I’m spending a lot of hours with my leg propped up these days, which, thanks to the impossible profile, isn’t very conducive to much in the way of ordinary activities.

I am normally a voracious reader, but typically do my reading only just before sleeping, so it’s been a a bit of a shift to implement that activity in the middle of the day.  In lieu of cycling, I’ve been effecting that change with a batch of bicycle-related books.

Cyclepedia is the sole album among my current crop of cycling books, and the title is also the name of a current exhibit at The Portland Art Museum in what is arguably the cycling capital of North America: Portland, Oregon.  The exhibition showcases approximately 40 cycles collected by Austrian designer Michael Embacher; the book itself showcases just over 100.

And what a collection it is, ranging chronologically  from the French Vialle Velastic (1925) with its fantastic carriage leaf spring seat post to the German Hase Pino Tour upright/recumbent tandem (2010) with everything imaginable in-between.

The book is not ordered chronologically, but eccentrically, which added enormously to my reading pleasure. Reading it is like strolling through a private collection, arranged to suit the collector, without any external restrictions imposed. The photos, by Bernhard Angerer,  are clear, stunning, and artful; and the text is just enough — neither wordy nor academic, but perfectly suited to a coffee table work whose primary joy lies in the graphic presentation.

I particularly appreciated the table supplied for each cycle, which allowed for quick and easy comparisons of weight, components, and so.  The volume has no traditional index; instead there is a mavelous visual index, with pages of photos of each cycle neatly laid out with page numbers noted.

There’s quite a lot here for any cycling enthusiast:  plenty of folders, early carbon models, some fascinating tandems, and a couple of exciting tricycles, too.  The majority of the collection seems to date from roughly 1965 forward, but there are three models from the 1920s, and  a number from the 40s and 50s, too.

The “Statistics” page offers a beautiful time-line, with weights (in kilos) and frame materials noted.

My only quibble?  Somehow everyone (beginning, presumably, with the author, and continuing on through the publisher) got Andrew Ritchie’s name wrong. It’s recorded as “Ritchley”, which is a pity, especially in such an otherwise well done work.

2 replies on “Cyclepedia”

On a recent visit to Portland, I went to see the exhibit at the Art Museum. While it was super interesting to see some of the vintage bikes, I found it shocking that there was no vintage Brompton. Bike Friday and Strida were there, but no Brompton. I was quite disappointed. I learned from one of the docents, that ALL the bikes were owned by one person, and this was only a quarter of his/her collection. I have to assume the Brompton was simply held back due to it’s pricelessness;-)

I like your explanation for the missing Brompton, trailz! The collection is apparently now up to 140 bicycles, and only 40 are on exhibit, so many were left behind in Austria. It is disappointing to learn that a Brompton didn’t make it to the exhibit; I’d have been crushed had I discovered this myself.

There is a Brompton in the collection, but not a vintage one; it’s from 2009. But, then, the collector began his collection quite accidentally, and has just picked up cycles on the way, as the fancy struck him, and the opportunities arose. Good thing he did, but the result isn’t, probably, exactly what a museum would have done if its staff set out to buy bicycles!

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