A post from Juliet Peck Moore on Facebook introduced me to the coolest bike I’ve seen in a long time. It’s called the Spacelander and it was designed in the Sixties by Benjamin Bowden.
In the early or mid 1950s, Bowden moved to Michigan, in the United States. While in Muskegon, Michigan in 1959, he met with Joe Kaskie, of the George Morrell Corporation, a custom molding company. Kaskie suggested molding the bicycle in fibreglass instead of aluminium. Although he retained the futuristic appearance of the Classic, Bowden abandoned the hub dynamo, and replaced the drive-train with a more common sprocket-chain assembly. The new name, Spacelander, was chosen to capitalize on interest in the Space Race.
Financial troubles from the distributor forced Bowden to rush development of the Spacelander, which was released in 1960 in five colours: Charcoal Black, Cliffs of Dover White, Meadow Green, Outer Space Blue, and Stop Sign Red. The bicycle was priced at $89.50, which made it one of the more expensive bicycles on the market. In addition, the fibreglass frame was relatively fragile, and its unusual nature made it difficult to market to established bicycle distributors. Only 544 Spacelander bicycles were shipped before production was halted, although more complete sets of parts were manufactured.
There is some hope for being able to own one yourself, though.
Beginning in the 1980s, there was a resurgence of interest in the Spacelander as a collectors item. Two bicycle enthusiasts, John Howland and Michael Kaplan, purchased the rights to the Spacelander name from Bowden, and have manufactured a small number of reproductions and replacement parts. The first reproduction was sold in 1988 for $4,000. The reproduction’s design has been modified to improve durability.
I found a couple on eBay, but they are priced way too high for something I’d be willing to ride around town. They are so gorgeous, though.
I feel so sad that awesome designs like this disappear and are unavailable. I am happy with my Schwinn cruiser that I bought at Kmart for $125, but I can’t believe that we don’t have awesome bikes like this on the road and in stores today.