A fire was lit within my now 13 year old son, when he was permitted to ride a "Boneshaker" high-wheeled bicycle at the Greenfield Village Old Car festival. I am interested in buying a used high-wheeled standard for him. Where should I look?
Ebay believe it or not.
Ed, I sent you a pm.
You can buy a car for the prices they're asking on ebay
Like so many things we crazy people like to play with, high wheel bicycles can be tricky when getting started. One really needs to get to know some people already horribly infected with the illness lest one make a really bad purchase.
High wheel bicycles are especially tricky because both the real antiques as well as reproductions of them are collected, ridden and enjoyed.
Values of real antique ones can be from a few hundred dollars up well into the tens of thousands for one bicycle. I have seen reproductions from a couple hundred up to a couple thousand. And I have been told by people that know a lot more than I do about them that some of the reproductions are worth that much.
Reproductions have been made by many individuals as well as small companies. Quality is all over the scale. Some are badly made junk, and probably unsafe to be ridden. Others are well made, look basically right, and intended to be ridden and enjoyed. These are ones a beginner might look for. Some reproductions are so meticulously made that it takes an expert to tell them from the real antiques.
The real antiques are like model T Fords. Compare a concours 1910 T to a badly remade '20s T made of mixed year parts. Certain makes years and models high wheel bicycles are significant and very valuable if properly restored or preserved. Others are common and of lesser value. I looked at one at a swap meet a few years back. The seller was very up front about the condition (poor), and that several parts on it were incorrect for the model. Not all sellers are as honest (I did not know the man, but enjoyed talking with him).
I have never had a high wheel bicycle, but always wanted one. I don't know a lot about them, but have spoken with a number of people over the years that were very much into them.
I would think the advice I often give to people showing an interest in getting into antique automobiles should also work here. If possible, find a local club, or group. Attend a few of their meets. Talk to the people, ask questions. Listen to a lot of opinions and advice, and then try to sort it out for yourself. Figure out what is right for you. And THEN move forward.
I also would suspect that a few books on the subject should be available, although I can't recall ever seeing one.
Build if you dare
Www.thewheelmen.org is the website of the group that is at the OCF each year. We have a forum as well. It has just been redone, and is a bit cumbersome to get started on but a lot of good people there, like here. I have 5 high wheels, and the trike Steve Jelf tried out at the OCF, plus the Rambler pneumatic safety that he took the picture of me holding. I have a total of about thirty antique bikes, together with the two T's, two sixties Triumph sports cars, and a 1946 Ercoupe airplane. If there is any questions you have, let me know, either here or PM me!