The bicycle was introduced in America at the 1876 Centennial. Early bicycles were high wheelers with heavy iron frames and disproportionately sized wooden wheels. By 1892 wooden wheels were replaced by pneumatic air-filled tires, which were later replaced with standard rubber tires with inner tubes. The coaster brake was introduced in 1898.
Early high wheelers and safety bikes made into the 1920s and 1930s are classified as antique bicycles. Highly stylized bicycles from the 1930s and 1940s represent the transitional step to the classic period, beginning in the late 1940s and running through the end of the balloon tire era.
References: Jim Hurd, “Bicycle Blue Book, Memory Lane Classics,” 1997; Jay Pridmore and Jim Hurd, “The American Bicycle, Motorbooks International,” 1995; Jay Pridmore and Jim Hurd, “Schwinn Bicycles, International,” 1996; Neil S. Wood, “Evolution of the Bicycle, Volume 1″ (1991, 1994 value update), “Volume 2″ (1994) LW Book Sales.
– Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”