More Than Just A Ride: Inside A Pune Museum Celebrating The Heritage & Soul Of Cycling

A 1914 All-Black Golden Sunbeam Bicycle on display ath e Pune Cycle Museum
A 1914 All-Black Golden Sunbeam Bicycle on display ath e Pune Cycle MuseumLBB

Growing up I had two best friends — Soumya, who lived three blocks away from my house, and my all-black Hero bicycle, sturdy as an ox and sleek as a gazelle. Soumya and I used to cycle around through the countless nameless lanes of South Kolkata and discover new places and friends to play football with. Our favorite part of cycling was pedaling hard as we ascended the steep bridge near our locality called Bijon Setu, followed by the gasp of relief on reaching the top of the bridge, and then came the reaping of the reward — having the wind gush across our faces as we plummeted down the bridge, without even pedaling, and letting the momentum fly us away as we swerved past vehicles. These little joys of life elude us when we grow up. Soumya now lives in a different part of the world and my other best friend has been replaced by a mechanical panther a.k.a. a motorbike. However, I will never forget my bicycle and the countless years of companionship and memories it has provided me.

These were the thoughts swirling around my head when I began writing about the Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum in Pune as this museum has this innate ability to take one on a sensory journey through time. Soft yellow light bathes the three-story space, revealing a treasure trove of over 150 bicycles, shimmering like forgotten dreams. A reverent hush falls over you as you take in the sight — all of the bicycles are antiques and are over a hundred years old.

Th exterior of the Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum
Th exterior of the Vikram Pendse Cycle MuseumPedal And Tring Tring
A 1914 All-Black Golden Sunbeam Bicycle on display ath e Pune Cycle Museum
44 Years Ago, This Man Cycled From India To Europe For Love

This renowned Cycle Museum in Pune is a testament to one man's passion – Vikram Pendse, a cycling enthusiast whose love affair with these two-wheeled machines began in 1992 with a gift from his father: a BSA Paratrooper, a World War II marvel that folded for easy transport. That single cycle ignited a fire, and the Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum rose from the ashes of scrapyards and countless hours of meticulous restoration, aided by Pendse's dear friend and cycling veteran, Pandurang Gaikwad.

Wander through the museum, and you'll be treated to a diverse variety of bicycles. Geared racers whisper tales of victories from the yesteryears. Children's bicycles, some with training wheels still attached, evoke a sense of childhood innocence. Tandem cycles, built for shared adventures, stand ready for journeys down memory lane. Cruisers, with their laid-back charm, conjure up imageries of leisurely rides along coastal paths.

Various antique bicycles at the Pune Cycle Museum
Various antique bicycles at the Pune Cycle MuseumLBB

But the magic extends beyond the cycles themselves. The museum walls are adorned with vintage advertisements, their faded ink revealing slogans from a century ago. Display cases overflow with bicycle parts such as nuts and bolts, spokes and sprockets and several tires, as well, which once weathered thousands of miles, now lie dormant. The collection also includes other accessories such as seats, dynamos, gears, air pumps, and lamps.

The star of the show, however, is the 28-inch 1914 All-Black Golden Sunbeam, a magnificent relic from the time of World War I. It exists preserved in its original condition with the same decal, paint, and gear intact. Rescued from a scrapyard, it stands proudly as a testament to the enduring legacy of the bicycle.

The Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum is a portal to a bygone era. It's a reminder of a simpler time when a bicycle was not just a mode of transport, but a symbol of freedom, exploration, and human ingenuity. It's loaded with nostalgia and is a must-visit for all those who ever dared to dream on two wheels.

Vikram Pendse Cycle Museum

Address: 22, Harsh Sahawas Co-Operative Housing Society, Karvenagar, Pune – 411052, Maharashtra, India.

Timings: 11:00 am to 07:00 pm (except Tuesday)

Entry fee: INR 100/- and free for children 5 year of age or below