Friday, March 29, 2013


The Columbia shown above was spotted in Normandy during the 2006 D-Day Commemorations. While it looks good at first sight, it is NOT a genuine US Army WW2 issue bike! This is however what most Columbia's look like at Military Vehicle shows.

This is a typical example of a militarized 40's or 50's bicycle. Only the headlight, handlebars and chain guard are identical to the correct WW2 parts. Frame, rims, axles, spokes, seat, fenders, crank set, brake and forks are all different from the real thing.
A very quick way to determine if the frame could be correct US Army Specs is by looking at the head badge. Until 1946 Columbia's, including the US Army models, had head badges attached with the screws on the left and right hand side (horizontally). After 1946 the badges were attached by a top and lower screw (vertically) and frames with this feature are most likely post WW2 and hence not military.
Note how the black paint is wearing off the whitewall tires.

The civilian bike on which this USAAF member poses clearly shows how the military bicycles were based on existing models of the wartime era.
The similarities of frame, fenders, rims and sprockets are obvious.
This particular bike is equipped with springer type front forks and the frame has an added 'fuel tank' between the upper tubes, a common accessory.
John Dickerman has identified it as a 1940-41 Schwinn Model DX with rare front brake and foxtails.
These bicycles are still very common and rather inexpensive. A lot of these are restored to military trim to appear as an original Army bike, which of course they are not.

No comments:

Post a Comment