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New to this scene - help a guy out

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RustyJames

On Training Wheels
Hey friends. So, I’ve always like the simplicity of single speed bikes and anything without cables is a positive in my book. I have a few(!!) lightweights from the 50s through the 80s and I’m vaguely aware what is desirable in that area but post-war through around 1965 American middleweight and heavyweight (sorry if that is not the correct term) bikes are a new thing for me.
My basic question - is there a general hierarchy of brands from post war through ~1965? Yes, I know, there are always exceptions but is there a basic rule of thumb? In road bike world, any Huffy is barely worth lifting into a scrap bin. For example, is a Hiawatha better made than a Monark? I realize condition and complete is very significant but should I grab any Columbia (again, for example) left at the curb? I tend to think anything with a department store label is average quality or less. Am I wrong? I’m biased toward Schwinn since they have a track record of well designed and built stuff.
Any insight is appreciated.
 
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Hey friends. So, I’ve always like the simplicity of single speed bikes and anything without cables is a positive in my book. I have a few(!!) lightweights from the 50s through the 80s and I’m vaguely aware what is desirable in that area but post-war through around 1965 American middleweight and heavyweight (sorry if that is not the correct term) bikes are a new thing for me.
My basic question - is there a general hierarchy of brands from post war through ~1965? Yes, I know, there are always exceptions but is there a basic rule of thumb? In road bike world, any Huffy is barely worth lifting into a scrap bin. For example, is a Hiawatha better made than a Monark? I realize condition and complete is very significant but should I grab any Columbia (again, for example) left at the curb? I tend to think anything with a department store label is average quality or less. Am I wrong? I’m biased toward Schwinn since they have a track record of well designed and built stuff.
Any insight is appreciated.
My suggestion if you are unsure just grab it and figure out its desirability afterwards. You will not get a definitive answer for your question here just a heated debate. I bleed Schwinn blue but one of my favorite bikes is my ‘46 Shelby Traveler. Grab them all and sort it out later.
 
There are a number of companies, Schwinn included I believe, that built bikes for hardware and other various stores and the bikes carried their logo. You referenced Hiawatha which was the store brand for Gambles Hardware. Gambles didn't make bikes. Some Hiawathas were made by Cleveland Welding, some by Shelby. So don't judge a book by it's cover.
 
There is no hierarchy. Any such list is purely subjective. Buy what you like and you will never be disappointed.
Best advise, couldn’t have said it any better.
Different strokes for different folks.
The adult single speed lightweight is a joy to ride, but most in the hobby wouldn’t look at one twice.
The 90 pound bike, made for a little kid is a beast to ride, and everybody goes gaga over it.
Go figure?
Vintage bikes are more about the way they look, than the way they ride, so I guess it depends on what you want to do with the bike?
That’s why you’re going to end up needing a storage unit. Lol!
They are all desirable for one reason or another.
 
If you're confining yourself to early 1960s and before, any of the major US-based manufacturers will be fine. It's all personal preference for style, features, and fit. As the 1960s went on, and into the 1970s, some of them significantly cheapened their products. It sounds as if you're looking at bikes from before that happened though, so it's pretty much wide open for you. If parts availability is a concern for you, a post-war bike from a larger maker is usually easier to find parts.
 
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As others have said and I full well agree, it is absolutely up to preference. For me, I always favored an Underdog, so Cleveland Welding Co. built [such as this 1950 Western Flyer Super],. Colson made some greats, Manton and Smith..
Take some time in the Galleries here. Themed days of the week are under a few different threads on here from Tail End Tuesday to Original Photos of bikes and their owners,. Etc. Explore. Discover. Learn. Youll find your footing as you go. We all end up at CWC eventually 😉😉😜

Welcome to the club.
[But seriously, let me know if you get one of these models, I run a Facebook page just for owners of these as well a few catch all groups~]

Robin 🎡
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