Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum in Pune is a time travel to history of bicycles with an elaborate display of handpicked collection making it an ideal place to visit for every passionate vintage artefacts lover.
In a quaint street of Karvenagar, Pune, stands a three storey structure housing a bicycle museum. The Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum came into being on May 2017 and displays a huge personal collection of cycles, acquired and restored by the owner Vikram Pendse and brought to life by his friend Pandurang Gaikwad.
The museum exhibits a classic collection of more than 150 vintage bicycles, tricycles, tandems, trailers, and pedal cars used over the last century. It also showcases an authentic collection of bicycle spare parts and accessories such as bicycle seats, air pumps, cranks, mudguards, dynamos, locks, gears, bells, hubs etc.
Vikram Pendse, who runs an automobile garage, started collecting bicycles since 1995. A BSA paratrooper of 1940’s used during WW II was his first priceless possession. Ever since, Vikram started sourcing bicycles from owners who no longer wanted to use them and from scrap merchants who had discarded bicycles lying unattended in the junkyard. Over a period, the collection outgrew the storage space and that’s when Vikram decided to convert his three floor bungalow into a modest private museum.
In his 25 year’s journey, Vikram also gathered antique items such as household utilities, lamps, locks, sewing machines, typewriters, irons, clocks, radios, weighing scales, glass wares and much more.
The collection reveals stories of olden times and the items are prominently displayed within the museum layout curated by a specialist designer, Anil Gujar. All 3 floors have bicycles while the 2nd and the 3rd floor have objects used in different periods of history.
The museum interior is thoughtfully designed to appear as a cycling track. It lights up naturally with sunlight beaming inside from glass windows, smart use of wood that blends with the artefacts, bright paints and colored flooring all put together lifts the ambience.
The most challenging part in the entire scheme of things was restoration of old vintage bicycles which was exceptionally handled by Pandurag Gaikwad. A close aid of Vikram and a passionate cyclist himself, Gaikwad has represented India in the South Asian competition and participated in the Mumbai – Pune cycle race for 15 consecutive years. Gaikwads Midas touch helped Vikram to transform old and broken objects into its former glory.
Off the total collection owned by Vikram, only 40% is exhibited at any given time while the rest of the artefacts are stored in his warehouse. The Pendse family is responsible for the maintenance of the museum and manages to shuffle the articles intermittently to give it a fresh appearance.
Time to highlight five of the best from the best of what I saw on my visit at this incredible cycle museum.
1914 Golden Sunbeam:
The Sunbeams were manufactured in Wolver Hampton in England between 1887 to 1935. This is the oldest bicycle in the museum. It’s a 3 Speed 28” Gentleman’s bicycle with rear pedal brake and tool space, inside handle grip retained in original condition.
The founder of Sunbeam, John Marston was an avid cyclist and was interested in improving bicycles available during his era. His company developed prototypes, and beautifully constructed and introduced the Sunbeam bicycles with black enamel paint and lining in golden leaf. Little oil bath enclosed chain guard and rod-controlled mechanical brakes were some of the incremental additions made to the initial design.
The Golden Sunbeam introduced in 1908 was the top of the line range and built to last a Gentleman a lifetime. This made-to-order bicycle gave an aristocratic look and put the rider in a commanding position. The masterpiece is displayed on the ground floor of the museum.
1924 Royal Enfield:
The Enfield Cycle Company was incorporated somewhere in 1896 and produced complete bicycles and parts for other assemblers. Based in Worcestershire county in England, the company initially sold bicycles and lawn movers under the brand name ‘Royal Enfield’ and later diversified into motorcycles and cars. Between 1880’s to 1930’s, the company was renamed a number of times and changed hands. During its journey, the company suffered losses and its manufacturing division was sold to BSA in 1907.
The unedited classic black Royal Enfield displayed at the museum is a typical Victorian style Ladies bicycle with cross frame, spring leather saddle, rear rack, chain guard and a lamp. These bikes gained popularity and stood for quality and assured ease and elegance to the riders.
1940 BSA Paratrooper:
Birmingham Small Arms Company was given charge to produce bicycles for the airborne division of British army during World War II. The company mass produced over 60,000 folding bicycles with specific requirements for military operations.
At the time of war, the paratroopers leaped out of the aircraft with these folding bicycles weighing about 23 pounds straight into the war zone. These custom designed bikes served as supplementary vehicles after landing and helped the troops to cover larger distances and move faster in the night. The dark green paint aided the troops to disguise their opponents and blend in the surroundings.
There are two Paratroopers in the museum and one is with a rifle, both fully restored to its original glory.
Bicycle Tax Badge:
Use of bicycle license was common during the British rule in India. Pune, once known to be India’s cycling city had a high population who made frequent use of bicycles for transportation. Use of bicycles was regulated by the Government and Pune Cantonment Board – a military base of the British Indian army and cyclist were required to pay tax and acquire licenses which were permanently displayed on the head tube.
Made of brass and aluminium, the badges were designed in all kinds of shapes, sizes with license number engraved on it. The museum has decent collection of such badges which says a lot about the lost cycling culture of Pune city.
Old Bicycle Shop:
“Rudge, Humber, Robin hood or a Raleigh, we have the expertise to service all types of cycles and rental facility” says the signboard of “Shree Ganesh Cycle Mart” established on 06/06/1966.
This mock-up cycle shop is exquisitely designed to resemble the street shops found in the olden days. Folding wooden doors, storage cabinets made of wood, tyres, tubes, tools and rims and everything that is found in a repair shop is intricately displayed here.
This installation is prominently visible as one walks up the staircase to reach 3rd floor and is certainly one of the highlights of the museum.
Aside the above, there are vintage cars, motor cycles, scooters, carriages and buggies displayed in the compound and forms a part of the museum tour.
Free guided tour but photography is prohibited.
Except Tuesdays, the museum is open on all days between 11:00 am to 07:00 pm. Open
on all public holidays.
Entry fee is INR 100/- and free for children 5 year’s age and below.
Facebook: Vikram Pendse Cycles
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai