SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Commercial Street is full of quirkiness like a chocolate factory, award-winning food, and unique museums. One museum has historical objects dating back two hundred years and Ozarksfirst.com got a chance to take a tour.
No one likes bikes as much as the owner of Pedalers Bicycle Museum, James Allen. From the moment he begins talking about them, he lights up with excitement.
“I bought one in 1985 and it just went downhill ever since,” Allen said about his first bike. He said it was a 1937 girl’s bike and that began his collection and obsession with bicycles. “It’s the history part about them and how they were a part of our history for transportation… I liked the high-wheel bicycle from the 1880s. That probably fascinated me more than anything.”
Allen says he doesn’t really view the high-wheel bicycle as weird looking because he has been riding one for 35 years. He says that’s about 23,000 miles. In 1999, Allen and twenty-six others rode from San Francisco to Boston. The trek took 3,270 miles, 32 days, 102 miles a day.
“You buy some stuff that you don’t really need and sometimes you gotta buy three or four but you only want one,” said Allen of his growing collection.
Located at 328 E. Commercial St. in Springfield, Allen opened up the free non-profit bike museum in 2010. The building was formerly the Perkins Hotel which dates back to 1887.
Allen has bikes that date back as early as 1817. Most of his collection ranges from the 1800s to the 1990s. He has bicycles used in the Olympics and Guinness World Record attempts. He also has unicycles including one that is 10 feet off of the ground.
“I hate to say it, but I’ve got a lot of friends that collect bicycles and they’re getting older… and they leave us, you know, they have bikes… and we help them,” said Allen. He said he helps his friends by selling their bikes and sometimes acquiring new ones. “It’s a friendship thing. It’s not a moneymaker.”
Allen says he probably owns somewhere around 300 to 500 bikes. He hopes to eventually open up the second floor of the museum.
“There’s about a hundred bikes on the first floor and I could probably put 150 on the second floor if I ever get it done,” said Allen.
Currently, the museum is by appointment only, but Allen is planning on having open hours in the near future. For your own tour call James Allen at call 417-576-1464.