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The Ohrt Brothers - Ernest and Hans

Author Peter Underwood with material from Dennis Hearst

Dennis Hearst says - Ernest Ohrt was my grandfather and Hans my great uncle.  They started racing in 1906 in San Francisco and Newark, New Jersey, as amateurs.  Then throughout US, Australia and Europe as professionalss from 1915-1924.  They opened bicycle stores in San Francisco and Beverly Hills in the late 1920s through to the mid-1980s.

Ohrt brothers 1915 Left to right: Dan Debey, Hans Ohrt (Pierce track bike),
Ernie Ohrt (Bastide track bike) and  Fritz Andre

(Hans Ohrt is wearing the 'Flying O' badge of the Olympic Club)
Click on image for larger version showing great cycle detail

Dan and Fritz were probably mechanics/valets for Hans and Ernie.  Fritz worked as a mechanic for Hans Ohrt Lightweight Bicycles into the 1960’s and I remember him well but had NO idea he went back to 1915 with the Ohrts.


The Oscar Egg photo above is signed 'A l’ami  Ohrt' (to my friend Ohrt)  Oscar Egg Newark  30 - 10 - 14 (30 October 1914)   Also below image: 'Holder of the World one-hour unpaced record'.

This could explain the relationship between Ernie and Oscar.  A close look at the image of the four Ohrt 'girls' shows that they all had Oscar Egg lugs on the “OHRT” bicycles.  

ohrt-hearst-11L ohrt-hearst-11R

Above: An extract from the Ohrt scrapbook but probably from the early 1920s when the Ohrts travelled 
from Australia to Europe
(see timeline below)

ohrt-hearst-12L ohrt-hearst-12R

Above: Pre-season publicity for the Ohrt brothers tour of Australia

Dennis Hearst is working on this cycling history and has come up with the following timeline.  If you have any information to add please contact us via the website:

Ernie and my grandmother Florence Potter were married in San Francisco on November 2, 1919.  They promptly sailed (with Hans) on the SS Sonoma to Australia on November 11, 1919. They had signed a contract to race the 1919 Season (austral summer) in Australia from arrival late November to April.  They then sailed to Europe to race a season or two and ended up staying until after my aunt was born in February, 1925.  So, the photos above were used to promote their upcoming arrival in Australia so would be published in early Fall of 1919, it was probably taken in New Jersey or San Francisco when Ernie was 26, although he turned 27 on October 25, 1919, shortly before departing for “Oz”.

               We are still piecing together their itinerary, but we have found out the following:

Ernie and Hans raced in San Francisco starting as early as 1906 in youth events, then raced at Newark and other cities in the US as amateurs starting in 1912. Ernie went pro after the 1914 season and Hans after the 1915 season.
Hans won the US National Amateur track championship in 1915.
Ernie and Hans did pro track racing in Europe from summer 1919 through Fall 1925, often pairing as a six-day team.
Ernie did more long road races than Hans and won events in Italy, Belgium and France in that period.
Hans won a World’s pro track title in 1918.  Being at the end of WWI, this was in the US and we suppose a thin field short on Europeans.
Ernie was the coach of the US Olympic Team for the Paris Olympics in 1924.


Above: Ernest and Hans Ohrt in their matching 'winged eagle' jeseys ready for their Australia/Europe tour

ohrt-hearst-riders 4
Ernie Ohrt with his road bike at San Francisco Bay - early 1960s


This picture, c.1938 has Constance Ohrt on the left and Denise Ohrt second from right, the other two girls
 are probably friends or models.  This was taken for a tourist brochure promoting Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.


The 'girls' are (from left to right) Jacqueline Ohrt Delaney, Lorraine Ohrt O’Hanlon, Denise Ohrt Noel
and my mother Constance Ohrt Hearst.  C1940  All on the family Ohrt bicyles with Oscar Egg lugs.

We have an interesting cutting which I (Ed.) believe to be from the British publication Cycling relating to the American team entered in the Olympic road race.  It seems that, for all of the team, this was their first ecperience of European racing which came as quite a shock to their systems. The races being much tougher than anything experienced before. The page is an enlightening reply by Ernest Ohrt, who had been appointed team manager, to a previous article by Cycling's columnist "Loiterer" who wrote a weekly column.

Who's Who at the San Francisco Velodrome
L to R - Bob Diefenbacher, Hans Ohrt; pros. Ernest Ohrt, manager; Iver Lawson; Tommy Morgon.

The Ohrt brothers were involved in the administration of the velodrome until they resigned
due to a dispute over their dissatisfaction with the lack of visionary promotion.
Hans Ohrt in dressing gown which was preferred trackside attire for racers both sides of the Atlantic.


Ceramic plate with printed image of Ernst Ohrt.


Ohrt Cycles headbadge
Thanks to Chris at http://fattiretrading.com/