A “Cool ” Vintage Bike That Actually Really Sucked Bad: Sears Free Spirit
In July of 2008, after about six months of being back in the bicycle game, I found this bike on my local Craigslist:
Sixty bucks! What a deal, I thought. A cool vintage, single speed cruiser style bike made by Sears. What could be more cool or American than Sears? With a Mesinger saddle…
..and a vintage 1970′s Shimano hub…….
and a sort of spare, elegant look…..
…and a cool name like “Free Spirit”?
I emailed my friend, D. from MPLS, and excitedly told him about my bike. How about that cool 70′s color? He said, basically, that those bikes suck. Poorly made. Spot-welded. Et cetera. I thought, well, we’ll see.
A bit of research led me to the discovery that Sears never made a single bicycle. They had bicycles manufactured for them by sub-contractors. Some of the contractors made good bikes, but most didn’t. Like mine, made by Murray in 1974. I mean, just go back to the photo of that Shimano hub. Is the bike frame made of plumbing pipe with a wheel drop-out just shoved into it with some machine?
The first time that I ever rode it was to a bar in my neighborhood, maybe 1.25 miles from my house. On the return trip, my back hurt worse than it ever had on any bike ride. I actually have kind of a bad back from fracturing it it in both motorcycle and automobile accidents, but it had never hurt me on any bicycle ride. In fact, I had at that time developed a pretty good amount of bicycle stamina.
So I sold the bike, “as is”, to a nice guy that was excited about buying it. Now, my lower back is kind of like my “canary in a coal mine” for good bike design. If my back ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Michael W. Hubbard
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Tags: Sears Free Spirit