Bicycle Heaven: A “Wheel Deal” in Pittsburgh
by David Kriso
In the great city of Pittsburgh, there is much fun and excitement to be discovered. From Pirates baseball in the summer, to Steelers football in the fall, to Penguins hockey throughout the winter and spring, it’s a sports fan’s dream. For those with hearty appetites, the legendary Primanti Bros. serves up its iconic sandwiches and mouth-watering gourmet wings. And there’s one attraction that gets local attention, but not the wider notice that it truly deserves. This is the Bicycle Heaven Museum.
Located at the corner of Preble and Columbus Avenues on the Ohio River, Bicycle Heaven is a showcase of bicycle magic for all ages. It was first established in 2011 by Craig and Mindy Morrow. Creating the museum was almost a necessity. “I have been collecting bicycles for more than thirty years. It got to a point where I had bicycles of all types in all corners of my home,” Morrow says.
And it is no ordinary museum. For avid cyclists, bicycle enthusiasts, and even bicycling historians, Bicycle Heaven is a place to be lost in wonder. It is home to the world’s largest collection of bicycles, some four thousand of them from vintage to present day. It also houses the world’s largest bike shop. And the collection keeps growing. “We keep adding new bicycles every week,” says Morrow. “They come from recent visitors and bicycle collectors alike.”
From children’s bicycles to adult bicycles to bicycles used in movies and TV shows, entering Bicycle Heaven is like walking into a time capsule filled with childhood and young adult memories. Visitor are nearly overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall bicycles and the mountains of artifacts on exhibit.
And there are many items at Bicycle Heaven that few people would think would expect to stumble across. For example, there is Pee-Wee Herman’s bicycle from Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure as well as the multi-seated bicycle from the 1960s TV show The Monkees. For model railroad fanatics, Mr. Morrow has a suspended Lehmann Gross Bahn (LBG) train setup spanning the entire second floor.
Bicycle Heaven receives dozens upon dozens of bicycle donations and trade-ins. According museum staff member Zach Woodard, “When anyone wishes to donate any bicycles, we do have a lengthy and detailed conversation with them via telephone. From there we determine whether or not we will accept their donation. If it’s an authentic item, they are asked to send pictures of the bicycle or artifact. From there, we determine if it’s a yes or a no. If yes, we will pay for shipping.”
Unlike many museums, Bicycle Heaven is not government funded. Donations of any amount are accepted at the door. “They help keep our lights on!” says a sign in front of the museum. Admission is free. This year, on the weekend of June 8th and 9th and the weekend of August 24th and 25th, Bicycle Heaven will be hosting a trade show at RJ Casey Industrial Park. Bike groups are invited. New bicycles and bicycle dealers will be set up for display. Notably, antique and classic bicycle parts will be on exhibit. Further details can be found at BicycleHeaven.org.
Bicycle Heaven is a wonderful example of the way the city of Pittsburgh honors its history and cultural heritage. Indeed, this is no run-of-the-mill museum—it’s the “wheel deal!”
Photo credits “Craig and Mindy Morrow” Owners of Museum and bike by Craig Morrow.
David Kriso is a travel writer and lecturer focusing mainly on railroad and cruise travel. His work has been published in Cruise Travel magazine, Porthole Cruise magazine, NUSA Sun, H & E Naturist magazine (England), N (Nantucket) magazine, and Examiner.com. He has lectured at libraries across New Jersey and New York as well as in Alexandria, VA, Silver Spring, MD, and Everett, MA. His web site is DEKTravelJournal.com.