The American- Austrian Three Speed

Before I start this post I would like to take a moment and thank Velouria of the blog Lovely Bicycle!.  I had read her most recent post about a test ride she did on a Humber bicycle, and I posted in the comments about the fact that the wife and I make necklaces that feature that particular chainring design which we sell on Etsy.  Not only did she allow my comment, but also commented on it with a better link (see look I can do it do too with a dashboard….), as well as a tweet.  The response has been excellent, and this is the best way that I know of to say thanks.  Thanks for allowing the post, as well as thanks for the excellent blog and the hours of entertainment that you given me over the years.

For those that aren’t familiar with it, definately check it out.   And I have been wanting to write up an article on “why you should consider a three speed” for new riders but Velouria set the bar pretty high with this post.  I have sent numerous people asking “why” to this particular page for quite awhile.

I’d also like to thank Shawn of Urban Adventure League and the Society of Three Speeds for hosting a great SOTS ride last Saturday despite the wet weather.  I promise in the future to post more about your great rides in the future.  They’re always a great time and always fun to get to together with old friends and making new ones.

And on a general note, I’m going to soon start playing with the format and perhaps how I do some of these posts in the near future,  and likewise I suspect that there will soon be the start of my posts on maintenance and repair of these bikes.

PLEASE NOTE:  I Admit it, I was wrong.  This bike was made in Austria by Puch.  For some reason (and I should have caught it because I called it a Sears Sportsman) I was confusing it in my mind with the Huffy Sportman which was made by Raleigh.  It most likely Sachs internal hub, parts are not interchangeable with the Sturmey Archer parts.  Bottom Bracket is most likely english threaded rather than the Raleigh thread.    This doesn’t really change my general opinion of the bike. Though if the hub does start to have problems it might be a little more difficult to find replacement parts for it.  But a visit to Community Cycling Center or City Bikes here in Portland  and you’ll probably be able to find  it (especially City Bikes on 19th and Ankeny).  If not there, there is always Ebay.

Also I have kept all my mistakes in the original post and simply drew a line through them. And added some information more relevant to the bike posted.   This is because I want to remind myself not to get to carried away before I post.  I’ve always felt a little taste of humble pie has got to taste better than a foot in the mouth.  Pass the mouth wash please.

And thanks Shawn for point it out.

Now on with the bikes.

Todays’ review is going to be a bit different,  Because I’m going to be breaking one of my rules.  I’m actually going to recommend that someone should purchase this one.  So if you’re looking for an old three speed this one despite a kind of crappy ad, looks be one that I’d get for daily riding…if I didn’t already have a couple to choose from.

First here is a link to the actual ad.

Here are the pics from the ad that I downloaded.

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The AD reads:

“Stunning Sears 3-Speed for sale.
$150 or best offer!
Super comfy seat! Great for rides in the rain or shine!”

Yes that’s right,  It’s an old mail order/department store bike.  I know…I know!  Everyone in the bike world says if you want a quality bike don’t buy a department store bike.   But first, I don’t always agree with things “everyone” says.  And second this isn’t your typical department store bike.

You see much like today, most the bicycles made are manufactured by a fairly small number of factories.  As you’ve noticed in my last couple posts many companies made many different brands of bikes for pretty much anyone that would buy them – even other bicycle companies.  However, mail order companies would contract out to manufactures for bikes all the time and slap their names on them.  And some years those bikes were really great bikes, but with a store brand.  J.C Higgins, Free Spirt, Hiawatha among others are department store bikes brands in which the manufactures varied sometimes year by year.

In this particular case (or at least I’m 95% certain since the ad information is vague at best) is a Raleigh Sports Puch made specifically for Sears.  This would put it’s date of manufacture somewhere in the mid 60’s to early 70’s.  And looking at the pictures it appears to be in great condition.

How do I know it’s a Raleigh built bike  (I obviously don’t).  Well there are a number of clues.  First it looks to be a Sturmey Archer AW hub.  It is most likely a Sach’s hub, though not as common in the US as the Sturmey Archer hub they are second oldest IGH manufacturing company – second only to Sturmey Archer.  It too is a very dependable IGH, though the parts are a little more scarce in the US than the vintage Sturmy- Archer parts. Though it’s hard to tell for sure it doesn’t appear to be the Shimano 333 IGH (which I don’t recommend ever since they aren’t really repairable). It has a pretty big arm that comes off the hub which usually stands out pretty good even in bad pictures.

Also the bike has cottered cranks, you can see cotters in both pictures if you look hard enough.  Most the bikes that Sears offered with three speeds in the 60’s had ashtabula cranks (or one piece).  Ashtabula cranks are a pretty solid clue that the bike was American made, especially with single speeds and three speeds.

The front fender narrows towards the forward, another subtle Raleigh feature, and likewise the front brake looks to be the same that was the Sports in that time period.  Apparently not a Raleigh exclusive.

The paint and stickers appears to be in great condition.  And the price is slightly lower than many of the three speed listings on CL right now (in the Portland market), and they’re willing to negotiate.

The listing doesn’t include a seat tube length, but it appears to probably be 21″ which should fit most people between 5′-6″ ish to about 5′-10″ish.   So if you’re looking definately check this one out.

The only problem I see is that they say it works great in the rain, and best I can tell it’s original steel rims and likely original pads too.  It will stop in the rain, but even I wouldn’t say it stops “Great” in the rain.

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3 thoughts on “The American- Austrian Three Speed”

  1. Thanks, Mr. Gutterbunny, for the shout-out!

    I think the whole “great” in the rain comes from fenders/mudguards. People see it and say “rain bike!”

    I’m going to throw out a diverging opinion and say this Sears in question may be an “Austrian-American bike. Sears had a lot of bikes from that era made by Steyr/Puch in Austria, a lot of those three speeds. The paint job looks like the other Austrian Sears I’ve seen. They used Sachs Torpedo three-speed hubs, whose shifters look similar to S-A hubs, especially from a distance. The dead giveaway would be the “Made in Austria” on the headbadge. But with crappy photos, not much to go on other than hunches. Definitely not USA made.

    1. Yes it very well might be a Steyr/Puch, and I wouldn’t be surprised and I do regret not mentioning the possibility in the post. And of course this might just be a case of the Raleigh fan boy that I am. But I do believe (I’ll have to double check) but the Steyr/Puch bikes typically and a different chainring (kinda more reminiscent of the Schwinn four circle design) and that the front fenders didn’t taper. But again I wrote this one off the top of my head, mostly because I was overdue to post something. And that is a very cool bike.

      Either way, this is a great bike and deserves a good owner. I pretty sure the parts to the Sachs hub and Sturmey archers are interchangeable. And one possible benefit of this bike over the Raleigh as far as upgrades go is that if it the Sachs I pretty sure the Bottom Bracket would be standard english threading instead of the Raleigh threading. This of course could means a practically unlimited number of options for the front end drive train.

      I’ll do a follow up a little later when I got more time. But hey, that’s why I started this blog. Partially to help catalog some of these older bikes in which there is little info, part education (on my part as well), and heck…just to look at cool old bikes.

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