Learning the (interesting) Way About Tire Sizes

Mark Perkins - Upper Lake, CA

Learning the (interesting) Way About Tire Sizes

I don't know what year it was, but I believe it was around '58, '59, or '60.  My Dad reconditioned, including a repaint, a 24" lightweight, coaster-brake, J. C. Higgins boys bicycle.  Sadly, I don't have any photos of it, but I can say that I used it a lot.  One day in 1965 I took it to a local gas station and aired up it's rear tire, not knowing that the station's compressor was made for high-volume automobile tires.  I apparently held the hose on my tire too long, because when I started to ride away I didn't get more than about 20 feet when the tube & tire exploded, causing the rear rim to collapse.  I then learned that the tire & wheel size was obsolete (24 x 1.375), and replacement meant having a different size tire on front and back - they couldn't be interchanged.  So when I saw in the '65 Sears Christmas wish book, that they were offering their middle of the line 10-speed for only $58.95, I talked my parents into getting me one for Christmas, which wasn't easy because our limit for Christmas was around $20.00.  That 10-speed was what started me on my way to being a bicycle racer, tourist, collector, mechanic, race official, frame builder, Historian of my cycling club (the Fresno Cycling Club, Fresno, CA), and be given the nickname of "Bicycle Mark" by some of my non-cyclist friends.  The attached photo is of my second bike, my Sears 10-speed, made by Steyr-Puch of Austria.

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