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Another Project – The 1920’s Iver Johnson Truss Frame Flat Track Bicycle

I was thrilled and honored to purchase a 1920’s Iver Johnson Firearms Co. flat tracker bicycle at an estate sale this past weekend. The Missus called me at around 2:30 in the afternoon while out hitting the garage sale circuit to tell me that she was at an estate sale with a plethora of vintage goodies at great prices, including a really old bicycle that the proprietor of the sale claimed, “…used to have wooden rims…”. She said I should get over to the sale to check it our quickly because some 12 year old kid was trying to convince his parents that he needed this bike. I was skeptical, as usual, and thought that at 2:30 in the afternoon the only kind of bicycle left at a sale would be some 1970’s British commuter bike, at best. The Missus actually had to come and pick me up and force me to go to the sale to look at it, in case the bratty kid had not already convinced his yuppie parents that he needed a junky old adult bike to throw in his garage.

When we rolled up I sauntered around, acting disinterested, as the family was still at the sale and the kid was still whining. It seems that a price of $100 had been thrown out there by the proprietor of the sale, IF he was going to sell it at all, because he had a sentimental attachment to the bike, as he claimed his grandfather had ridden the bike around the great lakes as a teenager in the 1930’s, on wooden rims, no less. The $100 price tag had the parents put off. I wandered into the garage to check out the goods. The bike was definitely old, but didn’t have wood rims and the seat and handlebars had been updated at some point, along with the rims. The original hub was still there, but newer rims had been retrofitted. The head badge was old but was only partially there and the bike had been ridden hard for many years. It was a single speed tracker with a coaster brake. It was worth the $100 price tag, at least, so I didn’t even bother negotiating. If he was going to sell it at all i knew it would be the $100. We bought it and stuffed it in the back of the Missus’ car and took home my next project, as IF I needed one…

1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle

1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle

1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle

1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle

1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle

1920's Iver Johnson Truss Frame Bicycle

A few days later an article came out in our local paper about the gentleman that had owned the bicycle. His name was Bernard (Barney) Duberow. The article mentioned that infamous bike ride around the Great Lakes, confirming the grandson’s tale, by stating, “As a young man, one of Barney’s fondest memories was riding his single speed bicycle around all of the Great Lakes, a trek of over 1,500 miles with his buddy, Bob Hayes.”

Originally I was going to sell the bike, but I feel the need to restore it in Barney’s memory. I have been obsessed over the past week in researching Iver Johnson bicycles in hopes I could confirm the wooden rim part. Indeed they did have wooden rims, which means I have to obsess over finding a replacement set. Nevertheless, my friend Clay rolled by Casarama the next day to show off his wooden rimmed Racycle flat tracker he just picked up. I can’t believe it is a coincidence, so I will restore the bike, alongside Clay’s Racycle and we will ride in memory of Barney.

For more about Iver Johnson Firearms Co. and the bicycles they built visit their museum website here.

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17 responses to “Another Project – The 1920’s Iver Johnson Truss Frame Flat Track Bicycle

  • scott mourer

    let me know if you wanna sell the Iver.
    smourer@gmail.com

  • Giovanni

    I can date the Iver Johnson bicycle with the serial numbers.
    The serial numbers are on the top right side of the seat post .
    Regards,
    Giovanni

    • VintageOCD

      I had the frame powdercoated so the numbers are a bit hard to read. It looks like they are 350939. Do you know a good source for wood rims for the bike? I just found a shop in Portland, Oregon that imports Italian wood rims, but the set of two balanced would run me around $600. I could order them from Italy for $200 a pair but would then need them put together with the old hubs. Thanks much!

      • Giovanni

        That dates it to 1923-1924.
        You can buy the best American Amish wheels from Noah Stutzman.
        They are made from hickory or oak with an inner steel liner for high tire pressures. They also lace up with more tension with less tuning than the all-wood wheels.
        Noah is in Ohio making 28 x 1.5 rims for single tube tires or 700c rims for modern tires, like the all-white Electra Amsterdam tires. These tires are the best choice for a vintage look.They are one piece,steam bent,dove tailed jointed and drilled to your spoke count, $80 per rim. Custom diameters and profiles available,contact Noah Stutzman 33650 CR12,Baltic,Ohio 43804, Phone (330)897-1391 & leave message.
        You can buy the PhilWood stainless steel double-butted spokes from
        http://www.boxdogbikes.com
        I just ordered the Ghisallo wood/carbon rims and will recieve them soon.
        I have the Stutzman hickory rims and they are very well made.
        You would be brilliant to clean, buff and relube your original hubs for use in your wheel build.
        Regards,
        Giovanni

      • VintageOCD

        Giovanni,

        Thank you so much for the info!! I really appreciate the leads and the dating. I will get the wheels ordered right away an will get photos up when done.

        Cheers,

        Scott

      • Giovanni

        Scott,
        You can find a very nice original saddle on eBay for around $175-200.00.
        There are also repro cork handlebar grips on there.
        The original badges are around $50-75.00.
        The Iver Johnson badges after 1921 hade the patent script on the bottom of the vee shaped area. There was also a thin piece of red plastic under the badge that was visible through the opening.
        Regards,
        Giovanni

  • Giovanni

    Forgot to mention that you need to replace the non-original seat post with a 90degree Iver Johnson seat post. Around $45.00.
    After all of the upgrades, your Iver will be worth around $1,400.00.
    Keep your eye out for antique Kelly handlebars.
    Regards,
    Giovanni

  • Giovanni

    You need a Persons Speedwell saddle.
    I can send you a brochure photo.
    Regards,
    Giovanni

    • VintageOCD

      Yes, Please do. I am looking for a set of the folding or adjustable handlebars. They are hard to come by. I have the original right-angle seat post and an original head badge.

  • Giovanni

    Please send me your email address.
    I tried to send the image attachments of the seat brochure but the website won’t allow them to go through. It blocks the complete reply.
    Regards,
    Giovanni

    • scott

      Hi I have my grandfather’s original Iver johnson bike he said it was his pride and joy in the late 20’s. He used it to deliver newspapers in his town. It is all original even the wood rims and tires, seats, handlebars, everything… can you give me advice on where I might get it restored? Thanks in advance!

      • VintageOCD

        You can do much of the work yourself. They are easy to break down and clean up. The hardest part would be the wooden rim refinishing. Otherwise you can most likely find a modern bike shop that would have the skills to break it down and refurbish most of it. What they can’t do they can send out, i.e. paint, powdercoating, nickel plating etc.

      • Giovanni LiCalsi

        Go to The Cabe forum and become a member. The members can help you. I am an Iver Johnson bicycle historian and can help you. My member user name is Giovanni LiCalsi

      • VintageOCD

        Good point Giovanni! I should have thought of that!

  • Glenn Ingersoll

    Hello Giovanni. I have an Iver serial number 557919. This was my fathers bike who got it from his older brother. I grew up riding this bike. I have been thinking about restoring it. Can you tell me the year of mfg and offer some suggestions? It still works.
    Glenn

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