Stop by to visit the latest shop at the museum. It’s modeled with the Wright Cycle Co. in mind.
The Wright Bros. began selling bicycles in 1892 while continuing to run their print shop. By 1896 they started designing and manufacturing their own bike models and used the bicycle profits to finance their first aviation experiments. (The museum’s bike shop is in the same building as the future museum print shop.)
When I was much younger, I rode my bike every day, all winter, all summer, every day. My friends and I often used to ride our bikes the next county over to visit (play) at Whipps Ledges. I like bicycles. For quite a while now I have been wanting to set up a bike shop at the museum. But I never had quite enough old cycles to do so. Then we decided to visit my sister Beverly in Chicago. When we got there she said we could have (my brother-in-law) Carl’s, bike. Carl had planned on restoring it, but just never quite got around to doing so. The bike is an 1896 Crown and has wooden fenders, wood handlebar, wood wheels, and a wood and string chain guard. -It was a ladies bike and the chain guard with crossing strings was necessary to keep a lady’s skirt safe from entanglement (no proper lady of the time would ever have worn pants).
So, with the other bikes and children’s wagons and scooters I had collected over the years, bike shop time had finally arrived. The most famous bike shop of all American history was the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop. So I modeled our shop a bit on the style and set up of the Wright’s shop. It’s been a fun project and may be one of the more interesting shops in the museum. Be sure to notice the 1903 wheel alignment machine sitting on the table. It was donated to the museum and came from the Elyria Cycle Shop. The bike in the shop’s window is an 1890 Rev-O-Noc, which also sports wooden wheels.
While construction was proceeding, using bits and pieces from several old buildings including the flooring from the Hamburg Horseshoeing shop, I came across several old bike shop signs. One of them named the shop’s owner as “Cycle Agent”. So in honor of the wonderful donation of a fantastic bike, I have named Carl Von Vessele as Cycle Agent of the Fryburg Cycle Co. He may be the best guy I have ever known. I miss him.