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Exhibitions > A Camel, a Lion and a Horse on Wheels The Story of the Local Bicycle Industry

This is the story of four Israeli companies that begin manufacturing bicycles for local consumers as early as the 1940s, thus providing a popular means of transportation for people of all ages. During the prestate period, bicycles were the most common means of transportation used by members of the urban middle class and of the country‘s agricultural communities. Since cars were largely unavailable and unaffordable, bicycles served as the most widely used vehicle among children, adolescents, and adults. 

Like the founders of other local industries, the founders of the Israeli bicycle industry had no prior knowledge, so that the nascent industry developed by trial and error. In the absence of an industrial infrastructure and tradition, the country‘s nascent bicycle industry made use of the knowledge imported by new immigrants who had previously worked for large (mostly European) manufacturers. The first locally produced bicycles were based on English models and standards, yet were all given Hebrew names and related logos: a camel was chosen for the logo of ICM (Israel Cycling Manufacturer Ltd.), a horse was chosen to represent the Dahar Company, and a Lion was chosen for the logo of the Harash-Ofan Company. 

Over time, bicycles, along with other products, were transformed into a symbol of social status, and Israeli companies attempted to adapt to local consumer demands by rebranding themselves through the use of foreign initials, so that their logos would resemble those of soughtafter European imports. The Harash-Ofan company was rebranded as HOC, and these initials were subsequently emblazoned on the company bicycles, while Israel Cycling Manufacture was reincarnated as ICM. The Michelson and Dahar company logos were similarly redesigned and conspicuously displayed. During the 1980s, the local bicycle industry gradually died out, both due to the growing import of foreign bicycles and to the inefficiency and non-profitability of the local industry.

This is the story of private individuals who identified the business opportunity represented by the local demand for bicycles, and of a period when the Israeli government took responsibility for promoting the local industry as a means of developing industrial production in the kibbutz sector, and of creating jobs for new immigrants residing in transit camps.

This chapter of the exhibition salutes the Israeli companies that contributed to the development of this industrial sector, while participating in the shaping of Israeli collective memory. 

Eran Litvin, Guest Curator

Click here for more information about ICM - Israel Cycling Manufacture >>

Click here for more information about Harash-Ofan >>

Click here for more information about Dahar >>

Click here for more information about MIC - Michelson >>

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