Claud Butler Tour d’Angleterre
Claud Butler made some truly fantastic bicycles, but this is our favorite.
There are so many great design elements on this bike that it’s hard to know where to start. There are oil ports all over the bike. There’s an integrated chain lube reservoir. The shifting system is amazing. The paint is beautiful. The tubing must be awesome because the whole bike is really light. Oh, and the name!
The Tour d’Angleterre (Tour of England) was probably a tribute to the bikes that were used in the Tour de France that summer of 1937. The frame angles on this bike are much steeper than was common in the 1930′s, and the bike rides similarly to modern machines.
Claud Butler head tube badge, headset oil port
The chain oiler flips up when not in use
Fill the reservoir up with chain lube here
Reynolds 531 frame tubing made this a surprisingly light (23 pounds with fenders) and responsive bike. In two spots around the head tube and one spot on top of the bottom bracket shell there are ports where you can add oil to the bearings housed within. On the seat tube there is a port that can hold about 4 ounces of chain oil. At the bottom of this reservoir there is a spigot that can be rotated to drip lubricant right onto the the chain. You could even operate this feature as you pedaled!
Chain tension arm
That little fork moves the chain side to side
The three-speed shifter on the bike is an “Osgear”, fully known as the Constrictor Osgear Super Champion. 1937 marked the first year that bikes with gear changers like the Super Champion were allowed in the Tour de France. The name ‘Osgear’ was a take on the name Oscar Egg, the designer (and a famous Swiss-French cyclist from the era). The Osgear was light yet sturdy, and fairly simple to operate. Fitted to the chainstay is a cable operated guide arm that moves the chain right or left across the three sprockets. The tensioning arm near the crankset takes up the slack of the chain, and has a guide-loop of metal on the pulley to keep the chain from coming off.
Oppy toe clips
Super Dural brakes
You’re probably thinking that there’s no way a bike should look this good after 75 years. You’re right. If you were one of our commuters, your could make your bike look like it had been ridden through a war zone in about a week. This bike saw many miles before it was restored to showroom condition sometime in the late 1960′s by a British bike collector. Since then, the Tour d’Angleterre has been treated well and it now only “tours” on special occasions…
1930′s Iver Johnson junior racer
1930′s Iver Johnson jr. racer
The Iver Johnson bicycle company laid the facts on the table in an early advertisement.
“Without a bicycle, you are only half a boy.” “For you can do twice as much with one. Get from school to athletic ground quicker, do errands in half the time, tour the country for 100 miles around. (The Iver Johnson bicycle) develops great leg, stomach and back muscles.”
We couldn’t agree more. Every boy needs a bicycle.
Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycleworks
Aggressive front end
So a boy of the 1930′s, armed with some nerve and all kinds of great reasons why he needed an Iver Johnson racer, would approach his parents. “I’ll get all of the errands done! I can make deliveries! I’ll develop a strong back! I’ll become a great racer and take home all of the prize money from the big races! You know, like at the Madison Square Garden six-day race. I’ll practice! The Newark velodrome is just down the street… Please…”
Metal rims painted to look like wood
An Iver Johnson was special
Aluminum chain guard and fenders
If the sales pitch was successful, that boy would have quite a prize. This Iver Johnson was special. It had aluminum fenders and a chainguard to protect clothing from road grime. There was a coaster brake hub on the back wheel, so you could enjoy speeding downhills (unlike your friends on their fixed-gear bikes) and still stop with confidence. The wheels looked super fast. They were painted to resemble the wooden rims on an ultra-light racing machine, but were actually sturdy (and less expensive) metal rims.
1919 Bengal Special Racer
Adam Brenner's Bengal Special Racer
Sure, this bike is a little rough, but let’s see how good you look in a hundred years.
This Special Racer was originally purchased from the Progressive Cycle & Auto Supply Company of New York City by a local area man named Adam Brenner. The Bengal was one of Progressive Cycle’s sporting models from the teens or early twenties (judging from the frame angles and tubing sizes) and was probably built by Columbia or another large bicycle manufacturer of the time. In researching this bike, we discovered that the “Bengal Special Racer” model name was later applied to Progressive Cycle’s balloon tire boys’ bikes following World War II.
Bengal Special Racer headbadge
Splined bottom bracket, custom pedals
Nickel plated racing stem and bars
Interesting details on this bike include the nickel-plated handlebar and stem, the splined crankarm and bottom bracket interface, the nicely machined pedals and cages, and the super-narrow front fork and hub.
We've seen month-old bike chains that look worse.
Looks like modern fastback seat stays
Narrow front hub, open-crown fork
Mr. Brenner’s son (who was a fairly old man when he sold this bike to Jeff) said that his dad Adam was a bit of a weekend warrior, and occasionally did some racing on this bike in New York and northern New Jersey. The bike was put away sometime in the 1940′s and hasn’t been ridden since.
Harry Nettleton’s 1907 RaCycle Pace Maker
There are a lot of names here so lets see… This is the Pace Maker model RaCycle, and RaCycles were made by the Miami Cycle and Manufacturing company of Middleton, Ohio.
Bikes like this one followed high-wheelers onto the cobbled streets of early 1900′s America. With newly invented roller chain and pneumatic tires, this would have been a luxuriously smooth ride compared to a Penny-Farthing.
One of the selling points of the Pace Maker was the massive front chainring (equivalent to a modern 84-tooth ring) that was meant to attract attention and suggest higher speed (but the big ring was actually offset by a big back cog that ended up producing a comfortable gear ratio).
The new air-filled tires were mounted (using shellac as glue) to wooden rims (maple, I think).
The handlebars on the Pace Maker are really cool. They pivot at the stem, and can be adjusted in width and height, depending on a rider’s desire.
42 skip-tooth chainring
Foot pegs on the front fork allowed the rider to enjoy speeding downhill on his fixed-gear bike. Sure, without your feet on the pedals to control the speed there would be no brakes, but brakes are overrated.
Check out the old ad that we found for RaCycle bikes. The copy in old advertising and press releases like this one was so earnest. According to the manufacturer, a 1904 Worlds Fair jury “consisting of the ablest consulting and manufacturing engineers in Europe and America, were unanimous in their decision that the Racycle was the most perfectly constructed, easiest running bicycle in the world.”
However they were judged, early “safety” bicycles like this one really brought inexpensive personal transportation to the masses. They connected people with jobs and schools, connected rural areas of the country with cities, connected extended families (and liberated family members from one another).
This bike was originally owned by Harry Nettleton of Red Wing, Minnesota. Harry raised the original .50 purchase price by collecting clam shells from the Minnesota river and selling them to a local button factory.
By the way, if you take a look at the Iver Johnson Truss-bridge bike from the same era, you’ll note that the RaCycle was about a third of the price of the Iver Johnson.
1939 Schwinn Paramount track bike
1939 Schwinn Paramount (built by Oscar Wastyn)
Arnold Schwinn and Company top hat
Arnold Schwinn and Company made the best bicycles available in the United States for a large part of the last century.
This Paramount (Paramount was the racing division of the Schwinn line of bikes) is an example of some of their finest work.
Adjustable steel quill stem
Narrow sprinter saddle, open-ended seat stays
Built in Chicago just prior to the second World War, this simple track bike is as well built, and nearly as light, as anything that you could ride today.
Built with the best materials available at the time, the bike tips the scale at a respectable 18 pounds.
Master frame builder Oscar Wastyn brazed most of the Paramounts from this era, and his design touches abound, like the open-ended seat stays and the simple and elegant lug work.
Similar decals on many early Schwinns
An elegant crankset design
Proprietary Schwinn-labeled parts make up the component group, with silky-smooth hubs and headset, and a light (and fairly stiff) steel crankset. The bars were Schwinn approved, and the adjustable stem could position the handlebars below or above the slider.
The original beech wood rims are still straight today, as is the steel Schwinn track crank (both items that were easy to bend in a crash).
1900′s Iver Johnson Truss Bridge Racer
Iver Johnson Truss Bridge Racer
Trust the truss.
That’s what the Iver Johnson bicycle company wanted you to do in 1904.
Their bridge truss style frame, claimed to be “structurally and mechanically correct in every detail” rode smoothly and had great handling characteristics. The early 1900′s were a time when roads were primarily made of cobblestones, bricks pavers or dirt. A sales pitch that touted reliability and structural strength was probably quite effective.
Head badge and chrome head tube
Strong and pretty
Research and development in this era may have actually been trial and error. The advertised sales pitch continues talking about the Iver Johnson fork crown with this reassuring line: ”We have not known one to break in the five years that we have used it.”
Wood fibers, carbon fibers, what’s the difference?
This top-of-the-line-model, the Truss Bridge Racer, sold for a reasonable in 1904 (which is about 75 in today’s dollars). That’s complete with carbon fiber wheels (well, wooden rims really were the first carbon fiber, right?)!
There were some star athlete endorsements as well. Marshall “Major” Taylor, a multiple world record holder and the World Sprint Champion in 1899 and 1900, rode an Iver Johnson.
1934 Caminade Caminargent
This stunning aluminum racing bike was built by Caminade of Paris at a time before aluminum TIG welding had been developed. Instead of welded joints like we know today, Caminade used socketed joints and glued and pegged each tube into place. Over seventy years have passed by, and this bike is still rideable (although a bit creaky). The tubing is heptagon shaped, and in places it is drilled out to save weight! A high-tech wonder from the thirties that weighs less than most modern bikes at just 15 pounds.
The Osgear "derailleur"
The Osgear chain tension arm
Cheese grater hubs and wingnuts.
Pegged and glued tubing sockets
Constrictor Osgear Super Champion or simply "Osgear"
Caminargent head tube
The three-speed shifter on the bike is an “Osgear”, fully known as the Constrictor Osgear Super Champion. The name ‘Osgear’ was a take on the name Oscar Egg, the designer (and a famous Swiss-French cyclist from the era). The Osgear was light yet sturdy, and fairly simple to operate. Fitted to the chainstay is a cable operated guide arm that moves the chain right or left across the three sprockets. The tensioning arm near the crankset takes up the slack of the chain, and has a guide-loop of metal on the pulley to keep the chain from coming off.
Looks pretty modern with sidepull brakes, aluminum tubing
Hey... Check out these jugs
The bike was procured for the museum in the late ’90′s from the bike shop owned by Attilio Pavesi in Buenos Aires. Attilio was a member of the Italian Olympic team, and the 1932 Olympic road race gold medalist. Attilio and many of his compatriots emigrated to Argentina at the onset of World War II. This bike had been raced by one of Attilio’s friends, but he couldn’t remember who.
Tony Soberalski’s 1930′s Sun Club Racer
Tony Soberaski’s Sun Club Racer
Despite the name, it’s not really a racer. It’s a Sun “Club” model.
What became the Sun Cycle company was founded by James Parkes & Son in 1885. Initially a brass foundry, the company started manufacturing bicycle frames and parts in 1898. In 1907 the company changed its name to The Sun Cycle & Fittings Company and began making and selling its own line of bicycles. The ’20′s through the ’40′s were good years for the brand, and bikes like this club model were quite popular. In the late ’50′s, a lot of small British bike labels consolidated through attrition and mergers, and Sun Cycles eventually melted into the Raleigh brand.
Wires pull in each direction
Cyclo Twin-Wire derailleur
So, it’s not a racer. A touring bike? Sort of.
This old bike was used for randonneuring (or cyclo-touring) by a Seattle man named Tony Soberalski. Tony, a pioneering enthusiast, helped establish randonneuring as a thing to do in the Seattle area.
Randonées are also known as ”brevets” or “cyclosportives”, and are held on courses of 200 km or more, passing through checkpoints every so often to make sure everyone stays on course. Riders try to complete these events within a specified time limit, but there is no “winner”. Everyone receives equal recognition regardless of their finish. The distance is the thing, not the speed.
Sun Club head badge
Extra clothes, spare parts, and some food.
Randonneurs are expected to be self-sufficient, so the bikes have to be able to carry extra gear. The weather can change dramatically over these long events, so fenders and lights are common accessories.
Guys in the Seattle Randonneurs Club would still use this bike today. The distances involved in brevets favors equipment that is “tried and true”. Nothing more tried (and maybe still true) than 80 year old parts. Today, these guys would call the Cyclo Standard shifter “more reliable” than any derailleur with a high-tech return spring. Four gears seems just about right! Modern derailleur systems with 20 or more gear ratios would be derided as “overly complex”.
1915 Crown bicycle
We’re making an educated guess on the date here, but we’re pretty close.
This Crown was born about a hundred years ago, and it’s held up really well. Built by the Great Western Manufacturing Company of LaPorte, Indiana, the bike showcases some nice artistic touches and fine manufacturing skill.
Great Western became a bike company in 1898 when four small builders combined their labor and capital into one. The merger made a large and successful bike company that continued until about 1920.
Crown head tube badge
Because “Why not?”
About half of the Crown bikes that we have seen feature their curly truss design, a touch that surely made for a stronger (and prettier) frame. Check out the Iver Johnson Truss design elsewhere in this section for a similar take on the idea. Modern bike companies know this aesthetic-design-as-product-improvement tactic really well. Come up with a design feature that looks cool, no matter how superficial, and you’re guaranteed to get more people on bikes.
Unusually high bars of the mid-teens.
Nicely made Fauber crankset
Other nice touches include handlebars that support a comfortable riding position, a “Fauber Special” crankset that drives a New Departure model “A” hub, and cool flat-panel fenders.
1886 American Star replica
1886 American Star bicycle
Star bicycles were originally manufactured by the Smith Machine Company in Smithville, New Jersey. The American Star was designed with the smaller wheel in the front to avoid the tendency found in other high wheelers (that have smaller trailing wheels) to pitch forward. The Star pedals ratchet up and down around a flywheel, a design that also incorporates two different gear options.
While a Star rider was less likely to pitch over the front wheel when encountering a road obstacle, care had to be taken not to fall over backward.
Smaller front wheel
There are actually two different gear ratios
Treadles attached to a flwheel
In 1885, while the League of American Wheelmen was lobbying congress for road surface improvements, an American Star bicycle was ridden down the U.S. Capitol steps. It was great publicity stunt at the time, and a powerful demonstration of the Star’s stable design.
The Capitol steps in 1885
Believe it or not, this is not an original, but a replica made by our friend Gerard Bentryn in the early 1970′s. Gerard, living in New Jersey, borrowed an original Star from the Smithville museum. He then proceeded to replicate every last piece of the bicycle using centuries-old blacksmithing techniques. Gerard’s build project was the subject of a PBS television special.
Franz Duelberg’s 1927 Boogmans Stayer
Franz Duelberg’s 1927 Boogmans Stayer
Motorpace bikes, or “Stayers” are pretty rare. It is pretty unusual to find one of these on the west coast of America, and really weird that we have a half-dozen of them on Bainbridge Island. We have a story about that. First, some background…
Stayers like this are made for an esoteric type of bicycle track racing that involves drafting behind a Derny or a motorcycle (check out the photos for an idea). The reversed fork keeps the bike stable at the extremely high speeds associated with motor paced events. This particular stayer was originally built by the Belgian Boogmans bike company for a German track cyclist named Franz Duelberg. Boogmans had a reputation for making some of the best racing bikes of the era.
Boogmans head badge
The fork is supposed to be backward.
How did it get to Bainbridge Island? Well, Mr. Duelberg left it with Pop Brennan’s bike shop in New Jersey sometime after he retired from racing. The bike stayed in Brennan’s bike shop for thirty years until Bill Brennan traded it to a man named Otis Taylor. Otis was a cycling coach (and blues musician) who lived in Boulder, Colorado. Otis’ friend Sully really liked the bike, and talked Otis out of it when she moved to Bainbridge Island in the 1990′s.
A motor-paced track race
The bike was displayed on a wall in her house on Kallgren avenue until the day of the Nisqually earthquake, when it fell off the wall and the wooden rims got damaged. Sully brought the bike down Kallgren to her neighbor Jeff (who happened to own Classic Cycle at the time) to see if he could repair it. Not only did Jeff have the 80-year-old-odd-sized rims with which to fix the bike, he had a matching Boogmans stayer built in the same year! Quite a trip for an old bike to make to meet up with one of its dozen-or-so sibblings!
A big gear for extremely fast racing
Really neat chain stays
The cyclist who originally raced the bike? Duelberg was fast. In his rookie season Franz partnered with another new racer, a young Jimmy Walthour jr., and together the duo won the 1928 six-day races in Detroit and Chicago. In November 1936, a Melborne newspaper exclaimed “Duelberg Brilliant! One of the finest exhibitions of motor-paced bike racing that has been seen in Melbourne was given by the German Franz Duelberg at the third board track cycling meeting at the Exhibition on Saturday night.” So this bike made a trip to Australia too…
1887 Columbia Expert
1887 Columbia Expert
Is it any wonder that the high-wheel bicycle became such an icon?
Beautiful machines like this one have represented both progress and antiquity over the past 125 years.
Penny-farthings are an easily recognizable symbol for “bicycle”. A lot of bike shop signs (probably spelled “Bicycle Shoppe”) feature high wheelers. Store advertisements, historic town districts, and corporate logos often use them to signify antiquity or historical heritage . Microsoft’s home of Redmond Washington identifies itself with a Penny Farthing on the city signage. That creepy village in The Prisoner T.V. series had these bikes all over the place.
Pull the handle and the spoon slows the wheel
The pedals could be moved to fit the rider better
To mount one of these, you used the little step just above the rear wheel and hopped up onto the saddle. The large wheel and strong gyroscopic effect actually made these pretty easy to ride around on, as long as you paid attention. To stop, you would slow the pedals with your feet while pressing the spoon brake into the tire. High speeds and descents were pretty scary. With your center of mass high above the front wheel, an unexpected pothole could easily send you over the handlebars.
Beautiful wooden pedals
Note the step just above the wheel.
Why ride a high-wheel bike? Well, at the time it was simpler, lighter, and faster than bikes with smaller same-size wheels. The large wheel rode over cobblestones and road bumps more smoothly than smaller wheels (remember, in the 1800′s hard rubber or metal “tires” had no air in them). Velocipedes of all sizes were direct-drive in this era, so the only way to make the bike faster was to make the driving wheel larger (you were only limited by a rider’s leg length).
The saddle looks pretty comfortable
Patent numbers on the steerer tube.
These dinosaurs went extinct with the development of three great leaps in technology. First, chain-driven bicycles made gear ratios possible, so you could get more speed without changing the wheel size. Second, the development of roller chains made the pedaling action of safety bikes smooth and efficient. Lastly, pneumatic tires made it so that small-wheeled bikes could float above the road bumps in cushioned comfort.
1935 Archie Weaver Tricycle
1935 Archie Weaver tricycle
Arthur “Archie” Weaver was a master craftsman.
The Weaver cycle shop on Leyton High street was a magnet for English bicycle racers in the 1920′s and ’30′s. Tricycle racers too, apparently.
A bit of a bike nut, err, trike nut, Mr. Weaver built this magnificent racing tricycle for himself. The rear differential was machined in the Weaver shop, and the fixed gear drives the left side wheel. Riding on the left side of a crowned road would be really tough without a differential or with the right wheel propelling the trike.
Archie’s friend in the Glendene cycling club, C.J. Drayton, set the 200 mile time trial record on this machine in 1935. 200 miles in 11 hours and 46 minutes!
Drive wheel on the left for traction on English roads
Fixed gear with a differential
This wheel is lighter than a modern Mavic Ksyrium SL
Look at this 85 year old steel tricycle and guess the weight. It’s made of steel tubing and looks a bit antiquated. Would you believe that it tips our scale at only 21 pounds? That’s with three wheels, not two!
Weaver head badge
Weaver front end
Archie Weaver frame detail
The head badge states “The Glade”, which refers to the nearby Glendene Cycling Club, a club supported by Weaver’s shop and named after a favorite spot in Wales. The 32nd milestone on the badge most likely denotes a meeting place (or mid-ride sprint) for club members as they ride on the A11 road leading out of London. That milestone is still in place today.
We just learned an interesting note about Mr. Weaver. His grand-nephew Ben informed us that Archie was also an accomplished model and trophy maker. Among a varied array of cool creations, Archie fashioned the eyeballs for the puppets that starred in the “Thunderbirds” television show.
1930′s Hetchins club racer
This is Jeff’s old Hetchins club racer, which was a fine racing bike until he left it on the radiator and it melted.
No, just kidding. It’s supposed to look like that.
The wavy tubing, a Hetchins trademark, was said to make the bike ride more smoothly over rough roads. Regardless of any engineering or marketing, the bike looks terrific. Who knows, Harry Hetchins may have had a phobia or something about straight tubes.
The head badge looks royal
’30′s era Hetchins had fairly simple lugs
The head tube badge on this bike, an ornate Hetchins logo, incorporates the shield of the city of London in the design. The lacey lugs that one would usually find on a Hetchins (check out the Millenium model elsewhere in the museum to see what we mean) are missing on this bike. Those fancy tubing joints would come standard on Hetchins frames about a decade later.
The seat tube is dimpled so the wheel can be pulled in closer
Hyram “Harry” Hetchins and his partner Jack Denny developed quite a following at their North London bike shop. Curved tubes and ornate lugwork were only part of their musically inspired creations.
The creased “Six Day” seat tube provided room for the rear wheel to be tucked farther forward, making a shorter wheelbase for quicker handling. Like the curvy tubing (which was originally meant to make unlabeled Hetchins racing bikes identifiable to spectators) the dimpled tube was originally done for track racing star Tony Merkins, and became a regular feature on the Hetchins bikes sold to the general public.
The wide bars are comfortable and stylish
Hubs drilled out like Swiss cheese
An English saddle on this English bike
This bike is a “club” racer, designed to be fast and versatile. No three speed hub and luggage rack on this bike, those would be for tourists. The only nods to utility are the fender mounts and light bracket. Since the bike was born in England, that light bracket ended up on the right side of the bike.
Curvy Hetchins chain stays
1947 Conloy Osgear derailleur
Does the rear derailleur look a little advanced for the 1930′s? It should. It’s a Conloy Osgear, and it came out in ’47, but it looks and works really neat, and would have been the kind of thing a Hetchins owner would have upgraded on a 10 year old bike.
The Conloy Osgear rear derailleur utilized a modern parallelogram design and a single shift wire. Unfortunately it only had a single pulley, so the total gear difference could only be about six teeth. The shift cable runs up and along the top tube, which puts the lever in a nice convenient spot.
Ed William’s 1930′s Wastyn
1930′s Emil Wastyn
This bright old bike was originally owned and raced by Ed “Killian” Williams. An active cyclist in the ’30′s, Ed was a successful racer who earned his nickname from a blistering sprinting style that mimicked the great track racer Gustav Killian.
Look closely. Interesting features will poke out on this otherwise simple chrome bike. Check out the head tube lugs that wrap around the steerer tubes like chrome fingers, holding the tube in place. There’s the drooping handlebar stem up front and the drilled-out crank arms down low. Those BSA cranks were drilled out after the fact… No factory warranty on those…
Not a BSA, a Wastyn
Droop stem and sprinter bars
Don’t try this with aluminum cranks.
This bike is a Wastyn. Emil Wastyn, that is. The father to the original Schwinn Paramount line of racing bikes. Emil built the very first Schwinn Paramount in 1937, and Oscar Wastyn sr., Emil’s son, took over Paramount construction in the 1940′s. Emil’s grandson, Oscar jr. and great-grandson Scott are the current owners of Wastyn Cycles in Chicago.
Not original, but did you know Pirelli made bike tires?
Axle adjusters, hub with oil port
A note to amateur bike collectors out there: Notice the BSA head badge and frame sticker? A lot of people would assume that this bicycle was in fact built by Birmingham Small Arms. Not the case here. Ed Williams or Emil Wastyn or somebody in the last eighty years just put BSA stickers on the bike. Just like with Huffy decals on a brand new Serotta, you sometimes have to look past the labels to figure out where a bicycle originated.
1916 Mead Ranger
1916 Mead Ranger
Imagine that you were born a bicycle.
Born a Mead Ranger bicycle in 1916. Born in Chicago, but ready to ride anywhere! You grew up rolling down cobbled streets and dirt roads, taking little trips and having a good time. Road racing through the roaring ’20′s. All of the miles you covered in the 1930′s! Everybody was suffering from “depression” except you. You were out going places on new roads and were meeting new bikes from all over. World War Two was a busy time, with gas rationing going on you did your duty and kept everyone moving. Hung up in the back of your owner’s garage in the 1950′s, you thought that your days of adventure were over. You would spend the next few decades hanging from the rafters, trading stories with an old wooden canoe.
You kids and your stickers! Get a real head tube badge!
In the ’80′s your family decided to sell your garage (along with their house) and you were given to a guy named Jeff who seemed to like your kind. At Jeff’s Classic Cycle shop you met a bunch of old timers like yourself, and you talked about the old days… The cobblestones, racing around, snaring dresses and trouser legs with your chain… It was a good retirement.
Then one day you were roughly woken from a nap and brought into the work room at Classic Cycle. You were being tuned! Fresh grease? That hadn’t happened in years! 70 pounds of pressure in your tires? Hey, what’s going on? You are a display bike now, not a rider. Before you knew what happened you were being crammed into a cardboard box and loaded onto a UPS truck. This is no way to be treated!
Unpacked and reassembled in Colorado, this young fella starts riding around on you. Is the air here a bit thin? First ten miles, then thirty. You haven’t rolled this far in decades! Look at those hills! Grand Junction, Colorado? Isn’t Palm Springs a better place to spend your golden years?
You and that crazy fella Tristan racin’ like in the old days at L’Eroica
Before the week is up you find yourself at the start of what looks like a race, no doubt about it. There are some old timers like yourself, along with some of those young upstarts like those you met back in the Classic Cycle storage room. They all look excited and freshly overhauled, some with new tires even. Someone fires a pistol and that young fella starts you rolling. He doesn’t stop. Ten miles on fresh pavement. Twenty miles down a long descent. At thirty miles there was a bit of gravel, just like in the old days. You keep going, even through a rain storm. Through hail. Your coaster brake hasn’t ached this badly, ever. On a long stretch of gravel after seventy miles you start to loose your dentures (er, axle nuts). That crazy young fella catches them just in time and tightens them back on. He must be slow, doesn’t know about those new bikes with quick releases (and gears and disc brakes)! You think longingly about that spot above the Harbour Pub bar where you sat last summer, with people lifting their drinks to you and admiring your “lines”. The ride doesn’t stop. After ninety miles that crazy fella slowed you down to a more sensible pace, but he didn’t stop. One hundred miles rolled under your tires that day, one for each year of your long life.
Your springs haven’t been ridden that hard since the War.
Finally all of the nonsense comes to an end, and the young fella stops pedalling and gets off your aching saddle. One of the other bikes tells you that you just got second place at some old-timers race called L’Eroica!
Well how ’bout that? That’s really something. Ninety-seven years old and you can still give ‘em hell! Heck, you think, wait until I tell all of the new bikes back at Classic Cycle. All smug with their carbon fiber and high technology. Why, let’s see some of those new guys try this in a hundred years..
Bill Honeman’s 1932 Brennan
Bill Honeman’s 1932 Brennan racing bike
Tough old racing steel.
This racing bike saw hard mile after mile in its years of service. Raced, crashed, trained on and played with by a cyclist named Bill Honeman, it served with distinction.
John “Pop” Brennan built bikes like this one in his Newark, NJ workshop for many of the best racers of the day.
Bill “Willie” Honeman raced sucessfully for years and was the junior national champion in 1924, and national champion as a professional in 1934, 1935, and 1936.
Racing in his stars and stripes jersey, with prototype helmet
Original blueprint for one of Honeman’s Brennans
Willie broke a lot of ground for other cyclists to follow. He was the first American to wear a stars-and-stripes jersey as the national champion (before Willie they just draped a flag over the riders shoulders at the podium ceremony). Willie also lobbied for head protection for his fellow professional riders (ineffective as the available helmets were at the time), and was the first to regularly wear a helmet outside of motorpaced events.
Willie achieved an interesting little bit of immortality in bronze. He was the model used in making many early racing awards. Look closely at some of the trophies on display at Classic Cycle and you’ll find Willie’s likeness on the top of all of the ABL and NCA racing trophies.
Brennan created custom handlebars for his racers
Check out the wire toe clips
These rims are still straight.
Throughout his career, Honeman exclusively rode bikes built by Pop Brennan.
This track bike is from the middle of Willie’s professional racing career, and is in original condition with little to no restoration work.
Willie Honeman and Pop Brennan are both honored at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.
1920 Iver Johnson
1920 Iver Johnson Special Racer
“Iver Johnson engineers are not — and have never been — content to build a “just as good” cycle, or to copy the features of other makes. They have pioneered.” – 1917 Iver Johnson Arms & Cycleworks catalogue
Famous for their firearms (unfortunately known for being extremely reliable, as President McKinley and Senator Robert Kennedy were both killed by assasins using Iver Johnson revolvers), Iver johnson also made some great bicycles for over fifty years.
Iver Johnson head badge
Beautiful nickel-plated stem and bars
Persons leather saddle from Worcester, Mass.
When the Iver Johnson Arms company diversified into bicycles they had some truly novel and pioneering ideas. They developed a truss-bridge style frameset. They sponsored Marshall “Major” Taylor, one of the first superstars of the sport (a black professional cyclist and World Champion in 1899 and 1900). They delivered a well-designed product like this special racer at affordable prices (only in 1920).
Iver Johnson rear dropout
Nice finish for a 90 year old bike
This particular bike was owned by a fellow named Barney Winters, and it came with all the goodies. Thick enamel paint, bright nickel plating, and a full complement of Chater-Lea components.
The Iver Johnson company closed down their bicycle production as they ramped up arms production for World War II, but the bikes that survive today are real gems.
Frank Turano’s 1928 Brennan
Frank's 1928 Brennan
Sometimes the most beautiful aspect of an old racing bike is the mileage that it proudly displays.
This old Brennan has more than a few turns around the track under it’s green enamel paint. Frank Turano raced this bike throughout the 1930′s. He converted it to a regular road rider with an Osgear shifting system after the war (we have converted it back to original condition), and he continued to pile on the miles for decades. Frank’s long career with a total of 55 Six Day races suggests that this particular bike has at least 150,000 miles on it.
Brennan head tube bands
Not really "sealed" bearings...
Like most of the Brennan bikes in the museum collection, this one has the wrap-around bands on the head tube, and delicate-looking (but not actually delicate) seat and chain stays. The Brennan frame geometry made extremely long days in the saddle tolerable, and the predictable handling kept Frank safe and upright when he was exhausted or in the midst of the mayhem.
Movie star Joe E. Brown and Frank Turano 1934
Frank Turano with his bike
Frank Turano worked as a stuntman and stand-in in the film “The Six Day Bike Race”. Frank did a couple of big crashes in the film, and in one scene he rode clockwise around the track and through the oncoming pack.
This was the bike he used during filming. It’s in pretty good shape for being the actual hollywood stunt bike.
1978 Cheltenham Pedersen
Cheltenham Bicycles LTD.
Over 100 years ago, Dane Mikael Pedersen created his own niche in cycling history.
A gifted engineer and patent holder for farm equipment designs, Pedersen shifted his attention to designing bicycles in the early 1890s. Pedersen’s innovative frame design was lighter and significantly more comfortable than contemporary bicycles while riding over the cobblestones and dirt roads of the time.
Pedersen hammock saddle
The saddle struts look like sail rigging.
Pedersen built his bikes around a hammock-style saddle design. Since the saddle required anchor points both front and rear, the truss frame construction was a natural choice. The unusual design is both lighter and more structurally sound than appearances would suggest. A time tested contraption for sure, Mikael Pedersen was granted a patent on his bicycle design in 1894, which was even based upon a wooden version that he had built several years earlier.
The truss fork offered a bit of suspension
That's a lot of welds...
The production of the original Pedersens stopped in 1905, but the design continued to be produced by others manufacturers for decades.
This particular bike was built in 1978 by the Cheltenham bicycle company, located about 50 kilometers from the original Pedersen factory.
1941 Columbia Superb Replica
1941 Columbia Superb replica
Not to be outdone by Schwinn or Monark, the 1941 Columbia Superb (a.k.a. the model F9T) was one of the most deluxe cruiser bicycles ever built.
A dashboard fitted with an odometer, speedometer, and a clock were standard. A luggage rack with an integrated tail light was considered super high-tech. The girls’ model had beautiful wire skirt guards covering the rear wheel, and the striping and other details were just magnificent.
Swoopy front end with headlight
Pedals with jewel reflectors
The lineage of the Columbia bicycles can be traced directly back to Pope Manufacturing, founded by Albert Pope in Hartford, Connecticut in 1877. Bicycles are the lasting heritage of the Columbia brand, but motorcycles were produced until 1918, and automobiles (some of them electric) rolled out of the Hartford factory until 1914.
Hey, nice rack.
This particular bike is a reproduction that was made in 1997, and Columbia brought every detail of the original to life. Original specifications dictated every dimension and material used. While the headlight, chain guard, tank and rack were all made overseas, much of the bike was made in the U.S., and the completed bike rolled out of the original Westfield factory.
Alf Goullet’s 1923 Spencer Special
Alf Goullet's 1923 Spencer Special
This Spencer track bike was built for the greatest six-day track racer of all time, Alf Goullet.
The bike was constructed with an extremely high bottom bracket, which was meant to keep the pedals from striking the steeply banked velodromes of the day. The fork tubes and seat stays were made with stout oval tubing, all to resist the twisting forces that Alf could generate. Pop Brennan made custom handlebars in a shape that Goullet prefered, and springy wooden rims spun everything up to speed.
Custom Brennan handlebars
Spencer head tube detail
Just one speed for Alf Goullet. Fast.
The builder, Canadian expat Willie Spencer, while being quite handy with a welding torch, was quite the bicycle racer himself. A world record holder for the quarter mile, he also won the National Sprint Championship three times in the teens and twenties, and along with Alf is an inductee in the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame.
Alf at 100
Alf at 30
Pop Brennan and Alf
Alf Goullet, the owner of this bike, was an Australian-American cyclist who won more than 400 races on three continents, including fifteen six-day races. He set multiple world records racing various distances, and still holds the record for the furthest distance ridden in a six-day race. Alf was a superstar. At a time when the average factory worker brought home a day, he earned six figures a year racing his bike (dwarfing the salary paid to Babe Ruth). A real winner off the bike as well, Alf retired from cycling in 1925 and lived in good health and prosperity to the ripe old age of 103.
Louis Maltese’s 1928 Bastide Stayer
Louis Maltese's Bastide Stayer
Louis Maltese and Alf Letourneur, 1929
This bike was built for Louis Maltese, a professional track racer in the 1920s and 30s.
Louis and this bike could be seen competing in motorpaced events all around the east coast during that time. Tucked in behind a motorcycle driver, Lou and his Bastide raced at speeds of forty, fifty, and even sixty miles an hour. The Newark, Nutley, and Coney Island velodromes were home turf.
A big gear for high speeds
Saddle and post with turnbuckle brace
Louis was the director of the American Bicycle League (bike racing’s governing body) for many years, he was an early member of the Century Road Club (America’s oldest cycling club, founded in 1898), and he worked for decades promoting bike races (including the 1960, ’64, ’68, and ’72 Olympic trials). Mr. Maltese was inducted posthumously into the bicycling hall of fame in 1992.
Great machining on these old pedals
That's an oil port at the center of the hub
This track bike is a “Stayer” (also known as a “Steher” or a “Gangmaker” depending on your nationality). A bike that was built to be ridden behind a derny or motorcycle driver in motorpaced events. The reversed fork and smaller front wheel makes the bike handle like a shopping cart, it just wants to go straight ahead. A roller bar on the back of the motorcycle keeps bad things from happening if the front wheel of the bike bumps it. This is important, since the speeds involved in most motorpaced events average around fifty miles an hour.
1920s Motorpace helmet
Bastide front end reenforcements
The rider is positioned far forward on a bike like this, and you can see that this Bastide has reinforcements to keep the bike stable in that position. The smaller front wheel has the added benefit of reducing the distance between the cyclist and his pacer, improving the aerodynamic drafting effect.
1940 Elgin girls bike
Elgin head tube badge
Elgin made some cool bikes.
Sold through the Sears & Roebuck department stores prior to the second world war, these bikes competed with Schwinn, Monark, and Columbia for the attention of America’s youth.
This girls bike from 1940 is not the most spectacular of the Elgin models (that distinction belongs to the Blue Bird or the Four-Star Deluxe), but it does have some eye-catching features.
Elgin torpedo lamp
Elgin skirt guard
Neat fluting on the stem
A nice rear rack, a torpedo-shaped headlight, and rich blue and white paint add to the appeal, but the most striking item has to be the louvered skirt guard. Kinda looks like the grill on dad’s Buick.
Tommy Smeriglio’s 1940′s 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
Tommy with Ernie Landis at a race start
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.
Late 1930′s BSA Model T64 Tandem
1936 BSA Tandem
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet on the seat of a bicycle built for two.
Daisy could do a lot worse than marrying a guy with this awesome BSA Tandem.
Most likely purchased in 1936 or ’37, this British tandem built by Birmingham Small Arms is quite deluxe.
BSA tandem front end
BSA drum brake with wing nuts
Stoker bar and springy captain's seat
Fabulous features include BSA drum brake hubs, which were built to stop reliably (regardless of the girth of Daisy and her boyfriend). Springy leather saddles were added to the tandem, an upgrade over the stock saddles that BSA offered, but clearly the right choice for a guy trying to make an impressive bike for his sweetie. The generator light system on our bike was added more recently, but there is a fork mount designed to carry oil lamps or early battery powered lights. Full fenders, a bell, Dunlop tires (ours have since rotted away), and cellulose bar wrap made this bike top of the line.
Two chainrings machined from one piece of steel
Rare Trivelox shifter
The cogs move sideways, the derailleur stays in place
1936 BSA catalogue page
The real marvel of this bicycle built for two is the Trivelox shifting system. The funky design pulls the cogs side to side under a stationary derailleur. A good choice for a tandem, where weight is less of an issue, and where the Trivelox’s widely spaced hub bearings supported the axle more evenly. The Trivelox unfortunately did not withstand the test of time. If you can imagine holding a pen over a piece of paper, and writing by moving the paper underneath it, you can understand the limitations of this system. The more gears it was asked to shift between, the wider and heavier the rear wheel had to become.
1940 Lance Claudel
1940 Lance Claudel
Lance Claudel was a skilled frame maker and he built hundreds of stunning racing frames over his long career.
Claudel apprenticed with Willy Appelhans in the 1920′s before setting up shop and working for himself for over a decade. After years on his own, wanting a shorter workday, Claudel closed up his Bailey Avenue shop in the late thirties and was hired by Henry and Kay Damerell to build frames and wrench in their Bronx bike shop. Lance worked as a mechanic in their shop, “The Wheel”, until he retired.
Great square adjustable stem
Thick chrome on the frame and the components
Purchased at "The Wheel" in the Bronx
Claudel built this particular bike for a guy named John Orth, and it was probably the last frame that he built before the war. It is a beautiful piece of work, but you can see that there are differences from his earlier bikes. Not quite as detail-oriented, this bike may have been made for a more modest price, or it may show that Claudel was just getting a bit tired. The lugs aren’t quite as crisp as his earlier bikes, and some of the finishing touches (like a head badge) were skipped.
Charlie Logan’s 1932 Brennan
Charlie Logan's 1932 Brennan track bike
John “Pop” Brennan made some of the most coveted racing bikes in the world in the 1920s and 1930s. All of the top professionals rode a Brennan, and those who didn’t have the bikes sought out Pop for his custom-shaped handlebars.
Jeff has quite a few Brennans in his collection, but none are quite as cool as Charlie Logan’s fully restored 1932 beauty.
The rich enamel paint highlights Brennan’s precise (and fairly modern looking) lugs. The BSA components and beech wood rims were as fast as anything at the time.
The seat post was adjustable fore and aft
BSA components throughout
Brennan head tubes were as unique as a brand logo
This bike was raced hard throughout the decades, and was quite a basketcase before it was restored. Dented and bent tubing are now straight. Faded and chipped paint is fresh again. Look at this bike now and you will see how it looked back when it rolled out of Pop’s workshop eighty years ago…
Gus ”Augie” Juner’s 1930 Appelhans
Gus "Augie" Juner's 1930 Appelhans
This beautiful Appelhans originally belonged to Gus Juner.
We have a few Appelhans racing bikes in the museum. Frank Bartell’s speed record bike is certainly impressive, and Ted Bendi’s copper-plated bike is a rare jem, but nothing preserves and displays Appelhans craftsmanship quite like this bike. The lugs are neatly detailed with gold pinstriping, the finish and components are original and in excellent shape, and the bike is not nearly as battle-scarred as some of our other surviving Appelhans machines.
The Juner family
Simple and precise lugs join the tubing
The contrasting colors highlight Appelhans' style
Gus, a.k.a. “Augie” was one of three cycling brothers in the Juner family. Born and raised on City Island in the Bronx, New York, the Juner brothers are royalty in bike shop culture. They were the keepers of secret old-world bike knowledge and lore, and cycling advice given by a Juner brother was treated like it was gold-plated. Brother Oscar was immortalized in Maynard Hershon’s 1989 book “Tales from the Bike Shop” as the crusty but wise shop owner and mechanic.
Gus may not have had the success on the bike that his brothers did (Adolph won the Tour of Somerville and Oscar was a successful six-day track racer), but he certainly was a big influence on his brothers, and in turn, they fostered thousands of aspiring cyclists. Oscar started American Cyclery in San Francisco in 1941, while Adolph had a bike shop on City Island in the Bronx.
1930′s CCM Flyer
1930's CCM Flyer
Canada Cycle and Motor company was established over a hundred years ago when four major Canadian bicycle manufacturers amalgamated.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, many smaller bicycle builders shut their doors and C.C.M. soon became Canada’s industry leader. At C.C.M.’s peak they made up around 85 percent of Canadian bicycle production.
This particular bike came out of C.C.M.’s factory in Weston, Ontario sometime in the 1930′s. While the construction methods used for the frame are fairly simple and unadorned, the bike came out at a feathery weight and has great ride characteristics (particularly for a bike of this vintage).
CCM head badge
CCM Front end
Originally purchased from a Vancouver bike shop
With the way that star athlete endorsements work, this was most certainly a popular bike for C.C.M. William “Torchy” Peden was known as the King of the Six Day Races during the 30′s. Born in Victoria B.C., Torchy was the most famous Canadian athlete in any sport, and he rode a C.C.M.
1922 Worth Mitten
1922 Worth Mitten bicycle
Cycling Legend Victor Hopkins, in 1924
Worth Mitten, from Davenport, Iowa, was a small production bike builder who supplied a few great cyclists of his era. The couple dozen bikes that he built were all well engineered for the rough roads of the time with long wheelbases and extremely raked forks. This redish-brown color was a Mitten trademark, and all known bikes have this enamel finish.
Among the notable riders on his bikes was Victor Hopkins, 1926 National Champion and Olympian at the 1924 games.
1913 Worth Mitten Bio
Worthington Longfellow Mitten was quite the cyclist himself before he took up the torch. Born in 1884, “Worth” raced in over thirty Six-Day races, a few of these as a solo rider before two-man teams became the norm. Worth was successful enough to make good wages on the bike.
Fillet brazed rear dropout
Worth Mitten head badge
As a bike builder, Worth set himself apart from his contemporaries by fillet brazing his frames (the smooth, melted looking joints) as opposed to utilizing traditional lugged construction. Worth also fashioned his own racing tires out of linen and rubber (those didn’t stand up to the ravages of time, however, and newer tires are glued to these wooden rims).
1937 Monark model L537
1937 Monark Silver King L537
Another beauty from Monark (check out the ’48 Hex Bar and the ’36 boys Silver King too), this time a more modest version built for the girls.
This bike doesn’t have the over-the-top chrome fenders, lights and accessories, but it still has style to spare.
There are some great details on this Monark. Check out the art deco design on the handlebar stem. How about the wonderful sand-cast hub shells with the crazy cooling-fin type design? The kickstand folds up into the rear fender, and the wire laced into the rear fender acts as a guard to keep skirts and dresses from getting stuck in the wheel.
Great styling on a simple component
Ever seen a hub like this before?
The automatic bell rang continuously when switched to run on the tire.
Today’s bikes can be really quite awesome to ride, but Monark’s aluminum marvels from the last century are still in a class by themselves.
1920s Lance Claudel
This bike was made by Lance Claudel late in the 1920s, at a time when he was apprenticing for Willy Appelhans.
1920s Lance Claudel
Rare Appelhans apprentice badge
The bike is a terrific riding road model, even by today’s standards.
A durable three-speed hub gave the rider a few gears to choose from, at a time when road racers typically toughed it out with a single speed. A shift lever up on the handlebars must have made this cyclist the envy of his friends.
3 speeds and "quick release" wingnuts
Shift levers up on the bars in the 1920s
An old brake design...
The ingenious rear brake has a similar pivot design as Campagnolo’s Delta brakes from the 1980s, and it actually had some stopping power.
Micky Franciose’s 1931 Brennan
Mickey's 1931 Brennan track bike
This is one of Mickey Franciose’s racing bikes, a Brennan from 1931.
Mickey, whose first name was actually Nick (a race announcer got it wrong, and the nickname stuck), was a native of Montclair, New Jersey. He has memorabilia in the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, as well as in our museum.
Franciose raced on velodromes up and down the eastern seaboard during the summer, and when the weather turned cold, he headed for Australia and raced there during our winter.
Beautiful snowflake pattern chainring
Lobdell wooden rims, still straight after 75 years
As a sprinter, Mickey tallied up an extensive list of wins, including national championships titles in the junior, amateur, and professional levels. Needing reliable handling and fast acceleration, Mickey employed both Appelhans and Brennan racing bikes to do the job for him. This cool green Brennan was ridden to at least a couple of his more prominent wins.
These old saddles turned custom to their rider
Change the stem position for different events
Apparently Mickey was an impressive cyclist. Not only was his racing considered newsworthy, it seems that some sports writers thought his training sessions were interresting as well. The Australian sports press wrote tons of articles about Mickey’s visits in the 1930′s. Check out this excerpt we found from the Sydney Morning Herald, dated February 15, 1939:
On his Brennan, 1936
Mickey Franciose in Sydney! The American Ex-Amateur cyclist, who has raced with success at the Melbourne exhibition track since he came to Australia two or three months ago, arrived in Sydney and had some training at the sports arena yesterday. Franciose is about 20 years of age, and is a splendidly built athlete. He rides in a position similar to that of Francis Faure, the French rider who was in Sydney last summer, but seems to stretch out more to reach his pedals…
Frank Bartell’s 1926 Appelhans
80.5 MPH average speed over one mile
Frank Bartell set the human-powered land speed record on this bike in 1935. Riding behind Tom Mix’s supercharged Auburn, Frank averaged just over 80 miles per hour along the Golden State Highway. Frank’s record lasted until 1941, when Alf Letourneur blasted to 108mph on a heavily modified Schwinn Paramount. Today the record is held by something that barely resembles a regular bicycle.
Frank's St. Christopher medal rode with him
That's 84 teeth on the front chainring
Brooks saddle with stabilizer strut
This bike started life as an Appelhans track bike. The front chainring has 84 teeth (counting the skip-tooth spaces), and the back cog would have been a 6 tooth for the record attempt. Frank used it hard, and it endured many crashes on the way to a half-dozen six-day track race wins. Sometime around 1932 Pop Brennan replaced the seat stays on the bike.
Doris Kopsky’s 1933 Kopsky Special
Doris Kopsky's 1933 Kopsky Special
Doris Kopsky was a pioneer in womens cycling in America.
In 1937 at the age of fifteen Doris won the first womens division race at the ABL of A National Championships, held in Buffalo, New York.
Doris raced up and down the east coast, her father Joe bringing her to races all over. She was good at it. Doris won numerous regional and national dirt track titles, as well as indoor roller races from 1936 to 1941. She was the New Jersey State Sprint Champion in 1937, 1938 and 1939.
Kopsky adjustable stem
Bottom bracket oil port
“D” is for Doris
This is Doris’ bike, a Kopsky Special, built by her father Joe. This “speed instrument” as Joe called it, weighs only 18 pounds, and is made out of chrome plated Reynolds steel.
Doris and her bike, 1994
The National Champion and her bike, 1937
This may be one of the first “womens specific” bicycle designs, as it was built with a shorter top tube for its height than was standard practice (Check out Bill Honeman’s bike, while similar overall size, the top tube is around two inches longer). The bike also includes a custom racing saddle and an innovative adjustable stem.
1936 Monark Silver King
1936 Monark Silverking (with baseball mitt)
Monark head tube badge
Another shiny beauty from Monark.
This Silver King model M037 would have made you the envy of the neighborhood. The aluminum frame made this bike lighter than every other steel balloon tire bike. The stainless steel fenders stayed brilliantly bright, and even if they dented, they wouldn’t rust. It has a built-in Seiss headlight and horn (the extra tube on the frame houses the batteries), steering lock, rack, and a massive rear kickstand.
Light, horn, fenders, strut fork, neat-o!
Quality first from Seiss American lights
Monark headlight made by Seiss of Toledo, Ohio
Goodyear American bicycle tires
Aluminum rack and stainless steel fenders
This bike was most likely saved from metal collection drives during World War II by virtue of it being still relatively new during the war, and having a protective owner. Surely junior would rather give up his left arm than his bike…
1940s Bianchi city bike
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)…
Late 1800s nonpareil type bicycle
1800s nonpareil bicycle
Try to find a new chain for this, why don't you
A post for an oil lamp on the fork
The saddle leather has rotted away
Admittedly, we don’t know much about this bike. Built by an unknown manufacturer, this is the missing link in the evolution of the bicycle. This bike design comes from a time when various designers were independently moving away from the hobby-horse style velocipedes of the 1860s to the direct-drive Penny farthings of the 1870s and 80s, to the safety bicycle design that stayed with us until today.
Most likely this bike was built around 1890 and is one of the first chain-driven bicycles in existence.
1935 Stucchi Monza
The Stucchi Monza road racing bike
A simple badge on this one...
This is one of our favorites in the museum collection. Built in the middle 1930′s (1935 is a guess) in Milan, this Stucchi showcases some great craftmanship and innovation from its day.
The bike is fitted with the Vittoria Margherita derailleur system, which is quite simple and wonderfully designed.
Vittoria Margherita derailleur system
Move the lever back for more chain tension
Three gears to choose from
To use the gears, the rider would simply reach down to the lever and move it forward, releasing some of the chain tension. Next, he would back-pedal while pushing on the chain with his right hand. The chain would jump to the next cog over, and then the rider would take the slack back out of the chain by moving the lever rearward again.
Stucchi saddle, not Brooks or Ideale
Made in Milan, Italy
Gino Bartali, riding his Legnano with the Margherita shifter
Italian road racing champions of the day, Alfredo Binda and Gino Bartali both used the Margherita system to great success.
Imagine riding this on dirt or cobblestone roads…
Penny Farthing. High Wheeler. The Ordinary. Whatever you call it, here is the “Model T” of bicycles. Employing a direct-drive to the front wheel, the only way to make bicycles of this design faster was to make the front wheel bigger. The only limit to the size of the wheel was a riders’ inseam. 48″ and 52″ front wheels were some of the most common sizes.
Albert Pope of Pope Manufacturing brought bicycles to the masses with his Columbia bicycles.
A spoon brake pressed down on the hard rubber tire
In a span of just a few years bicycles went from costing the average worker months of his salary to being a means of travel that anyone could afford. They helped connect villages and town in ways that other means of transportation (walking, horses, & trains) could not. Roadways were built or improved to help connect cities and make travel with these bikes easier. All sorts of inventions and technology leaped forward from these bicycles. The invention of the motorcycle, the automobile, and the airplane can all be attributed to people who got their start with high-wheelers.
Ernie Landis’s 1927 Appelhans
The cycling world in the early part of the twentieth century revolved around New York and New Jersey, not Paris or Milan. This is Ernie Landis’s Appelhans. Ernie raced for the Unione Sportiva Italiana cycling club, which was based in New York, and one of the biggest cycling clubs in the world at that time.
This bike from the twenties was primarily a track bike, but the front brake shows that it was used occasionally for training or racing on the road. BSA or Birmingham Small Arms provided the components. They were the Campagnolo of the day.
Willy Appelhans was a builder in the Bronx, New York. Besides Ernie’s bike, we have a couple other Appelhanses in the collection, including a rare and striking copper-plated bike.
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
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
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.