‘American Pickers’: A Vintage High-Wheeled Bicycle Sold on the Show for a Higher Price Than You’d Expect

by Suzanne Halliburton

American Pickers gives us a history lesson and also offers a glimpse of the world of antiques and collectibles. That certainly was true on an episode featuring a vintage bike.

Go back to American Pickers, season 18. The episode is “Rat Rod Rolls” and this was the agenda for Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz:

“With a jam-packed farmhouse, killer barn and a rare rat rod Rolls Royce, a massive Ohio collection has mega-pick potential.”

And one of the items happened to be a vintage high-wheel bike. They also had another name 140 years ago when the bike first hit the market. You also can call this ride a penny farthing or an ordinary. And you probably can picture the bike in your mind. It has a large front wheel and a small back one. The front wheel allowed the bike to go faster and it cushioned the ride when the road turned bumpy. This was before anyone figured out it was all about a chain and the gears. British engineer James Starley invented the high wheeler in 1871.

A man at the Tour de France rode a high wheeler bicycle. On one American Pickers episode, Mike Wolfe offered $1,900 for one. (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP via Getty Images)

American Pickers Host Loves to Find Vintage Bikes

On this American Pickers episode, Wolfe saw the bike and immediately wanted it. He admits to having a soft spot for bikes. When he was a kid, he discovered someone had tossed a bike in the trash. That find possibly was the genesis for a great career.

Wolfe offered the family $1,800 for the bike. The family countered with $2,200. But then Wolfe explained what all he would need to do to restore the high-wheeler. He discussed all the work it would need and that he probably could sell it for $2,800. He upped his offer to $1,900. And the family agreed. Wolfe later explained that he invested $400 in restoring the bike to sell it for $2,800, giving him a profit of $500.

It’s not the first time American Pickers has featured a high-wheeler. Back in season one, Wolfe discovered one of the bikes in the basement of a home in Wisconsin. This bike is in terrific shape, too. Wolfe said on the show: “At that moment, I thought, ‘I had to have it. I was red hot!'”  But the owner asked for $3,000. Wolfe then made a deal for two other bikes, totaling $3,800. That’s how American Pickers plays out.

These bikes can fetch a price of up to $10,000.