If we asked you what your holy grail bike is, could you name it? Some of you probably could and many of you probably couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Well, RRB forum member Jeff Nichols recently found his grail bike and this is the tale of his adventure.
Jeff has an interesting background. He and his wife have two teenage sons and live in the small town of Paris, Texas which is about two hours northeast of Dallas. While the folks in this town don’t speak French, they do have a 70 foot Eiffel Tower.
Jeff’s been a bike collector for many years, but he’s been in the healthcare industry for even longer…28 years to be exact. Jeff is a part-time ER Nurse, but he also has another interesting side business….Nichol’s Transportation Service. Need a ride across the DFW area?….just contact Jeff….as long as you are…. deceased. That’s right, Jeff’s business specializes in mortuary transportation. Hey, at least it’s a quiet job! Now back to the focus of our story…
In the 1930’s and 40’s an inventor by the name of John R. Alexander owned a motorcycle/bike shop in the town of Paris, TX. It’s been said that he started renting bicycles out to the soldiers that were in town during WWII. He came up with his own design for a bicycle with a very unique frame design and named it “The Rocket.” He offered this limited model as a rental for two dollars more than the other bikes he had on hand. Needless to say, they were rented less often as a result. There were not many of these bikes produced…some have said less then 40…who knows. The point is, they are rare!
Being a citizen of Paris, Jeff had always kept an eye out for one of these beautiful bikes when he visited garage sales, estate sales, auctions, etc. It started to seem like he’d never find one until…
“My wife went to a local estate sale for me because I was working. She knows to ask about old bicycles when she goes to sales. The lady at this estate sale said she had a bike that she already sold and it was a from the 30’s or 40’s. She also said it was made right here in Paris, Texas.
I went back to the sale early the next morning and the lady told me it was a “mountain bike, made especially for her mother.” I showed her some Rocket pictures and she said that was it. My heart began racing as she said “I think I have a picture on my phone.” She soon found a picture, showed it to me and sure enough it was a Rocket. I was able to track down the buyer, who told me she bought it “because it was pretty.” After I convinced her it was more than pretty and that it was a rare bicycle that should be preserved and protected by someone who knows how (me, of course), we were able to arrive at a price.
It’s a small town and we had mutual acquaintances, so that probably helped seal the deal. I did thank her on behalf of antique bicycle aficionados everywhere that she sold it to someone who knew and understood the significance of the bike and would be proud of it, preserve it and share its story with enthusiasts. I have been searching for a Rocket for over 10 years, so this is a big deal for me.”
Jeff was fortunate enough to speak to the original owner’s daughter and she confirmed that the bike was custom made for her and painted her favorite shade of green. He hopes that he can continue communicating with her to see what other history he might find out about the bike.
Obviously the most striking aspect of this bicycle is the unique tear drop shaped frame and fork. This was a pretty bold design for a bicycle of this era. Mr. Alexander clearly was out to make a statement with this bike and tried to set his apart from anything else out there. Some might say that it has a polarizing quality about it….either you love it or you hate it. We definitely love this space deco inspired steed.
Being such a rare ride, Jeff plans to leave it as is with the exception of a bit of careful cleanup. He’s also very adamant about letting folks know that the bike is not for sale. After such a long search for this bike and being able to discover such an amazing example…who can blame him!
Jeff and his wife are members of the Dallas based Slow Spokes cruiser club that has monthly cruise rides around the DFW area. The club’s momentum is growing and the number of participants that show up each time to cruise keeps getting larger and larger. If you’re lucky enough, you might just see Jeff and his amazing Rocket show up for one of their future events. And who knows, that holy grail bike of yours may one day turn up in a place you least expect it…keep searching!
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