A 1965 Sears 3 Speed

Sears offered many bicycles over the years (all built by other manufacturers), but some of the best ones were those made by Puch/Steyr in Austria.  This 1965 model is very much like the one I rode in my youth over logging roads and along irrigation canals, picking up treasures on my way and loading them into its front basket.

While definitely a copy of the iconic Raleigh Sports bicycle, it also has its own certain charm.  The color scheme, with its black paint and cream accents (probably originally white), surprisingly classy head badge, and “windows” on the head lug make it especially appealing.

This is the bike as it came to me in its unrestored condition, except for a replacement Brooks saddle which I added for these photos.  The original saddle shipped had broken seat rails, and of course I planned to replace the saddle anyway.

This bike has a Sturmey Archer 3 speed AW hub, as opposed to the Puch/Steyr licensed copy found on other models.  You can barely see the “65” date code on the hub in the above photo.

The bike also has Weinmann brake calipers and a proper 3 piece cottered crank.  Other models often featured the cheaper and ugly Ashtabula one piece cranks.

I’ve always been puzzled by the odd “street sign” logo on the top tubes of these bikes.  Is it meant to indicate the way ahead?  The road less travelled? Or??  But, the seat tube logo is very attractive and evocative of the styles of the 1960’s.

The bike’s handlebars are equipped with Weinmann levers and are clamped with a one bolt stem that both tightens the bars and the expander on the steerer tube.

There are nice accents on the fork blades and full color matched fenders, with the rear painted white for visibility.

My biggest worry in restoring the bike is getting the hub in proper working order.  For these photos, and for initial assessment of the hub, I generously oiled it with some light weight lubricant.  Fortunately, the hub spins freely and may only need a flush to clean it, followed by some 30 weight automotive oil to keep it maintained.  The shifter did not perform properly, but these can be fiddly, and with the right cable tension can hopefully be brought back into working order.  If  I need to do a full on overhaul of the hub, I could attempt it myself (if I’m in the right frame of mind), or can send it out to Aaron’s Bicycle Repair in Seattle.  If I decide to do it myself, I’ll watch this video from RJ the Bike Guy, which will undoubtedly convince me to send it out…

I’m looking forward to enlisting this bike as my office errand machine.  It’s bound to offer a comfortable feel, and with the AW hub I should be able to get around on the minor hills in the neighborhood.  I’ll probably add a front basket or rear rack to make it more useful for lunch jaunts and local expeditions. Should be fun!

What to Do With a Benotto?

A few years back I wrote about a 1970’s Benotto that an acquaintance had entrusted into my care for safekeeping.  She finally decided to sell the bike to me, and now I’ve had a chance to disassemble the frame to begin the restoration process.

For a long time I wasn’t sure what model and year this Benotto was.  However, from the Campagnolo component group, with its helpful date codes, I was able to determine that this is a 1972 or 1973 model.  Meanwhile, over the years several enthusiasts have written to me, suggesting this is a 1972 Model 2500 and after looking at the few catalogs available online, I believe I agree.

This interesting lug design, beautifully chromed, has been used on much earlier models as well.

While this model doesn’t have the fancy cutouts in the bottom bracket shell, it is still nicely brazed, with chrome Campagnolo dropouts and fork ends.  It also has eyelets front and rear, adding to its utility.

I’ve been preparing the frame for some touch-up painting.  Fortunately, the areas of paint loss are minimal and pretty contained.  I also encountered a bit of rust on the fork and bottom bracket threads, so I also treated the frame with FrameSaver to prevent any further rust (after thorough cleaning of course).

As expected, the frame was built up with a full Campagnolo groupset.  The components are in very nice condition.  The above photo was taken before beginning the clean up and you can see that my job looks pretty easy.

The crankset (pictured before cleaning) is just a work of art!

The gearing is racing oriented, with a close ratio Regina 5 speed freewheel and 52/42 rings up front.  Likewise, the high-flange Campagnolo Record hubs laced to Fiamme tubular rims speak to this bike’s original function as a racing bike.  And therein lies my dilemma:  what to do with this fine old machine?  Tubulars are just not practical for most cyclists, so one thought I had was to re-lace the hubs to 700c period correct rims (I’ve got a nice NOS set of Mavic’s ready for this purpose).  Alternatively, I could replace the wheelset entirely.  However, I recently read an interesting article by Jobst Brandt about how to re-lace to a new rim without removing the spokes from the hub.  The process involves lining up the replacement rim’s “key hole” with the current rim, and, one-by-one, unlacing the spoke from the existing rim and lacing into the replacement.  Sounds interesting and even more Zen-like than regular wheel building!

Fortunately, this bike is blessed with rear spacing that will accommodate a 126mm hub.  I tried fitting one in and it floated up into the dropouts with no trouble at all, even though the spacing measures at 123.5mm.  That means that a 6 or even 7 speed freewheel is a possibility.  Likewise, clearance at the fork crown and rear brake was large enough to accommodate a 700c 32mm tire and fenders, based on a preliminary dry mount of an alternative wheelset.  So that makes for a lot of reinterpretation possibilities.

However, maybe this is a bike that should be left as is.  A new owner could decide on the tires and wheelset.  But, since my focus is on making vintage bikes accessible and rideable, I’m leaning toward something else, but I just don’t know what that is yet.  Any ideas are welcome!

 

Bottin du Cycle 1951: The French Cycling Directory

I love cycling print media from days gone by.  This bible-like tome, the Bottin du Cycle, is a French compendium of all things cycling related.  Its 1,296 pages attest to the booming cycling industry in France during the post-war era.

The front, back, side, spine, and even the edges of the pages are covered in advertising. This book was meant to promote the industry, and I think it must have succeeded.  The ads featured on the exterior of the catalog include Caminargent (Caminade), maker of extraordinarily lightweight octagonal aluminum frames; LAM, a brake manufacturer; Sonnclair, maker of cycling bells; Pryma, a saddle maker, and Philippe, handlebar manufacturer.  Even the supplied bookmarks contain ads:  Dissoplast, a maker of glue and patches for repairing flats, and another ad for Caminargent.

The first part of the directory is devoted to a listing of the phone numbers and addresses of all cycling related retailers and manufacturers of the era in Paris (the blue pages) and then in the rest of France, by region and city.  The print in this section is very small, so I had to employ my vintage magnifying glass to read the text.  In it I found the telephone numbers and addresses of the French builders of the day, including listings for Camille Daudon, Robert Ducheron, Alex Singer, Rene Herse, and many others whose bikes have survived the test of time.

There’s even a section on “Cyclomoteurs” – bicycles made to accommodate a small engine, usually 50cc.  This ad features a frame style by Veloto amazingly similar to some of today’s e-bike models, such as this one available at Portland’s Clever Cycles.

Here’s an ad for Cycles Metropole featuring a drawing by Rodolphe Rebour, Daniel’s brother.

The rest of the book is devoted to featuring the retailers and manufacturers, arranged by category.  Ads appear throughout the book, some of them in color for those who sprang for a higher ad budget, such as Tron and Berthet, shown above.  I couldn’t use a scanner due to the book’s girth, so I used my camera to photograph some of the more interesting pages.  Here’s a look, for your enjoyment:

VAR tools – the gold standard, still made today.

Gnutti hubs – a competitor to Campagnolo.

Mavic and Super Champion rims – both excellent choices for a build.

LAM brakes, featured on many higher-end bicycles.

A Perry coaster brake internal hub.

An innovative hub design – removal can be done sans freewheel.

Arc-En-Ciel (“rainbow”) – loopy frames and whimsical handlebar – I have never seen one of these but would love to.

J. Moyne freewheels – my Camille Daudon features one.

And, of course, the compendium would not be complete without an offering from Peugeot.  The above PH models from 1951 are some of the best of their model range from this era.

This directory will come in handy when I need to research component makers and builders, and is also just a fun bit of cycling history.