My bike is a 14 speed 1992 Japanese made PDG Series 5 bike with “Paramount Precision Butted” Oversized (OS) Tange chromoly tubes. The tubes are joined by lugs. It has Shimano 105 derailleurs, brakes and hubs, with Mavic Reflex SUP alloy rims and DT Swiss stainless steel spokes. The handlebar stem is PDG 4130 Chromoly. It has Serfas Neu-Gel seat which I don’t think is original. It is in very good cosmetic and working condition. It looks like it has always been stored inside. I purchased it on 9-6-08 for $50 at a San Carlos area of San Diego garage sale. With a seat tube height of about 24.5″ it is way too big for me. The prior owner was 6’2″ with long legs. For the price, I could not pass it up, however. It is described at pages 19, 20 and 24 of the 1992 Schwinn Catalog at www.trfindley.com. The color is “white with purple slime” which many people dislike, but which I think is sort of cool. There is a discussion of the PDG Series at www.bikeforums.net.
The size is 22.5 inches. Condition is fair. There are two dents in the top tube. One is on top and looks like it is from some point impact. The other is below that and larger. I think it is likely is the same thing caused both dents. I don’t know how a crash could create dents like that. Perhaps something fell on it instead. It has a amateur re-paint job that looks like it was brushed on. There is rust around the brazed on rear brake cable guides on the top tube. There could be other rust under the new paint elsewhere on the frame. It rides well. The frame appears straight and rides fine with no hands (although I don’t ride well with no hands). The chain appears to skip slightly with each turn. My guess is the chain and rear deraileur might not be matched correctly creating too much slack in the chain. Also, the chain may be worn. It appears to have a replacement plate on the bottom of the bottom bracket that replaced the original derailleur cable guide. The pedals are missing the toe clips which would have originally come with the bike. Also, it looks like the edges on the pedals have been purposely bent perhaps to make it easier to ride with regular shoes. It came without a front tire. I put on a 700 x 32 tire on. That’s quite wide for this bike, but I had gotten it on sale at REI a couple of years earlier. I only paid $25 for the bike on 7-22-09 from an ad on Craigslist. I picked it up from the seller’s grandparents in the Fletcher Hills area of El Cajon, CA.
The main tubes of my bike are made of Alcoa 6061-T8 Aluminum. The tubes are joined by thermal bonding instead of being welded as most joints are today. The rear triangle is steel. Aluminum is about a third the mass of the same volume of steel. In other words Aluminum is about a third the density of steel. Steel in general terms is about two to three times stronger. Things are actually more complicated than that, but in general you can make a somewhat lighter bike out of Aluminum than steel. The longevity of Aluminum is not as clear as with steel. Aluminum will fail after repeated flexing. Also, damage to an Aluminum bike frame is difficult to economically repair. Poorly made, cheap bikes can be made out of either material. What frame material to use is a complex issue and is only one of many factors in bicycle design. While choice of frame material is a hotly debated issue, clearly nice bicycles can be made out of steel, Aluminum, Titanium or Carbon fiber. (See Sheldon Brown – Frame Materials, Waltworks – Steel Rules, Aluminum vs. Carbon vs. Tituanium, Horwitz, Building Your Own Recumbent Trike, Chapter 1, Choosing the Materials, Schlitter, Steel and Aluminum Bicycle Frames, RANS Bikes.)
The Raleigh Technium Tri-Lite is discussed at several sites. Raleigh Technium? – Bike Forums, Raliegh Technium ID? – Bike Forums, Raleigh Technium 440 – Bike Forums, Retro Raleighs Models. The last site gives at date of 1988. An August 1987 Money Magazine article (McNatt, “In Search of the Perfect Bike”) describes the Tri-Lite as an excellent $450 (about $825 in 2007 dollars) entry level racer. It is a twelve speed with Suntour Alpha 5000 index deraileurs. Other components include Saeka SX crank set with 52 and 40 chain rings and sealed bottom bracket, Dia-Compe Alpha 5000 brakes, Road Champion Saeke Custom handlebars (England), Sansin sealed rear hub with Araya alloy rear rim, Maillard front hub (France) with alloy rims (label came off – brand unknown), Michelin Tracer 700 x 25c tires, and Cyclepro “Titanium” seat. The bike is in generally good condition. Either the front or back wheel must have been replaced since the wheels do not match. It shifts fine although the front shift lever is stiff. A unique feature is handlebar tape with little skulls. Not my choice! Purchased for $60 on 11-4-07 in the Serra Mesa area of San Diego from an ad on Craigslist.
Photos: brake, head set, joinder of rear tringle with seat tube, at nearby lake in evening
Nishiki bikes were made by the Japanese company Kawamura and imported to the United States by West Coast Cycles according to a discussion at bikeformums.net (bottom entry). John E. in another bicycleforums.net discussion indicates Nishiki started off as American Eagle in the early 1970s with two models, the Custom Sport (roughly $80) and the Semi-Pro ($150). By 1973 Kawamura changed the name to Nishiki and added two intermediate models the Olympic and the Kokusai (International). The mixte tube model of the Custom Sport came later, e.g. 1975. (See also Sheldon Brown, Japanese Bicycles in the U.S. and Yahoo Answers Canada – History of Nishiki International.) The Sheldon Brown site states Nishiki later became part of Derby along with Raleigh and Univega. The Nishiki and Univega brands were retired in 2001. See also A Nishiki History. While researching bicycle company history, it becomes apparent that bicycles are big business with intriguing corporate histories and boom and bust cycles. Interesting histories of Raleigh include Raleigh in the Last Quarter of the 20th Century, bonthronebikes.com and Raleigh Bicycle History.
Exactly what VALite tubing is appears unclear. A bikeforums.net discussion states: “Fuji Valite is a proprietary chrome-vanadium steel tubing.” (See also oldroads.com.) I assume the VA is short for Vanadium. Vanadium is a metallic element, symbol V, atomic no. 24. Chromium (Cr) is also a metallic element, atomic no. 25. Just below chromium on the periodic table is the metallic element Molybdenum (Mo), atomic number 42. All of these appear to be used in steel to strengthen it. Vanadium is also used in Aluminum frames. Todd Downs in Bicycle Maintenance & Repair page 22-23 (5th ed. Rodale 2005) describes VALite simply as a high carbon steel. A portion of a discussion on bikeforums.net from fbagatelleblack states:
The quad-butted Valite tubing was a seamed tubeset made for Fuji by Ishiwata. Ishiwata marketed it as EXO-V. It was a manganese-moly steel alloy (similar to R531, if I remember right), and many consider it to be the first “decent” tubeset to come out of Japan at a price sustainable by the mass market.
Here is a link to an old Ishiwata catalog shot showing the tube specs:
A post at roadbikereview.com by fbagatelleblack again states:
“The EXO-V is Ishiwata’s house-brandname for Valite. They were pioneers in producing high quality seamed tubing, both cro-moly and cro-vandium [Vanadium]. They were able to take advantage of the greatly improved potential for creating varied wall-thickness in seamed tubing vs. seamless. . . .[V]alite was chrome vandium [Vanadium].
Because the tubing was seamed, Ishiwata could (more or less) contour the wall thickness any way they wanted to. They could put it lots of different butts, with nice tapered transitions between the different wall thickness sections to minimize stress risers. Once they tooled up, they could just roll out the steel in sheets with the right thickness profiles, bend the sheet over a mandrel, and weld them together at the seam.
T-Mar in a www.bikeforums.net discussion states:
VaLite was reportedly a vanadium steel alloy. It was stronger than hi-tensile but not as strong as chromium molybdenum. It is commonly found on upper entry level and lower mid-range Fuji from the early 1980s. In order to control costs, lower models would often employ Valite main tubes with hi-tensile stays and/or forks, while the better models would often have VaLite forks and/or stays paired with a CrMo main triangle. Forum member Beaverstuff has reported VaLite frame with Ishiwata steerer, so these tubesets appear to have been made by Ishiwata for Fuji.
Maynard Hershon Thoughts describes the history of Fuji Bicycles in the United States and describes VALite tubing as “the first highly developed tubeset for mid-price bicycles.”
The frame tubes are quad butted which is a sign of high quality. Double butted tubes have thicker tube walls at the ends with the middle thinner. A quad butted tube might be thick, thin, thick again, thin, thick. (See, e.g., Frame Materials.) The advertised weight of 24.2 pounds and quad butting indicates it is at least a reasonably high quality frame. Sheldon Brown indicates that Fuji beginning in 1971 was the first Japanese company to enter the United States bike market. He states: “The Del Rey was an excellent sport-touring bike.” Classic Rendezvous has a Fuji page. When I lived in Boise in 1984-1985 I remember seriously considering buying a Fuji del Rey very similar to the one at the Marcus Wandel site. (That site also has a lot of interesting computer history information.)
My bike is in excellent condition. Very few scratches. Nice charcoal color with a lighter grey seat. It came with a Zefel pump, a “KryptoLok” lock by Kryptonite with keys, and a seat bag with a hex key, plastic tire irons and two patch kits. Purchased on 8-12-07 in the Hillcrest area of San Diego for only $25 from an ad on Craig’s List. The seller was the original owner who purchased it in 1986, road it until the early 1990s when he took up running, and stored it most of the rest of the time. It required no repairs or cleaning of any kind! Great deal!
I searched the Internet for “1983 Univega.” Lakeviewman – 1983 Univega Sportour has nine photos of a 1983 Univega Sportour. (See also 1983 Univega Sportour at mtbr.com.) The frame details look identical to mine. For example, it has a brazing for the shifters on the top of the down tubes – not on the sides. It has brake guides on the top tube. It has brazed on derailleur cable guides on top of the bottom bracket. It has two water bottle cage mounts on the down tube. Every lugging detail looks identical. The fork looks identical. Additionally, it has a Super Custom crankset and a Custom handlebar stem like mine. The seat post looks the same. Based on this I’m guessing my bike is a 1983 Univega Sportour. The frame sticker on that bike indicates the frame is double (or triple?) butted Tange Champion Chrome Molybdenum. That bike also says it was made in Japan. A distinctive feature of my bike is that the shift levers sat on top of top of the down tube. Most other Univega models I came across have them on the side of the down tube. See, e.g., 1983 Univega Specialissima, 1983 Grand Turismo (derailer levers on side), 1983 Univega Viva Touring (shift levers on side), Univega Grand Primo (as best I can tell, shift levers on side), Flicker – Several Different Univega Models, Univega Super Strada. However, the 1983 Viva Sport at cyclofiend.com also has the shift levers on the top of the down tube, although it is hard to see all the other details in that photo. Mine might therefore instead be a Viva Sport. Univega had a lot of models, however. Therefore it could also be some other Univega model.
According to Univega – Wikipedia, Univega was “created during the bike boom of the 1970s by Ben Lawee,” an immigrant from Iraq. He “founded Lawee Inc. to design, specify, and import bicycles initially manufactured in Italy by Italvega, and subsequently in Japan by Miyata.” (Id.) Lawee had created the Italvega and Bertoni brands manufactured in Italy.” (Id.) “In 1996, the parent company of Raleigh Bicycle Company, Derby International, absorbed Univega along with the Nishiki brand of bicycles.” (Id.) I bought a new 1998 Univega 700 FS mountain bike indicating that Derby continued to use the Univega name. According to Sheldon Brown, Derby retired the Univega and Nishiki brand names in 2001. While I do not hear of Univega much today, there is a current Web site for Univega, with the slogan “Ride It Your Way” which, according to Univega – Wikipedia, was a tagline developed by Lawee. My impression of Univega in the 1980s was that they made quality, good value bikes.
The bike was likely originally a twelve speed. It was converted by a prior owner to a fixed gear single speed bike. The axels would have been originally designed for quick release. Today the bike has solid axels with the wheels attached with hex nuts. There is no freewheel. The bike therefore does not coast. There are no brakes. The bike did not come with pedals, a handlebar or hex nuts for the rear wheel. I put on some old handlebars I think I got free in a box of bike parts from a garage sale. I put on some cheap pedals from another bike. I got some hex nuts (M10-1.0) from Home Depot. The rear wheel was originally for a multiple speed bike and might be original. The single cog is now on the opposite side where the freewheel body and cassette had been. I guess I could put a freewheel body and single cog back on where the freewheel and cassette had been creating what I believe they call a flip-flop wheel. In other words, as it is now, you cannot coast. But if you flipped the wheel over and had a freewheel body and cog, it would then be a single speed bike that coasts. A single speed bike that coasts is like the bikes we road as a kid. If your bike is “fixed” – i.e. you can’t coast – you must continually pedal. It is like the tricycles we had as kids. Many fixed bikes do not have brakes. You can slow down by pedaling slower and eventually stop pedaling. You cannot stop as quickly as with brakes, especially a front brake, however. Single speed bikes that have a freewheel – i.e. they can coast – definately need brakes. The bikes we had a kid frequently had a rear coaster brake. You pedalled backward to engage the brake. Multiple speed bikes have to have hand brakes instead. Front and rear hand operated brakes, especially with alloy wheels, stop much faster.
Fixed gear bikes (and tricycles) were traditionally limited to three uses. First, kid’s tricycles. Kid’s tricycles don’t coast. Little kids go pretty slow and they can stop by pedaling slower or putting their feet down. Second, track bikes. One gear and no brakes mean minimum weight. If you want to stand still, don’t petal. If you want to go fast, pedal like crazy with the one high gear you have. Third, since you have to continually pedal, they have been used for training. In recent years, however, fixed gear bicycles have become much more popular. (See generally Fixed-gear Bicycle – Wikipedia; Sheldon Brown.) It is part of urban culture now, I think in part to bicycle messengers often using fixed bikes. Most major manufacturers now have a selection of fixed bikes. The book, Fixed: Global Fixed-Gear Bike Culture available at amazon.com, is devoted to fixed gear bicycles. My nice 1980s twelve speed road bike was likely acquired by a hip young guy who decided to make it into a hip, urban, camouflaged “fixie.” I think multiple gears, freewheels and brakes were wonderful inventions in the history of the bicycle, however, and would have preferred that the bike be left in its original form. For $5, however, I have the first Univega road bike in my collection and had an opportunity to try out fixed bicycle riding. Indeed, I successfully road around my block without killing myself. It’s difficult to slip into the toe clips since usually you flip up the second toe clip while coasting. I instead lunged myself over to a stop sign and held on while flipping up the second toe clip. When you get up to speed you natural reaction is to coast. On a fixed bike you get jerked around a bit because you can’t coast! I had to really anticipate when I wanted to slow down by pedaling slower. You do get a good workout because you can never just relax and coast. Overall, the experience confirmed to me how wonderful freewheels, gears and brakes are! Coasting in life every so often is a good thing.
Table of Contents
Ducks. We bought this as the same time as the Trek 750 to cart around my, at the time, young sons.
The bike is in decent shape. It has some rust and scrapes. It looks like it sat outside for at least part of its life. The saddle covering is coming apart. I put some electrical tape on it for now and ordered a $1 cover from China on eBay. I also ordered a $5 light weight plastic saddle on eBay which I may try. The bike has a magnet that holds it together when folded. The metal part that the magnet sticks to is missing, however. I therefore purchased a new off brand magnet assembly from China to fix this. It will take a while to get all of these items. As indicated above I replaced the tires an tubes. I cleaned the bike and cleaned and lubricated the chain. The wheels are true, the brakes are well adjusted and gears shift fine. I took it for a ride around the block and it did fine. The riding position is very upright compared to my road bike and even my hybrid. While some folding bikes have telescoping handlebar stems, this appears to have only one position and cannot be lowered.
I acquired the bike on November 13, 2019 from an ad on Craigslist in the Adams Avenue area of San Diego for free! The guy was very nice. He and his wife had moved from Canada. They have two bikes and did not need this. He got this about a year ago for $50. I missed out on two identical bikes a month or two ago. They went for $150 for the pair which was a good deal. A similar bike is going for $199 with $60 on eBay now. A fellow docent trainee at the San Diego Natural History Museum has a folding Zizzo Liberte bike which he takes on the trolley. That got me interested in folding bikes and I have been looking for one on Craigslist for the past month or two.
Dahon, founded in 1982, is the largest manufacturer of folding bicycles. (Dahon – Wikipedia.) The Dahon site has an interesting discussion about Dahon’s history.
Recumbents tend to weigh more than traditional bikes. Their major advantage, however, is that they place the rider lower and more prone resulting in less aerodynamic drag. Aerodynamic drag becomes a major factor against cycling efficiency as speed increases. Speed records are therefore usually set with recumbent bicycles. Rules usually prohibit them in traditional bicycle races. Many people also like recumbents because you can lean back with your back supported resulting in less back and neck strain. Handling is more touchy, however, and takes some getting use to. There are many different designs. The BikeE has more traditional above the seat steering and is fairly easy to ride. Manufacturers tend to be relatively small which unfortunately can result in some like BikeE going out of business.
I purchased my BikeE from an ad in Craigslist on January 28, 2008 in Poway, CA for $100 (asking price was $125). That’s about the lowest I’ve seen for a recumbent. The bike is in good cosmetic and working condition. I appear to be the third owner. The bike was originally purchased at Bicycle Man in Alfred Station, NY, according to the sticker on the bike. That store has a very wide selection of recumbents and excellent information about recumbents on their Web site including information on BikeE, the CT, and the owner’s manual in PDF format. The CT styling gets mixed reviews. Some of my students said it looked very old school while a little kid on my first ride said to his mom “look at the neat bike.” At $100 it is an excellent way for me to try out recumbent cycling!
My bike was purchased on February 20, 2019 in Oceanside, CA, from an ad on Craigslist for $200. It was listed for $225. The seller purchased it about a 1.5 months earlier for something less, but cleaned it up and put on a new front tire. The bike camed with two front wheels The first was on the bike. It had a large hub which originally housed a broken electric motor. There was a long reach MXB bike caliper brake, clearly not the orginal. I replaced this wheel with what I assume was the original wheel, a Ukai 20 x 1 3/4 alloy wheel made in Japan. I replaced the brake with a Tektro R539 short reach (47-59mm) caliper brake from my Trek Pilot road bike. (I ordered another one to put back on my road bike.) It seems to work well. I don’t know what the original front brake was. From photos it looks like some Ryan Vangurads had cantilever brakes and some V brakes both of which would have brazed on pivot points on the fork. Some, like mine, however, had caliper brakes, with no pivot points on the fork. The rear brake is a Dia Compe 737 V-brake. The bike has a tag on it reading “Ryan Recumbent Cycles, One Chestnut Street, Nashau, NH 03060, (603) 598-1711 phone/fax.” The bike is missing the “seat horn” which lifts the front center of the web seat up slightly. I’m working on coming up with something to replace it.
Stingrays were likely inspired by the Chevy Corvette Stingray and other muscle cars of the 1960s including “fastback” models. The car theme is carried on with the large stick shift lever. The large handle bars and “banana” seat are also reminiscent of chopper motor cycles. The Stingrays thus allowed children to have their own muscle car or motorcycle. Stingrays were designed for tricks like “popping a wheelie.” The Stingray largely replaced 24 or 26 inch wheel bicycles for children. Those prior bikes were lously for popping wheelies, but were much better for efficient transportation as explained at the wonderful Sheldon Brown site. Sheldon Brown calls Stingrays and similar bikes “the most horrible children’s bikes ever made” and “an unmitigated disaster” which, while successful in the short term, resulted in a “serious long-term setback for the American bicycle industry.” In large part the Stingray represents a design based on marketing and it was very successful. Throughout my childhood, Stingrays were all the rage. Schwinns were always the original Stingrays, but the basic design was used by many bike manufacturers. The New England Muscle Bicycle Museum has a huge display of 1960’s and 1970’s muscle bikes including a green 1967 Fastback in mint condition. By the later 1970s and 1980s Stingrays were replaced by BMX style bikes which continued the small frame and wheels but lost the banana seats and extremely high handlebars.
The Stingrays were all made in Chicago like other Schwinns at the time. Most every part on this bike is made in the USA with the exception of the Belgium Weinmann 810 side pull brakes and the Sprint derailleur made in France. Schwinn made their own frames with a unique “electro-forged process” explained in detail at Chicago Schwinns. This process resulted in very sturdy, although heavy, bikes. Schwinns even included a welded on kick stand. It was so sturdy that my friend and I use to sit on our Stingrays being held up by the kickstands.
Original Stingrays often sell for hundreds on eBay. I assume most are purchased by now middle age baby boomers like me perhaps searching for their lost youth! I purchased this Stingray as a 50th birthday present to myself.
I purchased this Stingray on eBay on 5-14-07 for $206.59 plus $45 shipping. Actual shipping was close to $70. It did not come with a chain. I purchased a chain for about $14 with $10 installation. I replaced the original front tire with a modern 20 x 1 3/8 inch tire which sort of fits but is fairly loose. It cost only $3 at “Ye Olde Bicycle Shop” in San Diego. (That bike shop and coffee shop by the way has a fabulous collection of vintage bicycles dating back to the late 1800s. See Our California Travels, signonsandiego and UCSD Guardian.) A new tube cost $3. The original front tire and tube held air for awhile. It is a Schwinn Fastback Nylon 20 x 1 3/8 to fit S5 or S6 Schwinn Tubular Rim. I saved it, although it is heavily cracked. The tube had been patched twice and there was no rim tape. I purchased some rim tape for about $3. The rear tire is a Schwinn Fastback Slick, 20 x 1 3/8. It is heavily cracked but still holds air. I cleaned up the bike and lubricated all the moving parts. I have not yet overhauled any of the bearings. The bike is in reasonably good cosmetic and working condition now. I rode it around my rather long block with no problems. Most all the parts look to be original. The paint is somewhat faded but is in generally good condition. There is some rust on the wheels, but most of it came off with steel wool. The chrome on the “Mag” chainwheel is beginning to buckle and has come off on a portion of the inner side of the chainwheel. The bike shifts well and needed no adjustment. (See image of drive train.) The shifter lever does not have the “stick shift” label and the 1-5 numbers. The brakes work well. The rear wheel is somewhat out of true, but not bad. The seat is discolored and cracking. Overall, a wonderful addition to the museum!
The bike is also illustrative of cultural stereotypes regarding girls. The color is pink. The seat has brightly colored flowers. None of the boy’s bike seats ever had flowers. When introduced in 1964 it came with “attractive white flower-trimmed basket for purse or packages.” (1964 Schwinn Consumer Catalog page 20.) Searching through the catalogs at the Bob Hufford Site it appears the baskets ended as of 1975. The boy’s Sting-Ray never had wicker baskets. The Fair Lady is “beautiful” and “for mother, daughter or even grandmother.” The Sting-Ray is not described as beautiful and is not for dad or grandfather.
The Fair Lady was only one of a few female Sting-Ray bikes. The naming and minor styling differences are confusing to say the least. One wonders what the Schwinn marketing staff had in mind. The year following the Fair Lady, the very similar “Slik Chik” came out. The frame seems to be identical and indeed the part numbers are the same. Differences seem to be mainly cosmetic. For example, some years the Slik Chik has white wall tires but sometimes the Fair Lady does. The Slik Chik is described as for girls and the Fair Lady is described as being for mother or daughter. The Slik Chick usually costs slightly more. The Slik Chik or Fair Lady name appears only on the chain guard. The Slik Chik continued only until 1970. The Lil’ Chik appeared in 1966 for girls age 5-7. The Lil’ Chik name continues throughout the time of the Fair Lady but along the way changes from 16 inch wheels to 20 inch wheels for older girls. In 1969 the Stardust appeared. It is described as a lightweight and has a straight down tube. Otherwise it is similar to the Slik Chik and Fair Lady. It’s for mother or daughter but appears to be directed in the photos to the mother. (Apparently a single woman would not ride a Sting-Ray but a mom would.) The Stardust only continued until 1972. The Fair Lady continued until at least 1982, however, when mine was made.
Names are recycled. For example, the “Fair Lady” name was used prior to the Sting-Ray style bikes from at least 1959 to 1961. See Schwinn Heritage and 1961 catalog. The “Slik Chik” name is present again with the 2007 Slik Chik, a 1950’s style single speed beach cruiser with balloon tires, steel fenders, one piece crank, large spring seat, and a lot of other metal which seems to defy all the rules for efficient bicycle design! Manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $349. In my opinion you would be better off with a recent used mountain bike or hybrid which would also have upright seating and be comfortable. If you want a new bike, the 2007 Schwinn World GS is only $50 more the Slik Chik and has upright seating, front suspension, an Aluminum frame, alloy parts throughout, sealed bearings, V style or linear brakes, fenders, rack, and 24 speeds. The V style brakes should stop much better than a coaster brake. Index shifting today is very easy to use. A hybrid like the Trek 7000 for $279.99 would also be a good bike. It also comes in Trek’s trademarked “WSD” (apparently for Woman Specific Design) design with a sort of modern retro girl’s bike look, also for $279.99.
My “Fair Lady” was purchased on 7-20-07 at Chula Vista, CA from an ad in Craig’s List San Diego for $50. It is in very good condition. There was some minor rust on the rims, handlebars and other unpainted steel parts, but it cleaned up very nicely with steel wool. (The photo is before I cleaned it up.) Mechanically it is sound. It is a one speed with coaster brake. It has the Schwinn Chicago label and I assume was made in Chicago. It is one of the later Schwinn Sting-Ray bikes. The seat is in excellent condition. While the girl’s Sting-Ray style bikes tend to go for less than the boy’s Sting-Rays, the $50 price seems pretty good comparing it with prices on eBay. I assume an earlier one, especially with a basket, might go for more.
Ross Custom (Large Image – 3/4 view) Believed to be from late 1950 to early 1960s. Seller said he acquired it used in the 1970s and thought it was from the 1950s when he was a boy. Label says made by “Chain Bike Corp.” According to Hardy’s Back Room – Ross Eurotour, Chain Bike Corporation was formed in 1947 in New York. See also WorthPoint.com, New York Times – 11-17-1953, New York Times – 3-15-2008. A Ross Custom is described just like mine at OldRoads.com – 6-18-03 asking for information about its age, etc. with no definitive reply. Mine appears to be very similar to a 1959 Ross Super Deluxe described at OldRoads.com – Make Name: Ross and the 1962 Ross Super Deluxe in pink at www.bikeicons.com. I’m thinking my bike is therefore probably from the late 1950s to early 1960s. There is also a similar Ross Super Deluxe at Gibbons Shop. The Ross Custom and Super Deluxe also have similarities to the Sears Spaceliner at New England Muscle Bicycle Museum. There also are Ross Super Deluxe bikes of a somewhat different design. See, e.g., ratrodbikes.com and thefedoralounge.com. Serial no. R67262437. 17 inch steel frame. Weighs over 42 pounds. 26″ x 1.75″ white sidewall tires. Troxel saddle made in Moscow, Tenn USA. Mine was purchased on 7-8-08 in the San Carlos area of San Diego from an ad on Craigslist for $20. It was in pretty good shape for almost being 50 years old. I removed most of the rust on handlebars, rims and front rack with brass wool. After cleaning I also put car polish on it including the chrome parts. The tank part originally had a headlight in it which was missing. A 3 LED headlamp squeezes into the space nicely, however. The light output isn’t great, but it adds to the cosmetics and can still be used as head lamp. The tires are original and hold air. They have plenty of tread, but the sidewalls are heavily cracked. It may be hard to fine nice wide replacement whitewalls like the originals. I cleaned and lubricated the chain. The saddle is vinyl over a steel base with a layer of polyfoam. It is coming apart at the seams in many places. I put transparent duct tape around the front section so it would not come apart further. I rode it around our long block. It rides well although is much too small for me. I assume it is probably sized for preteen and early teen girls. With the 26″ x 1.7″ inch tires it would have been classified as a middle weight bike and is likely similar in age and basic style to the Schwinn my sister had as a girl as can be seen at the bottom of this Web page. In light of that I gave her the bike as a 60th birthday present with the notation on the card: “Feeling young and carefree is like riding a bicycle. You never forget.”