Hard Pedaling '59 Western Flyer

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Vetteman61

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jan 31, 2011
94
About 9 years ago I restored my dad's 1959 Western Flyer he had as a kid. It's been hanging in his garage ever since and he's been too afraid to ride it, but I have finally convinced him to get it down and use it. The problem is that it pedals too hard and we aren't sure why. We have taken the chain off and adjusted the torque on the pedal bearings and they are not too tight. I had to get new wheels for the bike, the front sprocket is original, but I can't remember if I had to get a new rear sprocket or if it was original. I'm curious if it has the wrong rear sprocket on it causing the issue. Also, I put larger, balloon style tires on it (26 x 2.125), but I don't feel that would cause it to be as hard to pedal as it is. How can I determine the correct size sprocket? Does anyone have any other areas to check, I feel like we've covered everything we can think of.

img_0724-1-jpg.jpg


Thanks,
Brandon
 

rustystone2112

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Feb 7, 2014
2,131
58
IRVINE CA.
try lifting the back wheel off the ground and peddle it and see if the wheel spins freely without to much drag from an over tightened cone
 
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Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,468
Shawnee, United States
If it's been "hanging around" for some time, you should probably clean all the hardened grease from the bearings and re-grease everything. Bottom bracket, front and rear wheel hubs, steering tube, and soak the chain in your favorite de-rusting formula. You're sure your new tires aren't rubbing the frame?
 

Oilit

I live for the CABE
Dec 30, 2015
1,136
Concord NC
You're checking the air pressure in your tires, aren't you? Low air pressure makes a bike a lot more work. Whatever it is should be an easy fix, once you find it. The bike looks like it's in excellent shape.
 

Vetteman61

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jan 31, 2011
94
When you say cones, are you referring to the bearings in the rear hub? I'll count the teeth on the rear sprockets and report back.
 

Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,468
Shawnee, United States
The bearings ride between a cup on the hub of the wheel and a tapered cone threaded onto the axle. There is a very fine line between "pinching" the bearings between the cup and the cone making the wheel hard to turn, and having too much "play" in the bearings between the cup and the cone making the wheel too loose which lets it wobble. It will take a thin wrench to get on the cone to back it off.

Have you turned the bike over letting it sit on the handlebars and seat and turned the pedals by hand or spun the front wheel and observed how easily they freewheel once you've turned loose and just watched them spin?
 
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Adamtinkerer

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 8, 2008
3,886
Western North carolina
Besides the other suggestions, you can swap to a larger gear on the rear hub. Bendix makes a 22 tooth, really makes a difference!
 
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49autocycledeluxe

I live for the CABE
May 29, 2017
1,626
60
fremont california
"The problem is that it pedals too hard and we aren't sure why"

pedals too hard like you need an easier gear or something is rubbing somewhere? do the wheels spin freely?
 
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GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Sep 2, 2012
12,284
Central Arizona
I don't know squat about Murray's, but it looks like there's a possible fender mounting bracket going across the chain stays just to the front of the tire. I can see something red right in front of the tire. Is the rear tire rubbing that?

1593289297803.png
 

all riders

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jun 11, 2020
44
56
Austin, Tx
I agree that you may have hard-baked grease in that rear hub, especially if the bike is in a garage in Arizona. I live in Texas and have found several like that.
 

Vetteman61

Look Ma, No Hands!
Jan 31, 2011
94
We counted the sprockets on the rear hub. There are 18 and it is 3" wide. Is this a typical size for a 26" bike?

It does not feel like anything is rubber. We have already turned the bike over and adjusted the rear hub bearings. I don't think the bearing grease would be caked on because everything is new on the bike, including the bearings. My first two suspects would be the larger ballon tires or possible and incorrect rear gear (the front gear is original, the rear gear is new and came with the new wheels I purchased).
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Sep 2, 2012
12,284
Central Arizona
The 18 T. rear sprocket is pretty normal and standard. Optional is 22 and easier on the legs. Did you mention how many teeth are on the front chain ring? That ring looks huge, maybe a 52 tooth? The old Schwinn clover ring is 46 tooth and after 1958 that's all they used. No more 52T rings were used again.
 

Rivnut

I live for the CABE
Nov 24, 2012
1,468
Shawnee, United States
Could it be that you're getting like the rest of us? Older and not as strong as we used to be. My 73 year old body can't keep up with my 29 year old mind. Stuff just don't work like it used to. In college I used to run a sub 50 second 1/4 mile; now I'm out of breath when I get to the top of the stairs.
 
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SKPC

I live for the CABE
Feb 2, 2018
1,532
63
Utah - United States
Turn the bike upside down on its seat and bars, then just spin the wheels....do they spin freely? If so, then change the front or back sprockets....these bikes with 52 tooth front chainrings and small rear cogs are very difficult to pedal...change them out to a larger rear cog and a smaller front ring.
 

partsguy

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Aug 13, 2008
10,938
Planet Vulcan
Take out those fat tires, and put on the correct ones. 26 x 1.75. The previous owner of my wife’s bike but those on her Mainliner. I put the stock tire size on and the wheel rub was resolved.
 

THE STIG

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 21, 2013
2,391
Waterford, NY
bearings in backwards ? seen many with the flat side of cage inwards
 
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srfndoc

Look Ma, No Hands!
May 7, 2020
37
SoCal
Take out those fat tires, and put on the correct ones. 26 x 1.75. The previous owner of my wife’s bike but those on her Mainliner. I put the stock tire size on and the wheel rub was resolved.
I bet its this. Much less space on middleweight bikes with factory 26 x 1.75" tires to support balloon tires.
 
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