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SEARS Austro-Daimler ESGE Austria Germany Bike?

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SEARS Austro-Daimler ESGE Austria Germany Bike?

Old 06-29-10, 07:43 PM
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SEARS Austro-Daimler ESGE Austria Germany Bike?

Hey there! I recently purchased an old ladies Sears 10 speed from the basement of a bike shop here in town. I knew nothing about it except that in its current condition it was lighter and faster than my current bike - a refurbished 1981 Schwinn Caliente - and that it was in decent ride-able condition right out of the store. I didn't care much about the components as I was planning on scrapping everything but the frame, but it has an interesting look - very European, for lack of a better adjective.

I took it home and did some research. It doesn't have any decals to indicate that it is a Sears Free Spirit (though it does look a lot like one), but the head badge is diamond-shaped and says "Sears-Roebuck, made in Austria." After removing the wheels, fenders, and basket, I found "Made in Germany" stamped into the frame. The oldest license stickers expired in 1976.

I know that Steyr-Daimler-Puch (or Austro-Daimler-Puch - what's the difference?) supplied bikes to Sears during this era and they slapped their J. C. Higgins brand stamp on them. I've also heard a lot of conflicting opinions regarding the quality and collectibility of these bikes. I've heard everything from "These bikes are great finds, some of them have 531 Reynolds frames" to "These bikes are complete crap, like the 1970's-equivalent of buying a bike from Walmart."

I'm definitely using the frame for a road bike project regardless of what I learn about it, but I would like to know more. I found this bike posted online which looks A LOT like mine, only mine is a ladies frame:

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedi...esge-74356280#

Here are a couple of pictures of mine:

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/_y1sxVge_2i.../my_bike_2.jpg
https://1.bp.blogspot.com/_y1sxVge_2i...00/my_bike.jpg

As far as I can tell, it's a steel frame - welded, not lugged - but very light, and when struck with a fingernail it makes a very clear "ting" sound. Any info on this bike would be much appreciated!
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Old 06-29-10, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by gypsy_hipster
its current condition it was lighter and faster than my current bike - a refurbished 1981 Schwinn Caliente - and that it was in decent ride-able condition right out of the store. I didn't care much about the components as I was planning on scrapping everything but the frame
i dont get it
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Old 06-29-10, 09:38 PM
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Made in Germany??, but weren't Austro Daimlers made in Austria??

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Old 06-29-10, 09:59 PM
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I have a circa 1969 Steyr Austrian made Sears 3-speed. The mounting plates for the kickstand and the rear brake and rack are marked ESGE and Made in Germany. I believe the Made in Germany refers only to the mounting plates, not the complete bike frame.
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Old 06-30-10, 06:38 AM
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^Right, ESGE was a German component manufacturer. I think they morphed into SKS.

The Austrian-made Sears bikes went through a long period of evolution, and from the photos you posted it's hard to say exactly where yours fits into that. But it seems to be a fairly late one. A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of working on a late 50's one, labeled JCHiggins on many parts but Styria (not Steyer) on many others. It was a really lovely bike, very well made. I would not dream of doing anything to update it.

Last edited by rhm; 06-30-10 at 07:33 AM. Reason: I removed some useless nonsense.
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Old 06-30-10, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
What is the hub on yours? If it's a three speed hub labled Sears Three Speed, Made in Austria, leave it alone.
It's an external derailleur.

It's hard to believe it's lighter than a Caliente, but who knows? Maybe it is. I had a bike like that, ladies frame, etc., fromabout 1970. I liked it a lot; had that Euro thing goin' on, but aside from that it was nothing special. Decent but not outstanding. I think those bikes in Europe would be roughly equivalent in standing to the Schwinns of the same era in the U.S.
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Old 06-30-10, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie
It's hard to believe it's lighter than a Caliente, but who knows?....
Those old Puchs were very nice, lugged frame, lightweight steel rims, compared to a Schwinn EF frame, forged fork and Schwinn steel rims, I'm not surprised.
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Old 06-30-10, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie
It's an external derailleur.
Doh!
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Old 06-30-10, 10:47 AM
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Thanks for clearing up the "Made in Germany/Made in Austria" confusion!

Cobrabyte: I'm saying that the Sears/Puch, in its current condition with all of its original parts, weighs less than my refurbished 1981 Schwinn Caliente. To be fair, I rebuilt the Schwinn into a cruiser/commuter bike and it has some pretty heavy components, but the Puch itself is also more of a "comfort" bike, and pound-for-pound, the Puch is lighter. I bought it for this very reason. I'm looking to build a road bike that resembles the vintage lightweights, but with actual (new) lightweight parts. It's going to be my primary bike for commuting, maybe even some touring. I would have loved to have bought a brand-new frame, but for what I'm willing to spend there just isn't a step-through frame with the look that I'm going for. I had also been looking at an old Peugeot mixte frame, but I was warned that these old French frames are harder to work on and find parts for. I'll have a lot of help when it comes to building this bike (I'm learning as I go!), but hopefully I won't run into the same problems with my Puch. Has anybody else tried working on one? RHM, do you have any advice?

Also, I had read on another forum that some of these old Puchs used Reynolds 531 tubing. How would I know if mine is one of them? I doubt I could have been so lucky.
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Old 06-30-10, 10:55 AM
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Some of the Austro Daimler/Puch's used 531. If yours is one of them it would likely have a "Reynolds 531" sticker on it somewhere, usually on the Seat Tube or the Fork blades.

I kinda doubt this is a 531 frame although that would be very cool.
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Old 06-30-10, 10:56 AM
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Oh, and PS! I forgot to mention that, upon closer inspection, it's a 7-speed -- though it had been tagged by the bike shop as a "J. C. Higgins 70's 10 speed."

Also, I found this picture on a bike blog that claims it's a Puch "Elegance." :

https://queenmargot.com/Puch_Elegance.jpg

When I did a google search for "Puch Elegance" I discovered that these bikes are still being made! I guess I didn't realize Puch still made bikes.
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