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The Wright Cycle Company Complex, Dayton

#5 of 11 in Museums in Dayton
Specialty Museum · Museum
The bicycle business of the Wright brothers, the Wright Cycle Company (originally the Wright Cycle Exchange) successively occupied five different locations in Dayton, Ohio. Orville and Wilbur Wright began their bicycle repair, rental and sales business in 1892, while continuing to operate a print shop (they ended their local newspaper business in 1890). In 1896 they began manufacturing and selling bicycles of their own design, the Van Cleve and St. Claire, named after their ancestors. They invented the self-oiling hub and the innovation of machining the crankarm and pedal on the left side of the bike with left-hand threads to prevent the pedal from coming unscrewed while cycling. The brick building at 22 South Williams St., where the Wrights worked from 1895 to 1897, is the only extant building on its original foundation and in its original location that housed a Wright bicycle shop. They ran their printing shop on the second-floor. The 22 South Williams Street building is part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and the National Aviation Heritage Area.The Wrights used the profits from the Wright Cycle Company to finance their aviation experiments. In 1901 they fitted a third bicycle wheel horizontally above the front wheel of one of their St. Claire bicycles and used the apparatus as a test platform to study airfoil design. They built a six-foot wind tunnel on the second floor of their bicycle shop at 1127 West Third St., the last location of their bicycle business, and from October to December they conducted pioneering tests in the tunnel of over 200 shapes of scale-model wings.
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257 reviews
  • The drive up to the complex was on a cobbled street so it made for a noisy ride. We parked in the designated lot and there was ample open spaces. It was right across from the entrance to the...  more »
  • Ranger did great job explaining the history of bicycles and specifically about safety bicycles that the Wright brothers made. The bicycle shop is small but a must see.  more »
  • Great history of the Wright brothers invention of first in flight. There bicycle shop where it all began is so interesting. I really enjoyed seeing some of the original equipment they used to create parts in there bicycle shop and Museum.
  • Very interesting presentation. So much of our history to see! In the early years, people had to take out a loan to buy a bike! Men not women. Heidi was very knowledgeable and friendly.

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