A brief history of vintage bicycle swap meets

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OC_Rolling_Art

Finally riding a big boys bike
Aug 17, 2019
121
55
Huntington Beach, CA
This is all very interesting. Being a teenager in the late '70's/early 80's I didn't have the means to travel to some of the wonderful meets around the country, but I want to start now. I do have many great memories of attending the local shows (for me) in Huntington and Newport Beach, CA between 1981-1985. Leon Dixon would attend some of them, and John Koenke would have a table there. I even won second place in a show once in 1982 with my first ballooner - a Schwinn Panther. I always wanted to attend the Whizzins of the day, but never went.

I will have to dig, but I have photos of the shows and swap meets somewhere, some were put on by Gertrude Vorgang of the Pedal Pusher. She certainly deserves some credit as a pioneer of this hobby on the West coast. I will post a couple when I find them.
 
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old hotrod

I live for the CABE
Jan 10, 2008
1,881
So Cal
www.flickr.com
The So Cal event history is all well and good but the big question for me is where are they now? So Cal had several bike show/swaps and they disappeared decades ago. The Cyclone Coaster Swap, the monthly Long Beach Cycle Swap and the new swap at Come on Over Café in Oceanside swap are good for parts-sometimes but there hasn't been a big show and swap in So Cal since what the 80s?...yet other parts of the country are able to maintain the shows...
 

mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
890
Auburn, California
The So Cal event history is all well and good but the big question for me is where are they now? So Cal had several bike show/swaps and they disappeared decades ago. The Cyclone Coaster Swap, the monthly Long Beach Cycle Swap and the new swap at Come on Over Café in Oceanside swap are good for parts-sometimes but there hasn't been a big show and swap in So Cal since what the 80s?...yet other parts of the country are able to maintain the shows...

Well I can account for over half of the meets going away. The folks that put them on-Pope-McNeely-Gibson-Vorgang and many others are all gone! These fine people had 20-30 years on us in age at those times. The Ann Arbor meet is still around because the Klepperts have been at it for 40 years-God bless 'em!
 

mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
890
Auburn, California
There are lots of reasons bike meets come and go. I put on the Simonian Farms Mid-Valley Whizz-in. It was a two day event-ride one day/swap the next. Did it for 4 years and had a health scare so passed the ball to another. They ran it into the ground and it died after a year. Its a lot of work and time-and money to make it happen. Meets don't die due to a lack of interest.
 

old hotrod

I live for the CABE
Jan 10, 2008
1,881
So Cal
www.flickr.com
There are lots of reasons bike meets come and go. I put on the Simonian Farms Mid-Valley Whizz-in. It was a two day event-ride one day/swap the next. Did it for 4 years and had a health scare so passed the ball to another. They ran it into the ground and it died after a year. Its a lot of work and time-and money to make it happen. Meets don't die due to a lack of interest.
I understand the time investment, hell just putting on a simple ride requires a certain amount of time in organizing...what money was spent and how would it be different now? In the late 80s, at one of the last so cal meets, i was told that the various cities were making it more difficult, permitting and trying to nickle and dime sellers for taxes...i used to sell used vw parts at the so cal swap in pomona once or twice a year and was seriously harassed by an official trying to collect taxes on my sales that i stopped going...just curious, i have wanted to get something going and wanted to know what obstacles there were...

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

GiovanniLiCalsi

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 29, 2012
3,839
Alameda, California
There are lots of reasons bike meets come and go. I put on the Simonian Farms Mid-Valley Whizz-in. It was a two day event-ride one day/swap the next. Did it for 4 years and had a health scare so passed the ball to another. They ran it into the ground and it died after a year. Its a lot of work and time-and money to make it happen. Meets don't die due to a lack of interest.
I went to that swap meet. Loved it!
 

GiovanniLiCalsi

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 29, 2012
3,839
Alameda, California
This is all very interesting. Being a teenager in the late '70's/early 80's I didn't have the means to travel to some of the wonderful meets around the country, but I want to start now. I do have many great memories of attending the local shows (for me) in Huntington and Newport Beach, CA between 1981-1985. Leon Dixon would attend some of them, and John Koenke would have a table there. I even won second place in a show once in 1982 with my first ballooner - a Schwinn Panther. I always wanted to attend the Whizzins of the day, but never went.

I will have to dig, but I have photos of the shows and swap meets somewhere, some were put on by Gertrude Vorgang of the Pedal Pusher. She certainly deserves some credit as a pioneer of this hobby on the West coast. I will post a couple when I find them.
Loved that swap meet! Lots of quality items, there.
 

Sven

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Dec 24, 2017
2,503
55
Mechanicsville, MD, United States
I have never been to a bicycle swap meet. Would love to go to one. I"m sure that there are rarely rival groups at the bicycle swap meets to worry about.
The last motorcycle swap meet I went to about 15 years years ago, the tension between the Pagans and Phantoms was thick. No fights broke out (that I know of) just a lot of "mad dogging" (aka eye f#ck%ng) going on.
 

mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
890
Auburn, California
Good question-time aside there are expenses. Yes-several years ago the IRS tried spying of the hobbies(car-bike-motorcycle) and was trying to generate revenue for the state-like we would knowingly not pay our fair share! (shame on them!) I can tell you based on a meet i threw in the early 90's.....Anyway printing posters and flyers, purchasing trophies(we charged nothing for the show entry), running ads in the local paper etc. Bonnie Simonian knew all the local news people and arranged for complete nightly coverage-interviews at the swap, local radios got our message out also. We passed out flyers at a few previous bike meets. Jerry Germeau of Washington was the roving reporter for the C.A.B.E. at the time and gave us a very generous plug in the then monthly Xerox copy of the C.A.B.E.! Then the Simonians had t-shirts made up and they went over/sold way bigger than planned-she made a ton of them-people gobbled them up the first year-before the swap happened-bought them at the end of the whizzer ride the first day-awesome! Although I get credit for putting on the meet the real hero's were the very generous Bonnie and Dennis Simonian(and his lovely daughters!)-your hosts at the meet. Wonderful people-backed me up at every hint of 'we need to do this/can we also do this'-unbelievable. They also arranged for a catered barbque guy(Charles-remember him?) both days-great food at a reasonable price put the icing on the cake. I'm not saying you need to have a pile of money to start a meet in your area-but it helps. Now with the internet and the C.A.B.E. being the pulse of the hobby-its a winning combination for a successful meet in your area!
 
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cyclingday

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Feb 24, 2008
6,892
Costa Mesa, California. United States
I think some clarification is needed.
The 1981 meet in Chicago was considered the first NATIONAL classic and antique bicycle meet.
I had been in to, and out of the balloon tire phase by 1981, when I got bit by the Campagnolo bug.
I spent most of the 80’s road riding, and the 90’s mountain biking.
There were plenty of small local parking lot meets here in Southern California in the late 1970’s.
Nothing on a national scale, that I remember, but plenty of local attendance at those swaps back then.
 

mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
890
Auburn, California
I think some clarification is needed.
The 1981 meet in Chicago was considered the first NATIONAL classic and antique bicycle meet.
I had been in to, and out of the balloon tire phase by 1981, when I got bit by the Campagnolo bug.
I spent most of the 80’s road riding, and the 90’s mountain biking.
There were plenty of small local parking lot meets here in Southern California in the late 1970’s.
Nothing on a national scale, that I remember, but plenty of local attendance at those swaps back then.

I went to plenty of those southern California meets-always had a great time!
 
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mrg

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Aug 9, 2010
3,602
socal
Well ran into a few of those Socal pioneers yesterday at a Motorcycle meet ( 42nd annual ) including Doc Gibson & PeeWee who both had great show/swaps at their business in the 80's. I was going to post this picture in another section ( would have taken more pics if I knew about this thread ) of PeeWee ( who moved on from bikes to motorcycles & cars ) with his Wagner. there were many bike swaps around back then including Jim Baileys in Signal Hill and a few in HB, the bike shop on main & a old house on a big lot? ( Whizzin was still my favorite ) another at Anaheim Schwinn?, For a while they added a bike section to the Model T meet. I went to a few Frizzins ( Frensno Wizzin ) at a ranch house in the grape vineyards ( blew a head gasket in the 100 + degrees, Joey Kuge's maybe ?, and a couple of trips back to Ann Arbor back in the 80's also, Im sure more will come to mind, I have a bunch of flyers
DC3E8C83-94FB-43C9-9193-131523EFDC8B.jpeg
 

bobcycles

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 30, 2006
4,228
13
so cal beaches
Great thread....I remember some of the very early (late 70's) meets in So Cal. One was in a parking lot
near the Bolsa Chica wetlands in Huntington beach. Maybe 10 vendors max, first time I ever saw
an original paint B6, I think Kenny Blackburn had to 2 of them there, a black and cobalt, missing wheels
(projects) but were like 100 and something each. hooboy! Biggest mind blower of those early days
was folks showing up with SO much NOS boxes of great stuff. The entire nation was ripe for the
pickin' and there just weren't many people around the US giving an old balloon tire bike a 'second glance'..
All I wanted was a straight bar Schwinn back then...grail to me.
If anyone has any early swap days pix? Seems like a good thread to post em'!
 

old hotrod

I live for the CABE
Jan 10, 2008
1,881
So Cal
www.flickr.com
Good question-time aside there are expenses. Anyway printing posters and flyers, purchasing trophies(we charged nothing for the show entry), running ads in the local paper etc. We passed out flyers at a few previous bike meets. Then the Simonians had t-shirts made up and they went over/sold way bigger than planned-she made a ton of them-people gobbled them up the first year-before the swap happened-bought them at the end of the whizzer ride the first day-awesome! They also arranged for a catered barbque guy(Charles-remember him?) both days-great food at a reasonable price put the icing on the cake. I'm not saying you need to have a pile of money to start a meet in your area-but it helps. Now with the internet and the C.A.B.E. being the pulse of the hobby-its a winning combination for a successful meet in your area!
So looks like time and suitable sized location with basic facilities are all that is needed today, no newspaper or radio ads to buy, no catering, flyers are easy and printable from home, trophys not a huge deal really, cool if available but get tossed after awhile. The reason I brought this all up is because of the "hobby is dying" thread. Shows generate outsider interest and "big" swaps keep people financially in the hobby so in my opinion, are very Important for the health of the hobby. Maybe to perform CPR on the hobby in your area, organize a show and swap...
 

mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
890
Auburn, California
For 'OLD HOTROD' and others thinking about a local bike swap/tire kicking get-together..... Follow the lead set by the C.A.B.E.'s own 'FAT TIRE TRADER' in San Rafael. Chris throws a monthly get together/swap at his shop. This is a truly grass roots effort-think globally/act locally! There is a pocket of collectors in that area and they get together and bring a few items-and who doesn't want to whittle away at the pile of bike parts in the garage! He's consistent and maybe an autocycle or an airflow isn't showing up every month-there's always something or the chance that something might show you just can't live without. The key is having a good location-a vintage bike friendly bicycle shop helps! But be consistent in having it every month-the word will get out. No need for printing flyers-use the C.A.B.E. to get the word out. I am amazed in talking with people on ebay or at swap meets that have never heard of the C.A.B.E. either-we need to get the word out there too! Good luck on the prospect of another bike swap meet!
 

partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Aug 13, 2008
10,764
The Land of Oz
I had a Dayton Daily Newspaper from 1985, showing a bicycle show and swap at Deed’s Carillon Historical Park. It is now long gone, but the park hosts a Concours d’ Elegance car show instead.

I gave the newspaper away, but I forget who I gave it away too. It was neat, but just more clutter I didn’t need. I may have a pic of it.
 
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mr.cycleplane

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 9, 2017
890
Auburn, California
Bicycles and pedal cars are always a big hit at car shows! They provide a subtle distraction from the rows of restored autos. Even when not 'judged' are of interest to all age groups.
 
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partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Aug 13, 2008
10,764
The Land of Oz
Nope. No pics, I have it away and didn’t look back. I think my friend in Celina has it.
 
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