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Sears Spyder, Schwinn StingRay and Velodromes

Before retirement, I used to be active on a telecom manager listserve. Telecom, as you might suspect is mostly Old Technology, inhabited by old farts. There are exceptions, like Jess G, the 20-something editor of Voice Report, who thinks I should be Twittering, but she doesn’t count. I have Power Bars in my bike bag older than she is.

The Sears Spyder was perfect for that demographic

At the risk of going seriously off-topic, which I’m known to do, I posted a link to the story about Bro Mark’s Sears Spyder to the group. (I slipped back on topic by pointing out that my mother still has the rotary dial telephone that we used to talk on when Mark was riding his bicycle. She had been paying a monthly charge on that phone from the late 50s until the 80s when I happened to look at her bill.)

A Schwinn Stingray, not a Sears Spyder

Within minutes, Don, a list member chimed in:

This is almost a newspaper story….

In 1963 I got my first paper route at the age of ten. 86 papers, twice a week, 1.5 cents per paper, wore the over-the-shoulder double bag (pull from front till empty, spin it around). I was gettin’ rich and used the money to buy a new bike.

Enter my shiny new single speed Schwinn StingRay – knobby rear tire (white sidewalls), sissy bar, padded banana seat, riser bars, chrome fenders, the works. Somewhere there are photos of me lovingly washing that blue and chrome steed, but can’t put my hands on them.

Thanks for drawing a memory from deep in the banks. Oh, and we’ve talked cycling before, thought you might like to see what my latest crazy passion is.

I currently hold the 55-59 age record for fastest lap at 9.636 seconds (once the good guys get to the track it will be shredded I’m sure). I’m also sporting some scrapes from a couple of spills so wondering just how foolish this is for an old man…

Hope retirement is serving you well, and glad to see you still posting. Ride on!

Velodrome has 45-degree banking!

I had seen some of the Tour de France stages end in a track finish, but I never had any idea about how steep the banks are.

There is just something wrong about wanting to ride your bicycle on a slant a mountain goat couldn’t negotiate.

Don’s a better man than me.

The Aussies weigh in

Two members of an Australian biking forum came up with suggestions.

hey Ken
I’m with you there, my brother tore up my Felix the Cat comic back in about 1958, still can’t let him off for that. At least the bike looks complete, which is always a good start, maybe you’ll have a change of heart after thinking about it for a while.

Haunt ebay and craigslist

Another Aussie had a better idea:

… bugger him, restore it for yourself or your kids. Collect more for parts, then restore them after finding more for parts, spend up big geting a stupidly rare one for your “partner”, dont worry if they protest they dont like riding it, it will look great in the shed under a white sheet next to the others, start buying some NOS stuff , start hording it just in case, spend hours on ebay searching for that special mild steel bolt you need to finish the complete NOS frame you found on craigs list (you know the bolt I mean, the one that has a squiggly line on it, not like the one at the local bolt shop for 10c without the squiggly line)…… etc etc etc……………….

Spyder claims a tooth

Bwana, a poster in another group didn’t have happy memories about his Spyder:

I lost a tooth riding a Sears Spyder in the mid-60s. The handlebar hadn’t been properly tightened in the stem, and I was pedaling out of the seat. Next thing I knew, I was doing a faceplant. After that I didn’t much care for the Spyder/Stingray look.

When I suggested that he at least learned a valuble lesson: make sure your bolts are tight, he replied:

Well, I was like 8 or 9 at the time, and I’m fairly sure my father didn’t have any tools other than a hammer and a screwdriver. But a few years later, with what I’d learned from my maternal grandfather and some tools he gave me, I did start doing my own wrenching. Still, tall handlebars like on the Spyder seem inherently unsafe, lots of leverage there to rotate them in the stem.

7 comments to Sears Spyder, Schwinn StingRay and Velodromes

  • SLM

    Urf. I have ridden the velodrome here in St. Louis (http://mobikefed.org/2005/06/st-louiss-penrose-park-velodrome-comes.php) which is outside and it was a chore to get around it several times. Check out the photos on the website, “Older photos of the velodrome can be seen here & here.”

    Never ridden on a velodrome inside, that screams of road rash sliding across that surface. At least the outside velodrome in St. Louis is tar sealant based so you know what you are getting into if you scrape it.

    But DANG, as if it wasn’t enough I’ve got an older brother riding me hard on just about everything that he is and I am not, NOW I got Aussie’s who are coming to his defense? Let me first say that I had a WONDERFUL time years ago when I spent nearly a month “down under” and hope to return someday. But I can’t watch my front and back, or my up and my down (one continent being North and the other South) at the same time. What say we give a little brother some room, huh?

    Now about those comic books that older brother Ken likes to dangle over my head with glee. The comics weren’t in mint condition when I got around to paging through them. In fact, I went online to look at comic book ratings and I would say they were not in good shape according to the standards set by re-sellers. They were heavily worn, torn and in some places stained. I will admit that we were not handling them with kid gloves (no pun intended) but Ken didn’t exactly say at the time, “now I’m planning on retiring on these some day, so take it easy with them….” If that were the case then the attic at home wouldn’t still be full of treasures he has turned his back on either. No, I think he doth protest too much, to butcher the sentiments of a better Bard than myself.

    AND for the record, since we are trying to set it straight. For all the talk and reminiscing about “I had a paper route that immediately followed Lewis and Clark as they forged a new way….” at least I still have MY bike. His bike, the one he and Sacajawea shared when she was subbing for him, is NOWHERE to be found. And don’t be wagging your finger at me, I was too little to ever ride it. Not only did my bike survive, but it’s still in good enough shape to be resurrected back into its old glory. Whew. Good to get that off my mind.

    I’m sure that I haven’t heard the end of this yet.

  • kls

    Bro Mark, Sir,

    In the interest of full disclosure, it should be acknowledged that we have a middle brother, so it is possible that my pristine comic books were somewhat “handled” by the time you came along.

    I have to admit that I don’t know what happened to my bike. So far, I have only come across one picture of it and even then it was way off in the background as an afterthought.

    Unlike your fancy bike, mine, like my Long Haul Trucker, was a working bike.

    It was a Schwinn single-speed with a monster reinforced front basket for carrying newspapers. I had a horn and mostly ineffective headlight. I recall that I had reflective tape on the fenders and mudflaps, but I don’t remember if I had a taillight or official real reflector.

    Since I was delivering papers in the dusk and dark and I’m still alive, I must have been visible.

    My destructive younger brothers probably blew it up with cherry bombs.

  • SLM

    “I’m sure that I haven’t heard the end of this yet.”

    Yes, let’s blame David. And since he NEVER gets on the internet, word is they don’t have it Oklahoma yet….he will never see that we agree on this aspect of the mishandled comic books. Bad David, bad.

    I suspect that your bike ended up down at SK&J under a pile of rubbish that was later compacted by a D-7 Caterpillar tractor. Metal detector anyone?

  • jim macomber

    i do i get a book on parts for a sear spyder stingray

  • Blair

    My 1969 Sears Spyder 24″ decided to knock me out the other day when the the chain broke and sent me lurching forward into the handlebars at full speed….only makes me love her more.

  • kevin

    i am restoring a bike just like this, does anybody know the exact name of the color of the paint i cant find it