There’s an old cycling joke, told with a shrug of the shoulders and a “know what I mean?” look in the eyes
Q. What’s the right number of bikes?
A. Whatever you’ve got now…plus one more
And it’s this attitude that turns bike owners into collectors. It’s easily done: I’ve got five and that’s without trying, and after some thinning out on eBay. Some people can take that to real extremes – and people collect the strangest stuff; only Italian, only steel, team issues, only ridden by the stars, …the list goes on. The thing about these private collections is that you rarely get to glimpse them.
I already own Cyclepedia, Vienna collector Michael Embacher’s pristine collection of “interesting” bikes; early folders, trikes, Chris Boardman’s ’92 Barcelona Olympics Burrows-designed Lotus machine, early aero framed machines. It’s a fascinating insight into the collector’s world. In this case complete with a custom-designed viewing gallery for nearly 100 bikes. There’s also Ray Dobbin’s collection of 70’s and 80’s Italian bike bling.
What’s got Twitter and the cycling forums excited is the sale of an entire collection by ex-cycling team boss Manolo Saiz. He was directeur sportif of the top teams from ’89 to ’03 – almost the exact period that I fell out of love with pro-cycling: the Indurain years. Bar some excitement from Chris Boardman, and Sean Yates in the maillot jaune in ’94 (in England!) there was nothing to get excited about. Miguel Indurain dominated with back-to-back Tour wins from ’91 to ’95, the peleton sped up and didn’t stop until it blew up with the Festina scandal of ’98. To cap it all, Channel 4 stopped their TV coverage. But this collection is impressive for another reason. It documents one of the most exciting periods of frame design, right up to the late ‘90’s when the UCI (cycling’s governing body) restricted frames so that they conformed to the familiar “double diamond” model that goes back to the safety bicycle of late Victorian times.
The collection contain a mix of Look, Giant, Once and BH machine from the Once, Astana and Liberty Seguros teams. There are 57 bikes in all which can be seen online as selection of those that caught my eye are shown below. If you’ve got $50,000 it was briefly listed on eBay.
Frames are in steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon and every combination thereof. Some of these bikes would still turn heads and look amazingly progressive even against today’s carbon time trial bikes. The forkless design and the seat fairings would have the same effect on passers by as the GMC DeLorian Marty McFly and Doc Brown drove down a 1955 Main Street.