Left: Rare and antique bicycles cover almost every inch of wall, floor and ceiling space at Bicycle Heaven, opening on Saturday. (Photo/Kelsey Shea)
For 25 years Craig Morrow collected old bikes. He started with Schwinn Stingrays from the ’60s and ’70s, but as the years went on, his collection expanded. Eventually, he ended up with two houses and multiple garages full of nearly every sort of antique bike on the market.
Now after years of collecting, and three months of hard work, Morrow is putting his massive collection on display in his new Northside bike shop and museum, Bicycle Heaven, which had its grand opening July 2.
Located off the North Shore bike trail in the RJ Casey Industrial Park, Bicycle Heaven will serve as a repair and rental shop and a unique stop on the trail for bike enthusiasts to check out the history of two-wheeled transportation in Pittsburgh.
Bikes will be available to rent or buy, but admission to the museum is free.
Morrow said he picked up his massive collection “anywhere from garage sales to bike shows,” but one thing most of his bikes have in common is that they were found and bought in the area.
“I guess I’m a bit of a bike hoarder,” Morrow said, but noted that in the 9,000 square foot space he and his bikes now occupy, there’s finally room for them to all be seen.
With 1 percentof Pittsburghers commuting to and from work on bikes daily, and plenty more recreationally biking, he hopes to appeal to a large demographic.
“A couple of other cities have bike museums, so I thought Pittsburgh should too,” Morrow said.
He said the idea for a bicycle shop and museum hybrid was a long time in the works.
Before the shop had a physical space, Morrow sold, bought and traded his many antique bike parts and bikes all over the world using the eBay user name bicycleheaven.
“People would say, ‘You’ve got all these great bikes, but no one can even see them,’ which gave me the idea for this,” he said.
Inside the shop, about 2,000 antique bikes and thousands of bike parts line the walls of the renovated industrial space.
In the center of the shop are two rows of Schwinn Stingrays, the bikes Morrow originally collected. With high handlebars, a small frame and trademark colors like “Flamboyant Lime” and “Kool Orange,” the Stingrays are easily distinguishable. Morrow owns 130 of them — each valued between $800 and $5,000 dollars each.
On the wall hang four curvy and futuristic-looking bikes called Bowden Spacelanders, which are the highlight of Morrow’s collection. The Spacelanders were designed in 1948 and the first bikes to be made of fiberglass. Originally marketed as “the bike of the future” more than 60 years ago, the Bowdens are the rarest bikes in Morrow’s collection.
“There are 38 known to exist, and I have 13 of them,” Morrow said.
Morrow’s collection of Stingrays and Bowden Spacelanders are both the largest in the world of their kind.
Other bikes in the museum go back much further than the Space Age, like the museum’s oldest bike — Morrow’s 1862 Bone Shaker. The entire bike, including the frame, handlebars and even the wheels are made entirely out of wood.
“That’s why they call it a bone shaker,” Morrow said.
When asked which bike Morrow uses when he rides, he shrugs and laughs.