Can somebody identify this bike?

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Jeff_L

On Training Wheels
Jun 23, 2020
8
77
New Milford Pa
Hi all,

I'm new, and I'm looking for some information on my late wife's bike. This was given to her back in the middle '50s when she was a young girl by her sister and two brothers. She was told it was the most expensive bike Sears had at the time. I've looked high and low on the internet and haven't been able to find one exactly like it. It is a J.C. Higgins 26-inch girls European-style bike, made in Austria. The original "General Instructions" that came with it list 503.46320 and 503.45330 models, but the number stamped into the bottom the frame is 503 46 930. (Whenever I try to enter that number into a Google search all I get are guns?)

Here are (I hope) some pictures of the bike.
1220054


1220055


1220056


1220057


1220058


1220059


1220064


1220065


1220066

1220069


1220070


1220071


1220075

Whew - that's a lot of pictures.

This was obviously a very fancy bike for the day. There is chrome everywhere - fenders, fender braces, tire pump (which still works),even the coil springs at the back of the seat are chrome. Speaking of the seat, it is white leather over a series of more coils, shown in picture 10. No hard metal pan to bruise a little princess' butt - no sir-ree. She told me once that when she got it, even the tires were blue to match the paint. The sheathing around the cables is white. The generator has to be a factory-installed item, given the flared area in the front fender to accommodate where it runs against the tire. I don't know if the mirror is original or not, but I'd bet it is. The biggest difference I see between this bike and the ones I've found on the 'net is the full wrap-around chain guard. I don't believe this is a common item.

The shifter is marked H - N -L, but the hub shows it's a three speed. I've never ridden it, so I don't know for sure.

As the pictures indicate, it has been ridden, and it's had its share of bumps and bruises over the years. There is paint rubbed off the luggage rack from a wicker basket that she had fastened to the coils in the seat and from things she'd strap on when she went to the store for her mother. This is a slight dent in the back fender, just above the rivet holding the brace. But, and I can say this with certainty, the bike has never spent a night outdoors, have never seen rain or snow, and has been cared for all of its life.

I also have the original instructions and parts list for both the bike and the hub. There is a tool kit in a reddish-brown cloth bag that I think also goes with it.

This is a true "barn find", and any and all information would be appreciated.

Thanks a bunch,
Jeff

IMG_0575.JPG
 

Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
19,569
Evans, GA
Jeff The Sears cat for both ‘54 and ‘55 show this bike with a full guard. While kinda neat these imports really don’t have much collectible value but should make someone a nice ride! V/r Shawn
 
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mike j

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 3, 2013
3,237
Tuxedo Park, United States
Sounds like a plan. Good luck & have fun w/it. It is a pretty cool looking bike.
 
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juanitasmith13

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Oct 6, 2015
952
72
Creve Coeur, Tazewell County, IL.
It IS a beautiful BIKE! I'm 7/8 years older and have many more dings... yes, I've been in the rain and snow! Welcome to theCABE!
 
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frankandpam

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Jan 21, 2016
711
Tacoma Wa
Beautiful and kinda unique bike and some pretty cool accessories. I would think that would be one to hold on to and someone out there is going to fall in love and want it and appreciate it.
 
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Freqman1

Riding a '37 Dayton Super Streamline
Jul 14, 2009
19,569
Evans, GA
H-N-L = High, Normal, Low. Here is the ad from 1955. I also went back and seen it was offered beginning late '53 but the only year they offered blue was '55. Notice it says the boys is blue and girls is yellow but this could easily be a typo or they offered the girls in blue as well. V/r Shawn

1220268
 

all riders

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jun 11, 2020
44
56
Austin, Tx
It's a Steyr-Daimler Puch(later to become just Puch). I've had several and they are excellent bikes==brobably the best 3-speed hub out there( cant remember who made the hub--maybe Sachs). Bike is just well made, and an under-the-radar- bargain if you want a Euro type 3 speed. Bargain because they don't have a lot of value--although some of the younger road bike enthusiasts caught on. BTW Sears no doubt made a deal with Puch in the sixties to sell these bikes because they wanted to offer motorcycles and their Allstate brand Motorcycles were Puchs (and some Italian Gileras)
 
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Oilit

I live for the CABE
Dec 30, 2015
1,140
Concord NC
In my experience, these bikes are relatively light weight yet still hold up well, which tells me they were more carefully designed than some of the other lightweights of the time. Their biggest failing seems to be the chrome plating, though most I've seen are the later versions from the '60's, when costs on a lot of 3 speeds were being pared back to the basics. Your wife took very good care of her bike and it shows. They're not rare, but most you see aren't in nearly as good condition.
 

Jeff_L

On Training Wheels
Jun 23, 2020
8
77
New Milford Pa
Wow. Lot's of information and a little disappointment. First, thanks to all for the info. It really helps. Second, the disappointment. My wife had told me several years ago that she had gone online looking for the bike and found only one listing, with a price of $1800.00. I don't know if that was asking price or the price it actually sold for, but it really excited her. Now I find that apparently the actual value of the bike is a small fraction of that amount. I was going to sell it, but if I can't get more that a couple hundred dollars for it, I'll keep to remind me of her, and better days.

Thanks again,

Jeff
 
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3-speeder

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 26, 2017
636
Lansing, MI, United States
You have a beautiful example of a well built machine. A tiny bit of oil in the rear hub and your rolling. Honestly, if you're looking to sell, you'll be lucky to get $100 out of it. Right now is a good time to sell though. Lots of eager buyers out there.
 
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Jeff_L

On Training Wheels
Jun 23, 2020
8
77
New Milford Pa
You have a beautiful example of a well built machine. A tiny bit of oil in the rear hub and your rolling. Honestly, if you're looking to sell, you'll be lucky to get $100 out of it. Right now is a good time to sell though. Lots of eager buyers out there.
Thanks for the information, but for $100.00 I'll hang it on the wall and think of her every time I look at it.

Jeff
 

3-speeder

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 26, 2017
636
Lansing, MI, United States
Yeah. I would hang on to it. It's a beautiful bike. Priceless sentimental value. If you do add oil to the hub you should use a light 20 weight and not regular 3-in-1. If you need any tune up tips just ask.
 
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Jeff_L

On Training Wheels
Jun 23, 2020
8
77
New Milford Pa
Yeah. I would hang on to it. It's a beautiful bike. Priceless sentimental value. If you do add oil to the hub you should use a light 20 weight and not regular 3-in-1. If you need any tune up tips just ask.
Thanks for the info and the offer. I'm wondering - the shifter and brakes are very stiff - should I try to oil the cables? If so, with what and how?

Thanks,

Jeff
 

3-speeder

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 26, 2017
636
Lansing, MI, United States
Thanks for the info and the offer. I'm wondering - the shifter and brakes are very stiff - should I try to oil the cables? If so, with what and how?

Thanks,

Jeff
If it were mine I would want to diagnose what might be sticky. If you loosen the nut holding the brake cable at the caliper you can see if the cable slides easily in the housing and if the caliper arms move freely. If either is sticking I guess I might try a drop of oil on the calipers at the pivot point where the bolt holds them together. The type of oil isn't as important here, maybe even WD40. If the cable is sticking in the housing I might pull it out of the housing and check it for any rust, and replace the cable if needed. It looks so clean though so I can't imagine it would be too bad.
At the hub you could pull on the little chain that goes into it with your hand to check for freedom of movement there. Sometimes you'll have to pedal a little to get the hub in the ready-to-shift sweet spot. A few drops of oil into the port on the shell may help. There is a 20 weight 3-in-1 oil with a blue label that is good for these hubs, just don't use the regular 3-in-1 as it can gunk up after sitting a while.
 

Jeff_L

On Training Wheels
Jun 23, 2020
8
77
New Milford Pa
If it were mine I would want to diagnose what might be sticky. If you loosen the nut holding the brake cable at the caliper you can see if the cable slides easily in the housing and if the caliper arms move freely. If either is sticking I guess I might try a drop of oil on the calipers at the pivot point where the bolt holds them together. The type of oil isn't as important here, maybe even WD40. If the cable is sticking in the housing I might pull it out of the housing and check it for any rust, and replace the cable if needed. It looks so clean though so I can't imagine it would be too bad.
At the hub you could pull on the little chain that goes into it with your hand to check for freedom of movement there. Sometimes you'll have to pedal a little to get the hub in the ready-to-shift sweet spot. A few drops of oil into the port on the shell may help. There is a 20 weight 3-in-1 oil with a blue label that is good for these hubs, just don't use the regular 3-in-1 as it can gunk up after sitting a while.
Thanks for the advice. I'll do that when I get a chance.

Jeff
 

Jeff_L

On Training Wheels
Jun 23, 2020
8
77
New Milford Pa
The girls was offered in Blue for 56 Christmas.

Thanks, that helps a lot. The blue color identifies it as a '56 only bike. The description also mentions the 'colored tread' on the tires, which backs up what she said about it coming with blue tires. More information all the time.

Thanks again,

Jeff
 

Jeff54

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 11, 2013
2,388
Ft Myers, Florida
Thanks for the advice. I'll do that when I get a chance.

Jeff
That looks like a pretty fine bike. Deluxe package with chrome stainless steel fenders plus all the chrome on every thing else is good stuff. What the heck, it looks like the Flamboyant paint is candy just like Schwinn's. I mean, in the chips, it appears as though there's red lead primer then a silver or aluminum and top coat of translucent blue, candy!

All those additions including tool box nice chromed light, it all looks quite fine.

Down side is 'It's a Girl! ' And, There's not much desire for something like this, girl or boy. Yet many girl' bikes get parted out to make a boy. And unlike some bikes, your fork appears to fit a boy's too. Another downside of this bike is; sex change.. But, Dang, the fenders look new which is surprising for all the paint chips that indicate, it's been ridden quite a bit and the strong chrome withstands scratching.

IDK but there might be more interest in a road bike forum, maybe but, otherwise, it's not a very popular bike but, I think it should be, for all the virtual deluxe parts not 'just another' 50's lightweight.
 
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