Fresh Find: 1960 Bowden Spacelander

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sworley

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Worked on it a bit this morning, cleaning it up best I can before bringing it inside to my basement shop. Tires looked like the original tread pattern and tubes were dated 6/60. One of the rear axle brackets is bent but I was still able to unthread the nut past. Durex? Wait, don’t they make…

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MEKANIXFIX

Wore out three sets of tires already!
I'm feeling really fortunate to have found this hard-to-find bike that I've always cherished.

The opportunity arose Friday morning and I knew I had to act. It came out of North St. Louis from the original owner, now age 72. He was the only child of wealthy parents who bought him the bicycle new. He is now in a nursing home and the sale was conducted by a family friend who is preparing the house for sale, so I was unfortunately unable to meet him.

It was a 14-hour day in the truck but I have no regrets. I needed all the good karma I could get so about an extra hour was devoted to grabbing a Monark Silver King out of SW IL for @biker to be shipped to him by my local shop.

The plan is to give it a mild cleaning, source new tires and hopefully the lights and rack, too. The front fender is a bummer but at least they found it. Please let me know if you have any of this stuff for sale. Thanks for reading!

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HOLA @sworley and the cabers*!* Congrats for your new found bikes*!* My recommendation to you, is contact this gentleman, he have a lot of them and he knows how to handle, the cleaning or refurbish job, on this particular fiberglass body Bowden bikes, good luck, share the process* @BICYCLE HEAVEN
 

NBHAA

National Bicycle History Archive of America
Just a mild wipe down on the good side, today. I think this spent some time outside, it’s very grimy and sun faded. Maybe some polishing compound could restore the original stop sign red?

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Just a mild wipe down on the good side, today. I think this spent some time outside, it’s very grimy and sun faded. Maybe some polishing compound could restore the original stop sign red?

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Finally... an original Bowden Spacelander with an original all-white Mertens saddle, original grips, original tires and original pedals. Note that the seat is NOT 2-tone. The pedals are white treads with no reflector or jewel on the the end caps.

As for using compound on this finish... never! Original Spacelanders had the color impregnated into the fiberglass, not painted on like repops and "resto-mods." These bicycles were never-ever bright red and were more pinkish even when brand new. I was there when they first debuted and I still have my unmolested original. There are numerous restorative substances to use on the original finish, but never compounds.

Unlike modern fiberglass which is swimming in gelcoat, these frames were not hand-laid and not slathered with gelcoat. Nor were they painted. The original company was actually proud to actually show the glass fibers in the frames (something never done today). Factory letters and press releases that NBHAA has confirm this strategy. The original factory shipping list (which we also have) indicates what colors, when and where all Bowden Spacelanders were shipped. And the original factory assembly guide bound volume (which we also have) indicates how these bicycles were originally made and equipped.

Someone talented in fiberglass work ought to be able to repair the front fender assembly to a reasonable state. Original is always better.

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sworley

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Wow, great to know, @NBHAA if you have any detail on this SN or shipments to the St. Louis metro I’d love to learn more!

I am truly torn on the front fender. I know of two NOS assemblies but then the finishes will be off. I feel confident a fiberglass magician can rework the mounting points by the crown but matching the missing brace with any degree of accuracy? Seems like a tall order, no?

In your wisdom would you recommend riding this when fixed? I weight 170lbs.
 

NBHAA

National Bicycle History Archive of America
Wow, great to know, @NBHAA if you have any detail on this SN or shipments to the St. Louis metro I’d love to learn more!

I am truly torn on the front fender. I know of two NOS assemblies but then the finishes will be off. I feel confident a fiberglass magician can rework the mounting points by the crown but matching the missing brace with any degree of accuracy? Seems like a tall order, no?

In your wisdom would you recommend riding this when fixed? I weight 170lbs.
Would you really want to ride a weathered, aged, brittle fiberglass monocoque-frame bicycle, basically designed for kids... after it has sat for over 60 years? Not such a great idea. There are no metal tubes inside this frame to support weight or stress. Riding it as an adult today?

The president of Bomard (who I knew and interviewed in the 1970s) got on his Spacelander one morning in his driveway... and it snapped in half while he was riding! And it was mint! Sadly, he tossed it straight into the can. I knew of two others (including a blue one that I owned decades ago) that did likewise. I have owned more Bowden Spacelanders (real original ones, not fakes or repops, etc.) than anyone breathing today. And I started collecting archiving and writing about these bicycles before most people even knew they existed.

There was even a Bowden 300 (NBHAA has all of the factory data, photos and literature on these too) that was on here recently, snapped in half. And Bowden 300s (REAL ones) had metal reinforcements inside the frame. So think about it.

Look at your Spacelander, love it and be glad you found it. But riding it? Not so much.
 
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