A Man and His 140 Bicycles – a Portrait of Wolfgang Höfler
Wolfgang Höfler is the founder of the cargo bike courier service Heavy Pedals in Vienna and also guides cycling tours. Around 20 years ago he started to collect unusual bikes. Today he is the proud owner of approximately 140 different bicycles, which he stores in his attic flat.
Hey Wolfgang! When I look around in your flat, which is full of ancient bicycles, one question occurs to me: why don’t you collect stamps, this would be much more space efficient.
That’s true, but with stamps I can’t go from A to B. Bicycles pay off through their many and varied uses. Therefore I collect and use so many different types.
Give me some numbers, dates and facts. How many bikes do you really have and when did your passion of collecting start?
I have about 140 bicycles. I don’t really know when I started with the collection. I think it was around 1995. As far as I can remember, it was at this time that I could first call this old-style bike my own.
I know it’s not an easy question, but what are your TOP 3 bicycles and why?
The Basso Rih is my favorite touring bike. I use it when I know that I just want to cycle. Incredibly light, place for minimal packs and also extremely comfy. I can ride this bike forever, brilliant!
If I need full mobility, this Brompton is my favorite. I furnished it with 16 gears (originally it had 6 gears), so that I can scale every mountain. And if I don’t want to ride, I take the train or the bus – both are free for the Brompton – and also hitchhiking is possible. When folded, the Brompton fits everywhere.
The funniest bike is my Swing Bike. It automatically brings a smile to my face. And not just to my face, also to the faces of people who see me with it.
Crunch question: What does your girlfriend say about your unusual hobby and how much time does your passion for the bike leave for a private life?
This is just a question of prioritizing. First of all, you can combine both things. The bike is necessary for me to reach my girlfriend, because she lives about 85 km away from me. And the bicycle-collection is complete, so it does not demand my attention so much.
Among expert groups Vienna counts to the elite of livable cities. How does it feel, to cycle in the current second livable city of the world?
I really like riding my bike here, especially because there is no continuous consistent routing system. Therefore I decided to ride everywhere, even on the streets with an offensive driving style. Since I came to Vienna in 1992 I have never had an accident.
Your opinion: What has to be done to motivate more people to cycle?
It’s important to change something within the legal framework. For example, that the stronger one, thus the car driver, in case of an accident has at least partial blame. Therefore situations with dangerous overtaking maneuvers could be prevented. The way of driving would then be more defensive, similar to Holland.
A view to the future: Which bike is still missing in your collection?
None. My demand for unique models is satiated! I have almost all types of bike at home.
In the future Wolfgang Höfler probably will devote himself to his second passion and increase his ski collection.
Interview conducted by Andreas Stückl, co-founder of Bike Citizens.
Image © Andreas Stückl & © Wolfgang Höfler