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  1. #1
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    How to "fold" your Sears Tote-Cycle

    Okay, the Sears ToteCycle isn't technichally a folding bike. But it does break in half, and, if you have the right pieces, the two halves can be rejoined on a more compact form. Also the Tote-Cycle is 30+ years old, so if this moved from the folding forum to Classic and Vintage, that'd be okay by me. I'm just posting this because when I first saw the bike, it was in the compact form, but when I took it home, it was assembled in the rideable bike form, and it took some playing and some e-mails to the previous owner before I could get it back to the compact state. I couldn't find a single picture or mention of there actually being a compact state for this bike, so maybe this will help someone out. Of course after combing the internet, I only found a half dozen Tote Cycles, so this probably won't help many people out.

    Step 1. Clean your apartment, so people don't see your trash and unfolded laundry in your pictures.
    (I skipped this step)

    Step 2. Get yourself a Sears Tote-Cycle.



    Step 3. Get the extra pieces required to hold the bike together in the "folded" position.





    Step 4. Remove the seat.

    Step 5. Loosen and turn handle bars.



    Step 6. Split the bike by removing the two bolts at the joining plate.



    Step 7. Attach "U" shaped joining piece to the connection plate of the front half of the bike. Use the same bolts that were originally holding the bike together.





    Step 8. Slip the other half of the "U" piece into the seat post and tighten in place.





    Step 9. The remaining two pieces clip on to the tires to keep them at the right distance apart.



    And you're done. Now you can easily take your folded bicycle with you anywhere. Provided you have a nice roomy trunk or a pick up truck, and maybe a truss. Truth be told it's not that much smaller after this process, but I do find that once I've compacted it, I can fit it under the table in the spare room. But I would certainly not make a habit of it unless it was going to be stored for a while. But that's the plan for this bike: It'll live under the table or in my trunk and come out when I'm away from home and want to take a spin.

    (attachments are repeats of the images used, in case my links break at some point in the future)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    That's really quite something, thanks. Looks like it may be comfy to carry with that odd seat post insert.

  3. #3
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    Re: How to "fold" your Sears Tote-Cycle

    WOW - I have a Tote-Cycle and I've never seen one of the "folding kits" like you have shown. That is a cool way to store and manage the Tote-Cycle.

    Here is my Tote-Cycle that I have modified into a fixed gear with allow rims, seatpost, handlebars, pedals, and a large basket for whatever I want to throw in there.




    Glad to see others keeping the weird Sears Tote-Cycle alive!
    ...Bill Milam

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    Re: Howe to "fold" your Sears Tote-Cycle

    OOPS - I did not have the correct size photo before.
    Here is a small photo:




    Quote Originally Posted by humblecyclist View Post
    WOW - I have a Tote-Cycle and I've never seen one of the "folding kits" like you have shown. That is a cool way to store and manage the Tote-Cycle.

    Here is my Tote-Cycle that I have modified into a fixed gear with allow rims, seatpost, handlebars, pedals, and a large basket for whatever I want to throw in there.




    Glad to see others keeping the weird Sears Tote-Cycle alive!
    ...Bill Milam
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakub.ner View Post
    That's really quite something, thanks. Looks like it may be comfy to carry with that odd seat post insert.
    Well, as comfy as possible considering that it's 40 pounds. Bill has the right idea swapping out components for something lighter. I'm not up for a fixie, but I definitely would like to swap out the rims at least. What did you end up using for wheels, Bill? The bike looks beautiful. Is that all original paint? I've uglied mine up good by slopping rust-proof paint on the formerly rusty parts while I try to figure out what to do about a permanent paint job. Yours also makes me realize that I could probably lose a little weight by pulling the front rack and the fenders, but I really like them.

    bicyclridr4life has a Tote Cycle, too, but he doesn't seem to have those connecting parts, either. And I have a copy of the an old owner's manual that doesn't mention them either. On the one hand they seem too custom fit to be home-made, but on the other hand it's weird that no one else seems to have them. But then they'd probably be the first thing to get lost.

  6. #6
    Hauja
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    Sahweet! How does it ride?
    Last edited by James H Haury; 04-01-08 at 10:50 AM. Reason: question added

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Bill's looks to be in good enough shape to give you a better report on that. Mine is still riding pretty rough. Either the crank or pedals are bent, which you feel when you're pedaling, and the wheels are as true as I can get them given that they're steel, well-rusted, and missing a spoke here and there -- that is to say that they're not terribly true at all. Even so, it feels solid when you're riding. Long wheel base gives it a nice, steady feel. I'm still getting used to the 3-speed shifting, and I think it needs adjusting, too. And we haven't had a dry day since I put it back together, so I've only been about half mile on it anyway. I don't think it's going to be a speedster by any means, but I think it'll be a comfy ride once the wheels, gearing, and crank are dealt with. If I could only squeeze it into a suitcase for airline travel, I'd be all set.

  8. #8
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    The ride of the Tote-Cycle

    I love the ride quality of the old Sears Tote-Cycle. Long wheelbase is refreshing in a folding/take-apart bike. I have several other folders including a Raleigh Twenty and a Dawes Kingpin/Newpin - all set up as fixed gear bikes.
    The long wheel base of the Tote-Cycle something like 43+ inches where as the Raleigh Twenty is around 38 inches (note: these numbers base on memory - a very old man's memory). Long wheel base is stable and smooth - not "squirrelly" at all. I prefer the ride of the Tote-Cycle to that of the Twenty by a large margin.
    The build quality of the Raleigh Twenty is good, the build quality of the Dawes is better, the build quality of the Tote-Cycle is very much low end - inconsistent welds and gaps in welds, heavy mild-steel frame. But this is what the Tote-Cycle was design to do - compete is a Sears & Roebuck world of working-man bikes.
    I've thought of taking my Tote-Cycle to a shop to have some spotty welds beefed-up - but I've been riding it for years without any problems and this bike is 30+ years old already.
    The built-in rear luggage rack is very cool design aspect of this weird old frame - that and the swoopy-deco style of the long stays. Word of caution - riders with large shoes might find themselves hitting the back of their heels on the rear luggage rack (or at least I do occassionaly with my size 10.5 shoes).

    I bought the bike for its unique design aspects. Removed all the other stuff off the frame and rebuilt is as a simple fixed gear and I LOVE IT!!!! Wheels are BMX sealed bearing hubs (~110mm wide in rear, front is 100mm wide) lace to 36 hole Sun alloy rims (406 or 20" size). Added a three piece adapter to use a standard alloy cotterless crank and ditched the rusty astabula crank. Alloy seat post and riser mtb bars. I keept the original headset and stem - both old chrome steel. Some cheap steel platform pedals were added. The basket shown in photo is TOO big and has since been replaced with a smaller basket attached to rack with cable-ties.

    Too much info I know - but these old Tote-Cyles are relatively inexpensive (bargains), not too rare, easy to upgrade (as opposed to the Raleigh Twenty's BB - 26TPI - sheesh), are real visual-design delight (nothing else like them - not even remotely close!!!), the frame is tight and steady when assembled (no wimpy design here) and rides like a dream. Just don't expect high-end quality standards like todays bikes have.

    The only down sides - a bit heavy - but look at it - it's got more miles of tubes than most folders - and once you take it apart - the Tote-Cycle does not fit any of my Samsonite Oyster luggage (the penalty of a supper long wheel base).

    Other than the mentioned Sears Tote-Cycle, Raleigh Twenty, and Dawes Kingpin, I have several other folders and small wheel bikes. I have a fantastic Soma TiJourney titanium road bike with a frame design similar to the Twenty, three Moulton F-Frames (Series 1,2,3), Italian universal Barbarella Green folder - even heavier than than the Tote-Cycle, and a German made Hercules folding battleship (totally indestructable except for the weird non-standard Thron? BB and crank).

    Given all of this - I still choose the old cheap Sears Tote-Cycle to cruise around the neighborhood and run to the corner market because of its RIDE!

    ...Bill

  9. #9
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Took my first "real" ride on the Tote-Cycle this weekend. Previously I've just gone through my apartment's parking lot, but yesterday I hit the MUP and went down to Shelley Lake, around, and back home. A little more than 10 miles round trip, I think, given that one pass around the lake was not enough, and I had to do it again. It was definitely a fun ride. It's heavy for such a little bike, but it feels great. My commuter has me putting a lot of weight on my back tire, but the long wheelbase on the Tote-Cycle leaves me feeling perfect balanced in the seat. The crank/bottom bracket situation was much improved after I took the ballbearing rings out and flipped them around to face the right direction The brakes need work: the coaster rear brake works slightly better than the front pull brake, but neither work terribly well. Combined I can come to stop, but not quickly. Getting a better front tire should let me adjust the front brakes a little better, and I'm thinking of adding a drum brake hub, so I have two front brakes, combined with the rear coaster brake. The three speeds did not seem to be quite enough for all of the hills I had to go up, but they were enough for most. In fact, they might have been sufficient if i could count on it staying in 3rd, but the hub still needs some work and occasionally it throws me from 3rd to neutral, so I'm not standing up on those pedals just yet.

    But all-in-all it was a good ride. The bike's a little heavier than what I have now, and I got more of a workout with my limited gear range, besides, but most of my problems were minor mechanical issues that can be fixed. I just wanted to get it out there and see how it really rode so I would know if it was worth my continued efforts to fix it up. It is certainly worth it. New rims are definitely coming next. Then maybe a 3-piece crank conversion. I'd love to put an 8-speed hub in there, too, but then I'd lose my coaster brake. Plus I really need to be showing my daily rider some love at some point as it is also wanting new rims.

    Still, even as is, it's a fun ride. Solid. Which is an odd word to describe a bike that breaks in half. I can't wait to get this thing truly road-worthy.

  10. #10
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    Ride report - Shelley Lake on the ToteCycle

    Grand report on the Tote-Cycle.
    Shelley lake loop ride is one of the prettiest in Raleigh.
    The Tote-Cycle is laden with heavy steel components.
    Alloy rims will save about a poung.
    Alloy crankset will save about 2 pounds (the single astabula crank is hunk of heavium).
    Lose the steel seat post - and replace with simple straight alloy post - save another half pound.

    It will ride like a different bike.

    Also you can add a second cog to the Sachs three speed hub (like you can on the SA hubs) - add a rear derailleur and double your gear ranges. (see Sheldon Brown on hybrid gearing).

    Keep us posted on the progress.

    ...Bill

  11. #11
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips. Originally I was not considering changing the crank, but either the crank or pedals are bent, and in addition to weight savings, it seems like I'll just have more options with a 3-piece crank. New wheels are a must, and the seat post should be an easy switch.

    My model actually comes with a Sturmey-Archer hub. I'm assuming they switched as some point in their production. Or else someone swapped the one out on my bike as some point. If I can get the SA hub to work right, that'll be enough for me, I think, until/unless I upgrade to 8-speed. But that's pretty much the last thing on my list, after all the other upgrades and a complete strip and repaint.

  12. #12
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    I've just run across two of these bikes that look to be complete and in good shape. The guy is asking $150 for both, does that seem like a reasonable price? I'm new to the folding/compact bike scene and these seem like a decent affordable option compared to the true folders not to mention they look pretty cool! Unfortunately as you said there isn't a whole lot of info out there on them so I don't know if $150 is too much.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    "Too much" is hard to gauge for someone else. I really like mine. It wasn't in terrible shape, but it did have a lot of rust to be taken off and the paint is in bad shape. I'm not going to feel great about the condition until I at least get new rims on it, which will probably mean another $50 for starters. And I paid $50.00 for it. I feel like the guy might have gone down a little from that, but it was a functioning, and pretty unusual bike, and for that, I didn't feel bad about what I paid. I would definitely consider $75, especially if it was in a little better shape than mine (which basically means less rust -- everything else on it that needs fixed is pretty standard for a bike that old). If you've got a line on one that's in good shape, and you think you'd like it, I'd say go for it. But at $150 you're getting into Raleigh 20 money, which seems to be the gold standard of classic folders. I don't have a 20, so I can't compare, but they look to be a little more portable than the Tote-Cycle. That's my biggest complaint about the bike: even "folded" it's not that portable. Fits into smaller space, yes, but it's still on the bulky side and heavy, but some of the heavy can be taken care of with upgrades. But I really hoped this thing would be able to on an airline with no extra fare, and while I haven't given up on that yet, it seems unlikely.

    I think $75, or even $150, is very reasonable for a bike that you'll ride and enjoy. For me, $50 was an experiment. I would have to think harder about going higher than that for an experiment. But now that I've worked on and ridden the Tote-Cycle, I could definitely see paying more for it. If you'll ride it, I'd say go for it.

  14. #14
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    Cool, that's kind of the way I look at it. I wouldn't pay $150 for one as I'd probably rather have a Twenty but $150 for a matching pair (just got married so the wife "needs" one too ) that look to be in good shape seemed pretty reasonable. I'm kind of an all around biker enjoying the road or the dirt equally but last week we took my old heavy beach cruiser and an as yet unidentified $15 Goodwill road bike down to Key West and I couldn't help thinking that something a bit more portable and good for cruising would be perfect for those types of rides or cruising to the store (love those racks!). I'm going to try to meet up with the guy tomorrow and if they're in good shape I'll probably go for it, I like the fact that you don't see many of them too. I'll be sure to post pics if I get 'em.

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    Did ya get 'em?

    If you did, post some pics and let us know how they're working out!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by geargirl View Post
    If you did, post some pics and let us know how they're working out!
    I did wind up buying them. The paint was a bit rough and there is some slight rust on the chrome but in a way that is better because I don't have to worry about keeping them pristine or anything. I've already stripped one down and painted it, just have to get it reassembled now. The other is waiting on my wife to pick out what shade of pink () she wants it to be. Here are a few pics as they were, I'll post some more once they are "reborn".






  17. #17
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Wow, those are awesome. Much better shape than mine, too, which I also want to repaint. I hope you'll let us see the finished product(s). I really want to see one repainted because it'll help me decide if I want to go with as close to original as possible or if I want to go completely custom. Right now I'm leaning towards custom, but I really like the classic look that comes with that old Schwinn Coppertone.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
    Wow, those are awesome. Much better shape than mine, too, which I also want to repaint. I hope you'll let us see the finished product(s). I really want to see one repainted because it'll help me decide if I want to go with as close to original as possible or if I want to go completely custom. Right now I'm leaning towards custom, but I really like the classic look that comes with that old Schwinn Coppertone.
    They were in good shape overall and I like the old school gold too but the paint was pretty bad and the guy I bought them from had already tried to touch them up so I didn't feel too bad about stripping it off. I've been taking pictures throughout the process so I'll start a thread when it's done. I'm not great with a rattle can and with all the tubes these things are a pain to spray but I think it came out pretty well. I need to brush some of the chrome up a bit and get everything put back together but I think they'll be pretty nice once I get 'em back together.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shortbus901 View Post
    They were in good shape overall and I like the old school gold too but the paint was pretty bad and the guy I bought them from had already tried to touch them up so I didn't feel too bad about stripping it off. I've been taking pictures throughout the process so I'll start a thread when it's done. I'm not great with a rattle can and with all the tubes these things are a pain to spray but I think it came out pretty well. I need to brush some of the chrome up a bit and get everything put back together but I think they'll be pretty nice once I get 'em back together.
    Cool. That's my paint situation, too. Except that the guy who ruined the existing paint by touching it up was me. But I knew going in that it would all have to be stripped eventually. There were too many rust spots, and where there weren't rust spots, you could still see the gleam of metal underneath the paint, so I figure it has to be redone, and I'll probably change the color at that time, too.

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