If you read this blog you know I've acquired several used bikes for personal use. I was talking to a guy at work and when the subject of my bicycle commuting came up, he said he had an old bike and asked if I wanted to buy it.
Last night I drove over to his house and looked at the bike. It turned out there were two. The first one is a 1960 Montgomery Ward Hawthorne, made by Hercules of England. This is the one that got me over there.
The original owner bought it when he was a paperboy; he's nearing retirement now. He hung onto the bike all these years but his wife told him he has to clean out his shop.
It's a handsome old cruiser, but far too small for me to use. I usually ride a 25" frame and do okay with 23" but this bike is a 20-incher. Basically it's too small for anyone over 5'-8". The good news is that the bike is largely intact, including fenders. The bad news is that the chain is missing and one of the crank arms is bent. So I guess that means I need to cruise swap meets for parts, unfortunately. This bike is fully restorable, but it will take some patience.
The other bike was thrown into the deal almost as an afterthought. It is in much better shape. It's a 1969 or 70 Sears bike, possibly an early Free Spirit, although the headbadge is missing so you can't tell. It could use new cables but it operates as is.
It has a Shimano Lark 5-speed derailleur in the rear and a single gear lever to operate it.
But that's not all; there is also a speed-activated gear changer in the hub.
The chain guard on the wheel has an adjustment for when the internal hub changes gears. It needs to be set before you start riding. When you get up to a certain speed, an overdrive gear kicks in automatically.
Anyway, I got both bikes for practically nothing. The Sears model should be easy to fix up and "flip" or sell it to someone else. A similar bike with only 3 speeds is no the local Craigslist right now with an asking price of over $100 (not that it's selling at that price necessarily).
The Hawthorne Hercules is more of a project. When I posted about the bikes on BikeForums, though, the Herc drew a lot more attention, so maybe it will be effort well spent if I can get it fixed up.