Western Flyer Bicycle: Antique Vintage BicyclesCredit: http://luxlow.com/wp-content/uploads/110310_bimumewfrssm.jpg
The Western Flyer bicycle is a really cool style of antique vintage bicycle that really revolutionized the look and aesthetic of bike design in that era. Rather than sticking with a utilitarian style with a transportation-first mentality, the Western Flyer bicycle emulated the look and feel of motorcycle design at that time. The frame was aerodynamically inspired (if not truly aerodynamic in operation), the colors were bright and included plenty of chrome, and the whole bicycle is a joy of design and style. Some stunning examples of the Western Flyer bicycle still exist today, mainly because so many owners lovingly took care of their 'machines!'
This article is an homage to the Western Flyer bicycle, which, like many other antique vintage bicycles out there, has had a real impact on bike design and society to this day. I will talk a bit about the history and evolution of the Western Flyer bike, and show some pretty pictures of the machine in action.
Let's read on, and learn about the Western Flyer bicycle in its glory days!
Western Flyer Bicycle: HistoryCredit: http://ralphslatton.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/westernflyer2.jpg?w=293&h=210&h=210
The Western Flyer bicycle was first produced by the Western Auto Supply Company, which was founded in 1909. They didn't immediately start producing bicycles, this happened in the 1930's. The high quality of parts and reasonable prices of the Western Flyer bicycle made it an instant success, and many models were born as a result. These were solid bikes, and they utilized the latest innovations to make sure that their frame design was seamless, sleek and totally aero looking. They weren't exactly dainty, and most weighed in well in excess of 60 pounds (massively heavy by today's standards). However, they were solid, and you could could on your Western Flyer bicycles to last a long time. This is one of the reasons why an antique vintage bicycle of this variety is so sought after; often they are in very good shape even now.
The Western Flyer bicycle was all about cool and comfort. It was one of the first bicycles to use shock absorption technology, and the ride was quite smooth. The marketing was made to appeal to children, and a lot of vintage Americana publications contain Flyer ads. I believe that secretly many adults wished to own a Western Flyer bicycle of their own, so great was the appeal!
The Western Flyer bicycle was known to be a high quality piece of equipment, and they bucked the trend found in Europe of only producing for utilitarian purposes. If you were a kid, you wanted to be riding a Flyer! Many major manufacturers, including Huffy and Schwinn, copied the design of the Western Flyer bicycle in some way. This wasn't entirely unexpected, however, since Western subcontracted out a lot of the manufacturing work to other American companies to produce the Flyer.
Some famous Western Flyer bicycle models include the x-53 and the Speedline Airflo. Another reason why antique vintage bicycles from Western Flyer are sought after is that they did a great job of including accurate serial details on every model. You can almost always track down the exact year, model and color scheme of a bike if you can find the serial on the frame.
Western Flyer Bicycles: Collectibles and AntiquesCredit: http://www.ryanshackelford.com/spokebicyclemuseum/images/gallery/large/1939%20b.Western%20Flyer%20m.Cleveland%20Welding%20Company___07.jpg
The Western Flyer bicycle is a sought after antique vintage bicycle these days. Many people would love to get their hands on these babies, and shows that endorse antique hunting do nothing to quell this obsession. Since they are getting rarer, it might be worth looking in that old barn to see if one is lurking somewhere. You'll probably be surprised to know that a good condition Western Flyer bike can range anywhere from $100 to $1000, and that price is on the rise. They were produced between 1930 and 1959, so obviously the older models in decent shape will command the best prices. However, if you have a mint condition Western Flyer bike from the late 50s, you have a valuable gem on your hands.
Things that will reflect well on the price (and this is true on most antique vintage bicycles), are good condition original paint that is free of rust, oxidization and discoloration, wheels that are in good shape with minimal rust and chrome still intact, handlebars, lights, and chrome accessories still on the bike and intact with minimal rusting or wear. Tires are less important, since an original set of tires on a Western Flyer bicycle is likely to be in pretty poor shape, and should be replaced before you consider riding on them.
It's pretty easy to restore a bicycle, and you might want to consider this if you've got any Western Flyer bicycles in rough shape. There are bike restoration specialists out there who work on antique vintage bicycles, or you can just do your research on how to remove rust, shine chrome, and repaint the bike frame. Keep in mind that a restored antique vintage bicycle is never worth as much as an original condition one, but if the bike is really ratty it might be worth doing anyway.
Western Flyer Bicycles: An American Icon
The Western Flyer is more than just another collectible item found in an antique store. There is something that gives Western Flyer bicycles added value to collectors and historians alike. The bike began production in the 1930s, during the beginnings of the Great Depression. They were produced right through this, through the Second World War, and on through a golden age in the 1950s. The bicycle has come to represent, to some, the endurance and determination of the American dream.
If you happen to come across a Western Flyer bicycle, it is a real find. Even though these antique vintage bicycles were common and many can be found, you can bet that they will only increase in value as the years pass, both as cool pieces of cycling history, and as bits of American nostalgia. Remember to write down the serial number and figure out what year it came from!