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Friday, December 17, 2010

Bike Crazy

When April and I decided to move in to a fresh new apartment for our cohabitation experiment in April, we decided to "whittle down" our fleet of bicycles. This was a "crucial" "sacrifice" since the apartment is small and neither of us wanted to store bikes outside, etc. I was up to three (aughts Surly Long Haul Trucker, 70's Univega Safari road bike converted to 3-speed with large Wald basket, and a 70's Centurion Super Le Mans road bike converted to single-speed.) April was up to three as well. April decided to give up her beloved Carabella mixte since she cannibalized it to make her Miyata 210 workable. I opted to sell the Univega since I barely used the unwieldy beast since I built up the Centurion. 

So we were down to two each. And that lasted until November.

First to break was April, who found a sweet 90's Novarra Randonee that was a better fit, size-wise, than the Miyata.

And then, through the magic of Craigslist, I found this baby:
A Worksman Cycle Truck! I've been fascinated by these bikes since the first time I saw one on Hawthorne many years ago. It's the original, American "cargo" bike that has been in production since before World War II. The design and concept hasn't changed: a heavy duty cruiser style frame, with a 26" rear wheel. The basket sits on a platform connected to the frame, not front fork, so the front wheel can move independently of the basket and the basket can hold more weight (up to 150 pounds, so I've been told!) The front wheel is only 20" with motorcycle-gauge spokes, so there's more room for the front basket. These are the same bikes seen delivering pizzas around New York City (with a specialized pizza rack in front instead of the basket.)

Schwinn made a highly-collectible version of the Cycle Truck from approx. 1938-68, as did some other American (and British!) bicycle makers. Worksman is the only American company* that has been making them continuously since the Interwar years. You can go to their website and buy a brand new one, the design the same as it always has. Worksman doesn't have the cache that Schwinn does, but that means their cycle truck is cheaper to find used.

And what a bike it is! It can definitely handle a good load in the front. It is not a light and nimble bike by any means (this won't become my regular commuter any time soon), but it's a cargo bike! It doesn't have to be! And it's a bit better at climbing hills due to the time and generosity of Roger Noehren, who installed a 3-speed coaster brake wheel on the rear (the base model is only a single-speed coaster brake. A front drum (hub) brake is another add-on option that I will pursue.) I've always wanted a cargo bike, and this is the most inexpensive option besides an Xtracycle conversion.

To test out its awesomeness, April and I mad a pilgrimage to the big box store one goes to when you need to furnish your apartment: IKEA. The bike loaded up well, and didn't do too shabby on the long hill on the I-205 bike path between Maywood Park and Gateway.

(The Cycle Truck is also useful for carrying April around if I need to.)

And because I'm insane, I decided to get YET ANOTHER BIKE (yes, this brings the count up to four!) I found this Raleigh Wayfarer on Ye Olde Craigslist for a sweet $30:

It's a classic British 3-speed, and I've been looking for an affordable one for a while. The Raleigh Sports is the most common model found, but the Wayfarer is a rarity. In fact, internet info is scant (yes, I've looked at Sheldon Brown) and my British bike expert friends are scratching their heads. We're guessing that it's an early '70's vintage, the last gasp of the classic three-speed before the 10-speed replaced it in our collective hearts and minds.

It's definitely a "project bike" that will take some restoration effort. The bike is remedially rideable right now, but the hub needs work, cables/housing replaced, tires replaced, paint touched up, etc. (And that hideous 70's white saddle is out!) But once it's done, it'll be a fun addition to the stable.

(The herons! The herons!)

(The Sturmey-Archer! The Sturmey-Archer!)

Now I just have to find time to ride all these bikes, let alone where to put them all...

*Portland framebuilder Joseph Ahearne has been making a new Cycle Truck since 2009 that is a more modern update on the Schwinn/Worksman design.

UPDATE 30 NOVEMBER 2011: Besides the Civia Halsted cycle truck, local framebuilder Huckleberry has their own version of a cycle truck.


  1. Cool vintage bikes!

    Looks like you have a similar vintage-bicycle-collecting-ailment as myself.

    Check out the 3-Speed Canadian Tire Supercycle rear hub shifter (no Sturmey-Archer though) in near mint condition and Norco Eliminator Tourister I picked up for free at a garage sale:

    Not sure how old they are.

    Fortunately I have a two-car garage and only one car (the rest reserved for bicycles and bike accessories :-)

    Keep us updated on the restoration work and experience riding them.

  2. Thanks, Voyageur!
    I like the Canadian Tire Supercycle! Nice lugwork, which is something of a rarity on department/chain store bicycles. Wonder who Canadian Tire got to build their bikes?
    As for the 3-Speed, it looks like it could be a Shimano hub, as it has the same mechanism on the Shimano hub on the Cycletruck.

    And I love the headbadge on the Norco.

    I'll keep you posted on the Wayfarer. Should be an update soon...


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