Monday, April 13th, 2009
By William Kincaid
New Bremen museum to roll out new collection
  NEW BREMEN - The Bicycle Museum of America is expanding its collection of historic and unique bikes with a new Asian import.
One of only 30 Chinese monocycles is now on display at the museum. It is a seven-foot, one-wheeled novelty vehicle, which was observable in the closing ceremonies in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics
"It's really cool that we were able to get one," said Annette Thompson of The Bicycle Museum of America of New Bremen. "We saw them in the closing ceremonies, and a month later said we should get one."
According to Thompson, members of the Chinese military police rode the illuminated monocycles on the internationally televised ceremonies after practicing on them for several months.
"We were very fortunate to get one," Thompson said.
"With a diameter of 2.008 meters, the "light wheel" gives off romantic and pure fluorescent light, resembling the structure of the Bird's Nest," the Chinese description of the Olympic monocycle says. When it revolves . . . like a beautiful light circle, it shows the collision of time and space and the human spirit . . . constantly surpassing oneself and never giving up."
Museum officials learned soon after the Olympics that the Chinese government was selling the monocycles, Thompson said. The museum was one of the first to contact the Asians about purchasing one.
"They were extremely happy. I don't think they were expecting to get calls from museums," she said.
Once the funds were accounted for - a purchase price that Thompson did not disclose - the Chinese sent the monocycle. It took about a month for the museum to receive it.
Using the provided Web site and video, museum officials assembled the bike in three to four hours.
Currently on display in the museum's video viewing room, the seven-foot high monocycle will eventually be moved elsewhere after a special stand is built, Thompson said.
"It's been a big hit," she said about the monocycle, which has only been open to the public for a few days.
During the interview with Thompson on Friday, multiple visitors from various states came there to look at the museum's new acquisition, among other things,
"I was amazed to see they have one here," a museum-goer told the newspaper, pointing out he enjoyed the bike's "amazing design."
"We try to get things in here that hit everyone," Thompson said.
The Chinese monocycle joins the museum's other monocycle, a 1869 replica of French craftsman Rousseau of Marseilles original creation.
"There are no originals of the French original anywhere so it's really neat to have a replica," Thompson said.
To operate the Chinese model, a rider sits inside the monowheel and steers by shifting his or her weight in the desired direction, according to information provided by Thompson. The brake is operated by twisting the handlebar forward, which pulls a strap causing the curved lever to press against the rim of the inner wheel.
"That's what's so neat about this place - we have a lot of historical bicycles and memorabilia," Thompson said. "We always try to keep it fresh and alive."
The museum is open 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday though Friday and 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday.
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