Tank frame bicycles

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by biknut, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    [​IMG]

    Check it out. Tank frame bicycles like this were very popular from the 30s (I think) to the early 60s. Bicycles like these were basically standard issue to every kid in America. Only rich snobby kids had English Racer 10 speeds.

    I was born in 53, so I only got in on the tail end of the tank frame era, because something was about to happen in 1963 that rocked the world, and that was the invention of the Schwinn Sting Ray. Immediately after that if you were still riding a tank frame, you were nerdiest nerd ball on the block LOL. Every kid who was anyone had a Sting Ray. My parents were poor, and I had to suffer like a dog for over a year before I could talk them into buying me one. After that it was Sting Ray, or the highway as far as I was concerned.

    Now I look back after all these years at both kinds of bikes, and all I can think is, WTH was I thinking. I guess I owe an apology to all those nerd balls I made fun of. Sting Rays came and went, but tank frames are timeless. Then after many years without a bicycle, the first bicycle I picked to ride was a modern, but not quite, version of a tank frame. The styling seemed to appeal to me on a sub conscious level.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't know it at the time, but because of this bike, memories from my earliest recollection of bicycles were being awakened, after many years of riding motorcycles, and not thinking much about bicycles.

    So now I find myself in a position where I can buy any bicycle I would ever want. And what bicycle would that be. A tank frame of course. Possibly one of the greatest tank frames ever made.

    [​IMG]

    As far as I'm concerned, tank frames will rule forever.
     
  2. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I can only barely remember one tank frame bicycle I had. I'm pretty sure it was a JC Higgins. It was, I'm thinking green and chrome, but I could be confusing it with something else. It had dual headlights in the tank, but I seldom had batteries for them. They weren't very bright anyway as I remember. I was about 7 or 8 then. One of my other bikes was Murray bicycle that had a headlight on the front fender. I can't remember if it was a tank frame, but I'm pretty sure it was. Both bikes seemed like huge bicycles to me then. It seems like it must have been in my last life it was so long ago.
     
  3. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    I never had a 'tanker' as a kid. I thought they were really cool but for whatever reason I never got one. I had a black and chrome J.C Higgins with a cruiser frame, cantilver bars and such and a Sturmy Archer 3 speed hub with a handlebar mounted shifter. It was my first 26 incher. That was probably my all time favorite bike.

    A coupld of years ago I was at a car show and a guy rode past on a bike that was an exact duplicate of that Higgins. It even had the spring loaded front rack like the one I had. I tried like heck to buy it from him but he said it had been his dad's bike and had been in his family since the 50s. He did take my name and phone number and promised that he'd call if he ever wanted to sell it. I'm hoping, but I doubt I'll ever hear from him.

    Tom
     
  4. Harold_B

    Harold_B Member

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    Fits here I think:

    "Without style, a bike is just a bike, a means of getting from here to there. With it, the bike you ride becomes a defining stamp of who you are. The modern cruiser - with its oversized balloon tires, solid steel framing, shock-absorbing suspension, and custom colors and modifications - is a testament to individual style."

    Jonny Fuego, Michael Ames
    "Cruisers"
    Pub. 2009
    http://www.amazon.com/Cruisers-Mich...=UTF8&qid=1356848734&sr=1-2&keywords=Cruisers
     
    #4 Harold_B, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  5. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    That applies to me for sure. If I don't like a bikes style, I really don't care much about it. But what that style is exactly, is hard to describe.
     
  6. Harold_B

    Harold_B Member

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    Sure, but when you see it you know that it is "right". The book is light (or would that be lite?) reading but makes a point that most of us can relate to: make it yours! That can take a few iterations or maybe you get it the first pass. Either way, what a blast!
     
  7. sportscarpat

    sportscarpat Bonneville Bomber the Salt Flat record breaker

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    Tankers, tank frames, whatever you call them they are cool. I like calling them three bar or straight bar frames. If they have three bars in the front frame section then they are cool!
     
  8. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    Tankers, I like that Pat. I'm not sure why they're called three bar frames. Isn't there only two bars?
     
  9. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    It's hard for me to remember back that far, when Tankers were common. It's almost like a dream now. I just remember that back then, I wasn't that impressed with them, probably because they were so common. One thing I didn't like was that the "tank" was a faker and didn't hold anything except in some cases a flashlight or two. It was just two pieces of sheet metal screwed together. For some reason I resented the fact that they weren't real. Maybe the real reason for this was because I wanted them to be real, and have a real motor to go with them.
     
  10. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I guess I was about 50 years before my time LOL.
     
  11. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    Bikes are a lot like cars when it comes to those we had years ago. They fall into that ,"if I only had it today" catagory. Maybe that explans why I've become such a hoarder of stuff in my old age and hate to part with anything.

    I sold one of my favorite bikes to a friend and neighbor. We ride together a lot and everytime I see that bike I kick myself for selling it.

    Tom
     
  12. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I know exactly what you mean Tom. My boss, I mean wife, complains all the time about me not getting rid of anything. I have stacks of motorcycle magazines dating back to the 60s. I haven't looked at them in a long time, but if I get rid of even one single one, I need it the very next day.

    I've learned the hard way that there's no such thing as a useless Harley part no matter how worn out it might seem. There's always some part of that part that's still useable. Of course if I need it right now, I can't find it lol.
     
  13. Harold_B

    Harold_B Member

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    Two top tubes and a down tube plus the seat tube for the front triangle would be my guess. I think that is a distinction between a vintage cruiser and my hydro formed aluminum Felt in that the new bike is "inspired by" the vintage bike. I really feel connected to my bike. I should as many hours as I spend on it but there is a real difference to me between vintage and new. I just don't have the skill set to make a vintage frame reliable.
    It's interesting that the empty tank bugged you. I'm not much younger (born in '59) and I remember VaRoom engines, wheelie bars, exhaust pipes, sirens and worthless plastic crash helmets. Then there was the big slicks as if a skinny eight year old was going to have trouble keeping the rubber hooked up to the pavement. How about cheater slicks so that we were "legal"? All pretty funny in retrospect but seriously cool at the time.
     
  14. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I know what you mean Harold. I now have a better appreciation for the classic bicycles of my youth, but I don't lust after any of them. I prefer our modern versions which I consider to be superior in every way. I know that some people will always love the originals, and that's fine. Different strokes for different fokes.

    When I was in second grade I had one of those varoom motors in my bicycle. I loved that thing. I think I wore out 2 of them. And that wide drag slick on my Sting Ray was one of the things I liked most about it. Those things seemed more real and useful to me than a faker pressed steel gas tank.
     
  15. Harold_B

    Harold_B Member

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    I tend to agree on modern over vintage but then that's really limited by what I can do to a frame. Those limitations also mean I won't be adding a drop loop or a wider rear wheel anytime soon! Some of the vintage designs don't seem as robust although I see a lot of success here on the forum. The thing that comes to mind is the Monarch fork. The bridge design doesn't look as beefy as the Felt Abraham Linkage fork. It will be interesting to see if our aluminum Felt cruiser frames hold up like the steel bikes of the 30's, 40's and 50's though, eh?
     
  16. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I've seem plenty of pictures of steel framed bicycles with broken frames. The alloy framed Atomic BB is working on 3000 miles and 3 years now so far, and it's totally unscathed. In comaprison to it, the Felt is a monster that weighed 10 lbs more stock. The frame wall thickness is a least twice as thick, so I doubt we'll ever have to worry about it breaking. Plus I weigh over 225, and my riding style is very hard on bikes. If it's going to break, I'll break it.
     
  17. 16v4nrbrgr

    16v4nrbrgr New Member

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    I had a Mongoose BMX as a youngster that I hated at the time, but years later I realize I had a Pro Mongoose BMX racing frame that my parents bought for me secondhand.

    I had a Schwinn chopper too, hammedown from my sister, didn't really like that bike other than remembering that the banana seat was comfy.

    I basically killed every bike I had jumping it, doing skids, or pedaling so hard I broke something. It's probably good that I didn't have nice bikes.
     
  18. Venice Motor Bikes

    Venice Motor Bikes Custom Builder / Dealer/Los Angeles

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    I was born in the late 60s, so all during the 70s & up to about 1986 I was all into BMX bikes.
    I started like all other kids in the mid 70s with Schwinn Sting Rays & Cruisers; then as BMX got big we converted the Schwinns into BMXers; (both 20" & 26"). Then in the late 70s, you just weren't kewl unless you had a real BMX bike!

    Anyone who had a old 'tank' bike, threw away the tank & fenders so they would look like the newer cruisers that everyone was riding at the beach! (If only we could have known how much those tanks would be worth some day)!! :rolleyes:
     
  19. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I think you've touched on something here that was related to the death of the tankers.

    Once I got a Sting Ray it was normal operating procedure to lock the coaster brake, and skid sideways to a stop. Especially if any girls were around. I don't think I ever stopped any other way.

    Also we used to have fun making ramps to jump. Just to make it interesting we would fill a soup can with gasoline from the lawn mower, and set it on fire at the end of the ramp, right in the middle of the street. We would even invite the other kids in the neighborhood to come watch our feats of stupid, I mean bravery. Can you imagine what would happen now if a kid did that? They'd probably lock his parents up and throw away the key.

    The tankers just weren't any good for that kind of fun. I guess I see the tankers differently now that I never get the urge to jump my bike through flaming gasoline anymore.
     
  20. sportscarpat

    sportscarpat Bonneville Bomber the Salt Flat record breaker

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    Your first picture of the Schwinn Panther is called a three bar frame because it has a top tube, middle tube, then the down tube in the front frame triangle. Also called a straightbar frame as the center tube just below the tank is straight. The Schwinn DX frame middle tube is curved.
     

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