The Spokesman

By Natsumi Penberthy 21 August 2013
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See the four-room Queenslander that houses the 180-200 pushies of vintage bicycle enthusiast James MacDonald.

FULL OF TICKING clocks, bookstands and spinning stools, James’s four-room Queenslander in Toowoomba, 100km west of Brisbane, is an ode to simple machinery and the many ways it can make life easier.

Forming a tinkling metal curtain, the 180-200 bikes (he reckons he can’t keep track) in his collection dangle from the ceiling or lean against the walls; some date from as long ago as 1860. Worth perhaps $10,000, an ergonomically designed 1902 Pedersen leans against the pantry. There’s a 1869 Michaux in the lounge.

New interest in historical bikes 

More than half his collection is pre-1915, from a boom era when the Aussie outback was covered in two-wheeled steeds.

He owns one of the few large historical collections in the country and, having spent 25 years building it, he’s now watching a surge of interest in vintage bikes. “It is a growing thing in the last year or so,” he says. “It’s because the modern bike has no flavour at all – it’s very bland.”

Read more about historical bike collecting in issue 116 (Sept/Oct) of Australian Geographic.