The History of Western Flyer Bicycles

By Morgan St. James
Western Flyer bicycles from the 1930s to the 1950s are rare collectibles

Western Auto Supply Company, was founded by George Pepperdine in Kansas City in 1909, when he was only 23. Western Auto added bicycles under the brand name Western Flyer to its product line in the 1930s. Today vintage models in good condition warrant a second look.

History

Shelby Cycle Co., Murray-Ohio, Huffman Mfg. the Cleveland Welding Company and others manufactured these popular bikes for Western Auto. They remained in production from the 1930s through the 1950s, becoming one of the products identified with Western Auto.

Collectible Models

Shelby made the Western Flyer Speedline Airflo model for Western Auto in the 1930s, a radically styled bike for the times with an enormous lighted tank, deep fenders with tail light, curved fender braces, Troxel horizontal spring saddle, and streamlined pedals. The exclusive X-53 model built by Murray-Ohio for a few years in the 1950s was discontinued in 1959. These rare finds go up in value each year as evidenced by the prices they fetch at auction.

Valuations

Depending upon model, vintage and condition, these bicycles can go anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a thousand or more. Auctions list all the details of the particular bicycle offered, but beware. Although authentic Western Flyers were made from the1930s through the 1950s, reproductions became available in the 1980s and 90s. The reproductions do not have the value of the original product. Since stock fluctuates, searching "Vintage Western Flyer Bicycles for sale" will produce many results.

About the Author

Morgan St. James' experience includes interior design, barter, marketing and writing. She frequently appears as a speaker and her “Writers Tricks of the Trade” column launched in 2009. She writes the award-winning Silver Sisters Mysteries and, as Arliss Adams, a romantic suspense series released in 2010.