Israel’s First Bike Museum in Converted Chicken Coop

Bertin Derailleur racincing bikeBertini Derailleur racing bikes like this one were used by Israeli cyclists in the Rome 1960 Olympiad

Bicycle riding, including bike sharing in Tel Aviv and traveling by bike in the Middle East have been popular topics that Green Prophet writers have enjoyed sharing with their readers. Those living in urban areas, where bike riding is a very green way of getting around, stories of young bicycle enthusiasts using an abandoned bus lane in Amman Jordan and  a girl and her green bicycle in Saudi Arabia  indicate that bike riding is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East.

With this fact in mind, the idea of  using a personal collection to create a bicycle museum is more than just an idea for an Israeli guy named Alon Woolfe. Woolfe regards himself as an avid collector; and turned a converted chicken coop into the country’s first museum of bicycles.

Woolfe began purchasing his collection and storing it in the building with the idea of finding the most “interesting, wacky and unique bicycles” he could find, he tells the local newspaper Haaretz.

His collection includes early models no longer in existence, such as a 100-year-old German model that actually has wheel rims made of wood.

Other interesting specimens include an 1880 “high wheeler” made by the Singer Sewing machine company. It is said to be one of the few surviving types from a 19th Century era when gentlemen and ladies  rode these contraptions around parks on Sunday afternoons.

“Some people are addicted to things like gambling; but I am addicted to collecting things, especially bicycles,”he told the newspaper.

walking bikeAn early 1800’s  Velocipede walking bicycle model Woolfe hopes to find or recreate for the museum. Photo: Wikipedia

Woolfe’s collection now contains around 120 different models. He wants to find one of the original velocipede bicycles from back in 1817.  Velocipedes (which means fast foot) pedal less “walking bikes”  were made out of wood and iron and moved by means of its rider pushing it along with his feet. “My dream is to bring an old walking bike – one of the first bikes manufactured in 1817. It’s really difficult to get your hands on one, so I’m considering making my own based on the original models,” he says.

In addition to models that Woolfe purchased himself, other models have been donated to the museum; including racing bikes and accessories from cyclists who rode them in international competitions, including Olympic road bike competitions.

Former Olympic cyclists Henri Ohayon and Ben David made aliyah from Morocco in the early 19th century. They rode Bertini racing  bicycles and were national champions in the 1950s and 1960s. They were the only Israelis to ride in  Olympic road bike competitions.

Woolfe may also want to add a recently innovated model made largely out of recycled cardboard by another fellow Israeli, Izhar Gafni. Gafni makes these bicycles with cardboard material fortified with various resins at a cost of only $9 to $12  per unit; and which should sell for around $60. Nothing is greener than this.

More on bike riding and models in the Middle East:
‘Wadjda’ – A Saudi Girl and Her Green Bicycle
Tel Aviv Bike Sharing: Green Prophet Hits the Road
Cardboard Bike From Israel Makes Cycling Even Greener
Travel by Bike in the Middle East
Teenagers Use Abandoned Bus Lane for Safe Urban Cycling in Jordan

Bertini Bike Photo:  Velocipede photo: Wikipedia

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