Even the most finely crafted handmade bicycle needs to be ridden for quite a few kilometers before it develops a personality. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the weather worn bikes with a few battle scars and an aged patina that truly speaks with a voice. The collection of Australia’s Mark Austin, now up for sale through his new venture, Wolfies Cycles, come with an instilled persona, ready for you to take ownership and partner with on leisurely cruises through the suburbs and villages.
America’s quest to conquer space, the final frontier, during the 50s, affected almost every aspect of life in the post-war era. Kitchen appliances became more streamlined, as did fashion, cars grew fins and even bicycles began to look like they would roar like a jet and exceed the speed of light. Mark Austin, with a background in architecture and a passion for vintage Harley Davidson motorcycles, concentrated on this era and amassed an inventory of some of the most impeccable examples of bicycles from this era.
While the bikes show evidence of their 50-plus years, they are all just as rideable as they were when they rolled out of their American factories, and exude the same optimism and excitement as the society that produced them. Many feature functional horns and headlights and I wonder about the divergence bicycle design took at this point: surely horns and headlights are still relevant on modern commuter bikes, why have they ceased to be integrated into the complete bike rather than being after-market add-ons?
The line-up currently reads like a who’s who for collectors: Roadmaster, Western Flyer, Elgin, J.C. Higgins, Schwinn, Monark and Columbia Bicycles. It’s worth a visit for the display bikes alone, which include a shaft-drive Columbia from 1895.
If you’re looking for the ultimate option in style to the ubiquitous fixed gear, Wolfies Cycles will inhabit the Blank Space Gallery on Crown Street, Surry Hills, for two weeks. The opening was last Saturday, but they will be open until the 29th of April, 11.00am to 6.00pm daily. The prices range from AU$350 to $2,000. You can also contact Mark through the Wolfies Cycles website.