Three Speed(s) Spotted: Sears in disguise? And Ray Inkley.

This post originally appeared on Urban Adventure League on 15-Nov-2011.
It’s Twofer Tuesday here at the station rockin’ the Willamette Valley, KUAL!*
And the bikes chosen for the “twofer” were found at the on-street bike rack on SE Stark St at 12th, in front of Sweetpea Bakery/Herbivore/Food Fight/that tattoo place. Yes, Portland’s “Vegan” block. The bikes were spotted last Wednesday, November 9, when April and I were on our way to Vancouver.
First up is the mystery bike.

The head badge and any identifying decals have been removed or covered up, replaced by a gaudy lime green paint job. What kind of bike is it?
I’m no bike expert, but I think I’ve guessed what this vintage three-speed ladies frame bike is. A Sears. Or more specifically, a “Made in Austria” Sears. I mentioned this interesting “collabo” while talking about the Ska Huffy. During the ’60’s Sears seemed to really want to compete with bike shops by offering decent quality bikes that were cheaper than what could be purchased at a bike shop but better than a Walmart. Since no America company save for Schwinn were really making “quality” bikes (and Schwinn wouldn’t make rebadged department store bikes by this point), and Japan was a blip on the horizon, the place to go was Europe. (The dollar was much stronger then!) It would have seemed logical for Sears to get Raleigh to make a three-speed for them, but instead they went to Steyr-Puch in Austria. Steyr-Puch primarily made three-speeds for Sears, but did also make a few early ten speeds for the behemoth American retailer. By the mid-seventies it was more economical for Sears to get its bikes made in Japan or the US and they seemed to care less about quality at this point, so they stopped selling “Made in Austria” Sears bikes.
The main clue that makes me think it’s a Sears-Puch is the three speed hub:
It’s not a Sturmey-Archer, nor a Shimano.** It’s a Sachs Torpedo.
Sachs Torpedos were used on the Sears-Puch three-speeds, and I doubt there are other bikes that we’d find of this age in the US that would have a Sachs hub. More about Sachs/SRAM here.


It also has three piece cottered cranks, when all American bikes of this era (save high-high end Schwinn and small framebuilders) used one-piece Ashtabula cranks.
And lugs. Also something you didn’t really see in the US.


And the tires? 26″ x 1 3/8″, aka E.A.3, aka 650A, aka 590mm. Still in pretty nice condition.
The one major bummer of this bike besides the paint job is the lack of parts. No front brake, shifter cable, etc. No worries! The person selling the bike ($45 when I last checked) has all the parts. They can be found at St. Francis. Why don’t you go make an offer?*****

The other bike that caught my eye was this pinkish lovely:

The first thing that caught my eye other than the paint job was the brand. Ray Inkley. Not much I can find on the internets other than Ray Inkley was a racer and framebuilder from the UK, building bikes in Lincoln, UK during the 70’s and 80’s. So it’s quite exotic as it is.

But upon closer inspection I notice: IT’S A THREE SPEED! Sturmey-Archer, of course.

I couldn’t tell which S-A hub, though. I thought it might be a more exotic fixed gear three-speed hub. But when I blew up the photo, I could tell it is an AW hub, the “standard.”

I really like all the attention to detail, like the matching grips and U-Lock “cozie”. Someone really loves this bike.

And loves Brixton as well.


Next up a “twofer” from BadCo!

*Yes, I do realize there is a KUAL and it is located in Minnesota.
**I don’t think there was ever an American manufacturer of three speed hubs. The most we got was the two speed kickback, which was made by Bendix and/or New Departure. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

2 thoughts on “Three Speed(s) Spotted: Sears in disguise? And Ray Inkley.

  1. My fiance and I both love our three speeds (mine a Triumph and hers a Robin Hood) and our bicycle shop has gotten to be very adept at restoring the old three speeds. They’re perfect town bikes and so versatile. We found one of the Sears Austrian bikes, a lady’s frame with a Magura grip shift, in a machine shed on a friend’s farm.I was so impressed by the quality when I was refurbishing it. We almost have it back to full working order and are thrilled with the results.

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