The first time I visited Bicycle Heaven was in the fall of 2011. My book “Around Troy Hill, Spring Hill and Reserve Township” had just been published and we had a book signing at the Penn Brewery. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I remember having a window of an hour or two to kill on the North Side and since I’d never been to the museum, I figured I’d give it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.
Flashforward to this morning and with the sun shining and with not wanting to waste the beautiful day inside and with no one being able to decide what to do, the missus surprised us all with her choice and I’m extremely glad she chose Bicycle Heaven. In the seven years since I visited the museum the place has grown immensely.
Bicycle Heaven has something for everyone, even those who aren’t necessarily fascinated with bicycles. One of our highlights was taking turns at pinball. The gamer in the family went first and I reveled in the fact that this low-tech machine frustrated him to no end. The wife went second and promptly beat his score. Our 20-year-old went next and complained how somehow, he only got four balls because on one of his five balls no score registered. I was last. I was certain that my score would clearly eclipse all of theirs. In my lifetime I had played 10 times more pinball than all of them combined. I got the worst score. I can’t think of a time where we ever got so much family enjoyment from a single dollar.
But the place is all about the bikes, and you will see more complete bikes and more parts and pieces than you can imagine. If you look hard enough, I’m certain that you will find the bicycles of your childhood, both those that you owned as well as those you wanted to own. I did find the Ross Apollo 5 Speed of my youth, but the paint scheme wasn’t exactly right. I venture a guess if I looked more I would find my exact bicycle. You will find bicycles from virtually every era. You will find crazy promotional bikes. You will find tall bikes and small bikes. You will find bikes that look like cars and ones that look like horses, complete with the horse hair. You will find expensive and rare bicycles and you will find mass produced and common bikes. You will find a four-seater that was ridden by the Monkees on their TV show and you will find the Raleigh that Daniel Oshop rode around the world. And of course, no trip to Bicycle Heaven would be complete without stopping and looking at the super rare 1960 Bowden Spacelander. There are four of them here.
The price of admission is free although donations are certainly appreciated. This is one of those places that I am very proud that exists in Pittsburgh and I hope will continue to thrive for years to come. If you have any friends visiting the city do yourself a favor and put this on the itinerary. You won’t be disappointed.