Around 10 pm as we were wressling the sleepless infink to bed, Elena suddenly remembers that she saw a bike encased in a curbside brushpile around the corner. Hot damn I says! I put the baby to bed and saddle up the big dummy with visions of that special Schwinn Typhoon or Raleigh sports curbfind, or, maybe, even better!

It is pouring rain, east coast style nightime soaking rain that we don't see much of. I head up the block, round the corner, up the block and spy yellow bicycle atop a stinky brushpile, clearly headed to the dump tomorrow. My heart quickens, I scan the bike. Stamped dropouts, stem shifters, crap, sears brand free spirit. I scan the bike again, pop it off the brushpile onto the dummy and ride on home. To quote my dad "Why, son, why?".

why, son, why?
10 pm rainy curb rescue!

Well let me tell you why pops!

Worth it for the reflectors alone, but check them crazy pinstripe fenders
Fabulous reflectors and pinstriped fenders

Super deco rear rack and faboo rear reflector to compliment the front
Deco rack and giant flector

Unbelievably craptastic chainrings and chain guard that might have actually had some design thought applied...
But is it art?

Excellent graphic design AND cheap repair inspiration, bonus points for using strapping tape on a bicycle, but not as a replacement for rim tape
Free spirit

Looking for unique color combos for your next custom frame? How bout yellow, offwhite with adobe accents, thank you 1978!,
Looking for the colors for your next custom?

So aside from excellent graphics and color inspiration I will most likely strip the frame and keep: The fenders and rear rack. The servicable diacomp brakes and touring levers. The pretty fresh looking rubber block pedals. The one piece crank and possibly save the small chainring for replacing the ridiculously large chainrings on stock schwinn one speeds. I will probably save the bars and stems for replacements for other similarly crappy yet functioning bikes. Seat post could be useful if free of corrosion for replacement. Saddle clamp hardware. I will definitely save all the reflectors for reflector festoonage upon winter bikes. If any of the plastic clips holding the cables to the braze-on-free frame are still functional I will keep them. I will keep any bolts that come out easily. They are not metric, but they might be useful for working on other similar bikes. This includes hub bolts washers and locknuts. This one is a shitty 10 speed, so derailers and shifters are probably complete junk, but I will look em over.

All of the above things are probably worth checking out on any bike. But if you find a sears/free spirit/montgomery ward type bike from this era please check these additional things before you pass it up:
Rear hub, often a SA three speed. Keep it. Occasionally bendix single speed or possibly kick back coaster brake. Keeeep!!!!
Chain guard? Keep it!!!! Hard to find good chainguards these days.
Metal clips holding cables on? Keep for use on better bikes with skinny tubes and no braze ons.
Any internal hub shifting stuff should be kept, cables housing and shifters!
Check to see if the saddle is remotely useable. If it is, and if it has saddlebag loops, it might be worth for putting on your rain/winter bike that you might need a saddlebag for.

The frames, rims, spokes are probably junk and will make their way to the transfer station as it was headed. I would probably never spend any money at a thrift store or garage sale on a bike like this, but if it is free and you can spend an hour or two stripping it down to the useful and not so, it is worth it. If it had a bendix two speed coaster hub, or a pre 1970 sturmey hub, I might actually pay a bit for it, but otherwise, just a fun project. Many of these bikes were 590 wheels, but those fenders will work for 650b and 559xskinny and might be shoehorned onto a 700c beater bike if you don't mind bending metal, so it is usually worth keeping a couple sets, just in case. That is, if you are me, and you have a bike dungeon or the like and you have a predilection for picking up half complete project bikes.

I would not really recommend keeping the frames on these for anything as the welding/brazing is crappy, and some of them look to be galvanized steel under the paint which means they are somewhat to very toxic for future torchwork, so careful.

Other donorcycles I have now stripped
Donor cycles
Thats two other searsish bikes, one with a SA hub, and a crappy peugot, bad frame, lots of useful french threaded bits for replacing parts on a older more desirable peugot! Go packrat me.


ALBERT said...

I saw that bike last weekend while walking the dogs. I contemplated snagging it, but the garage is already stuffed to the gills with bikes and parts. I'm glad you got it before it met it's end on top of the trash heap at the dump....

Tarik Saleh said...

I am not quite to the gill stuffed level, but close! I am heartened to see that we are of the same mind!

Anonymous said...

A couple of things. The chainring pattern (which I haves upon my Jamis Boss Cruiser) reminds me of the special olympics logo.
and next...you state you may use the chain ring on the scwhinn. consider that one speed and multi-speed rings'll be different tooth spacing. and a Cool rack to boot!

regards, J Eavey in chesapeake

Tarik Saleh said...

J Eavey,
It is a pretty funny pattern. The chainring are the same tooth spacing, it is just the width of the chainring that is different. You can run 1/8" single speed chain on derailer width chainrings no problem, just not vice-versa. These are probably about as wide as derailer chainrings come though... However, some one piece chainrings don't fit on other one piece cranks. I think I have three racks like this in the parts pile now.
thanks for reading


Marrock said...

I have a set of triangular white reflectors I got off a very rusty free spirit, about three inches to a side and I've yet to find something to hang them on, also glommed a front freewheel setup that's one day going on the frankenbeater just because it's weird.

Really wish someone would toss something with a Pletscher rack on it so I could snag it for my Moto of 70s vintage... fenders would be nice too.

Rombsy said...

My Free Spirit ($5 at a garage sale) is gaspipe but it's lugged, and it's a damn fine ride. See elsewhere on your flickr where I noted that 26 x 1 3/8 wheels are allegedly just a smidgen bigger'n 650B, and waaay cheaper for wheels & rubber.

Rock on.