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My Brother’s Abused Sears Spyder Bicycle

Kid Brother Mark sent me a crankygram all the way from frigid St. Louis yesteday complaining that I hadn’t updated the site in a couple of days. I didn’t really owe him an explanation, but I said that I had been busy with mandated projects around the house. One of those is cleaning out a storage shed behind the house. It was tented for termites this summer and Wife Lila’s brother John is coming in a week to repair the damage.

This fell out of a box

While shuffling boxes around that hadn’t been touched in 20+ years, this clipping fell out. It looked like Bro Mark’s Sears Spyder bicycle that shows up as a header on this site from time to time.

Yep, big tire in back, tiger-skin banana seat, sissy bar, high-rise bars, that’s it all right.

Don’t you agree?

No doubt about it, THAT’S the bike.

Just to be sure, I pulled it out of the shed where it had been collecting dust since last summer.

What was it doing there?

That’s a long story. It seems like Bro Mark must have gotten tired of his faithful steed at some point and it was consigned to an outside lumber shed at Dad’s construction company’s complex at Dutchtown, MO.

You may have heard of Dutchtown on the national news. It has a minuscule population, but it tends to have a 100-year Mississippi River flood about every 10 years.

Here’s Mark – who was a whole lot cuter when he was riding his Sears Spyder – in a canoe surveying the four feet of flood water in the mechanic’s shed during the Flood of ’93.

He has that look because I had just pointed out that water moccasins were probably perched all around looking for high ground.

I rescued it

A couple of summers ago, I rescued it and hauled it up to St. Louis on one of our visits. I thought he’d like to make a wall hanging out of it. (He collects old and worthless things. Perhaps that’s why he always makes me feel welcome.)

That’s when I started feeling guilty

A really considerate brother would have restored it to its original beauty before delivering it. I mean, let’s overlook the fact that he trashed all my 50’s comic books, broke all my toys and tried to kill me on a bike ride a few years back.

I had Matt bring it to West Palm Beach

Kid Matt was back in the Midwest, so I had him swing by and pick up the Spyder and bring it here for restoration. He threw it on his bike rack and hauled it 1,100 miles. Unfortunately, the tiger-skin material on the saddle didn’t like being buffeted by hurricane-force winds and deteriorated a bit more on the trip home.

What the heck is this thing?

At first, I thought it might have been a Schwinn Stingray.

Then I actually looked at the bike. It had a Sears logo on the head tube.

Patience isn’t my strong suit, Wife Lila likes to point out, so I immediately started Googling Sears vintage bicycles. A gazillion hits popped up, but none that looked exactly like Mark’s bike. It SOUNDED like a Spyder, but most of them had top tube-mounted shifters that were short-lived because they made too many riders change gender. I was confused.

When in doubt, LOOK

Right there, just barely sticking out above the rust enough paint survived to spell out Spyder name on the chainguard.

Apparently they made a single speed model in addition to the three and five-speed ones that were more common. Santa Claus probably figured that a one-speed was all he could handle.

Mississippi River mud ain’t lube

Somewhere along the line, one pedal came up missing, the tires are rotted (but look like they might have been the originals) and the front crank has many coatings of Mississippi River mud.

The seat tube has a pretty severe bend, but the metal’s not broken. Either Mark was chubbier than he looks in the black & white picture or someone heavy rode it at some point.

Fenders have a nice flare

Despite all the rust, the fenders still have a nice flare to them. This is NOT a light bike. Even though it’s a lot smaller, it feels about as heavy as my base Surly Long Haul Trucker. It’s definitely heavier than Mark’s Trek Madone.

So, what do we do with this thing?

My first stop was to see Wayne at Bicycle. He likes working on old bikes and making something out of nothing. I figured he’d say something like, “I’ve got just the thing that’ll make that look new. It’s gonna be fun.”

Actually, what he did was let out something like a low whistle and started talking about sandblasting it down to bare metal and taking it to a place where they would do powdercoating and how much of a challenge it was going to be to come up with the tiger-skin fabric.

When he reached for the calculator I knew I was in trouble.

There were too many commas and zeroes in the numbers I saw him punching in. Before it overheated and set the shop on fire, I turned and slowly (which is the only way it goes with those dry-rotted tires) pushed the bike back to my van.

In reflection (bad pun of the day)

You hit the point where the lottery numbers continue to elude you and your 401K is more like a 199.5K, so you have to make some hard choices. Yep, you love your Bro Mark. But not THAT much.

Now, if you hadn’t torn up all those vintage comics books, THEN I might have been able to restore your bike for you.

Too bad. That’ll teach ya.

46 comments to My Brother’s Abused Sears Spyder Bicycle

  • SLM

    Before I wade in too deep (there seem to be traps everywhere in this posting beginning with “Abused”) just how much did Wayne think it would take to make it look like new again?

    Once you pop that bubble of regaining my memories of youth, I will approach the witness stand, take my seat and set the court straight…

  • kls

    I’ll revisit the issue of your abused baby again. I’m guessing it was in the vicinity of $600 or $800.

    Of course, he was looking at doing it right.

    You could probably do it for less if you cut some corners.

    I’ll stick it in the car along with the steamer trunk when we come back to Cape and you can play with it. Unless, you want to open the checkbook and let Wayne run amuck.

    I’ll subsidize the project up to about $200. But you have to leave it to me in your will.

  • Lurch1

    Wow. Those photos bring back memories. I had a bike like that as a kid, maybe a Stingray. And the 10-speed I used in college in the ’70s had a cross-tube shifter like you mentioned. I rarely changed gears for fear of crashing.

    All this made me curious to see if I could find a chart showing the evolution of the bicycle.

    This is sorta what I was looking for, but it doesn’t name the bikes or include my childhood bikes like they Spyder or Stingray:
    http://www.purposegames.com/game/bicycle-evolution-quiz

    This link has too-few photos, but scroll down for an interesting chart showing advances in bike types and technology:
    http://www.jimlangley.net/ride/bicyclehistorywh.html

  • If it were my bike, I wouldn’t go for a full restoration. I’d just fix the wheels and drive train. The frame should stay rusted and the chrome unpolished. You gotta fix the seat, too. The rust adds charm. Otherwise, it looks too new.

    If you remember correctly, Uncle Mark said he’d do the Memphis MS-150 on the Spyder if you could get it fixed up in time.

    —Matt

  • SLM

    Seriously? 6-$800? Would that bring it back to as near original as one can get? I mean, other than getting into an DeLorean DMC-12 and racing it up to 88 MPH and going back in time and snagging one and bringing it back to my zip code. I’m tempted….to pay, not rev up the DeLorean.

    Matt, ah about that comment. Were there any witnesses when this alleged statement was made? I think you might have dreamt that. But hey, it’s not like it’s a fixed gear bike, it coasts.

  • I have witnesses! Deeds was there. Sarah and Malcolm too.

    The seat is the key to bringing the Spyder back to life. If you can’t source the right leopard print seat, the rest of the bike will suffer. I searched the internet last October and couldn’t find a good replacement. That is when I lost interest.

    —Matt

  • kls

    Bro Mark,

    If those numbers don’t scare you off, want me to wheel it back to Wayne and have him work up a real estimate?

  • Charles Keefer

    The thing is priceless. The childhood memories … The leopard seat … $800 is a small price to pay for a restoration.

    Then you can sell it on ebay for $500, which is the highest bid for a 1971 Schwinn Stingray.

    But then what do I know? I paid $600 to restore an antique Viner touring bike just so I could hang it in my living room.

  • Larry

    I had a 1966 3spd Spyder. ALL CHROME FRAME(seriously, if it wasn’t painted red as trim or rubber, it was chrome , White Seat with Red Flame, 2.125″ Slick, redline 20×1.75 Front Tire, Twist Shift on right grip, Hand brakes, and it was $53.95 in the 1965 XMAS catalog.

    DAD: “You want it, you save up for it!”

    So I put ALL of my paper route money away for 6 months, no candy, no soda, no comics….just call me Ralphie (Red Ryder BB Gun).
    Come time to buy one and I went to the store. NOTHING ON THE FLOOR! CRAP!!!! “Ya mean I got to order it???”….I’ll come back on Thursday when the shipment comes in.” Walking out thru Garden dept, I spied a front wheel sticking out thru the front door of one of the metal sheds. Go take a look. HOT DAMN! Grabbed that sucker like a pimple faced kid on a peperoni pizza. Had a death grip all the way to the checkout.
    Both parents worked part time at Sears, so I got a HEALTHY discount on the Floor Model (I paid $35. and tax)

    After we moved to Hawaii a couple years later (dad in Navy), I did a complete overhaul (tires, tubes, lube, chain, cables, adjustments). Locked it up in the carport. That night, some bas#%@ came by and cut the chain and stole it. That was 1968. I STILL HOPE the SOB got terminal roadrash from dumping it into a pineapple field.

    That was a great looking bike.

    Larry

  • Larry,

    I feel your pain. Of course, they say, “Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

    The guy who said that has obviously never had a Spyder stolen from his carport.

  • mb

    all three of us, (my brother, sister and myself), got these for christmas 1965 i think it was. they had red huffy grips, front handbrake, chrome chain guard and fenders. the paint was gold metallic, and of course they had the tiger seat with a silver border. i thought the seat was a little flaming, but when we moved in 1967, the kids in my new neighborhood thought it was cool. they weren’t that good for wheelies- i borrowed someone else’s small sprocket sting ray for that, but they were just as good overall.

  • mb,

    Did you check out the follow-up Spyder posting?

    I’m scanning old negs going back to the stone age and I found some more pictures of Bro Mark’s Spyder. They may show up later.

  • Alan Hopkins

    Hello Ken.
    I cant believe i finally found it. My Aunt and uncle bought me this same bike when i was staying with them over the summer.I saved my money and bought a 4′ sissy bar and red wall tires for it.
    God i was in love with that bike.
    I rode it to ( elementary ) school the next year and it was stolen.
    It was recovered about 2 months later , trashed of cource but i was thrilled to have it back.
    it eventually was discarded by my parents when i did not have the money to fix it.
    I have been looking for it to find out what it was, i thought it was from Sears but was not sure.
    I knew it had a Tiger or lepard seat and after looking at your pictures it all came back to me. i remember it now.
    If you want to sell this PLEASE let me know, i restore cars so fixing the bike would not be a problem.
    If not thanks for the pictures you have sparked many plesant memories

  • Alan Hopkins

    Ken , My email is
    rivershore@cox.net
    if you deside to sell it.
    Thanks,
    Alan

  • banjogrrrl

    Daaaannnng. Without delving into the family dynamics, I can tell you for sure that Wayne is one of the last people I’d take that bike to if I knew people like Krusher, Junkman, and Mikey (Schwinncollector) Smith… oh, wait! I do! And so do you, Mr. Steinhoff, sir…

  • Hi, I was just bumping arount the net and saw this page. The bike is in saveable shape, sure you will need many parts, but I have save worse!

    The hardest part will be the seat, you will find one. I’ve seen them on e-bay from time to time. I could have got a full bike with a seat for less than a seat will sell for at times ( Not same bike , but same seat )..

    I would fix it up, use another seat untill you find the right one.

    Bill

  • Sandblaster

    It is great to see the bike that you rescued.

    It’s like a little piece of history.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Rita

    I have that same exact bike in my garage.. Had it since I was a kid.. Still looks pretty good (use to polish & wax it a lot back then). Think the only thing I change on it was a larger sissy bar.
    Don’t know what it’s worth and not willing to sell it yet!!

  • Rita,

    Maybe you and Mark could park your Spyders side-by-side and if they aren’t too old and feeble, you might end up with a fleet of little tricycles.

  • Rita

    LOL…
    Actually, Mine still looks pretty good.. Was never left or stored outside. And stayed in So. Cal all it’s life.

  • Alan

    Rita,
    If you do decide to sell it please give me a crack at it. rivershore@cox.net
    Thanks,
    Alan

    • smooth-affairs

      I have a bike identical to this one. Found this thread while looking it up online. I’d be willing to sell it if your interested.

  • Rita

    Sure will Alan,
    What do ya think it’s worth in good shape???

  • Alan

    Hey Rita,
    No Idea,
    like the old saying,
    Its worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
    Seriously i would like to have it and would probably wall mount it to remind me of my longggg ago youth.

  • Awwww, I found my old bike years back in the garage. I asked my dad if I could keep it for sentimental reasons but he said no, knowing I would never a) ride it or b) fix it. It’s nice to have some memories though.

  • Bill

    Who started this thread ? How can I get an e-mail to you ? Or you can e-mail me ?
    billmason_1@lycos.com

  • Rita

    Not sure of the guy’s name who started this thread… But he should respond just by your posting..

  • Alan

    Rita…
    I have been working overtime to save up some money for you.
    Are you ready to make an old man happy yet ?
    Gee that sounded dirty didnt it ?

  • Bill

    Thanks Rita, They have been in contact.
    Thing is I have been offered a 1966 Sears Spyder, mint in its own reguard. As much as i would love to have it. I felt here it may have a great home.
    [IMG]http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/zz61/CustomCruse/b5916644711df497011d3b08695fc9d91a6.jpg[/IMG]

  • Rita

    Guess your posts were deleted Alan..
    But I got it any way… LOL.

  • Rita,

    I have to confess that this thread has been a little confusing to me. Bill had a couple of misfires in posting his address, so I cleaned up those messages and deleted the ones that were errors.

    For some reason, the blog’s spam filter has been working overtime lately. I logged in the other day and had 168 messages snagged, all of them spam.

    I hope I didn’t delete anything by accident.

    It’s funny how the spammers will key in on specific topics. Brooks saddles attracts all kinds of ads for kinky animal sex.

  • Well, thanks to Ken’s reply, contacting his brother Mark. Mark contacted Me and I put Mark in contact with Kenny. Who posted a 1966 Sears Spyder for sale.
    Mark has bought the bike and you will likely have its update in a Month or so.
    I would have loved to have had the bike, but did not need it. I have 32 vintage bikes now !
    Glad to know it is going to a good home. Mark now has a Sweet original bike , that is next to new for being 44 years old !

    Congratulations Mark, enjoy an Take care.

  • bob pollack

    Hey wd 40 and some tires was all that spyder needed. A clean bike is a sign of a sick mind.

  • Randy Wachlin

    I had one of those same bikes! It was a goldish bronze in color with the tiger striped seat. Single speed. This was around 1965 or 1966 when I got it. I added a taller sissy bar on mine so I could be a chopper rider! I ride a Harley today but man back then that ol’ Spyder was a Harley to me! Wish I had another one!

  • Michael

    What a cool idea to restore that bike. I’m sure it’ll look as good as new when you’re done with it. Maybe you can post some “after” so we can see how it looks?

  • rockitflash

    Wow,I had this exact bike.I had to earn my own money to pay for it.It was 1969? I cut grass and threw papers,and after I got the bike,I would strap paper bags on the seat,or tow my mower with the bike.Sadly,I opted to walk a pretty girl home from school,left the bike overnight,and it was stolen.

  • mb

    what year is this? myself and my older brother and sister each got a new one for christmas in ’64 or ’65. they had gold metallic paint, chrome fenders and chain guard, and that distinctive tiger striped banana seat (which i wasn’t too keen on at first, then some other kids saw it and thought it was cool, so i went with it.)they were made by huffy for sears. ours had a different design front sprocket, though, and the front fender went forward more. they were great bikes, lots of fun, also good for towing skateboarders who could hold on to the seat support bar at the rear. i bought a reproduction gold sting ray a few years ago, close as i could get to my old ride. of course now i look like a circus bear if i ride it.

  • mister bingham

    hey i had one of these i pretty much think. did they have tiger handle grips with steamers this was my fist bike probebly68 or 70 please sombody reply its been so long i think about this every christhmas and has trying to rechearch from time to time

  • rock213

    I have a. 66 sears spyder for sale email me if you want to make an offer
    http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u389/ybr213456/2012-01-20160801-1.jpg

  • Dana

    My brother and I got the same bikes for Christmas one year, looked the same with the same seat also. We had some wild times with those, the seat was a great improvement, we could attach a variety of ropes, hooks, whatever! Those were the days! Thanks for the post…..

  • Drew Echols

    I had the very same bike also. I got mine Christmas of ’66. Had a great time with it. Went to Germany in ’67 and back with me and my dad who was in the Army. My mom had it in her garage for decades and finally sold it about 12 years ago. It was still in good condition for its age.

  • There’s an ad out on the internet right now from a guy looking for a bike exactly like that. Apparently he had one as a kid and he’s missing it. Now he wants another one.

    For whatever it’s worth, I had a purple one with a slick on the back. Best bike ever.

  • Rita

    I Still have my Original spider. I believe the only thing changed on it were/are.. The handle grips and a little larger sissy bar. I must pull it off the rack and post photos. It never sat outside, however, there is light surface rust from moisture. The bike has lived in Southern Califorina all it’s many years with me, so I should be able to buff it out, for the most part!

  • richard

    Hello, It sounds as though someone may want to buy a sears spyder mark 7 ? I have had this since I was a kid, The bike is a three speed with a completely chrome frame, has the original shifter grip, handle bars, fenders and chain guard.It also has the original tires, Wide flat racing slick in the rear and front tire is original also. It is in fairly good shape and has spent its life inside, I guess that’s why it has not been stolen. The seat is all silver with heavy metal flake sparkles( for lack of a better description) I was told that it is not the original, but it has been on the bike since the late sixties. 7323330641,nj

  • colleen

    I’ve been looking for a group that deals in just these….
    Spider bikes!
    I have my old one boys 5 spd. And just found my sisters bandanna seat off her pink one…
    Mine had a slick on the back and I want to replace it with the same. I believe it was a white wall too!
    And Which bike had the “wild one” on the chain guard?? Found some of those and another gold banana seat too.

  • Kirk

    I got the same bike for Christmas 1966. Gold metallic frame, chrome chain guard that said “Spyder Super 44″ Drive”. Red grips, left front hand brake. Goodyear slick in the back. Tiger print banana seat with silver piping around the edge. I always LOVED the tiger seat, no one else had one like that.

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