Africa's first bicycle museum


MEDIA RELEASE : Africa’s First Bicycle Museum Opens in Partnership with Franschhoek Motor Museum...

Africa’s first bicycle museum, which showcases the history of the invention of the wheel and pedal-powered transport, has opened in the small Western Cape town of Grabouw, an hour drive from Cape Town.

The museum, which is the brainchild of Trail’s End Bike Hotel owner, Pieter Silberbauer, takes visitors on a journey of the history of the bicycle that dates back hundreds of years. Wayne Harley of the Franchhoek Motor Museum (FMM) and Professor Mike Bruton (retired CEO of the MTN Science Centre) gave invaluable input in the curating of the museum.

One of the historic highlights of the museum is a life-size mock-up of the first known bicycle design, which is widely believed to have been invented by Leonardi da Vinci in the 15h00s. While well before its time, Da Vinci’s bicycle wouldn’t have gone very far, as it didn’t include any steering mechanism, explains Silberbauer.

There is also a life-size model of Baron Karl van Drais’ “Draisine”, which was invented in 1817 and is considered the world’s first bicycle. Drais discovered that one could move very fast by placing wheels in a line on a frame and balancing through dynamic steering. It is interesting to note that the Draisine was very similar to a modern-day toddler “balance bike”, as it did not include any pedals.

The FMM partnered with Trail’s End Bike Hotel for the Bicycle Museum initiative, loaning Silberbauer several interesting and historic bicycles that it had previously been holding in storage.

In total there are 24 pieces on display, many of which are South African creations or whimsical in nature, such as the “bat-glider” and a specially designed surfboard carrying bicycle. The walls of the museum are adorned with old cycling posters which track the development of this iconic mode of transport through the years. There are penny farthings galore and early racing bikes, dating back to the 1800s, which feature wooden wheels and handlebars to create a faster and more lightweight bicycle.

This eclectic collection is on display at Trail’s End Bike Hotel. Day visitors are charged R20 per adult, while entrance for children accompanied by an adult is free. A tour of the bicycle museum is complimentary for hotel guests.

About Trail’s End Bike Hotel

Situated in the picturesque Elgin Valley – surrounded by orchards, mountains, and lakes – Trail’s End Bike Hotel is Africa’s first cycling hotel. Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town the hotel has been modelled on the ski lodges of Europe offering a complete cycling experience. This includes a vast network of trails, a hotel, a bicycle repair workshop, conferencing facilities, triathlon training facilities and a museum. It is the perfect base to relax, have fun and explore all the delights that the Western Cape’s Overberg region has to offer.

Collaborative Events

Future collaborative events will be run between Trail’s End and FMM. Already under discussion is a two day historical cycle event starting at the FMM and staying over at Trail’s End before returning the following day. Watch this space