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Changing Gear exhibition celebrates cycling in Aotearoa

Published: 4 December 2017
  • SmartMotion E-bike as featured in Changing Gear. Photograph by MOTAT 2017.
  • Stu Harwood with the e-bike he built. Photograph by MOTAT 2017.
  • Frank Clavis and Pantha Bike. Photograph by MOTAT 2017.
  • The Waitemata Cycling Club, College Hill, Auckland, 1885. Ref: 1/2-023356-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Bill Pratney with his first trophies, 1932. Courtesy of the Pratney Family.

Two centuries have passed since the bicycle was first invented in Germany and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is commemorating the significant anniversary with the opening of a new exhibition, Changing Gear, on Saturday 9 December.

Changing Gear explores the history of cycling in New Zealand and its growing place in our cities while showcasing innovations in the world of bikes, from the high tech to the quirky!

Since the first rickety boneshaker hit Aotearoa’s cobbled streets, Kiwis have embraced the spirit of the bicycle; adapting its shape to fit our needs and using it as a tool for change.

With plentiful interactives and digital experiences, this exhibition gives visitors a chance to play digital dress ups in cycling clothes through the ages, experience the thrill of riding a BMX or mountain bike, test the power of their legs on Team New Zealand’s cycle grinders and have a go at improving a city by supporting cyclists.

Celebrating cycling

MOTAT’s chief executive Michael Frawley says, “We want our visitors to be inspired by Kiwi innovators like Bill Pratney who began his professional cycling career in 1929 and for the next 60 years went on to show the world that Kiwi and Māori cyclists were a force to be reckoned with”.

With a focus on improving the safety for people on bikes and the aim to get more people using Auckland’s cycleways which provide safe, separated connections to bike around the city, Auckland Transport (AT) is naturally aligned to partner with MOTAT to bring this exhibition to life.

Manager of Walking, Cycling and Road Safety, Kathryn King says, “We are delighted to be partnering with MOTAT for this fantastic exhibition and are counting the days till doors open.

"This summer we are celebrating new cycleways around the city. Aucklanders are now seeing the benefits of the amount of good quality connections that make so many more journeys possible.”

What to expect

Fascinating narratives from Changing Gear include stories from Frank Clavis, founder of legendary local BMX bike brand ‘Pantha’. Visitors can also marvel over the do-it-yourself electric bike Auckland engineer Stu Harwood built as a birthday present for his partner – he used 72 recycled lithium batteries in the process!

Further information about e-bikes can be gleaned from Anthony Clyde who credits the redesigning of the NZ Post e-bikes for the birth of his successful company, SmartMotion.

Then there’s the inspiring story of Teau Aiturau who has taught hundreds of children and adults in the South Auckland community to ride and repair bikes through his bike events and citywide explorations.

From the great outdoors to urban streets, bicycles have shaped our environment and enriched our lives.

Where will they take us next?

Explore the possibilities at Changing Gear and go in the draw to win a SmartMotion e-bike valued at $2,500. The exhibition is open at MOTAT daily from 10am to 5pm and entry is included in the MOTAT general admission fees.