Posted by Editoress on 06/25/12
Many cyclists focus only on the new in the bicycle world, but there are plenty of folks who fondly look back to the history of our beloved sport. A case in point was the 11th Annual Canadian Vintage Bicycle Show taking place on June 24th. The venue was the Heritage View Farm in Brantford, Ontario (and right across the street from the Alexander Graham Bell Homestead). In many respects it is reminiscent of a car show, with manicured lawns and ornamental trees as the backdrop to the various booths.
The show is the passion of Jamie McGregor, who had on display not only a huge collection of vintage bicycles, but also an abundance of 60’s vintage “muscle bikes”. If you’re unfamiliar with the term think of 20” wheeled CCM Mustangs, Raleigh Choppers and Schwinn Stingrays. Jamie doesn’t have a store. “I just collect. I sell some things but it’s not really my focus. It’s important to hang on to all parts of our cycling history.”
Even though there is a commonality of being vintage bikes, there are several sub categories present. The core is the really vintage – bikes over 100 years old. Many of them are Canadian too, showing that we were in the thick of bicycle production. There are a wide variety of balloon tire/cruiser bikes from the 30’s through the 60’s. Then there were the aforementioned muscle bikes from the 60’s, joined by some vintage road racers.
One other category that I have only a little knowledge of is the “Rat Rod Bike”. These are customized bikes based on vintage cruisers. One of the standout bikes at the show was Ken Martin’s CCM Rat Rod. The frame is a 1938 CCM Flyte, which is an Art Deco style absolutely unique to Canada. The paint scheme is based on a 1936 CCM. Besides the saddle from the 30’s, this beauty is a mash up of new parts, new old stock parts and what ever else Ken wanted to do. “I was entering a Rat Rod contest, sort of at the last minute, and I did this bike in just 2 weeks. It is one of those happy accidents where everything just came together. This bike finished 4th in a worldwide competition. I’m really proud of it. So proud that it’s definitely not for sale.” Ken does have some CCM frames and forks for sale though. If you’re interested in this genre of bike visit www.ratrodbikes.com
If you’ve ever seen vintage bikes then you know that many of the modern day innovations were actually tried 100 years ago. There were shaft drive bikes (see the Columbia below), full suspension bikes, racing bikes and utilitarian bikes. Check out this vintage Hartford from 1889. There are so many attempts at innovation on it that it is unbelievable. For all you GoPro users, there is a camera mount on the handlebar.
Some of the cruisers were very pretty. Here are two nice examples; an un-restored Western Flyer and the futuristic Silver King.
If you’ve ever had a desire to get a vintage bike then you’d probably want to try one. There is now a way to do this. A new company called Vintage Velo is about to open in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have decided to take vintage bikes, restore them, and use them in their rental fleet. This show was their first official event. They have 70’s vintage Schwinns, 60’s CCM’s, and even a couple of 20 year old mountain bikes. They had some really neat bikes that could be just the thing to complete your Niagara visit. The web site is still a work in progress but you can visit them at www.vintage-velo.com
Even though muscle bikes are part of my childhood, my bicycle nostalgia really starts with my first road racing bikes in the late 1960’s. To my surprise I saw an example of my first proper road-racing bike. This is a 1970 Gitane Tour de France. Ah yes. A definite wave of deja vu. I had the same colour too. Sorry I sold it. Like 30 some odd years ago. Good thing this one was too small for me. There's always the danger of coming home with something you didn't intend to at shows like this.
If you’ve never been to the Canadian Vintage Bicycle Show it is well worth the visit. The venue is just gorgeous and the volunteers are super friendly and helpful. The modest admission goes to the Stedman Community Hospice. Check out the event at www.canadianvintagebicycleshow.com I have a sneaking suspicion that this going to become an annual event for my family.
Extra photo – Wilson Tandem – vintage unknown – From Wilson’s Music Store in Sarnia Ontario. Muscle bike display in the background.
Photo gallery has larger version of photos for a better look
Story and photos by Mike Badyk
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