History Lives In 'Bicycle Graveyard'

LIVING

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Ron Adler embraces an idea most Americans don't -- even if it's not new it's still valuable.

Adler, 51, owns and operates All Bikes, a bicycle and motorcycle junkyard in Rye.

"My biggest thing is, ‘What am I going to play with today?'" Adler said of his work day, which he spends building custom bikes, restoring motorcycles, and helping customers. "It's more of a play than a work job."

Energetic and enthusiastic, Adler is a friendly man with a wide smile and quick story for anyone who'll listen.

He talks excitedly, directing someone through the maze of metal toward a specific part, quickly answering a question or two, and then shooting off rapid-fire instructions to an employee. But he's friendly throughout, and you can see from his eager eyes that he loves working with people almost as much as he loves bicycles.

Adler has operated in Rye since 1988, and his business has attracted a good deal of attention.

In fact, Adler's business has been featured in The Arizona Republic, Rider Magazine, and other motorcycle-focused publications.

"I told the neighbors I was going to put Rye on the map," Adler said triumphantly.

People frequently ask about the "bicycle graveyard" at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce visitors center because they see it on the way into town, said Tina Bruess, executive director of the chamber.

"It's a point of curiosity," Bruess said. "People would not expect to see something like that as they drive up to Rim country."

What people don't see as they drive past All Bikes is that it's also a museum of old bicycles and unusual motorcycles.

But it's not your stereotypical indoor museum with an admission fee, it's anywhere Adler happens to be standing. Ask him for a tour of the museum and he'll quickly point out antique and unusual bikes.

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Ron Adler, owner of All Bikes in Rye, with his prized 1954 Adler motorcycle, which was manufactured the year and month Adler was born.

The most recognizable bike in the museum is the "high wheel" or "bone shaker," with the handlebars and seat directly above an over-sized front wheel and a tiny wheel trailing behind. There are also unusual bikes with names like Whizzer and Solex mixed in with forgotten bicycle manufacturers like Yamaha and Kawasaki.

Adler is particularly fond of finding people's first bikes in his collection because it takes them back to their childhood.

"When I can show them their own bike it's cool," he said.

There are also some rare motorcycles to be found, including German manufactured Harley Davidsons and a 1954 Adler, a German bike manufactured the same year and month Adler was born.

Chris Gorman, a student at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix who is building his own custom motorcycle, said the variety of parts at All Bikes and knowing that Adler is a fair businessman brought him to the junkyard.

"It's anything and everything you'd want," he said.

Adler's yard is well known at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. Everyone knows it's a good place to find inexpensive parts, Gorman said.

"He seems to know where everything is in this mess," Gorman said. "He knows what he's talking about, too."

"It's my front yard," Adler said nonchalantly of how he knows where everything is.

As a kid, Adler bought his first bicycle with money he redeemed from Coke bottles. The bike was his first sense of freedom, Adler said and he eventually opened up a bicycle shop of his own.

Adler got into the junkyard business when customers at his bicycle shop took an interest in purchasing the motorcycles he worked on as a hobby.

Since then Adler has increased his stock of bikes and parts by purchasing bike shops' remaining stock when they go out of business. Adler has bought the stock from 22 bicycle shops, three of which were in the Payson area.

Cori Link, Adler's live-in girlfriend, describes him as a pack rat who is always willing to lend a helping hand.

"I never see him throw anything away," she said.

Adler can find anything in his two-acre motorcycle and bicycle junkyard, but he's stumped if you ask him what he would have done instead of working with bicycles.

Adler said he's still working with bikes today because he loves the freedom he felt with his first bike.

"I never grew up, I guess," he said. In fact, he still takes an hour or two each day to ride a bicycle or motorcycle. But Adler isn't pretentious about his hobby; the term "junkyard" doesn't bother him.

"I guess that's in the eye of the beholder," he said.

"It's not really a junkyard, it's ... I don't know," he said. "It's my life I guess."

So what does a man who does what he loves for a living do with his free time? Adler said he spends his off time chasing after his passion looking for more bikes to collect.

For most people working seven days a week would be too much, but Adler said it doesn't make much difference to him.

"It's not really work to me," he said.

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