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).[3] 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.[4]

The Wrights used the profits from the Wright Cycle Company to finance their aviation experiments.[3] 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.[3]

In that same building they designed and constructed their gliders and first airplane, the Wright Flyer, which cost under $1,000 to build.[3] The shop closed in 1909 and they started their aviation company.[3] In 1937, with Orville's cooperation, the building at 1127 West Third St. was moved to Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan by Henry Ford.

Wright bicycle in National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio

Shop locations

With the exception of the West Second Street location, which is located near the Schuster Center on the other side of the Miami River, all of the shops are located within about one block of each other.

  • 1892—Wright Cycle Exchange at 1005 West Third Street.
  • 1893 to 1894—Wright Cycle Exchange at 1034 West Third Street. The name later changed to Wright Cycle Co.
  • 1895 to 1897—Wright Cycle Co. at two locations—the main store at 22 South Williams Street, and a branch store in downtown Dayton at 23 West Second Street. The branch Closed In 1896.
  • 1897 to 1908—The Wright Cycle Co. at 1127 West Third Street.[5]
Left photo: Orville and boyhood friend Ed Sines (left); right photo: Wilbur. Both photographs show the 1127 West Third Street bicycle shop in 1897.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Quinn Evans/Architects (May 1999). "Historic Structure Report The Wright Cycle Company Building" (PDF). Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Wilbur Wright Working in the Bicycle Shop". World Digital Library. 1897. Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  4. ^ "Home of the Wright Brothers". National Aviation Heritage Area. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company; use External Link

External links