Cycling legend Major Taylor’s bike returning to Indianapolis for exhibition

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A bike originally belonging to Marshall "Major" Taylor. (Photo provided by U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame)

A century-old bicycle that originally belonged to Indianapolis native Marshall “Major” Taylor, the first Black world champion cyclist, is on its way back to the Circle City. The California-based U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that it was loaning the bike to the Indiana State Museum for an exhibit opening in March.

An original copy of Taylor’s autobiography, inscribed to W.E.B. Du Bois. (Photo courtesy of Gabriel Teague Photography)

“Major Taylor is a giant of Indiana history,” said Daniel Lee, a hall board member and part of the Major Taylor Coalition that helped coordinate the loan, in a written statement. “This exhibit provides a rare opportunity for Hoosiers to learn about his life and career. To see a bicycle that he actually raced helps his history come alive.”

Taylor used the bicycle during his 1903 campaign in Paris, France and around Europe, according to the hall. The bike, by French bike manufacturer Cycles Peugeot, is a single-gear, steel-framed bike with wooden wheel rims.

“Amid rampant racism and segregation, and a half-century before Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball, Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor broke dozens of world records on bicycle tracks in the United States, Europe and Australia while showing the world great physical and mental strength, brilliant tactics, bravery, and class,” said Kisha Tandy, curator of social history for the Indiana State Museum.

The Hall of Fame is also lending the museum an original copy of Taylor’s autobiography, “The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World,” inscribed to scholar and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois.

The museum’s exhibit, “Major Taylor: Fastest Cyclist in the World,” is scheduled to run at from March 5 to Oct. 23.

Taylor also is commemorated in Indianapolis with the Major Taylor Velodrome, which opened in 1982 near the Marian University campus, and a five-story mural painted last year downtown near the the southeast corner of East Washington and South Meridian streets.

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5 thoughts on “Cycling legend Major Taylor’s bike returning to Indianapolis for exhibition

  1. Taylor is also commemorated with a State Historical Marker on the south end of the new Monon Trail bridge over 38th St, as well as an Indy Parks trailhead sign on the Fall Creek Trail at the intersection with the Monon Trail. A true Indy legend that is finally getting the attention he deserves.

  2. There is a lot of Major Taylor Public Art in Indy! Baggage Claim at the Airport….. look at the back wall to the left. On the Cultural Trail at the IUPUI Campus. But the Mural on Washington St is the most outstanding. Sep 9 was named Major Taylor day by our Mayor at the Mural dedication. If you want to learn more about this great man, I recommend you google the New York Times Obituary about him.

    Taylor held the record at two (long gone) bicycle tracks near the Monon Bridge over 38th St. The Major Taylor Coalition is working to get that iconic bridge named for him.