EAST TAWAS – Once upon a time, bicycles were all the rage in Iosco County in the late 1800s and into the 20th century.
New features and designs touting modern engineering and marketing campaigns influenced retailers and customers alike that the latest bicycle design was a “must see” opportunity.
One of the most exciting bikes of its day was the 1934 Streamline Aerocycle produced by Arnold, Schwinn and Co. of Chicago, Illinois. One of the originals is currently on display at the Iosco County Historical Museum in East Tawas, donated by Dale Hooker of Town of Tawas.
“A boy rides this sleek beauty – and every boy in his neighborhood will want one like him!” an advertisement declares it as the “exceptional bicycle of 1934”.
The red and aluminum color combination makes a stunning appearance with its red frame, tires and pedals.
Its streamlined seat tank incorporated the latest motorcycle tank lines of the time. It is advertised as having enough space for tool storage and has clips to hold one or two no. 6 dry cells. There is a central control switch mounted on the top of the tank and wire outlets with rubber grommets for the horn, supplemental lights and taillights.
A headlight built in the front of the tank was standard equipment on the aero cycle.
A new design feature at the time was its one-piece, welded, motorcycle-designed frame, “looking thinner and stronger than any frame used heretofore,” according to an advertisement. He boasted that the frame design was the proven result of two years of intensive research and testing.
The bike on display does not have a chain guard, which would allow the rider to ride without having to use trouser clips. The mudguards contained an aluminum finish to complete the design.
Its taillight was also standard, with power generated by batteries located in the saddle reservoir. The light was exclusively designed by Schwinn for the Aerocycle.
The Aerocycle is fitted with 26 x 2 1/8 inch balloon tires which were released by the manufacturer in 1933. It has a black saddle no. 1 bucket seat. Coaster brakes were optional.
In 1934, it was only offered in one color combination: red and aluminum. The women’s model did not have a saddle reservoir.
According to Gary Bushman of the ICHM Acquisitions / Exhibitions Committee, if the bike had its original handlebars and chain guard, it would have an estimated value of $ 17,000.
The County Historical Museum is open to the public by appointment by calling 362-8911 until April. In May, it will reopen from Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.