A few months ago a woman named Ann stopped by The Bicycle Escape with a very rusty bicycle and a story. The story goes that she grew up with little material wealth. The one treasure from her childhood was the pictured secondhand bicycle. It is a 1940s Sears J.C. Higgins cruiser. Ann’s goal with the restoration was to recapture a slice of her childhood and to proudly display this vintage machine in her home.

As the pictures suggest this was a daunting task. The bike was badly weathered. Rust and caked grease were everywhere. Parts were bent, cracked, and missing. Keeping the bike totally original was not a concern but maintaining a nostalgic look was important. With that in mind, we replaced the crank front wheel, seat, bar and stem, and of course the tires and tubes. The rear wheel was rebuilt using the original hub. This way we could retain the original character–adding skip-link chain and rings. The Chainring was brought back to life with help from Frederick’s Brass and Copper Shop. Due to the extreme damage to the chain guard we had Paul of Brass Knuckle Kustom Work repair and reshape the guard.

While Paul hammered away, we stripped the rest of the bike and cleaned, degreased, and degreased, and degreased… The seat post is much thinner than modern styles so we machined an adapter to make the new saddle fit just right. We created new rack struts using fender hardware, cut the stem shaft down for a better fit, and did all sorts of other things that I have forgotten.

The frame came out of finishing looking bright and shiny. For this project we used Chris of Toxic Art who applied a combination of powder coat and wet paint. The reassemble of the bike went smother than anticipated and the finished product is even more amazing that we imagined.

Finally, the bike is ready for a warm and joyful homecoming. Thank you Ann for the challenge and thrill of another Bicycle Escape restoration project!

5 comments

  1. Great Job! A young girl brought by an old JC Higgins to that looks about in the same shape. I took one look and thought “No Way!”

    But you guys did an amazing job. I am wondering about the cost…

  2. It is hard to estimate prices on jobs like this because each bike has its own issues. The big thing is the'body type work' and finishing. We have had that run between $500-$1100. Of course the more rust and dings the more it costs.

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