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The Bicycle Collectors: Matthew Ferguson

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Matthew spent years away from cycling. But has become a committed rider and collector - again (Image: Matthew Ferguson)
Matthew spent years away from cycling. But has become a committed rider and collector - again (Image: Matthew Ferguson)

Matthew was an early adopter. He got his first steel bike when he was three. It was only a tricycle but it set the tone.

Eight years later, as an 11-year-old, Matthew started racing competitively on the track, representing Western Province from 1978 until 1990. Shortly thereafter, work and other interests – he also collects vintage Ferguson tractors and plays drums in a rockabilly band – saw his bike gathering dust for some 26 years.

In 2016, the desire to get back on the track began to grow and, after restoring his Viner track bike, Matthew entered the iconic Paarl Boxing Day track race (it had run for 123 years uninterrupted years before Covid cancelled the 2020 event).

Harnessing his youthful passion for the velodrome, Matthew has since gone on to achieved national titles and has represented South Africa at the UCI World Master Track Championship three times.

Since restoring the Viner, Matthew’s collection has grown to around 40 vintage steeds – mostly track bikes, but he also has some road bikes and three tandems.

Matthew even raced his steel Schauff at UCI masters worlds in Manchester and Los Angeles in 2016 and again in 2017. "Being able to ride on the boards was my childhood dream," he says. "And doing that twice on a vintage steel bike was an amazing experience."

When asked what got him into collecting vintage steel bicycles, he cites nostalgia: "In 1978 my coach gave me a whole lot of vintage track components that were raced by the likes of Ted Clayton in the 1930s [an SA track cyclist who competed in the 1936 Olympics]. I used what I could and developed a love for steel drops and the clicking sound of the skip-tooth block chain. I have added to this collection over the years – it’s become like a disease."

Block chains, for the uninitiated, are chains where every second link is solid. That means a block chain’s matching rear sprocket and front chainring has every second tooth missing. The benefits of this set-up are said to be an increase of the chain’s lateral rigidity, directness and responsiveness to pedalling pressure.

Along with collecting these linked rarities, he also collects biked tools and has not one, but two legendary Campagnolo toolsets. One is 100% as new, with everything including the grease tub.

1. Viner Super Professional, 1980

Founded in 1947 by Viviano Nerozzi (hence the VI – NER name) in Pistoia, Italy, the brand began to make a name for itself from the 1960s, making high-end track and road bikes for the pros.

Frame: Columbus SLX

Groupset: Sugino Super Mighty crank set, Cinelli bars, and Cinelli M71 'death-trap' pedals.

Wheels: Campagnolo

Sourced: "I bought this new back in 1980."

What makes it special: "It was the bike that I raced and crashed as a juvenile and junior."

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