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Great American Bicycle Tour 1975, JCPenneys, Disc Brake

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Great American Bicycle Tour 1975, JCPenneys, Disc Brake

Old 11-03-15, 05:52 PM
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uncle uncle
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Great American Bicycle Tour 1975, JCPenneys, Disc Brake

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k10233DdFi0

Anyone have any knowledge about this event? The bicycles they used? The disc brake system shown?
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Old 11-03-15, 05:59 PM
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That is just dripping in awesomesauce! Like everything else from the 70s, it would be much better enjoyed while stoned.

OK, they were rotten, heavy bikes, but still, riding in fully supported co-ed group all the way across the country? Wish I could say that's how I spent my summer vacation. They even had a black dude riding, so, hip and racially integrated. Which was a new thing back then. If they'd made it five years later, they would have included an Asian woman and a Native American guy, too.
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Old 11-03-15, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k10233DdFi0

Anyone have any knowledge about this event? The bicycles they used? The disc brake system shown?
I think those were the mechanical disc brakes made by Shimano....
I guess they worked OK, but not good enough to replace caliper brakes on most bikes.....
I'm sure those kids went through ll sorts of "dramas" along the way, which always happens when you get all different sorts of people together for an extended time doing stressful activities. But then, those were still wild/free times and anything could have happened along those 3000+ miles, if you know what I mean...

Last edited by Chombi; 11-03-15 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 11-03-15, 07:38 PM
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It was a time when diversity was represented by the inclusion of one person of color.

I just wonder who JCPenney's thought would be the audience for this effort.... it must have been somewhat expensive to pay 12 riders and sag support, all for a fifteen minute piece of film. A film that doesn't really do much selling of the bikes or brakes or clothing or nothing.
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Old 11-04-15, 05:37 AM
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Disc brakes look like a set I took off a junked.....

Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k10233DdFi0

Anyone have any knowledge about this event? The bicycles they used? The disc brake system shown?
....bottom level bike a few years ago. I'm thinking it was a Penney badged bike made by Huffy or some other department store bike supplier.
I also think it was Shimano.

What I do remember and why I gave it away was that it weighed a ton! Well, maybe not a ton but probably l or 2 pounds! And it didn't stop any better than the calipers.

Good idea, poor execution.
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Old 11-04-15, 05:45 AM
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Don't forget it was the bike boom! I was 15 at the time, living in Canada and wishing I could ride *my* overweight department store bike (at least it was a Chiorda) on the great American tour. It was covered heavily in various media so not just a 15 minute film. And bikes were being sold by the millions so lots of interest.

On the disk brake - it was indeed heavy and even though we rode entry level bikes we dreamed of (and eventually did get) the lightweight bikes we know and love now. They were expensive too, so no one except an OEM would bother fitting them.
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Old 11-04-15, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
on the great American tour. It was covered heavily in various media so not just a 15 minute film. And bikes were being sold by the millions so lots of interest.
I cannot find any connections (remembrances on blogs, newspaper articles, etc) on the WWW connected to this "Tour" except for those linking back to the video. No additional videos... always the same one.

Bikecentennial (starting a year after in 1976) has some internet chatter, but nothing about the "Great American Bicycle Tour".

... and I assume you mean all bikes, not just this JCPenney's badge engineered chrome Huffy with a Shimano disk brake option. I have never seen a seventies Shimano disk brake, and I worked at a bicycle shop in the eighties where a lot of seventies bikes were constantly coming in for repairs. Not a one.


There is some info on the brakes... as others have recollected, they were "heavy". But, others noted (maybe not on this site, but on other sites) that the brakes did perform okay, though maybe not in the revolutionary way that Shimano was hoping they would. Or, maybe it was gimmick, and thus came and went as other gimmicks do. Seems odd that the technology came and went so quickly, only to resurface decades later, in the vein of "new and better".

Last edited by uncle uncle; 11-04-15 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 11-04-15, 06:59 PM
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Those were Huffy bicycles and think the whole point of the ride was to advertise those "state of the art" disc brakes. Had to be a full support ride as you can tell by the way they were dressed.
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Old 11-04-15, 07:47 PM
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I owned one of those bikes! It went to college with me and was great as a campus bike. The disc brake's improvement was stopping the bike with wet, steel wheels - and it did work better than prayer, which was the alternative. Dry, it was somewhat less effective than the Dia Compe center pull used on the front. It also had the freewheel bearing on the crank. The chain moved whenever the wheel was turning. That was actually pretty neat for shifting without pedaling.
Anyway, I remember it fondly.
It was a time retailers wanted differentiation to stand out and it worked on me when I was 13. I remember Sears or Montgomery Wards had hydralic rim brakes - both controlled by one lever! Good times!
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Old 11-04-15, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by 700 View Post
I owned one of those bikes! It went to college with me and was great as a campus bike. The disc brake's improvement was stopping the bike with wet, steel wheels - and it did work better than prayer, which was the alternative. Dry, it was somewhat less effective than the Dia Compe center pull used on the front. It also had the freewheel bearing on the crank. The chain moved whenever the wheel was turning. That was actually pretty neat for shifting without pedaling.
Anyway, I remember it fondly.
It was a time retailers wanted differentiation to stand out and it worked on me when I was 13. I remember Sears or Montgomery Wards had hydralic rim brakes - both controlled by one lever! Good times!
The freewheel system was also by Shimano. They named it "FFS", which stood for "Front Freewheel System". Like most of the gee whizz inventions that were coming out during the bike boom years, it was too heavy and was trying to solve a problem that was not really there. Shimano ended up selling most, if not all of the FFS drivetrains to bike manufacturers to install as standard equipment on their lower level model bikes......
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Old 11-05-15, 07:34 AM
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I remember this event being advertised, maybe in Bicycling magazine.
But by then I'd already done my tour and couldn't see myself riding clear across the country.
Fun video.
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Old 11-05-15, 08:06 AM
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Back then I had just gotten married, started a job and career, and bought a house. I also wanted to cross the country by bicycle but that wasn't in the realm.
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Old 11-05-15, 08:17 AM
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I have a Kabuki with one of those Shimano disc brakes. It is slightly better than dragging your feet on the ground. The pads are rubber! Why on Earth would you put this thing on a bike? Most braking is done on the front which has a trusty Dia-Compe single pivot caliper. It must have just been for the techno-bling factor.
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Old 11-05-15, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
I think those were the mechanical disc brakes made by Shimano....
Yup:



VeloBase.com - Component: Shimano 3.3.3
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Old 11-05-15, 03:12 PM
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I had never even seen a bicycle helmet until I went off to college in fall of '76. My roommate had one of the original Bell mushroom helmets - actually his second, since his first helmet got destroyed in a car/bike crash and probably saved his life. He always wore his helmet. It wasn't until I rode TOSRV '77 that I wore a helmet - a Skid Lid that someone had left behind at our club-sponsored Century ride the week before.



Gloves? Yeah, I had the crochet-backed things from Bike Warehouse (pre-nashbar), and I still get that same style when I can find them.

I never had padded shorts back then, so yes, I rode in 'tennis gear', complete with the ubiquitous three-stripe tube socks! I also wore the 'warm-up' style sweatpants, zippered jacket with the stripe on the sleeve and legs... and my beloved Puma Road Runner shoes.

So yes, cycling has evolved a bit over the past 40 years!!! Bikes, clothing and 'gear'.
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Old 11-05-15, 04:41 PM
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I have a version of a rear Shimano disk brake. It is different than those pictured in the film though. I still have the bike frame - a MASA 12 high tensile with special braze-ons for the brake. The rotor was not ventilated, and was actuated by a standard lever. I cannot find the rear wheel, but as I recall the brake side of the rear wheel had reverse thread for the rotor and RH thread for the rotor locknut.
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Old 11-05-15, 08:42 PM
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My graduating year!! Too cool. I never knew of this tour. As a teen, safety was never on my mind.
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