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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

AUTOPSY OF A CHEAP HUFFY BEACH CRUISER BICYCLE


I've always loved the beach cruiser cantilever frame. I've built 2 such bikes in my lifetime so far and my recent interest in rat rod bikes has brought me full circle and I am totally hooked. Last week in the dead of winter I stumbled upon this red Huffy cruiser in our local kijiji site and couldn't believe my luck. The price was right($85) and the mere fact of finding one around here was amazing.

So I brought my new baby home and decided to start the transformation right away by removing stuff that I didn't want like the fenders. The removal of the fenders required that I take off the wheels to get to the fender bolts. While I took off the front wheel I heard the distinct sound of dry bearings in the headset assembly. Now this bike is very recent and to my knowledge has never been serviced and it should have some factory grease left in it...NOT! Those headset bearings were bone dry. I just couldn't believe it. I figured that the bottom bracket bearings might be in the same shape and I wasn't wrong, bone dry as well. It's not a matter of the bearings running out of grease, the grease was never present in the first place at all.

Now I know most of you are thinking, "what do you expect, this is a cheap bike" and I agree. But, I've worked on cheap bikes before from Canadian to Hungarian communist era made bikes and this as just never happened. There was always some grease left!

Low end mega store bikes don't have the best components and that is a given to most of us, but the basics must be there. Would you ever buy a car without oil in it? I don't think so. Grease is a fundamental element in your bike. Apart from protecting those bearings from wear, it also provides you with a better ride by reducing resistance on all those moving parts. A well greased bike will always be easier to pedal than one who isn't.

This is a prime example of why you should spend the extra bucks at a local bike shop. The quality of the bikes is better and I would be very surprised that such a situation would occur. Now this thing is just a cruiser and is used for riding around the neighbourhood, but they also sell mountain bikes. I'll let your mind paint THAT picture!

So for my taste, this bike is just a blank canvas for a custom ride. I've already changed the no bearing cheap plastic pedals for real ones and I will also change the front wheel hub in the near future. I will also push the "no grease" investigation to the rear wheel coaster hub. I have to be careful since these things tend to commit suicide on me when I open them up. Yes, I will post about it even if I fail so you can all learn either how to or how not to do it.

If you haven't gone tru this entire blog yet and want to know how to take apart a one piece crank bottom bracket, check here for the fork headset, check here
Simply pack everything with green axle grease and reassemble.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry

30 comments:

Jake said...

Sweet ride.

Anonymous said...

I'd Tap That!

Anonymous said...

I need your help! I just bought a beach cruiser and when trying to adjust the seat the seat came off the seat post, the post fell down into the frame and now...it's STUCK!! Now I am not a cyclist -- just bought this for neighborhood cruising -- so I have no idead what to do. Any advice most appreicate

Gerry Lauzon said...

Wow! First time I hear this one. Usually the seat post doesn't want to come out. Depending on how deep it went down, you have 2 options. If it's close and you can reach it, use a gooseneck/stem and tighten it inside the seat post. You would be able to wiggle it out that way, the inside of a seat post is about the same size as the inside of a fork tube. If it's way down there, just get yourself another seat post and put in on top. Cut it if you have too. That's the best I can do for you, good luck.

Gerry

squidley said...

The seat tube that fell into the frame shouldn't be stuck in very hard.

You could also try a coat hanger with a hook bent on the end to reach the bottom of the seat tube, and just pull up.

There shouldn't be too much friction stopping the seat tube from coming back out if it fell into the frame under its own weight. You could also try flipping the bike upside down and firmly rapping the seat tube down on a solid object. I'd use a 2x4 to protect your seat tube from damage.

It'll come out, just cycle through a few methods until you find out what works for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the love for the beach cruiser cantilever frame. They are classy looking and always bring me back to my days growing up riding my Schwinn cruiser!

Check this place out, they seem to have nice cruisers and good prices.

Cruisers for Sale

aavila said...

I just purchased my firest used Cruiser from a friend and I need to buy some wheels for it. The ones that where on it where bent. Where do I start and what should I look for?

Gerry Lauzon said...

If the wheels are 26 inch, they are very common and easy to find. You can replace the entire wheel or just the rim if the hubs and spokes are in good condition. Look on the sidewall of the tire to see the size, it should read "26 X 1.95 or 2.125" or whatever size it is.

Gerry :)

Tim said...

(Seatpost fell down into seat tube)

An additional insight for future mishaps! If the seatpost is within a range of 4"-5" of the top of the seat tube, a plumber's nipple extractor can be used, available at most any big box hardware store. You will need to guesstimate the inside diameter (ID) of the post to be extracted, buy an appropriate extractor, and go to town with it using a ratchet and 1/2"socket.

Anonymous said...

It's actually quite surprising just how much in common a "new" cruiser has with an "old" cruiser - pretty much all the mechanicals swap right over, no problem.

A lot of the "foreign" manufacturers of cruisers have simply used an old American bike as a template right down to the bearing sizes and what have you. It's nice because it's pretty easy to find bits that will work on the old bikes, and likewise you can buy old parts and fit them on your new bike. Old bearing races for instance are WAY better made than anything you can get today...

We've got a bunch of tech pages on taking care of cruisers over on our site:d
Vancruisers.ca

Anonymous said...

Please help. Purchased my first old Schwinn HD Cruiser and am refinishing. I cannot get the front fork apart from the top piece. All the nuts come apart - any suggestions? Also, any suggestions on getting a stuck seat post out?? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Gerry Lauzon said...

For any old Schwinn problems, I strongly suggest that you visit and join ratrodbikes.com

All your answers are there in the how-to section.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hey i have a rare version of a huffy independece
it is ten speed
when it is in first speed if you get on it and start to peddle the peddles are so stiff the bike dosent move.
I dont know how to take the bike apart, could you please help me, it needs to be totally torn apart as it is rusted but i want someones gueidence

Anonymous said...

I am very good with tools, but as i said before it is a very rare bike and is worth a lot of money.

Gerry Lauzon said...

The Huffy Independance doesn't list as a very valuable bike from my research. Fetches about $20. But if you like it, that is the most important reason, do rebuild it. Check out http://bikeoverhaul.blogspot.com for a complete bike rebuild I did some time ago.

Gerry :)

Michelle said...

Re. seat post stuck inside tube...
I know this is an old question, but I found this blog while searching for a way to get my post out from inside the seat tube. It was pretty well wedged and I tried many of the suggestions I found here and elsewhere. So for anyone else in the same boat, the combination that worked for me in the end was 1. spraying a good amount of lubricant inside the tube, 2. pouring a pot of boiling water on the outside of the tube near the sticking point and 3. turning the bike upside down and pounding the base of the tube with a rubber mallet while it was still hot.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thanks for sharing that Michelle. I'll keep note of it for the next time I'm in that situation.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Quick Question: I have a 1981 Huffy Good Vibrations Beach Cruiser, much like the one you have in the picture. I'm currently taking it all apart to powder coat the frame but I'm having trouble taking the forks off. I reviewed your directions on how to remove the fork from the frame but I'm having trouble removing the top bearing cone. It seems like there's a gap in the treads preventing the top bearing cone from coming off. Did you find this same thing on your Huffy? What did you do to get around this issue? I'm also having trouble taking the cranks off. Theres a washer after I removed the locking nut from the crank that wont come out. Do I just pop that out or do I unscrew it out? Just though you might know since we have the same type of bike. Thanks for your help!

Gerry Lauzon said...

The washers have to be removed first before you are able to take off the fork and the on piece crank. Those washers are there to prevent both of these components to come off should the bolts get loose.

Gerry :)

Danial123 said...

Looks aren't the only thing this cruiser has though. It wouldn't be a sixthreezero without the smooth cruise configuration, so you know it will not only look great, but it'll give yopu the smoothest and easiest ride possible California Bikes.
bicycle

AHinch1988 said...

How do I fix the chain on my beach cruiser?? It's already come off twice already and the brakes have also gone out on the bike.

Gerry Lauzon said...

That's a pretty general question. I suggest you go see your local bike shop.

Gerry

Felix Barre said...

whats the normal width size of a seat post for a late model schwinn beach cruiser? 25.4 or 27.2?

Waynemartin007 said...

I have one also... love it! It's like a classic car to me. I have made some upgrades though... I put in a three speed (out with the direct drive) and put in a hub generator for the lights...

Funny... why did they make the mens version red and womans blue... the shop, when I bought it only had these colors... 22 years ago...

Gerry Lauzon said...

Nice choice of upgrades

Anonymous said...

Girl friend has a huffy single speed Newport but when tries to pedal it feels like it's slipping but when you flip the bike upside down it pedals fine

Gerry Lauzon said...

The hub is defective. When upside down and pedalling by hand there is no load on the mechanism like when you apply full force with your legs.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Thank you

spartanpv said...

Can anyone tell me where I can find a front fork for my Good Vibrations Cruiser. I had this bike given to me, rescued from the dump, and I rode it for quite some time, but the front fork was bad, I really need it replaced. I've googled it and can't find anything.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Any fork made for a 26 inch wheel will do the job. As long as the stem tube is longer than the head tube, you're in business. A fork is a fork whatever the make of the bike.

Gerry :)