Ralph Igler (1921-2004)

The Igler Collection features 19th century bicycles. It documents the birth of the bicycle and its “Golden Age,” when the sharpest minds of the day were focused on perfecting the most efficient machine of personal transport ever devised.

Ralph Igler, a NASA engineer based in Palo Alto, started his collection in 1960, traveling extensively to build a group of key examples in the development of the bicycle. Ralph Igler died in 2004, leaving the collection to his son, David Igler, Professor of History at UC Irvine. In March 2014, the Marin Museum of Bicycling reached an agreement to show the Igler Collection.

Among the bikes in the collection is an 1868 “boneshaker” velocipede from the first bicycle builder, Ernest Michaux of Paris. Also included is an 1880s Coventry Rotary tricycle, a design that held human-powered speed records until improved high-wheel bicycles, such as the collection’s 1886 Rudge, took over as speed king. There’s even an 1898 Pierce shaft-drive bike, which was that company’s top model until it launched its Pierce Arrow automobile.

The Igler Collection bikes on display are:

  • 1868 Michaux “boneshaker” velocipede; Michaux et Cie, Paris, France
  • 1880s Coventry Rotary tricycle; Coventry Machinists Co., Coventry, England
  • 1886 Rudge high wheeler; Rudge & Co., Coventry, England
  • 1890 Swift hard-tire safety; Coventry Machinists Co., Coventry, England
  • 1890 Rambler, with rear suspension; Gormully & Jeffery Mfg. Co., Chicago, Illinois
  • 1891 Victor with front suspension; Overman Wheel Co., Boston, Massachusetts
  • 1894 Columbia pneumatic safety; Pope Manufacturing Co., Hartford, Connecticut
  • 1898 Pierce shaftdrive; George N. Pierce Co., Buffalo, New York



Rendering of Marin Museum of Bicycling “Igler Collection” main display. Bicycles (in two rows) from left to right: 1868 Michaux “boneshaker” velocipede (front), 1886 Rudge high wheeler (front), 1898 Pierce shaftdrive (behind), 1880s Coventry Rotary tricycle (front), 1890 Swift hard-tire safety (front), 1894 Columbia pneumatic safety (behind), 1890 Gormully & Jeffery Rambler with rear suspension (front), 1891 Victor with front suspension (rear).


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