1967 JC Higgins  

This bike is part of the MOMBAT collection and is NOT FOR SALE.  Please check out our Vintage Bikes for Sale page to see all of our current offerings.

Most people would just look past this bike and maybe stop a second to look at the weird fork but you should take a minute to look a little closer.  This bike was built by Joe Bruman circa 1967 and is one of the earlier attempts at a "mountain bike".  Many of us rode our Schwinn Varsitys off-road but didn't modify them much.  This bike has a modified frame to fit the wider tires, more off-road friendly gearing, extended brakes for more power, reinforced saddle and a suspension fork.  There is an article and picture below that came with the bike to help explain the story.  I took it for a short ride and it actually rides pretty nice.  The top tube is extremely short and my knees about hit the bars but it would have been much better off-road than the Varsity!

In 1967, a friend at work told me of a remarkable experience on a backpack trip where he had encountered a couple of fellows on 10-speed bikes. I thought this over, then went to a shop and bought a J. C. Higgins (made by Puch) kids' bike for $5. The frame had been bent by bumping over curbs, but it was otherwise sound, with a 3-speed planetary hub. I replaced the rear sprocket with a 46-tooth front sprocket, bought new rims with 2" balloon tires, installed a heavily reinforced wide seat, welded extensions on the arms of caliper brakes to get more leverage, replaced the rubber brake shoes with chunks carved from a piece of truck lining, and constructed an Earles-type sprung front fork. With this outfit I began to tour foot trails in the San Gabriels and the Sierra. The appearance atop San Gorgonio was met with amazement; people asked to take photos. I did all the fire road routes such as Mt. Wilson and Josephine Peak. Twice up to the last steep part of Telescope Peak; once via the foot trail, another time by the steep road that continues from Mahogany Flat to a radio relay station. A couple of times from Horseshoe Meadows up to Cottonwood Lakes, and once via Treasure Lakes above Rock Creek to the old mining camp, from where I climbed Mt. Morgan. On some of these I rigged a board to carry my backpack, but it was ungainly. In the 20 years since then, mountain biking has become so popular that in some areas it is a nuisance, and authorities now restrict bikers from using popular routes, such as the road around Saddlebag Lake.

--Joe Bruman

picture below is circa 1967

  Click on thumbnails below for larger current images:        

1967 Higgins   1967 Higginds   1967 Higgins 1967 Higgins   1967 Higgins   1967 Higgins
196 Higgins   1967 Higgins   1967 Higgins 


Frame Lugged steel
Fork Home made Earles-type suspension fork
Rear Shock NA
Rims 26" steel
Hubs Rear Sturmey Archer 3 speed, steel front
Spokes rusty
Tires Carlisle Studded Balloon
Pedals Union
Crank Cottered Higgins
Chain rusty
Rear Cogs single 46 tooth sprocket
Bottom Bracket cottered
Front Derailleur NA
Rear Derailleur NA
Shifters Higgins 3 speed
Handlebars One piece steel bar/stem
Stem One piece steel bar/stem
Headset Steel
Brake set Steel calipers, modified for increased leverage
Brake levers steel touring style
Saddle Modified mattress-type saddle
Seat Post steel
Colors black
Size 21" c-t
Serial #   503 46 260


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