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A quarter-century on my wife's Higgins 3-speed ...(10 posts)

A quarter-century on my wife's Higgins 3-speed ...Humma Hah
Jun 18, 2001 4:30 PM
The cruiser pulled up lame on Monday. It came home OK, but the coasterbrake was slipping. I expected this, and had parts on order, but the parts arrived in San Diego after I moved, and it will take a few days to get them here.

So, Sunday, I started working on my wife's old Higgins, an AAU Estate sold by Monkey Wards. The paint and chrome are in great shape, the bike has been kept indoors, but, face it, its a brown ladies bike with cruiser bars and a Shimano 3-speed hub.

She was complaining that the hub was dropping out of gear. I test rode it. Basically, it had become a singlespeed, stuck in 2nd with occasional drops to low. A little oil and adjustment returned it to a 3-speed. Then I found out the rear brake wasn't working. Replaced the cable and that made the rear brake howl like a wounded seagull. Toed in the pads and it shut up. The bike is now basically working.

So I took it on a little test ride today, one of my standard runs, 23 miles, down the Prince William Parkway bikepath and back. Li'l brown bike did OK. Skinny tires, plenty of air in them, and the sucker's got long legs. In fact, high gear is too tall. There's no speedo on the bike, but on slopes where the cruiser hits 35, I was not spun out in top gear. Heck, I wasn't even hitting 80 RPM cadence! I'm gonna find my woman a larger rear sprocket: no way could she get any use out of the top gear, but I know she'd like a lower climbing gear.

The bike finished the route about 5 minutes better than my best time on the cruiser, in spite of an outbound headwind, a stop to adjust the brakes, and not trying all that hard.

I started out with no respect for it. I ended up thinking this may be my rainy-day bike: the fenders are in fine shape.
You are a better man than I Humma Hah......STEELYeyed
Jun 18, 2001 9:28 PM
Your legs must be made of iron to ride those heavy old horses,I am getting my mid 70's Free Spirit 10 speed back on the road,not really for any serious mileage,but riding it brings back memories of more carefree days,the thing must weigh 40lbs.. Was not the JC Higgins line sold by Sears&Sawbuck?
One more thing my mom gave away...cory
Jun 18, 2001 10:19 PM
I was thinking about that the other day--everything from the Log Cabin syrup cans to the FULL SET (!) of Sports Car Graphic and pre-1970 Car and Driver magazines to all the old bikes, including a single-speed lightweight Raleigh (pink!) from about 1955 and a couple of old three-speeds that I wish I had today. And the '49 Chevy coupe...and the '55 Bel Air I sold for $250 when I went into the Army...and the '62 Impala wagon, 14,000 miles on it in 1984, that I GAVE AWAY when Grandma died. Man, if we'd all kept that stuff...
... the Spiderman comic books, starting with issue #8 ...Humma Hah
Jun 19, 2001 6:30 AM
... that she tossed out the minute I left for college (bawl-sob).

We used to live in a 20-room 3-story house full of junk. She downsized to an 8-room house ten years ago, and we just moved her into a single room in a retirement home. I'm off today to pick up one great piece of furniture (200+ year old bombe chest-on-chest), most of the rest has been sold off or thrown out.

We just gave a pile of Dad's WWII stuff to a museum.

Paybacks are heck.
I can't begin to imagine...Kristin
Jun 19, 2001 6:40 AM
what you could do with a light, slender road bike!! Have you ever gotten on one??
I tried a track bike last summer ...Humma Hah
Jun 19, 2001 7:03 AM
... two of them, actually. A Shimano and a Schwinn Madison. Neither was all that light, but definitely much lighter and at least somewhat faster than the Schwinn.

Neither bike ever really fit me well, and I might do better with the right fit. Being track bikes, neither had a cyclocomputer, so I couldn't tell you how fast they were, definitely quicker than the cruiser (which I've also run on the velodrome). Riding against several serious roadies who were also taking the class, I could sprint with them about half a lap and then faded badly.

I'm really not some kind of superhuman for riding the cruiser. My legs have some of the characteristics of the serious trackies, but the pros quads make mine look positively wimpy. But my VO2 max is evidently well below that needed for serious racing. My endurance is OK, I could probably do double-centuries on a roadbike, but not the sort of ultra-endurance stuff Doug Sloan is attempting.
re: A quarter-century on my wife's Higgins 3-speed ...Bart S.
Jun 19, 2001 7:13 AM
Brings back fond memories. My first bike was a J. C. Higgins that my father got for me at Sears around 1954. Bike was bright orange, single speed, big balloon tires. Had it for many years of curb jumping - was indestructable.
the huffy SS cruiser & me & the midnight fun run this weekendHaiku d'état
Jun 19, 2001 7:46 AM
trimmed the fat off that $30 SS coaster-brake cruiser last week by removing the chain guard, kickstand and reflectors. took a dremel and some sandpaper and carved off the majority of surface rust, then touched up the bare metal with auto primer (gray). aired up the tires (the front wouldn't take any, so i left it squishy and hoped it wouldn't go flat). affixed my blinkie light and "Jeff" license plate to the rear. added an el-cheapo cyclometer for fun. saturday night removed the front wheel (and those little clips that keep the wheel mounted on the fork if the nuts come a-loose) and put the whole contraption on my roof rack, headed for the midnight fun ride (benefitting a local charity).

dressed in an old black flag t-shirt and olive cargo shorts, the latter having lost more than one battle with beige house paint. the shorts were long enough to hide my lycra underneath. :-) old gloves, white tube socks and nike trail running shoes covered in roofing tar from the '99 backyard shed build. hydration pack with a large monkey wrench and socket driver jutting out of the side.

1100 people at the start of this thing, kicked off in waves every 45-60 seconds. for the 15 minutes prior, i sat on the curb amidst titanium and expensive aluminum and snotty riders giving me the evil eye and that "elitist" grin. i started DFL about 5 minutes after the first wave. passed the same number of folks on overpasses and a few small grades as i did on the flats. it's most fun spinning a $30 SS up an incline and passing guys on $3k bikes.

of course, i didn't catch the lead pack, but i did finish in just 72 minutes, and passed quite a few nice bikes, including colnagos (the horror!), and really seemed to irritate some folks by passing them on my led sled (39 pounds) with seat with creaky springs that could be heard from 20 yards back as it approached and passed on the left. if they missed the groaning springs, they would have certainly noticed me whistling as i passed. i heard "oh, no you don't", "hey, don't let that guy on the cruiser past", and (my favorite), "what the?!?" granted, i was only blowing through a field of weekend warriors, since my modest 14.7 mph average pace was not enough to catch those with more than a few hundred miles in for the year. fun, nonetheless.

also had the chance to (loosely) tag onto a few pacelines and provide a draft or two myself. made it a point to indicate to those on my wheel that they were being pulled along by an aging huffy with one gear and a coaster brake. one guy said "on any other ride that might be a problem, but a magical night."

my maximum speed was 32.4 MPH. this made me realize that we need a halloween event where unique bikes and riders dressed in imaginative getups would be welcomed. DOH!
Sounds like Midnight Madness ...Humma Hah
Jun 19, 2001 7:12 PM
... a run I did on mine in San Diego last fall. Midnight fun-runs are a great forum for cruisers.

Midnight Madness encourages costumes and crazy rigs. Mine was actually pretty tame -- I affixed a large cardboard stovepipe hat to my helmet, goes with my Abe Lincoln beard. I belive I was the first rider in costume to cross the finish line, the hat squashed out of shape by aerodynamic forces. Really was draggy on the downhills.

I ran 20 miles in an even 1 hr 20 minutes, pretty brisk for that bike in an urban setting. The first 5 miles, I used the generator for lights, but wussed out when the guys I was riding with pulled ahead. On batteries, I stopped losing, and was only 5 minutes back at the finish.

In my case, the most gratifying bikes to pass were the guys on roadbikes wearing USPS jerseys or, worse yet, yellow jerseys. The bike with the Spinergy wheels was gratifying, too.

I don't wanna know about the 200 or so bikes that finished ahead of me, and never mind that many of the 2000 or so behind me were in clown costumes, pulling trailers with generators and stereo rigs, riding tandems decked out as parade floats ...
most of the tandems i've ridden with were blazingly fast, but...Haiku d'état
Jun 20, 2001 6:58 AM
i've never had the pleasure to ride with anyone's rig gussied-up like a parade float. now, THAT'S an idea for next year...clown costumes have always (1) scared me, and (2) seemed awfully silly, even considering the application. now, what was that commercial with the guy on the cruiser/3-speed in a frog outfit? that would ROCK!