Just after snagging the derelict Scott Boulder a few weeks ago I made myself a mental note to be more careful about buying bikes on a whim because my cup/garage is flowing over. And so then just a few days ago I bought another bike on absolutely nothing more than a whim, because apparently I have no willpower whatsoever. You see, I had just run across a Youtube of Slow Roll Detroit and was thinking to myself, what a fun ride; no training, no planning, no worries, just ride. Then boom, Craigslist shows me a $20 bike with ape hanger bars and funky triple clamp forks, and four weird top tubes that sweep into a “finned” rear wheel drop out. It was a whim, not on my list of bikes that I wanted (or so I thought), just a whim and a fleeting thought about Slow Roll Ferndale (maybe something I should explore).
So I confirmed that $20 dollars was not a misprint, then arranged a time to go pick up my new ape hanger whim of a bike. Previous owner just had it as a fun bike, I think he said it was for a wedding, and maybe also that it had come from The Hub, which would explain why the bike, even though weird, is totally rideable and seems safe. Anyway, the bike has what looks like a flaking rattle can flat black paint job and with a Shimano 3 speed hub so I was thinking it was just a newish retro-bike with a bad bit of paint. Didn’t matter, it was just for fun.
I don’t tend to ride bikes that I haven’t safety checked. So I did a little Googling to see what I was working with. I figured that with the 4 bar top tube, it wouldn’t take too long to figure out what bike I had under the paint. Looking around the internet, first for visuals, the rear drop out was unique as well as the top bar. The drop out looked like many Murray bikes from the 1960’s, then looking at the top bar it only took a second before I narrowed my search to a series of Spaceliner bikes that Murray made for Sears around that time frames. This was beginning to be interesting, because owning a vintage bike with spacey gas tank or rockets was on my bike buck list. I found the serial number on that long, fairly long distinct rear drop out and after finding this forum page I quickly determined exactly what bike i was working with. Serial number 502 46901 0302353 belonged to a 1964-65 Sears Spaceliner bike, a bike that originally was all chrome, with a springer fork, and numerous accessories like gas tank, horn, tail light, rack and various reflectors. Whew, it wasn’t a whim bike, it was a bucket list bike ;).
I guess the slick chrome frame explains the flakey paint and the frame vintage explains the one piece crankset, but that is about where all of the Spaceliner evidence ended. As it sits, this Sears Spaceliner is about as far away from a restoration as is possible and since I have no design on restoration, I’ve decided to leave thing alone and just enjoy my new bike that I have affectionately named Space Ape, both for the obvious contraction of Spaceliner and Ape Hanger, but it also because it reminds me a bit of Magilla Gorilla.