On the roads around the San Francisco Bay Area and within the cycling community, Robin Williams was known as an avid and passionate cyclist. He visited the Tour de France, participated in benefit rides, and rode regularly. In fact, Williams would often travel to movie locations with a bike and carve out time to ride during breaks in filming.
On Thursday Paddle 8 began an online auction of 87 bikes from Williams’ collection. “He admired his bicycles as design objects and marvels of engineering, liked to discuss gear minutiae with fellow nerds, but most of all he loved to get into his famously colorful spandex outfits and take off for hours at a time,” says a description from the auction site. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Reeve and Williams were life-long friends, dating from their time at Juillard.
The bikes included in the auction run the gamut from beautifully crafted rarities to playful, joyous two-wheeled — and one-wheeled — machines. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay got a first-hand look at the bikes on offer. For those of us not lucky enough to see the collection in person, Paddle 8 has posted them online.
Taken together the bikes included in the auction reveal Williams’ love for all things cycling, an eclectic taste, and a noticeable affinity for bright colors. A fiery orange-and-blue Team Euskaltel road bike from the 2003 season might seem garish on its own, but the eye-catching color combination fits right in. There’s a bright yellow Zipp time trial bike that would definitely get you noticed on your local group ride.
Among the stand-outs are not one but four hand-built bikes from the famed Italian builder Dario Pegoretti. Known for both their quality and for their creative paint work, Pegoretti’s bikes are among the world’s most sought-after rides. The Pegoretti Responsorium on auction is built from stainless steel and painted in an exuberant expressionist style. It’s the kind of one-off dream bike you don’t see on the roads every day. A polka dot-designed track bike, made by Colnago and painted by graffiti artist Futura, meanwhile, is as fun-loving as it is rare.
Williams may not have ridden the polka-dot Colnago all that often, if at all, but the auction includes several readily available bikes that you might find in the garage of an enthusiastic road cyclist. There’s a Specialized Tarmac, for example, and a Giant TCR. U.S. custom framebuilders Waterford, Seven, and Independent Fabrication are also represented in the collection. The range of road bikes makes it clear that Williams didn’t just collect bikes, he clearly rode them, too.
Though road bikes dominate, the auction also includes a practical, grocery-run-ready Dutch city bike. We definitely wouldn’t mind taking the flat-bar Sycip Java Town, made in Northern California, for a spin to the coffee shop. Among the more unusual offerings is a bright red Schwinn Chopper Hog Roadster. There's even a Schwinn unicycle and a bright green kid’s Schwinn Stingray — the smallest bike of the bunch — complete with a banana seat, monkey bars, and a gear shift on the top tube.