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What is your quintessential Silver Era, USA bike boom bicycle (circa 1965-1975)

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What is your quintessential Silver Era, USA bike boom bicycle (circa 1965-1975)

Old 12-13-15, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Shp4man View Post
Here's what I was riding back then. It was an ultracool ride. (then)

This was it for me too. I got an orange Huffy Cheetah Slick when I was about 7 and rode it until I got a Kabuki ten speed when I was 15. I remember waiting at Kmart in Ft. Wayne for them to bring it out, and thinking how strange it was for my parents to be buying me a new bike and it wasn't even Christmas or my birthday.
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Old 12-13-15, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Heck, the largest TV/Electronics dealer around gave away 10-speed bikes during a huge promotion every year. Those were 2/3 of what I saw during the boom.
Good old TV Lenny and his "Firenze" (and others) bikes. You still find these on CL around here.
https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/bik/5287808612.html
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Old 12-13-15, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Chrome Molly View Post
"Get a bike. Get a bike. Get a bike"
HA!!


Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Good old TV Lenny and his "Firenze" (and others) bikes. You still find these on CL around here.
https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/bik/5287808612.html
Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
"Firenze" was TV Lenny's (Len Matioli) brand. One year he got dinged by the CPSC and had to "upgrade" the brakes on all his bikes with Mathauser pads. When I lived in Madison, I used to scavenge those pads from bikes left on the curb at the end of the semester. I still have a set on one of my bikes.
So, of course, I looked up Crazy TV Lenny on the interetz, and found he has a bike store in Madison.
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Old 12-13-15, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Crazy TV Lenny?
Absolutely, Lenny Matteoli, American TV. Unabashed salesman.

Now selling electric bicycles, in a city where they are a hot item, replacing the estimated 10,000 Honda Esprit gas scooters that have been abandoned, stolen, etc around the Mad Town. Almost every lake cleanup finds 100 scooters or more in the muck.

I remember actually speaking to him when I went to American TV in 1977 to buy my parents a stereo to replace the one I ruined. While I knew what I wanted, I had no idea what was going to be useful for them once I went to boot camp and no longer played LP's on their tubed Wildcat at speaker-busting levels. He came out and told me he worked 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, and made about $100,000 a year, a family man all the way. Tremendous money in 1977 for a self-made guy who didn't strike oil. He told me my folks would want a console, so I bought them a tube-amped RCA, he told me "you can get tubes at any small-town TV shop."

I asked him about Playback, The Electronic Playground, which was a mall-based stereo/TV franchise. "No way," he said, "why give up a % to the mall?"
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Old 12-13-15, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Chrome Molly View Post
"Get a bike. Get a bike. Get a bike"
Buy a TV, get a bike!
Buy a car stereo, get a bike!
Buy an air conditioner, get a bike!

I worked for a gas station in Mineral Point, and one day, the owner says, "I want you to go to American TV." He had a list of items: window AC, dorm fridge, AM/FM receiver, portable TV, etc. I think there were 5 things, all of which qualified for a bike. I had to take the "new" station pickup truck, came back with the items in the cab, 5 bikes in the back. I think they came in white, blue, yellow, red, etc. I'm pretty sure I picked 1 of each color. We set them up in front of the gas station office for $75 each, sold them for $50-$60, if I recall. He ended up getting his 5 items for about 1/3 of retail.

Lenny also had "100 yards of car stereo!" 300 lineal feet of a car stereo every foot, this back when in-dash 8-tracks were still sold, under-dash cassette players, and Auto-Reverse was a really big deal. The "FM Converter" was a hot item, bolted under dash and able to tune in to the new "clearer" format.
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Old 12-13-15, 09:49 AM
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I'm sure many UW students got around on TV Lenny bike. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

His favorite giveaway was bicycles. Buy a TV, get a free bike.

"It was the most successful," Mattioli said. "Over 100,000 bikes over the course of the years. It was just one innovation. It was, 'Just try it.' We did all kinds of crazy things."
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Old 12-13-15, 09:52 AM
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I would have to say it was the influx of quality mass-produced bikes from Japan that made the difference. The fact that they used English threading also marked the start of the decline of the weird threadings (French, Italian...)

When I wanted to get my first 'ten-speed' in 1974, my dad looked up the ratings in Consumer Reports. Yep, he was one of those guys. SunTour was 'the best' derailleur. I had $125 to spend, so I was obviously not looking at top-tier bikes. Not even mid-grade, but a lower-end entry bike that was just above department store bikes like Sears Free Spirit, Penney's Foremost or C Itoh.

My local bike shop carried Fuji and Kabuki, and other shops had Schwinn (out of my price range), Raleigh, and St. Etienne. We went to shops all over the West suburbs of Cleveland, and I ended up getting a Fuji Special Tourer from the closest bike shop. All steel components and a cottered three-piece steel crank. At 33 pounds it was still lighter than the Continental though...

Two years later, after riding my college roommate's 'quality bike' - a Viscount Aerospace Pro - I quickly sold the Special Tourer and bought the '75 S-10S that I still have today. Alloy components made it much lighter at ~27 pounds. Top of the line bikes with tubulars were still running around 22-23 pounds back then.
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Old 12-13-15, 10:22 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Buy a TV, get a bike!
Now with his electric bikes his slogan is buy a bike, get a TV.

Went to school with his son Joe. Small world.
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Old 12-13-15, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Lower-middle class: Sears Free Spirit. They sold a ton of those, and Schwinns were out of reach.

Folks who lived near a Schwinn dealer and had the money, perhaps the top 1% in my home town: Continental.

Urban dwellers with access to funds and information: Peugeot UO-8, the only foreign bike I saw until about 1981.

Top of the line: Cinelli Super Corsa 1972-on: For those that had the knowledge and the money, generally guided by bike shops.

I was simply not exposed to any market other than catalog sales and other people's Schwinns until I entered the service and got around a bit.
This post, and others similar to it, bring up a good point. The USA, then, was much more regional than today. In my small Kansas town, no one rode anything as nice as a Schwinn. The closest Schwinn dealership was probably more than a 2 hour drive away. We had a Sears distribution/ordering outlet (aka "counter") where you could go and order things out of a catalog and they would show up and outstanding fast, for the time, 2 weeks or so later. The other supplier of bicycles was Western Auto (a midwest chain of hardware stores). The owner usually had a couple bikes at the front of the store, and some repair parts pegged somewhere else in the store. That was it... these two supplied welded frame, department store bicycles. We didn't know any better. So, my choice of word "quintessential" means differing things to different people with different backgrounds. But, I enjoy reading it all.
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Old 12-13-15, 11:16 AM
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What a different experience I had. Almost every bike shop in the Chicagoland area in the late 60's - early 70's was a Schwinn store. I rode a Schwinn, all my friends rode Schwinns. Schwinn and "bike" were synonymous. With the bike boom Schwinn stores would pick up a second line, Raleigh was the predominant line, some had Motobecane. I bought my "Motor"becane, as written on the sales receipt, at a Schwinn dealer. Just about every bike at the High School bike rack was a Schwinn. But it was the bike made in Chicago, so it kind of made sense.

The classic Schwinn dealer had a clean shop. Everything painted white, with white tile floor. Glass display cases. It was a Schwinn thing. And that clean mom and pop store was trustworthy. That's the other thing. The owner and typically his wife worked the store. With the boom era, all of a sudden, the hippy dippy college kids were opening up bike shops. They had a very different vibe. Usually dimly lit, long haired "bikie"employees, and the stores typically a jumble of bikes. But you could find the better European bikes and mechanics that would "build" a custom bike and wheels at these independent stores.
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Old 12-13-15, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
This post, and others similar to it, bring up a good point. The USA, then, was much more regional than today. In my small Kansas town, no one rode anything as nice as a Schwinn. The closest Schwinn dealership was probably more than a 2 hour drive away. We had a Sears distribution/ordering outlet (aka "counter") where you could go and order things out of a catalog and they would show up and outstanding fast, for the time, 2 weeks or so later. The other supplier of bicycles was Western Auto (a midwest chain of hardware stores). The owner usually had a couple bikes at the front of the store, and some repair parts pegged somewhere else in the store. That was it... these two supplied welded frame, department store bicycles. We didn't know any better. So, my choice of word "quintessential" means differing things to different people with different backgrounds. But, I enjoy reading it all.
This pretty much describes my home town. Only the rich kids had Schwinns, the rest of us had a Huffy, Western Auto, or Firestone from the tire store. There wasn't a Kmart until I was a teenager. When I was in high school and wanted a ten speed, I was going to order one from the Sears catalog, but my dad insisted that I talk to one of his co-workers who ran a little bike shop on the side. That was how I ended up with a Kabuki.
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Old 12-13-15, 12:13 PM
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If quintessential means different things to different people and within the timeframe of the '70s bike boom, I would have to call on my '72 Motobecane Mirage. As a 15yr old busboy in a small resort town, I thought I bad just purchased a true racer when compared to my '50something Royce Union 3speed. To me, that heavy laden, steel outfitted BSO was a gem though a study in conflicting componentry. Why combine alloy turkey levers and gorgeous high flange hubs with ***sigh*** steel wheels?? Nevermind. But the memories were worth every penny. I later went alloy wheels, disco'd stem shifters, turkey levers, kickstand etc, added downtube shifters and soon found myself in love with cycling.
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Old 12-13-15, 12:57 PM
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I initially chose "quintessentially" because the term, for me, invokes a "just one" limit. One bicycle that sums up the bike boom era... But, I find the posts educational, thought provoking, and fun. You can't always steer discussion groups to the topic, or back to the topic. Anyways, I like the ebb-and-flow of the typical discussions on the C&V board; that's a big attraction, for me, to the site.
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Old 12-16-15, 11:25 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
I had a Raleigh Record in the early 70s, but I'd say the Schwinn Varsity would have been the most common boom bike. Pug UO-8s were more common at the university.
I like that one, too. The Raleigh, I mean. Super Courses were popular, too. The timing of the fading of Schwinn probably had more to do with where you were. I was starting to see Peugeots and Raleighs during the summer of 1966, my last year at Scout camp. The senior counselors, all college guys who were still into Scouting, were riding them around.

Around '69-71, we were all getting "10-speeds." First, my mom, a Schwinn Super Sport with a step-through frame. Then my girlfriend at the time, a UO-8, white, of course. Followed by my Super Course, my sister's Mercier (a 200, I think), her boyfriend's Grand Prix, and there were a couple Raleigh Records in their crowd. We all envied the Mercier, which she had purchased at the Schwinn store. We had that early spectrum pretty well covered.

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Old 12-17-15, 07:04 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Pompiere View Post
Only the rich kids had Schwinns
Out of this thread, this concept has come up a bunch of times. It seems odd to me that Schwinn was THE bike to have- it was the bike to look up to. And now, except to a relatively small group of enthusiasts, Schwinns are regarded as scrap. For people that don't know any better think that ALL Schwinns are 40+ pounds. It really underscores how important and... pervasive Schwinn was to American bike culture and American culture as a whole.
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Old 12-17-15, 07:43 AM
  #41  
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In my area, all the rich kids rode Schwinn Stingrays..............until the Yamaha Motobike came out. Almost overnight the Stingrays disappeared. We lived in the city. I had a Huffy Scout 10 speed I got rid of to buy some department store motobike lookalike. Then my parents moved us out onto 100 acres in the middle of BFE rural Texas. I had land to ride on, but the 10 speed would have been a lot more useful for getting around on.
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Old 12-17-15, 07:45 AM
  #42  
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My family wasn't rich but certainly had aspirations (the primary reason why my parents had zero savings in retirement), and I remember well when my older brother got a Schwinn Varsity in the late 60s. It was a neighborhood game changer, an "English racer" that was so completely different than the sissy bar/banana seat bikes that the rest of us had. It seemed adult in so many ways--and our parents certainly did not ride bikes, so this was not just a game changer but a vision of our futures.
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Old 12-17-15, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Out of this thread, this concept has come up a bunch of times. It seems odd to me that Schwinn was THE bike to have- it was the bike to look up to. And now, except to a relatively small group of enthusiasts, Schwinns are regarded as scrap. For people that don't know any better think that ALL Schwinns are 40+ pounds. It really underscores how important and... pervasive Schwinn was to American bike culture and American culture as a whole.
I'm one of those people, and I can't tell you why that is the case. I'm 50, so I might have missed the glory days. I was not into cycling at all from about 13-18. I had to get a 10 speed to ride at 18 yrs old to rehab a knee injury. I bought one from Target. I rode it a lot in college. It might be because they made so many different models up and down the line. Same for Raleigh. There are 3 brands that I will never own. Schwinn, Raleigh and Peugeot. Again, I can't tell you why. I know they made some great bikes, but it doesn't matter. Make that 4 brands. I forgot to mention Trek. That might be because of their ties to Lance and Nike which are not really cycling related. Peugeot, it might be because most of the ones I see are either White or Black. Those are my least favorite colors for vehicles/modes of transportation. They also make cars so maybe I think they are like the GMC Denali bikes. Who knows?

Thinking about the 3 brands I think it stems from so many different models. Reusing the same name for a different level of bikes doesn't help either such as the RRA.

My rant is done.
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Old 12-17-15, 08:59 AM
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I rode this very bike (or rather the frame) in 1974 when I was a junior at Ohio State. It still has the Ohio State bicycle registration sticker on the seat tube. I built the bike up from the frame. I found the frame hanging in a bike shop in Upper Arlington, Columbus. I got a good deal on the frame and re-used parts from a PX-10 that I wrecked. The backup bike was a Schwinn Continental. In 1974, the Paramount had a 151 bcd Campagnolo 51/47 crankset, Suntour barcons, a Suntour RD, and rolled on Rigida clinchers laced to Campagnolo hubs. It had Cinelli handlebars and a Brooks B-17 saddle. Good times.

1973 Paramount P13 by galoot_loves_tools, on Flickr0

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Old 12-17-15, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Similar here. The rich kids moved from Schwinn Krates and Stingrays to Honda Trail 50s.
I forgot about the Honda QA50 with those little donut tires. At least 5 kids in my grade school neighborhood had one those.
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Old 12-17-15, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Silver Era? That intrigues me more than the question.
Agreed. What do you mean silver era? Isn't this the Golden Era? I consider the golden era to be something like 1965 to 1985... the early 1970s really being the heart of the golden era.

I would have to say the UO-8 even though I wasn't around then. There were so many in Canada and my mom had one when I was a kid. But in Vancouver it has to be the Apollo, something like a Sport 10.
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Old 12-17-15, 01:17 PM
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In this area it would have to be the mid level Sekines. They were assembled in Manitoba, from parts brought in from Japan, to get around high import duties. Those bikes were everywhere and many of them have survived. The paint in particular proved to be extremely durable.
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Old 12-17-15, 01:52 PM
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My parents' 1973 Atalas. Gas pipe + fancy chrome lugs + campagnolo + alloy rims + 73deg geometry.
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Old 12-17-15, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclotoine View Post
Agreed. What do you mean silver era? Isn't this the Golden Era? I consider the golden era to be something like 1965 to 1985... the early 1970s really being the heart of the golden era.
I explained in another post, but I'll repeat (aka try again). The US has experienced two bike boom periods (a boom being a period where the previous year's production of bikes is surpassed by the proceeding year): one was in the 1890's (sometimes referred to as the Golden Age Boom Era) and the one spanning the mid 1960's to approximately the mid 1970's (the Silver Age Boom Era).
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Old 12-17-15, 06:49 PM
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I have to go with my first 10-speed, a truly entry-level bike boom model from 1972. I got my next 10-speed in 1976, just missing the OP's window. Here's photo of what my Royce Union probably looked like. All the equipment matches up, but since this one is a 1971, I'm not 100% sure about the styling of the "Royce Union" logo.



More closeup photos in this link.
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