With increasingly limited government funding available for the preservation of historical monuments, groups responsible for these efforts have frequently turned to the public for help. In the case of two historic American brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, the money raised is being put to restoring the original estate and workshop where bicycles were repaired by day, and the world’s first airplane was constructed by night. To that end, the Wright Brothers Family Foundation has gone around the United States and sourced a built-to-order adventure bicycle that is on offer as a way to preserve the legacy of the Wright brothers, under the Wright Brothers USA badge. The venture funds not only the preservation and restoration of the monuments, but also provides scholarship funding for students pursuing the studies of aeronautical engineering.
“In a time when the commodification of bikes is the norm, bicycle sales that serve a purpose beyond the enriching of corporate shareholders is refreshing.”
With consideration towards respecting the spirit of the brothers, the foundation embraced the makers movement, partnering with Co-Motion, an American bicycle builder, to design the Van Cleve 1896 frame. Manufactured in the US out of Reynolds 725 double-butted Cro-Moly, the frame sports accouterments for front and rear racks, water bottles and fenders. The belt-drive is from Gates, a popular American maker of the durable, maintenance-free drive systems. Out back, the pedals turn a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal geared rear hub. The build also features Thompson, Chris King, Selle, ESI and Velocity components, all American-made manufactures. Keeping speeds in check is a set of 160mm TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes, a choice that suits all types of weather you may encounter on your adventures. Also being released is the St. Clair 1896 model, a similarly styled adventure bike but with 650B wheel size. The St. Clair also differs in the selection of a Shimano Alfine 8 internal geared 8-speed rear hub and SRAM BB5 brakes.
Speaking with Kenneth Botts, the President of Wright Brothers USA, who formally worked for Raleigh bikes, the importance of respecting the legacy of the brothers was paramount to the development of the flat-bar city-bike. The focus of durability, dependability and inclusion of independent component makers falls in line with the story of the historic duo. And, you heard it hear first, this isn’t a one-off project. The group has reclaimed a former GM Delphi automotive plant and has already begun developing the next project. The factory is a 2-minute bicycle ride from the historic Hawthorn Hill, a designated national historic landmark that was home to Orville until he died.
In a time when the commodification of bicycles is the norm, bicycle sales that serve a purpose beyond the enriching of corporate shareholders is refreshing. Bikes can be ordered at the Wright Brothers webstore and are priced at $4,750 for the Van Cleve 1896 and $3,950 for the St. Claire. Information on the foundation can be found the Wright Brothers Family Foundation.