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Old 02-05-10, 12:27 AM   #1
oilman_15106
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Sears Road Bike ever had one?

On the Road forum a post about your bike ownership history a surprising number of Sears Free Spirit Road bikes appeared on lists. I had one circa 1970? Got me around campus in fine fashion.

The thing was made in Austria. 10 speed, steel lugged frame. Great bike for the money. Frame was blue is all I can remember.

So were you the proud owner of a Sears Free Spirit Road bike?
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Old 02-05-10, 12:29 AM   #2
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Better yet if you were the owner of a Free Spirit do you still have it? I think mine headed for Goodwill when I got my Centurion.
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Old 02-05-10, 05:30 AM   #3
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I had a Sears 10 speed sometime around 1968. Mine, too, was blue and lugged steel. I rode it everywhere until I got my driver's license and a motorcycle. I still rode it some for a while until it was stolen. I loved that bike. I'm sure it is the one that imprinted in my mind that bicycle = lugged steel.
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Old 02-05-10, 06:25 AM   #4
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My 1970 white Free Spirit ended up being sold to a tall girl on the college basketball team. I've wondered if she still has it (bike that is). Going from the Free Spirit to a Raleigh Super course was like moving from a Galaxy to a Corvette.
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Old 02-05-10, 06:58 AM   #5
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I had a Sears 5-speed in the early 70s. Rode it to school and kept in in my lab. Not sure if it was a Free Spirit or not, but it was a Sears.
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Old 02-05-10, 06:58 AM   #6
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Yes, I had a green one. The Free Spirit was actually made of Reynolds 531 tubing by Puch/Austro-Daimler, Suntour components (maybe GT?) if I remember correctly. It also had a three-piece crank. I think the model I got was billed as the "Ted Williams". Unfortunately, mine saw the end of its life in an auto accident. The bike was destroyed, yet I only ended up with a broken wrist.
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Old 02-05-10, 09:38 AM   #7
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Yes, I bought a new one around 1971, it was white with red,white and blue stripes around the main tubes. I put a lot of miles on it
gave it away about 1990.
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Old 02-05-10, 10:17 AM   #8
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I had a Sears 10 speed in 1971 while in college. Unfortunately, it didn't last long and was a victim of theft. I think it would have been a great bike had it lasted longer.
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Old 02-05-10, 10:54 AM   #9
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I've had two.

The men's was probably early 90's vintage, a 10 speed with a terrible seat. It was my backup commuter. My ex got it from some friends of hers. She got it in the divorce.

The other was a free spirit brittany ladie's model of unknown vintage, maybe early 90's. I bought it at a garage sale as a backup commuter and later gave it to the local bike coop when I didn't need it any longer.
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Old 02-05-10, 11:41 AM   #10
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Not a bike, but a tricycle. Ted Williams Free Spirit. Picked it up a couple of months ago, tuned it up and replaced tires. Three speed Shimano 333 hub. Yeah, the one famous for not being up to their usual standards. Those things are different to ride! I don't have any luck at all banking it into turns.
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Old 02-05-10, 01:21 PM   #11
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I remember buying a 10 speed from Sears in the early 70's. I didn't have a car so I rode it home from the store, down 12 Mile Road in the Detroit suburbs.

What I really remember is that the right pedal came off on the way home, throwing me onto the top tube and nearly getting me killed as I swerved uncontrollably across lanes of heavy traffic. Maybe that bike assembler works at Wallmart today.
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Old 02-05-10, 04:12 PM   #12
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So far a lot of you have had them- but only one still has one And waldo hasn't had that one long.

So what's the interest in a bike that no-one kept?

Obviously we don't have them over here.
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Old 02-05-10, 07:08 PM   #13
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So far a lot of you have had them- but only one still has one And waldo hasn't had that one long.

So what's the interest in a bike that no-one kept?

Obviously we don't have them over here.
Back when we were all young, Sears Roebuck (whatever happened to Roebuck?) was THE mail order catalog in the USA. For many of us, especially those of us who lived far away from major cities, it was the most convenient way to get access to the wonderful world of products beyond the limited selection available locally. Sears bikes were the only thing we knew about beyond the Western Flyers we could get from the local Western Auto.
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Old 02-05-10, 07:31 PM   #14
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Adding to BD's reply. Back in the day one could go to a local LBS and pay more for a better bike than a Free Spirit. My Free Spirit cost under $100 when a lower end Raleigh like the Grand Prix, that was a much better bike, cost $150. In retrospect buying a bike at Sears and Roebuck was like buying a bike at Walmart today.
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Old 02-05-10, 07:51 PM   #15
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In retrospect buying a bike at Sears and Roebuck was like buying a bike at Walmart today.
Disagree. Western Auto was like Walmart. Sears was a step between. Especially for those of us for whom there was no such thing as a local bike shop.
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Old 02-06-10, 07:34 AM   #16
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Disagree. Western Auto was like Walmart. Sears was a step between. Especially for those of us for whom there was no such thing as a local bike shop.
Well the real equivalents to Walmart back then were the big box stores like Zayre's and Zody's. I bought a Royce Union in high school at the local Zayre's for $50. It was my first 10 speed. I rode it everywhere from Santa Monica to Rancho Palos Verdes. Within a year, just about all the bolts had stripped and could no longer be tightened. And then, like a teen, I had forgotten my lock and left it outside a store for just a few minutes..... Probably a blessing in hindsight.

My impression back then that Sears bikes were more like low end Schwinns, heavy but solid and dependable. A true enthusiast would loathe them, but a casual user would have a product that they could trust.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 02-06-10, 08:31 AM   #17
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I picked up a free Free Spirit last week. It was not the nice 531 frame...
  • one piece crankset
  • heavy
  • steel handlebars
  • bolt on steel rim 26" rusted wheels
  • 1/2" pedals
  • rotted tires

I salvaged the tubes, chain, and vinyl saddle.
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Old 02-06-10, 08:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
Back when we were all young, Sears Roebuck (whatever happened to Roebuck?) was THE mail order catalog in the USA. For many of us, especially those of us who lived far away from major cities, it was the most convenient way to get access to the wonderful world of products beyond the limited selection available locally. Sears bikes were the only thing we knew about beyond the Western Flyers we could get from the local Western Auto.
+ 1

Local Bike Shop. Those existed "back then"? Maybe in them thar' big cities, but I never saw one.

To Stepfam, in reply to your question, one word actually sums it up (well, maybe two words):

Nostalgia.
Laughs.
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Old 02-06-10, 09:15 AM   #19
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Now it's explained- I can understand. We never had catalogues but did have "Local " bike shops for those that were into cycling. My first proper bike was bought from a chain store that specialised in electrical goods. But Phillips- like BSA- Hercules and Raleigh were sensible bikes. Mine was a Phillips- but I did envy my mates Hercules till I rode it. It may have been black- have a 3 speeds- but that bike was heavy.
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Old 02-06-10, 10:49 AM   #20
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Now it's explained- I can understand. We never had catalogues but did have "Local " bike shops for those that were into cycling. My first proper bike was bought from a chain store that specialised in electrical goods. But Phillips- like BSA- Hercules and Raleigh were sensible bikes. Mine was a Phillips- but I did envy my mates Hercules till I rode it. It may have been black- have a 3 speeds- but that bike was heavy.
Stapfam -- Sears was a national institution - as big or bigger than Marks & Spencer in terms of its presence in the national psyche. But, unlike Marks & Sparks, it also sold hardware, tires, appliances, sporting goods -- a little like Halfords or Argos. Imagine M&S, Argos, and Halfords all rolled up into one, and that's what you have.
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Old 02-06-10, 11:51 AM   #21
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+ 1

Local Bike Shop. Those existed "back then"? Maybe in them thar' big cities, but I never saw one.

To Stepfam, in reply to your question, one word actually sums it up (well, maybe two words):

Nostalgia.
Laughs.
Yeah. These big city boys have no idea what it was like living in the rest of America back then.
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Old 02-06-10, 12:58 PM   #22
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Yeah. These big city boys have no idea what it was like living in the rest of America back then.
My ex and I are only 3 months apart in age. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and she in eastern Oklahoma. We calculate that culturally, there was a decade of difference between those two places at the same time.
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Old 02-06-10, 01:30 PM   #23
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On the Road forum a post about your bike ownership history a surprising number of Sears Free Spirit Road bikes appeared on lists. I had one circa 1970? Got me around campus in fine fashion.

The thing was made in Austria. 10 speed, steel lugged frame. Great bike for the money. Frame was blue is all I can remember.

So were you the proud owner of a Sears Free Spirit Road bike?
Yes -- in fact I had a Sears 10-speed in the early 60s. Kind of a metallic light green. An X-mart quality bike even then but it got me where I wanted to go.
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Old 02-06-10, 01:38 PM   #24
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My second bike was a Sears 3 speed circa 1966 or there abouts. Don't know what happened to it.

And I bought a Sears bike when I got back into cycling after smoking for 20 odd years. Also got rid of it when I bought my Centurion Ironman Expert.
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Old 02-06-10, 03:35 PM   #25
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I rode a metallic burnt orange Sears 10 speed to high school in the mid-70's. Loved that bike! It was the first I owned with shifters and hand brakes. Gave myself a mild concussion the first time I rode it downhill, because for some unknown reason I didn't think you could slow down with the handbrakes, only stop. Hit a sprinkler head going downhill, and over I went. Before helmets were invented, of course. The bike was almost stolen from in front of the house, and I actually scared off the thief. After I went to college, my folks got rid of it. I miss it!
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