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Junk or gem

Old 12-11-16, 02:48 PM
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Junk or gem

I am looking for a friend that has a Vintage 1968 Sears bicycle. There is a number stamped on the crank housing. 505 451212
Any info would be appreciated.
Thank you
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Old 12-11-16, 03:21 PM
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Sears sold Millions of Bicycles. You will need pics for any informative evaluation.

Welcome to the Forum.
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Old 12-11-16, 03:26 PM
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Most of the department store bikes (Sears, Wards, etc) are pretty low quality bikes.

However, they can be fun "project" bikes. And, some are well preserved after decades. They also make excellent town bikes and commuter bikes.

Don't expect a high valued bike. $100 range in good condition for many bikes.

As Wileyone said, a picture is worth a thousand words.
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Old 12-11-16, 03:27 PM
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Agreed, more information is necessary.

Department store bikes have a bad reputation in general, but the 1960's were a good era for them, and some of the Sears ones were really quite decent.

Still... photos are needed!
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Old 12-11-16, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone
Sears sold Millions of Bicycles. You will need pics for any informative evaluation.

Welcome to the Forum.
Thank you. I have a pic. I'll have to figure out how to upload it
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Old 12-11-16, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Vinsears68
Thank you. I have a pic. I'll have to figure out how to upload it
Set the photo to a reasonable size JPG (< 1000 x 1000 pixels).

Go to the advanced editor and click on the paper clip icon.
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Old 12-11-16, 03:48 PM
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I believe that that serial number indicates that it was manufactured by Murray.
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Old 12-11-16, 03:49 PM
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I think Sears sold bikes from Austria (re-branded Puchs? ), back in the 60's/70's.
I don't think they were anything special, but I guess decent enough bikes, not junk...
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Old 12-11-16, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi
I think Sears sold bikes from Austria (re-branded Puchs? ), back in the 60's/70's.
I don't think they were anything special, but I guess decent enough bikes, not junk...
I have a Steyr Clubman (or what is left of it after I attacked it). I'm not sure if that was a Sears brand... I don't remember seeing any "Sears" mark on it.

Interesting lugged frame. But, definitely cheaply made. High-Ten steel, Claw derailleur hanger, plastic Simplex bits, Lugs were apparently tack welded, then brazed (I think). Cotters... Steel Wheels.

It was in pretty rough shape when I got it, and became a parts donor for my first cargo bike project. But, there is just nothing too special about it.

Many later department store bikes actually identified the store, or were a specific "house brand".
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Old 12-11-16, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi
I think Sears sold bikes from Austria (re-branded Puchs? ), back in the 60's/70's.
I don't think they were anything special, but I guess decent enough bikes, not junk...
From the 1973 catalog--bottom left corner:

TedWilliamsFreeSpirit
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Old 12-11-16, 05:13 PM
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While not all Sears "Free Spirit" bikes are junk, I don't think any of them would actually qualify as gems, either. The best of them are the Austrian-built "Ted Williams" frames, using Reynolds 531 tubing and decent mid-level components. The brazing on those frames was decidedly indifferent, but they rode nicely and weren't too heavy.
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Old 12-11-16, 05:46 PM
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While not dissenting from any of the above, the potential buyer should recognize that the (baseball player) Ted Williams had an endorsement deal with Sears that put his name on a wide variety of sporting goods, not all of which Ted had actual used in his professional career. This included basket balls, ping pong balls, pogo sticks, I don't know, all kinds of stuff. Some of the bicycles were 531. Most were not. Caveat emptor.
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Old 12-11-16, 06:10 PM
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You're gonna have to be pretty lucky to find a decent Sears bike. Only about 1 in 1000 were even half way decent. Most were just heavy junk. However - with some psychedelic paint, they do make nice lawn ornaments
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Old 12-11-16, 10:33 PM
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This is the pic of the bike in question. It has normal wear and tear. But all in all to me the bike looks great for the age.
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File Type: jpg
IMG_20161211_170229.jpg (99.2 KB, 251 views)
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Old 12-11-16, 10:40 PM
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26" tires, pretty basic bike, coaster brake. It would get you around in the flat, but you wouldn't want to climb any hills.
guess, built by Murray.
You could hunt the Wish Book for it here - 1968 Sears Wishbook

It looks like the Spaceliner Midweight, but with the tank and rack removed - it would have a collector's value if it had them.
(this was actually my first bike, when I was 7 and it was too big for me
- my next bike was the purple 5-speed The Rail, and I rode it all over north San Antonio hills)

Last edited by bulldog1935; 12-12-16 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 12-11-16, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
While not dissenting from any of the above, the potential buyer should recognize that the (baseball player) Ted Williams had an endorsement deal with Sears that put his name on a wide variety of sporting goods, not all of which Ted had actual used in his professional career. This included basket balls, ping pong balls, pogo sticks, I don't know, all kinds of stuff. Some of the bicycles were 531. Most were not. Caveat emptor.
Ted Williams had a lever action 30/30 Winchester as well! (or was it a Marlin? - i forget ) -- probably never shot one
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Old 12-12-16, 06:24 AM
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Perfectly functional bikes, but lacking collectible cache.
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Old 12-12-16, 07:05 AM
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That thing looks really great. You could probably snag about $50 for it. Weld a pipe on it. Stick it in the front yard. Put a basket full of planted flowers over the front wheel. Spray it purple. Wa - La ! Nice yard art. Be good. Have fun.
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Old 12-12-16, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by oddjob2
Perfectly functional bikes, but lacking collectible cache.
When working at the bike exchange (co-op) they save the three speeds for me. Apparently no one else understands them (lame, huh?) So when I go in, there's always a few for me to go over. The Austrian made Sears three speeds are fully on the quality level of a Raleigh Sports, in my opinion. The chrome is thick, the paint is tough, and a lot of the fittings are durable forged and machined steel, not just stamped from sheet metal.

The thing about Sears bikes is that each model may have had a different source. The three speeds and the ten speeds may have come from completely different factories, maybe even different countries. One might be excellent, the other junk.
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Old 12-12-16, 07:18 AM
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That very model Sears Roebuck bicycle was my first bike, August 1962. My dad went to a timber holding and rail siding site, for his employer, up in central Georgia, he went through Atlanta and picked it up at their distribution warehouse.

It was a total surprise to me when he got home to Pensacola and wheeled it in the house. Lots if nice warm memories about that bike, J.C. Higgins labeled them in both S-R, and their own name as well. It was stolen on 1964, stripped and the frame was bent and dented beyond use, I was heart broken. Damn thieves.

Ted Williams labeled items were supposed to be Sears top of the line outdoors products, as said above it was an endorsement deal. Thumper was a big sportsman, fly fishing, hunting and other aspects were his passion once he retired from the BoSox. Pretty fair fighter pilot for the USMC too.

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Old 12-12-16, 07:36 AM
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Is this, that bike on the bottom left?

Bicycles


Originally Posted by nlerner
From the 1973 catalog--bottom left corner:

TedWilliamsFreeSpirit
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Old 12-12-16, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
I have a Steyr Clubman (or what is left of it after I attacked it). I'm not sure if that was a Sears brand... I don't remember seeing any "Sears" mark on it.

Interesting lugged frame. But, definitely cheaply made. High-Ten steel, Claw derailleur hanger, plastic Simplex bits, Lugs were apparently tack welded, then brazed (I think). Cotters... Steel Wheels.

It was in pretty rough shape when I got it, and became a parts donor for my first cargo bike project. But, there is just nothing too special about it.

Many later department store bikes actually identified the store, or were a specific "house brand".

Some of the bikes that Sears sold were made in Austria. That doesn't mean that all bikes made in Austria were sold by Sears. There is no connection between the Steyr Clubman and Sears. They were sold in bike shops and their primary completion for sales was the Schwinn Varsity.
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Old 12-12-16, 09:39 AM
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weird thread
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Old 12-12-16, 12:32 PM
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Sears catalogs of the later 1950's depicting 'lightweights' are described as made in France, England and Austria. Kind of funny as I would imagine for a consumer it was a crapshoot ordering one of these bikes from Sears. This was the JC Higgins labeled era. I have a nice complete set of original paperwork, receipt, owners instructions, factory tag in german - Sears Roebuck dated 1957.

Interesting to note, there was a stigma associated with products coming from Austria and especially associated with Steyr. Today's generation has no clue about those years. Much of WWII was still fresh in the minds of many. Sears marketing recognized some of this and the small 'made in Austria' on the headbadge a bit later years was removed. This was done at Sears stores during final assembly. I've seen a few of them.

Later came the Ted Williams branded sporting good's line that replaced JC Higgins. But also the marketing people came up with 'Free Spirit' emphasized for the bicycle line-up. A free America and patriotic agenda to it including the red white and blue color schemes.
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Old 12-12-16, 01:15 PM
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Ah the old Sears marketing of 'good' 'better' and 'best'.

Some random pics. The iconic company has been painfully dying so maybe in fifty years and Sears is long gone, just maybe will they be recognized by collectors. LOL

[IMG]sears-ted-williams-sport-racer a by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]sears-ted-williams-sport-racer b by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]sears-ted-williams-sport-racer-01 by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]sears ted williams with campagnolo by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]Sears Ted Williams with Campagnolo shift group by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]sears ted williams bike by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]Steyr Clubman same as Sears Roebuck brand labels JC Higgins and Ted Williams by carrera247, on Flickr[/IMG]
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