Murray Monteray 3-speed
Dad got one of these for me when I was still in elementary school. It was maroon in color, unlike the one shown here, and had an internally-geared three-speed hub with what we kids called typical “English Racer” styling. Also missing on mine were the luggage racks. I recall turning the handlebars upside-down, allowing me to bend forward a bit more. Nice for getting around town at a fast pace, it was, however, a bit too large for my small size. I rode it for several years, and it was gone before I got out of 8th grade. I didn’t get another bike until after high school.
Schwinn Varsity, mid-70’s
I purchased two of these at the Schwinn shop in Lancaster so my first wife and I could ride around. Unfortunately, her idea of a ride was around a small city block, less than a quarter-mile. The bikes didn’t last more than a year or two before we put them in an auction to get rid of them. My frame was too small for me, being 23″, and made me feel cramped when riding.
Concord 10-speed, exact model unknown, late-70’s
This was my first real riding machine, and at the time, the cheapest 25″ frame I could get my hands on, costing about $140 at the now long-closed Bunny’s Cycles in the south end of Lancaster, Ohio. It had stem-mounted friction shifters, and I rode this bike all over town until mid-’84. At the time I was riding this bike, I had built a rear rack to hold a rifle scabbard, as well as a leather bag which hung under the rear of the seat. I put ammunition in the bag, a rifle in the scabbard, and an auto-loading pistol in a shoulder holster when riding this. I’d go through town, right by police cars, and even the station itself without so much as a blink or surprised look from these officers. I’d do this when enroute to some fields I used to tend to for a couple farmers that had sheep to worry about just south of town. I did a lot of varmint hunting back in those days, and this is the rig I used to get to them most of the time. I wouldn’t recommend this practice in today’s paranoid climate. A lot of Eastern Woodchucks met their demise at the hands of this outfit. Today you might get a nice white rubber suit and a long stay at some local jail for doing this.
Ah, the nice ride of this machine has lasted for me for years. I purchased this machine because I was single again, had some cash to spare, and just wanted a better machine than my old one. This was a nice ride, having a chrome-moly frame with quick-release hubs. I rode it all over town as well as down to Lake Logan, about 20 miles south of town. It is shown in the above pic with the Blackburn racks I got for it in ’85. I originally intended to tour on this machine, but a second marriage and children caused me to set aside those ideas. No regrets there to this day, even though the marriage is now over. In this pic you can see something I never noticed in the 25 years I rode this machine. The rear rack tilts back, and it’s something that can’t be corrected due to the design of it. I never noticed this at all until after I saw this pic, as I was always looking down at the rack from above. The only faults with this bike, despite it’s name, is the fact that there are no fenders, and the crank is a double. I’ve replaced the crank with a Sugino Triple and the pedals with double-sided ones that don’t “flip upside-down” on me. I took a ride with that triple installed to try it out and found I’d forgotten how to shift this machine! But, wow! What a difference that triple crank made in peddling! Back in the 80’s I passed a car on US Route #33 just south of Rockbridge, Ohio, using the stock high gears. I doubt I could duplicate that feat today, but I can climb hills much easier now. I don’t recommend passing cars, or going fast enough to do so these days, either.
I got this machine at a bike shop (now closed) in Circleville, Ohio, because of something that once happened to me while riding in North Carolina. The road pavement stopped, and I found myself riding in soft sand, which acted like a brake. One second I was moving along nicely, and the next second I was at a dead stop and falling over in soft sand. It was a soft, but embarrassing landing. The bike is shown above with the changes I made to it, such as racks, bags, and drop bars, which I much prefer. The tilt-stem is also nice. It also has the prototype front rack I made, which is bolted together, rather than welded. It’s much easier to find bolts than it is to find welders on the road. I’ve found that I can change the tires on this to high-pressure 1-1/2″ for road touring without swapping rims, which I may do soon. This bike frame is considered by many to be “bomb-proof”, and that feature alone would make it an ideal candidate for touring. I can always put the low-pressure knobbies back on if I need them.
I got this machine because I’d noticed that, whenever I leaned on the drops on my diamond-frame bikes, my elbows and shoulders felt like someone was driving a nail into them right at the joints. This took all the fun out of riding for several years until an ad on Craigslist caught my eye and I thought: “How bad can it be?” Several hundred dollars later I was riding again! While not the best choice for touring, it is a life-saver for those of us that live with joint pain. I rode this several times along the Adena Bike Trail from Nelsonville to Athens- a round-trip distance of about 46 miles. I’ve also ridden it from Lancaster to Nelsonville- a 72 mile round-trip. I got a sore tailbone and right ankle the first time I did these rides, but was fine afterwards. This is the bike I took to Florida for my first vacation. I just shoved it into the back of the truck and went. Whenever I wanted to ride around an area I got the bike out and went at it. First-class fun! Although this machine won’t carry much luggage, I have an adapter on the opposite side for hitching up my bike trailer, which is shown below.
I got this while living in the Washington, DC metro area to haul my son around the local bike paths. I continued using it when we moved back to Ohio for a couple years until he was big enough to ride his own bike. I was planning on getting a flatbed trailer to haul luggage around with, but decided not to, as there’s no need to purchase another trailer to do what this one will already exceed. As a bonus, the higher sides allow me to hook a solar panel on top for charging batteries, should I require it. It’s shown above hooked to my Giant Boulder, and you can see I have plenty of clearance for the rack and pannier bag. It’s got a bit of mildew on it from hanging in a damp area of the garage for years, but it still functions well. I may have to swap the cloth out in the future.
I unhooked the strap so you could see how this hitch works. While that black object looks like mere plastic, it’s actually a very firm rubber cover for the large spring inside. This is what makes this hitch work so well. You can put your child in one of those idiotic seats on the rear rack of your bike, or you can hook him into one of these bike trailers with their built-in safety harness and roll cage! I can toss the bike over and the trailer won’t budge at all, loaded or not! Try knocking your bike over with a kid in those rear-mounted seats and see how much it costs to fix your child. A trailer is cheap insurance that pays off in years of safety and fun for your child, especially when you consider the cost of one emergency-room visit. Do I even have to mention the emotional trauma your child will face in those on-the-bike seats when you fall over? I can’t speak for you, but my child’s safety was worth way more than the cost difference I payed for this trailer. In addition, I now have a very good luggage trailer. You don’t need a top-of-the-line unit, either. You can get an excellent trailer used for about the same price you’d pay for one of those rear-mounted “bike seats”. A new one won’t break your bank, either. Check out Wal-Mart or other places that sell bikes and accessories, or try the online auctions and listings. Someone is almost always trying to unload one of these as their kids outgrow them.
And finally, my idea of a dream ride:
This home-built Tour-Easy clone was built by Steve Sussman, and is exactly like my own idea of how it should be done, right down to the butterfly handlebars. I’ll likely add low-rider front racks and handlebar mounts for some accessories. I also plan to modify a trailer to tow behind it for some camping excursions. All yet to be done, but I’m still dreaming at this point. My own build will come later.
Go forth, and ride on!