It's a collection of antique bicycles that any museum would be excited to have. But these bikes aren't in a museum; they're on display in a northwest Iowa business. Lakeshore Cyclery has been a Storm Lake fixture for 27 years. Step inside and you'll find the very latest in bicycle technology. And some of the very earliest, from a high-wheeler that entertained crowds under the big top with the Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1884 to a 116 year-old bicycle built for two, a tandem that steers from the rear, displayed throughout the store, right amongst the lightweight rides of today, are dozens of extremely rare classics.
"We really have some treasures in this collection, " said Larry Godfredson, Lakeshore Cyclery Owner. Godfredson is a 3rd generation bike shop owner. His father started collecting and restoring old bicycles more than a half-century ago at his shop in Austin, Minnesota.
"He would travel the country finding these bicycles, whether it be at an auction or somebody's tip that he had 'em in a barn somewhere," explained Godfredson.
Eventually, Godfredson says his dad had the largest antique bike collection in the world. Today, it's a collection worthy of a museum.
There's a wooden-rimmed bicycle made by Deere Company, which later became John Deere and Company. Among the bicycle's features are strings tied from the rear fender down to the hub designed to keep the dress of a female rider out of the spokes.
Godfredson pointed out a bicycle with a carbide headlight. "You would actually put a powder in there with some water which would create the gas and create the light," he said.
The collection also includes two paratrooper bicycles dating back to World War II, one British and one French. The bicycles fold in half. Paratroopers jumped out of airplanes with them strapped to their backs.
The oldest bicycle in the collection is 144 years old. It's nicknamed The Bone Shaker because the frame is all steel and the wheels are made of wood.
All of the old bikes are still rideable and Larry and his family can be seen riding them in parades every year. Eventually, Larry hopes to create a museum in the back of his store so he can properly display the classic bikes.
Godfredson is always looking for more bikes to add to the collection. After all, bicycles old and new are in the family blood here.