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  1. #1
    Senior Member VintageSears's Avatar
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    Newbie with a vintage Sears.

    Hello all!

    I'm Kyle, and I have a vintage, I believe to be a 1971, Sears Roebuck & Company 3-Speed bicycle(made in Austria) I picked up at a garage sale, and "restored" it. I tore it down to only the pedals on the frame, and cleaned & polished everything, got brand new gum wall tires and inner tubes, and she was ready to go! The paint was nice, so I left it alone. Just washed it down and used the same wax I use for my cars on all the pieces. It has the old style generator head & taillight, and they work perfectly! She also has chrome fenders, rear spring rack, and a basket. But when I re did it, I did not put the basket back on. Also mounted on the front wheel/fork, was a mileage counter. I couldn't get it aligned right after the "restoration", and it was noisy, so I took it off(but kept it!). Just about everyday in the summer, I take her for a ride. It's a great cruising bike, and the gears sift as smooth as butter. It's winter here in Michigan, so I have her in my back shed, for "winter storage" covered up with a doubled over flannel bed sheet ()

    Before pictures:
    http://s36.photobucket.com/albums/e8...ears%20before/

    During "restoration":
    http://s36.photobucket.com/albums/e8...ears%20during/

    After pictures:
    http://s36.photobucket.com/albums/e8...Sears%20after/

    When I got the bike, it had the original tires on it, and all of the writing was in Austrian. I kept them, along with the original inner tubes. As you go through the during pictures, I kept the original seat, but put a gel cover over it.

    ----

    Does anyone here know anything about these bikes? When I got it, I looked for information, but couldn't find a whole lot. I have the serial number written down, if that would decode any information about it. If anyone knows information/history of these bike, please let me know!

    Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed my post and pictures!
    Kyle

    1940 Columbia - Restored (See Thread).
    1971 Sears Roebuck & Co 3-speed (See Thread).
    1974 Columbia Sport III 3-speed.
    1989 Schwinn World 10-speed.
    1989 Schwinn Caliente 10-speed.
    2002 Sun Retro Classic.

  2. #2
    Senior Member auchencrow's Avatar
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    Hi Vintage Sears, and welcome to Bike Forums.

    Your old 3 speed cleaned up very nicely indeed - the Chrome fenders and rack are plus, and serve a very practical purpose (esp. here in MI.)

    You have posted to to the Apraisals sub-forum. Don't know if you are looking for a value or just input - unfortunately I can't be very specific since I am not an expert, but I can say though that these Austrian built lugged bikes were among the nicer ones Sears sold, and I found a thread with another very similar bike to yours that you'll want to peruse :
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...strian-3-speed.

  3. #3
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    In general, people are not tracking serial numbers of department store bikes. Most of the stores did not have a logical serial number pattern they followed, and sourced bikes from many suppliers over the years. Owners tend to date their bikes by looking for codes on components. You did a nice job on the bike, and the Austrian Sears are among their better ones.

    Back during the bike boom, it was common for just about every store to sell "their own brand" bikes. All of those brands are now gone. I bought a bike when I was a kid at a lawn mower repair shop (they didn't even sell new lawn mowers!!). None of these stores made bikes of course. They just had the manufacturer relabel their generic bikes with the store's brand.

  4. #4
    Senior Member VintageSears's Avatar
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    Sorry! I didn't know I posted in the appraisal section! Wasn't my intention. But, now that its here(not that I intend on getting rid of it) how much do you think it could be worth?

    Thanks for the compliments on the 'restoration'!

    Auchencrow: The rack has come in handy several times! I roll up my jacket and put it there when I get hot! () Whereabouts in Detroit/Detroit area are you? I'm about 40 minutes south of Detroit.

    Wrk101: I figured the serial number wasn't useful for that, but I thought I would inquire anyway.

    I also have two '89 or '90 Schwinn 10 speeds in my attic. My parents bought them together brand new in '89 or '90 at our local(still in in business) bike shop/Schwinn dealer. Both bikes have original bill of sale and owners manual. One is a gray Schwinn World and the other is a red Schwinn Caliente. They need to be cleaned up, and new tires and inner tubes on them, but I'm not going to waste the time & money, because I wouldn't use them. Those 10 speeds kill my neck and back. But I plan on keeping them. I'll never get rid of them!
    Kyle

    1940 Columbia - Restored (See Thread).
    1971 Sears Roebuck & Co 3-speed (See Thread).
    1974 Columbia Sport III 3-speed.
    1989 Schwinn World 10-speed.
    1989 Schwinn Caliente 10-speed.
    2002 Sun Retro Classic.

  5. #5
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    There really isn't much of a collector's market on Department Store bikes...if I gave you a number, it would just upset you. The only thing that matters is how much it's worth to you...and considering the labor of love you put forward, that's substantial. I wouldn't worry about, or focus, on the money factor.

  6. #6
    Senior Member VintageSears's Avatar
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    That's how I feel about it. I know it's probably not worth much(just a curiosity thing, ya know?). I didn't get it for that. Yeah, I probably paid too much for it originally at the garage sale, but I wanted it. I saw a diamond in the rough. Now its a perfect cruising bike, and I love it! My girlfriend makes fun it it...she think it looks like Pee Wee Herman's bike in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure".
    Kyle

    1940 Columbia - Restored (See Thread).
    1971 Sears Roebuck & Co 3-speed (See Thread).
    1974 Columbia Sport III 3-speed.
    1989 Schwinn World 10-speed.
    1989 Schwinn Caliente 10-speed.
    2002 Sun Retro Classic.

  7. #7
    Elitest Murray Owner Mos6502's Avatar
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    Well, to say there is no market is a bit misleading. For that bike in that condition you could expect to make $100 if you wanted to sell it. If you're area is slower, $75. The Austrian made Sears' bikes are pretty good bikes.

  8. #8
    Newbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mos6502 View Post
    Well, to say there is no market is a bit misleading. For that bike in that condition you could expect to make $100 if you wanted to sell it. If you're area is slower, $75. The Austrian made Sears' bikes are pretty good bikes.
    all depends on where you are. here in DC those bikes generally go from $75 (needs work) to $250 (fully restored, perfect) on craigslist. I got mine for $150 back in the spring and haven't had to do much of anything to it except a little cleaning. you've got a good looking bike though - I like your style!
    Last edited by njeff; 08-05-10 at 06:42 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ron521's Avatar
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    I had the 5 speed version of that same bike, and rode it for years, until I finally sold it because I out grew it (frame was only 20 or 21 inches, so I couldn't raise the seat or handlebars high enough).
    At that time, Sears "lightweight" bicycles were made by Puch, and were of very high workmanship. Sears also had sold the Austrian-built Puch motorcycles for many years under the Allstate brand, so the bicycles were a natural.
    The rack is original equipment, but the basket, headlight, taillight and generator are not. Sears did sell a lot of accessories for bikes, including baskets and lighting kits, and those items may be from Sears, but they aren't specific to the bike.
    For what it's worth, after I sold my Sears 5 speed in 1976, I purchased a brand new Raleigh Sports with a 23 inch frame, which is the size I still ride. While earlier Raleighs may have been of very high quality, by 1976 they seemed to be having difficulty upholding their earlier standards. My Raleigh appeared to be disappointingly lower in quality than the Sears had been.
    The quality of the brazing on the frame and the quality of the paint were nowhere close to that found on the Austrian built Sears. You could SEE gaps between the lugs and the frame tubes which had not been properly filled with brass before painting. I rode the Raleigh for a while, and it operated mostly ok, but I never liked it as well as I had liked the Sears, so sold it after a relatively short time.
    In fairness to Raleigh, the quality of Sears bicycles also went downhill during the 1970's. The partnership between Sears and Puch ended after 1972 or 1973, and after that, Sears bikes were made by a different maker, and called "Free Spirit". These were nowhere close to the quality of the Austrian built bicycles.
    If you can be happy with 3 speeds, I encourage you to keep your Sears. Not only is it uncommon, but it truly is a BETTER bike in terms of workmanship than many of the 3 speeds more often seen.
    I currently have a German-built Fendt 3 speed, which has many of the same qualities I liked in my old Sears.
    I still have the page from the Sears catalog with a color picture of my bike. I'll post it if I can find it.

  10. #10
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I have two Sears bikes, both 10 speeds.

    The first is from the early 70's, blue, and Austrian built. I am the second owner, the first was a good friend of mine.

    The second, I bought from a poster here, and it is the coveted Ted Williams model constructed of Reynolds 531.

    Neither is stock, they have been upgraded for my own use... I don't ride either of them nearly enough.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  11. #11
    Senior Member BigPolishJimmy's Avatar
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    I have a very similar bikes in black, yours is really nicely done. Fantastic work!

  12. #12
    Senior Member ron521's Avatar
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    Sears Bicycle Pag&#1.jpg Here is the actual page from the (1970?) catalog from which my 5 speed was ordered. The 5 speed cost $59.95 in Flamboyant Blue for either mens or womens frame, while the 3 speed cost $52.95 in Spring Green (mens frame) or Flamboyant Blue (womens frame).

    There was also a slightly less deluxe 3 speed, also made in Austria, but without a rack, and with "lustrous black onyx" frame and fenders for $43.95.

    The following year, (1971?) the 5 speed was slightly modified with rims and tires growing one inch to 27 inches, and paint color changing from Flamboyant Blue to Spring Green.
    I believe your deluxe 3 speed also changed from the Spring Green color featured on this page to the Flamboyant Red on your own bike, so your bike should be one year newer than my 5 speed was.

    Here is the ad copy describing the 3 speed:

    "Choose from the 48-65-89* gear ratios..a gear to match any terrain. Handlebar mounted gearshift lever..you don't have to take your hands off the handlebar to change gears. Coaster brake in the rear hub plus front safety brake. Chrome plated spotlight, rear carrier rack, fenders and rims. Two-tone vinyl covered-coil spring saddle. Slim 26 x 1 3/8" white-wall tires. Spotlight uses 2 "D" size batteries (not included. see page 529). From Austria. Shipping weight 15 pounds." (this HAS to be a typo, as the shipping weight for the black 3 speed is given as 45 pounds, including the box and packing).

    Also, I had forgotten that the deluxe 3 speed DID come with a headlight, although no generator or taillight. Can't recall if this was still the case the next year when they color changed to red, or not.

    The 5 speed had an interesting feature which Sears called "automatic power shift". The rear wheel had a 5 speed derailleur, plus a 2 speed mechanism inside the freewheel which operated centrifugally. When you stopped, or slowed below a certain speed, the 2 speed mechanism would drop to its lower ratio, to make accelerating from a standstill easier. When you reached a certain speed, it shifted up to its higher ratio. All this happened without changing anything on the part of the shift lever, derailleur or chain, which stayed in whichever gear you happened to have them set.
    It worked very well, and in the 5 or 6 years I owned the bicycle, I never had any problem with the automatic shifting. All I ever had to do in the way of maintenance was to replace tires and tubes.
    In 1974, I went on a ride with a friend from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Port Aransas, Texas, and back. The total mileage round trip was 67 miles, and we had no problems other than thirst.
    Last edited by ron521; 08-05-10 at 06:03 PM.

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