1927 Iver Johnson
Sometimes projects have a way of finding you when you least expect it. After two years of making my garage a mess with all these projects, I decided that it would be better to find a workspace away from home. While looking for a small workspace out by the airport, I ran into two guys working on a restoration of a Porche Speedster. After talking about our collective restoration experiences, one of them asked me if I was interested in an Iver Johnson bicycle that he had. So I went to his house to find that this was his father’s bike in the 1920’s. I suggested that he should keep the bike because it was his fathers. But he pointed out that it had been hanging in his garage for many years and it was unlikely that he would have the time or inclination to bring it back to its former glory. So I bought the bike and because it was in really good shape, I decided to recondition the bike and not restore it. The bike is 100% original except for the grips and the re plated head badge in 14 karat gold. The bike was taken apart and every part was cleaned and polished on a buffer. It turned out great and has a real retro Tour De France look.
An interesting historical footnote: Iver Johnson sponsored a cyclist by the name of Major Taylor in the early 1900’s. Major Taylor won several world cycling championships under the Iver Johnson banner. What is really fascinating is that Major Taylor was the first African American world champion, 8 years before Jack Johnson and 47 years before Jackie Robinson. In 1905, as a professional cyclist, Major Taylor earned about $30,000 or about $718,000 in today’s dollars. This bike is very similar in look and design to the bike he used in racing for Iver Johnson. In fact, the handle bars on this bike are often referred to as Major Taylor handle bars.