i found this old 12 speed basically attached to a neighbor's back porch by vines, and aside from some superficial rust on the chrome, it seems to be structurally intact. the decals read as stated in the title and also indicate that it was sold by Sears Roebuck and made in Taiwan.

a photo album of the bicycle and closeups of parts is available here.

i can't find any reliable documentation specifying the parts currently installed, but as far as i can tell from googling, it appears to have:

  • a very noisy, threaded, adjustable cup-and-cone BB. resource
  • a cottered crank, which was loose, and upon tightening, became crooked. resource
  • a "Falcon XT" rear derailleur with little remaining spring tension.
  • a "Falcon" front derailleur with little remaining spring tension.
  • a 126QR bolt-on, drop-out rear hub, based off of ~126mm measurement. resource
  • a bolt-on, drop-out front hub that i could not identify (nothing found with ~88mm measurement).

i would like to replace most of these with modern equivalents that fit with minimal/no modification. (e.g., a non-cottered crank, quick-release hubs, common derailleurs, etc.)

the only resource i could find with something specific was this Reddit post where someone claimed to replace the BB with a Shimano UN-55.

  • 2
    If you do a rough estimate on the cost of the parts vs buying a used bike in much better condition you'll find that the used bike is cheaper. You are looking at a full rebuild / restore on a 1970s bike that has been left out in the weather. You should be able to find a 1990s - 2010 bike that has been garaged with better parts for less than the cost of rebuilding the Free Spirit. – David D Feb 2 at 21:27
  • i've been made aware of this, but am treating this as more of a learning experience than a find-the-best-deal situation. i'm completely new to doing anything to a bicycle other than riding it, so i've been incrementally upgrading this turd to better understand building and modifying them without the risk of ruining one that's actually worth something. i've just gotten stuck on identifying these super old components. – Myles Keller Feb 2 at 21:38
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    Note that it's going to make for a messy answer to identify replacements for all of these in a single post. Depending on what responses you get, you might want to split out, for example, the BB/crank into its own question, since that could be pretty complicated all by itself. – DavidW Feb 3 at 0:37
  • i thought about that, but was afraid it would come across as spammy. i'll divide it up if it's more appropriate. – Myles Keller Feb 3 at 3:10

tl;dr: knowing the parts is useless. You have a caliper, now you just need to remove everything and measure everything. You will learn something just by disassembling this bicycle and not focusing on brands, just on dimensions and "mechanics" of the parts you are removing. Then, about reassembling it, it will cost you 5 times the money and 50 times the time+effort with respect to a bicycle shop. Disclaimer: I do not own a bicycle shop.

The parts currently installed have no value and will provide very little information on their own. You can still disassemble them and try to understand a thing or two on how they are assembled and maybe how they work, especially about the derailleur (springs, limiting screws and so on).

Bottom bracket and cranks are good to be recycled (=scrap metal), as well as the chain and whatever is installed on the rear wheel as a cassette.

New bottom bracket and crank ---> most likely new chain line. Which is not that bad considering that the wheels will almost for sure need a good clean (greasing the hubs and so on) and you may discover that they are in bad conditions, so counting them temporarily as scrap metal as well, the new chain line is less of an issue (you have a lot of freedom once you have to replace bottom bracket, crank, rear wheel).

So remove the bottom bracket, check whatever size is relevant.

Then check the fork. Remove it, give it a thorough clean and a good examination, check for cracks in the fork or for deep rust. You do not want a fork that breaks in half while sprinting across an intersection, nor while you are just coming up/down from the curbs.

Check and note wheels size.

Save the frame, maybe the fork, then you have a lot of freedom in how to reassemble this bicycle.

I forecast something on the order of at least 3/400 USD/EUR/GBP, only for the parts (assuming you have all the needed tools for cassette, bottom bracket, fork, etcetc).


You might find the project is not feasible.

A long time ago when I was a poor student, I had a cheap hybrid bike and became interested in cycling. I learned that good bikes intended for riding on the road as opposed to off-road come with high-performance narrow slick tires and a drop bar. High-performance narrow slick tires I could install to the hybrid bike, but drop bar would be a more difficult thing. Firstly, the brake levers and shifters need replacing with drop bar variants, and secondly, the hybrid frame geometry would not be ideal for installing drop bar (it even had a cheap suspension fork!).

I knew if I wanted a drop bar bike, it would probably be Surly Long Haul Trucker, but I didn't know if I wanted a drop bar bike (never having ridden one) and Surly LHT was out of my budget at that time.

Knowing that in the 1980's cheap drop bar road bikes were fashionable until they were replaced with the cheap mountain bike, I started to find if I can find some abandoned bike with frame size that would be roughly ideal for me and drop bar. The purpose was to ride it for a while to see if drop bar was my thing. I found one, not particularly good, and started to investigate what I had found.

I made the following observations:

  • The barely functioning bottom bracket was of the Fauber style, not threaded, and installing a modern bottom bracket won't work because modern ones have a different attachment (threads)
  • The cheap and heavy steel frame had 120mm or 126mm (I don't now remember which of these) spacing on the rear. Cold setting might work to allow installing a modern wider hub but would be a bit too much to invest into this junk frame because even if I could cold set it for modern spacing, there's still the Fauber bottom bracket problem. Using the existing wheels wouldn't be a good option as the single wall rims were marginal, some spokes were cut in half, spoke nipples didn't turn freely and the hub bearings were practically seized, plus also the old rear hub was a freewheel hub and not a cassette freehub
  • The brakes were cheap center-pulls. Finding modern brakes to install might not be so easy (as the trend was as of this time that road bikes with room for no more than 23mm tires were fashionable, so finding long reach brakes would be problematic as nearly all offered brakes were short reach)
  • The shifters were downtube friction shifters. I could replace them with modern bar-end shifters only if I could find 6-speed indexed bar-end shifters (I couldn't).

In the end, I decided to salvage whatever parts were useful from the abandoned bike. The only part I could ever find use for was the drop bar itself (fortunately, it had 25.4mm stem attachment and not 26.0mm stem attachment). I never rode even a kilometer with the abandoned bike, because it wasn't in such a condition that I could ride it.

So I modified my plans. I ordered 8-speed bar-end shifters from eBay (they weren't manufactured anymore so new-old-stock or used were my only options), V brake long pull drop bar brake levers from a German online bike part shop, and installed the drop bar to my hybrid bike.

I found drop bar was my thing. I enjoyed it greatly even though the hybrid bike frame was a bit too long for drop bar use. The bike I had was probably the strangest bike on this planet -- it had drop bar and cheap suspension fork on the same frame. Later, after finding employment, I assembled a Surly Long Haul Trucker from parts so that I had the bike I wanted to have. I found the LHT frame geometry was better than in the cheap hybrid bike for drop bar use.

My advice to you: if too much of the parts are very old and barely functioning, it might be more feasible to salvage any parts that you might consider using and throw away the rest. Then install the salvaged parts to some other bike.

Especially if the frame is of an old standard for bottom bracket or hub attachment, it might be very wise to salvage any parts you might consider using and throw away the rest.

  • One idea - there is always someone out there looking for those rare, old/vintage and odd parts. Instead of throwing them, either list on ebay or donate to a local bike cooperative. – Criggie Mar 6 at 12:04
  • @Criggie That's a very good plan. In my case, those parts were not even functioning well but if some part could have some use for someone else than you, of course you can donate them or even sell them. – juhist Mar 6 at 12:09
  • Agreed - You'd be surprised what the dedicated vintage enthusiasts can do with a literal pile of rust. "worn" is less important than authentic in some circles. – Criggie Mar 6 at 21:09

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