Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monark Silver King, 1947

For reasons that don’t make any sense, I’m on the lookout for an old-fashioned men’s 3-speed bicycle – preferably a vintage 1950s Raleigh.

This isn’t something I plan on spending any significant amount of money on. In fact, I have great confidence that I’ll get one for free someday.

There are probably thousands of bikes like these stashed away in garages and mini-storage units all over the world. It’s only a matter before their owners pull them out and declare them “worthless pieces of crap” after discovering that the tires are flat and that they don’t look like the bicycles used in the Tour de France.

They’ll then be wheeled out to the curb with “free” signs on them, dropped at a thrift store, or tossed into a pile of scrap metal at the junk yard.

So I just need to keep checking the usual sources and remain patient and vigilant.

Today I thought I had found something similar to what I’m looking for when I saw an advertisement for a free 1947 Monark 3-speed on craigslist. I called the owner, who informed me to come and get it before it was tossed in the trash.

When I arrived at the person’s home in Eureka, a woman informed me that this was her sister’s bicycle, purchased in 1947 – back when Harry Truman was president and the Marshall Plan had just been proposed.

Monark Silver King

This isn’t what I was looking for, but I didn’t want to see it end up in the landfill, so I took it home. I have no idea what, if anything, I’ll do with it. Just for the heck of it, I pumped up the tires, straightened the handlebars and tested it out. Everything works, including the internal 3-speed hub. Not bad for a 60-year-old bike.

monark name plate

Check out this cool plate on the front.

old seat

This is a crude, heavy version of those fancy Brooks saddles that are all the rage at high-end shops.

license plate

I like the idea of bicycles having license plates. An interesting tidbit about 1953 is that it's the year that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed Mt. Everest, making them the first to reach the summit.

Monarch fender

Rust is our enemy, yet it's kind of beautiful. At least I think so. I also like how the front fender has a little fin on it. That's a Goodyear tire.

Sturmey Archer Shifter

Perhaps my nerdiness has reached a new level, being that I find myself completely fascinated by this Sturmey Archer shifter. My gut tells me that this little item is the most valuable thing on the whole bike. Notice that it's made in England for a 3-speed or 4-speed bike. I didn't know they made 4-speed internal hubs.

Monark chain guard

Nice chainguard.

4 Comments:

Blogger Carson Park Ranger said...

Beautiful.
Oxidized, but beautiful.

7:49 PM  
Blogger gb05 said...

My wife & I bought new 3-speed Phillips (British company) bikes in (about) 1970. Had kiddie seats on them & tooled around east Anaheim with them. I got restless & upgraded to a skinny-wheel Raleigh Gran Sport a few years later (over $300) - used to ride it down the river trail to the ocean & back Saturdays & Sundays (early AM before the kiddies got on the trail). Also rode it every night after work when I could (on the river trail or on semi-rural roads in the hills east of town). Great exercise. We still have my Raleigh & the wife's Phillips hanging in the garage. Gonna get 'em down one of these days....

3:59 PM  
Blogger Jerome said...

You could sell it on Ebay! Sometimes folks pay a wack for something like this. I like it. If it were mine, I keep it just for the sake of having it.

11:57 AM  
Blogger OrangeElmo said...

Hey, I had a Monark bike when I was a kid! I lived in the suburbs of Chicago. It was pink, had fat tires, and only one speed. My parents bought it, of course without asked me what I might want in the way of a bike. (A pattern repeated for the next 20 years. *sigh*)

I hated it and did any scut work job I could wheedle out of them for 2 years to save money for a skinny tire... which I finally got.. a used British 3 speed. It was about impossible to ride because the chain kept derailing, but it was light years in coolness past the fat tire Monark. Later I got a used Peugeot 10 speed that was the bomb. Still have it.

5:47 PM  

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