In the northern half of our planet, Spring is arriving. A time for renewal and time to celebrate our hobbies and the improving weather. Cyclists do this annually. Put on some miles with friends, visit your favorite climbs and descents, wear a new (or re-discovered) jersey, wrap your bars with a lively color.
But how do we share this joy with non-cyclists, family, neighbors, co-workers, customers? Sailors can put a boat model on the end table. Golfers have a variety of desk ornaments. Climbers can hang crossed ice axes on the wall. Baseball fans might show off an autographed ball under glass. What do we do?
Few riders have a display bike in their homes or offices. I’ve never seen a Nuovo Record rear derailleur under glass (nice idea, come to think of it). What bicycle part makes a handsome reminder of our passion and pleases our associates and guests? A wheel, of course! Challenge one, how are we going to mount this wheel? Maybe just an upside down fork stuck into a stool with a hole?
This brings up an important subject, the tradition of displaying bicycle wheels is much greater than any other component, including bicycles themselves. Answer me this: what was the most ever paid for a bicycle or bicycle part? Time to place your bets, my friends.
Do not act surprised when I tell you about a bicycle wheel that crushes all comers. I’m speaking of Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel.
Mesmerized by a spinning wheel in 1913, Duchamp mounted one so he could have uninterrupted access to its hypnotizing beauty. The original was lost, Duchamp became a father of the modern art movement, and he decided to recreate the display in 1951. In 2002 at Sotheby’s in NYC, one of those replicas sold for $1,760,500.
I’ve been to IKEA, so I can estimate the stool price, about $49.95. And a nice painted steel fork can run $25.00. Therefore the wheel fetched $1,760,425.05. Find me a bicycle with a similar price tag. Go ahead, please, try.
Now back to celebration, why did Duchamp become so engrossed with a wheel? He mounted it in his studio without intention to make art of it. He liked it as a distraction, “I enjoyed looking at it, just as I enjoy looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace.” He came “to feel that the wheel turning was very soothing.” It’s been 100 years since the concept, perhaps the world’s first kinetic art. Yet the magnetic appeal of a spinning wheel is as strong as ever.
Hardly a person who approaches a mounted wheel can resist giving it a spin. If you work in a shop, you know what I’m saying. Interacting with a work of art is not a typical opportunity. You are giving a gift by making this possibility real.
How to start? A truing stand or upturned fork might do. Curtis Odom followed his artistic urge and created a timeless wheel display stand of which eight have been made. They were first seen at the Sacramento North American Handmade Bike Show in 2012. Here’s the most beautiful wheel in the Show. Why? Because it’s in the most beautiful stand!
The point is more about celebrating the beauty of wheels. Any wheel. Choose one that’s meaningful to you. The front wheel you rode across the USA. A wheel from your father’s bike. Change it from time to time. Amuse your family and customers. Wheels have stories to tell, that’s for sure. Put one in a stand and help folks appreciate the message.
There are cheaper stands, to be sure. This ultra-simple, brushed stainless display puts all attention on the wheel. We have nine of these. Maybe one belongs in your study, meeting or reception room, or on a counter.
So consider celebrating your love of cycling with a display of its most visual element: a wheel. Choose one with a story to tell. Put it in a dignified or conspicuous place. Watch the smiles as folks gently turn it, gaze, and take a break from their hectic day. Embrace a great tradition of modern art and kinetic motion.