Trek 5500 bicycle used by Lance Armstrong in the 2000 Tour de France
metal (part material)
rubber (part material)
overall: 40 in x 18 in x 65 in; 101.6 cm x 45.72 cm x 165.1 cm
Used during certain stages:
2000-07-01 to 2000-07-21
American professional racing cyclist Lance Armstrong (b. 1971) may have written a book called It’s Not About the Bike, but his seven Tour de France victories, now annulled as a result of a 2012 investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), all benefited from increasingly advanced racing bicycles.
For almost a century, race bikes used steel tubing construction. Steel was stiff and durable, but was also relatively heavy. High-quality steel frames without wheels or components weighed around 3.75 to 4.5 lbs. Because a lighter bike has a significant advantage on long climbs in the mountains, bike manufacturers attempted to reduce weight as much as possible. During the 1980s, modern manufacturers began experimenting with lighter and more versatile construction materials such as aluminum alloys, titanium, and most recently, carbon fiber. Armstrong’s, now-voided, first Tour de France victory in 1999 was on a carbon fiber Trek 5500. The 5500 frame was still comparatively heavy by modern standards, weighing around 3.85 lbs. At the time of his second tour attempt in 2000, Armstrong was riding both the 5500 frame, as well as a lighter and more advanced 2.75 lb Trek 5900 frame for the mountain stages. Other weight savings and technological improvements found on both bicycles include a larger 1 1/8” steerer tube, a threadless headset, and 9-speed Shimano Dura Ace components.
Armstrong brought several bikes to the 2000 Tour de France. This particular bicycle was raced on some of the flatter stages, such as Stage 11 from Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Revel in Southwest France, as well as the final stage on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. During the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Armstrong used this bike as a spare, but did not ride it in competition.
overall: 37 in x 29 in x 64 in; 93.98 cm x 73.66 cm x 162.56 cm
United States: California, Mill Valley
First prototype of the JBX1 "Breezer 1” mountain bike. Hand built by Joe Breeze in 1977, the JBX1 was the first bicycle frame designed specifically for mountain biking.
The “Breezer 1” was constructed with components that could withstand the repeated pounding of mountain bike riding, such as Araya brand 26” steel rims, Phil Wood hubs, Sun Tour derailleurs, and Dia-Compe brakes. The steel “riser” handlebars and Magura brand brake levers were repurposed from motorcycles and adapted to work with the “Breezer 1’s” stem and brake calipers. The large size of the Magura motorcycle levers provided increased braking leverage and was advantageous when trying to ride in wet conditions with slippery steel Araya rims. Other parts, such as the Sun Tour thumb shifters were adapted from five-speed touring bikes and only came in right hand models. The left side thumb shifter, which controlled the front derailleur, was a right hand shifter that was mounted backwards.
Prior to the construction of the “Breezer 1”, mountain bike racers would modify vintage cruiser bikes, nicknamed “clunkers”, with coaster or drum brakes, sturdier wheels with knobby “balloon tires”, and “fork braces” to keep the frames from bending under the stresses of off-road riding. Mountain bike riders in Marin County, California would race these “clunkers” down mountain trails in events called “Repack Races”. The term ”Repack” was coined because the hub-based brakes would inevitably overheat, lose their effectiveness, and have to be disassembled and repacked with fresh grease prior to another ride down the mountain.
Joe Breeze’s “Breezer 1” design served as a benchmark for mountain bikes to build and improve upon. In 1979 Tom Ritchey of Redwood City, California, started building fat-tire mountain bikes, which were sold by two veterans of the “Repack Races”, Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly. In 1982, mountain bicycles were offered by two separate companies -- Specialized Bicycles came out with the Stumpjumper and Univega released the Alpina Pro. The following year, Gary Fisher founded his own mountain bicycle company, which sold bicycles under the brand "Gary Fisher" from 1983 to 2010.
The 1980s and 1990s saw mountain biking evolve from a niche sport to an International Cycling World Championship event in 1990. It became an Olympic event at the 1996 Atlanta games. Additionally, mountain biking became an increasingly popular amateur sport. Once only available from specialty shops, mountain bikes were suddenly being sold as recreation bikes at department stores and big box retailers.
overall: 148 cm x 67 cm x 167 cm; 58 1/4 in x 26 3/8 in x 65 3/4 in
front wheel: 52 in; 132.08 cm
High-wheel bicycles were the first common type of personal, mechanized transportation. Equipped with pedals but no chain, the diameter of the front wheel and the rider’s strength provided rapid speed for the first time in cycling history. The Pope Manufacturing Company dominated the bicycle market in the 1880s with its Columbia brand of high-wheel bicycles, and later with Columbia safety bicycles in the 1890s. Albert A. Pope, the nation’s leading mass producer of bicycles, introduced thousands of Americans to the benefits and pleasures of personal mobility. His factories in Hartford, Connecticut excelled at producing lightweight tubular steel frames, pneumatic tires, and other bicycle parts in vast quantities. Pope also was adept at influencing the social and political landscape; he was instrumental in promoting bicycle touring, starting the good roads movement, and defining the concept of personal mobility independent of trains.
Currently not on view
Gift of Margaret Alduk in memory of Frank P. Alduk
1896 Columbia Woman’s Bicycle Embellished by Tiffany
Pope Manufacturing Company
This bicycle is a lavishly decorated example of a common safety bicycle. It is covered with foliage, rosettes, and other organic Art Nouveau-inspired figures made of silver covered with a thin layer of gold. An expensive product for a limited market, it was introduced by Tiffany and Co. for the 1895 holiday season and was available at the height of the bicycle craze of the 1890s. Mary Noble “Mittie” Wiley of Montgomery, Alabama owned this bicycle. Her monogram MNW appears on the front tube in gold with diamonds and emeralds. Wiley was married to Ariosto Appling Wiley, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives and later a Representative in the United States Congress. Despite the couple’s prominent standing in Montgomery and Washington over many years, the circumstances surrounding the acquisition and use of this bicycle are unknown. In 1915, Mittie gave it to her son, Noble, intending that he give it to his daughter, Hulit, when she was old enough to appreciate it. But Noble Wiley became fascinated by the bicycle’s unusual materials, techniques, and history, and he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1950.
In 1963, Schwinn introduced a low-slung child’s bicycle that had begun as a fad in southern California. The California custom bikes had small wheels, “Longhorn” handlebars, and a slim, elongated seat. The mass-produced Schwinn Sting-Ray was an instant success; it was perfect for wheelies, and the “banana” seat accommodated the rider and his “date.” The Sting-Ray came in vibrant colors, including Flamboyant Lime, Radiant Coppertone, Sky Blue, and Violet. As sales boomed, Schwinn added the Fastback and Manta Ray, several models for girls, and the Orange Krate, Apple Krate, Lemon Peeler, and Pea Picker. This bike was donated by the manufacturer.
H x W x D: 28.5 x 50 x 16 cm (11 1/4 x 19 11/16 x 6 5/16 in.)
Toy and Entertainment
Free State, South Africa
Across Africa, toys are frequently made of wire and other recycled or found materials. Many have moving parts, and all demonstrate an extraordinary imagination. Their linear quality and lively sense of animation have influenced local artists and inspired multiple museum exhibitions. Entertaining toys in the form of sewing machines, bicyclists and figures paddling canoes are proving so popular in some areas that artists now devise easily packable versions for the tourist market.
overall: 3 15/16 ft x 2 1/8 ft x 6 9/16 ft; 1.1936 m x .64008 m x 2.0065 m
United States: Massachusetts
Sylvester Roper, a machinist and inventor in Massachusetts, built this steam velocipede and demonstrated it at fairs and circuses. It is believed to be the oldest existing American motorcycle. With its forged iron frame and wooden wheels, it resembles a velocipede, a popular bicycle of the late 1860s. The saddle served as a water tank for the boiler, which was heated by a firebox that burned charcoal. Twisting the handlebar controlled the throttle and brakes. Roper built several other steam vehicles, including another motorcycle in 1895, but he died just before the motor vehicle manufacturing industry got underway.
overall: 42 in x 50 in x 41 in; 106.68 cm x 127 cm x 104.14 cm
In 1817, Karl Drais, a young baron and inventor in Baden (Germany), designed and built a two-wheel, wooden vehicle that he straddled and propelled by walking swiftly. A forester for the Grand Duke of Baden, Drais used his "lauf-maschine" (running machine) to inspect the Duke's forests--he could make his rounds more quickly and efficiently on wheels than on foot. The lauf-maschine soon became a novelty among Europeans, who named it the "draisine." Copies were made in cities across the continent, and rentals, races, and public demonstrations became popular forms of recreation and entertainment. In England, men and women took pleasure rides on a lighter, simpler version called the hobby horse. By 1818 the draisine craze reached the United States. Charles Wilson Peale, a well known portrait artist, helped to popularize the draisine by displaying one in his museum in Philadelphia. Many American examples were made, and rentals and riding rinks became available in eastern cities. Riding downhill at high speed was a particularly enjoyable activity that compensated for the draisine's lack of a propulsion mechanism. On both continents, however, the draisine fad ended by 1820. The high cost of the vehicle, combined with its lack of practical value, limited its appeal and made it little more than an expensive toy. Rough roads and accidents discouraged many riders and caused conflicts with local citizens. The draisine is historically significant because it was the first widely available vehicle that was not animal-powered, and it intrigued many people with the possibility of moving about on a personal, mechanized vehicle. But the success of two-wheelers would not become sustained until pedals were added to the front wheel some fifty years later. The exact origin of this draisine is unknown; it is a typical example dating from the late 1810s.
Currently not on view
National Treasures exhibit
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
overall (individual shoe): 10 1/8 in x 3 1/2 in; 25.7175 cm x 8.89 cm
These cycling shoes were used by American track cycling World Champion Sarah Hammer (b. 1983) and were worn between 2010 and 2011. Manufactured by Specialized Bicycle Components, the shoes were first released in the winter of 2009 as a part of their top tier S-Works line of bicycles and equipment.
Hammer’s S-Works shoes incorporate several features that are specific to cycling footwear. The soles are made using carbon fiber, which is an extremely light but rigid material. A rigid material is preferred, since flexing under load reduces the rider’s power output as they perform their circular pedaling motion originating at the leg, through the shoe, pedal, and crankarm. A Shimano brand cycling cleat bolted to the sole of the shoe locks into a road cycling pedal, which allows the rider apply more power throughout the pedal stroke. The shoe’s uppers are constructed of synthetic leather, which is more resistant to stretching than real leather. The two dials on the uppers of the shoes are a proprietary system made by Boa Technology that independently tightens and loosens a steel lace and are easier for the wearer to adjust the fit of the shoe while riding than Velcro or laces.
Primarily correspondence, advertisements, invoices and receipts, price lists, illustrations, catalogs, photographs, patents, trademarks, periodicals, road maps and books from manufacturers and distributors of bicycles and bicycle accessories and supplies; also a considerable amount of material on cyclist shows, clubs, associations and tournaments, as well as material from English manufacturers. The bulk of the material dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Bicycles, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, box ##, folder ###, digital file number ####
Cartoon-like sketch of Otto Bacher and Robert (Bob) Blum riding bicycles. Each man's name is written where the head would be. Very loose pencil sketch on verso of a man's head in profile. Date range based on earliest date of Otto Bacher papers and date of Blum's death.