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The Bicycle Collectors: Sven van Straaten

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Sven relaxing with his bicycle collection (Photo: Sven van Straaten)
Sven relaxing with his bicycle collection (Photo: Sven van Straaten)

When it comes to Sven van Straaten, 'imposing' is a word you would use to describe both the 1.93m owner and his 80-strong classic bike collection.

A competitive track cyclist during a golden era of SA cycling, Sven competed against the likes of Alan van Heerden, Tony Impey, Willie Marx, and Chris Willemse, winning many provincial titles, medalling at the SA champs, as well as at in Perth, Australia, as part of the SA Masters team.

And when it comes to collecting bikes, Sven was also ahead of the curve: "I kept a lot of the bikes I used to race, and when vintage bikes started to get popular I already had quite a few. I started riding when I was 17 years old which is quite late to start especially when one’s father wanted you to play rugby instead of cycling. This set the tone for me to buy everything myself, which is why I look after my equipment and my bikes the way I do."

Along with the quantity and quality of the bicycles in Sven’s impressive collection (his Top 5 below will give you an indication of that), Sven also collects vintage road and track cycling jerseys, cycling caps, cycling books, groupset spares and "anything vintage cycling of value", housed in his Glenhurd bike cave.

What makes his bike collection pretty unique is that they are all his size – and there can’t be many bike collections out there made up of size 62cm/63cm frames, shaped for very tall riders. 

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