The wheelie bike was the cult bike of the 60s and 70s. People still remember it today in the yellow-orange (RAL 2000) colour variation and flying a foxtail on the attached aerial.

Wheelie bike

The wheelie bike was the cult bike of the 60s and 70s

What the Opel Manta was for cars in the seventies, the wheelie bike was for the then still simple and rather boring bicycle world. Both were cult and only for "real guys". In the 1960s and 1970s, this recreational bike from the USA became popular in Germany and dominated the street scene. Manta drivers and Bonanza (the German equivalent) bike riders not only shared a preference for yellow-orange (RAL 2000) but also for the notorious foxtail on the aerial or a kind of fishing rod attached to back of the wheelie bike.

Apart from that, the wheelie bike delighted with small 20-inch wheels, a correspondingly low seat height and its so-called "banana saddle" with a high backrest (sissy bar). Ape hanger handlebars with twin rear-view mirrors and a gear lever on the central double frame tube made the bike probably every boy's dream. These were the days of "Easy Rider", the equally cult chopper road movie with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda.

The term "Bonanza bike" was and is only used in Germany. In the USA, the idiosyncratic bicycle was best known in the "Schwinn Sting Ray" model and was inspired by the newly-established genre of customised “chopper” bikes. Whether the Bonanza bike got its name from the popular western series or because "Bonanza" stands for unexpected profit in English is still a mystery.

Today, there are still individual examples of the distinctive bicycle, which was neither particularly fast nor practical in any way, but had a lot of charisma. The emerging BMX bikes were more stable, more exciting and suitable for daring off-road manoeuvres and on specially built parks with their obstacles and half-pipes. In the 80s, the BMX bike finally overtook the wheelie bike.