After four decades, 'one-of-a-kind' bicycle finds new home
JANESVILLE The Wells family is used to getting double takes.
Make that triple takes.
The three Schwinn bicycles Jerry Wells pieced together into the "bicycle built for three" has turned plenty of heads and delighted many children over the years.
"Everyone notices you, that's for sure," said his daughter Pam Wells just before her final ride on the red bike to deliver it to its new home.
The family donated the unique set of wheels to the Rock County Historical Society, where it will be on display and part of the society's transportation collection.
Jerry's creation came after Pam outgrew a little seat for her on a two-person bicycle he also built.
Jerry was in the auto business for 50 years and enjoyed tinkering, said his wife, Phyllis. She wonders how many miles they put on driving around Janesville looking for the three old bikes that resulted in the "Bicycle built for three," which is written across the chain guard.
Jerry built it in 1964 through trial and error—there were no plans for such a bike.
"It's strictly a one-of-a-kind thing," he said.
Jerry would lead the family in the front seat, Pam in the middle and Phyllis at the back. Pam's seat has a special feature—a little footrest for when she got too tired to pedal.
"She used that a lot," Jerry said.
The two-speeder has a coaster brake and front wheel brake. Black and white photos from the bike's early days show the family pedaling with their tiny dog Mitzi in the front basket.
Pam and her friends rode it often and even took it on 20-mile rides.
"We've had a lot of fun with it over the years," she said.
Wednesday afternoon, Jerry and Pam led the way, with Pam's 6-year-old neighbor Ben Keyser filling the middle seat. The trio rode from the eastside home to the downtown historical society, pushing the bike up the last hill.
"It's harder to pedal than I thought," Pam said as they rested the bike on its one kickstand.
They used the bike a lot 40-some years ago, Jerry said, noting it takes three pedalers because of the weight.
"It's going to have a good home now," Phyllis said.