brake leverI recently got a 1970s jcpenney Lightweight 3 Speed bicycle but it doesn't have a brake on it whatsoever. I cannot find the specs or any information about this bike. Does anyone know where I could find out about the original components for this bike so I can fix it?

  • 1
    A photo of the area where the brake mounted, would be handy. Do you have brake levers on the bars still or have they been lost?
    – Criggie
    Feb 5 at 11:25
  • 1
    Sheldon Brown's website has very good general information on bicycle brakes.
    – MackM
    Feb 6 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


You can have whatever brake will fit. The only reason for installing the original brake is if you're after an as-original rebuild.

Consider brakes in the `70s were probably single pivot calipers, and often stamped from sheet metal and so had truely terrifying amounts of flex.

If you want to brake better, then look at a dual pivot caliper on the front as a bare minimum, and ideally back as well.

If you end up replacing the original steel rims with aluminium, then long-reach calipers can help. This will give you better braking as well as access to modern 622mm tyres, not the older 630 or 635mm road tyre size of the time.

Braking is important- those old styles went away cos they're just a bit dangerous. Treat the old girl to good stopping.

  • 1
    on an 80's bike I owned (and an inexpensive one at that) the single pivot caliper brakes had an extra component to prevent the flex. On the front a strap that attached to the end of the caliper arm, fed around behind the fork arm and then back to the caliper, prevent forward flex of the arm on applying the brake. On the rear caliper a fixed metal brace extended within to a millimeter of the chainstay, again preventing forward flex. The brakes were every bit as good as an equivalent V-brake of the era.
    – MNB
    Feb 5 at 18:30
  • 1
    I don't know about 'terrifying' amounts of flex, but either way dual-pivot brakes do provide better stopping efficiency. You'll likely need long reach style such as: bike.shimano.com/en-NZ/product/component/105-5800/BR-R650.html Feb 5 at 19:40
  • 1
    Why will replacing the material of the rims affect whether long-reach calipers can help?
    – mkrieger1
    Feb 5 at 23:32
  • 1
    @mkrieger1 The rim-brake track on aluminium rims provide better braking performance than steel rims. Wet steel rims basically have zero brakes in the rain, whereas aluminium has some effect immediately. But there's also been a size change in rims, dropping from 630mm to 622mm. Long-reach calipers may be needed to read the extra ~4mm to the rim.
    – Criggie
    Feb 6 at 0:35
  • 1
    @Criggie - Unfortunately that particular bike was stolen in 1995 or so. I seem to remember it was an early 1980's Raleigh Maverick before they started putting cantilever brakes on them.
    – MNB
    Feb 8 at 14:42

The JCPenny catalogs are available at the Catalogs & Wishbooks site. to look through and identify your bike.

Here is an example from the 1971 JCPenny fall / winter catalog.
enter image description here
Here is the men's version from that catalog.   enter image description here

The actual brake part of the system - the caliper - is the same on all these bikes. The brake levers for the flat handlebar bikes are the same but the curved, racing handlebars have different levers. As a general rule, all side pull calipers for these 26 inch wheel bikes were the same for many decades.

After doing the work of matching your bike to a picture in one of the many catalogs I doubt it would help you find parts. JCPenny is out of business and the companies who made bikes for them are out of business or only exist as a trademark. The information you find won't help you find parts.

That sounds depressing but there are parts out there that will work on your bike - both new and used parts. With the pictures Criggie is asking for we may be able to suggest what to look for when shopping for new parts.

On the used parts front, there are lots of old bikes out there similar to yours that parts could be salvaged from.

  • Nice work finding the advertisement !
    – Criggie
    Feb 6 at 0:36

The bike I had from the 70's the brake was a kickback style, you pushed back on the pedals and that was the brake, now if you just kicked back real quick and short that would change your gears, I don't remember how we down shifted, but if you try to pedal backwards and can't then there is your brake, That was for a 3 speed banana seat with a tall sissy bar type bicycle, it did have a regular front brake, the 5 speed I had had the shift lever on the frame between the forks and seat post, with regular squeeze type of brake

  • Hi, welcome to bicycles. Is this the same kind of bike that OP is asking about?
    – DavidW
    Feb 6 at 22:44
  • 1
    No it's not a coaster brake.. I'm going to try to send pic of lever. The gears are internal on the rear hub
    – Alison
    Feb 10 at 8:05

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