Wednesday, April 22, 2009

General Bicycle Co

This is one of those obscure bikes you run across once in a while. This is a Men's 10 speed
General. When I spotted this bike at the thrift shop I could not help but notice that it was in pristine condition,(underneath a thick layer of oily dust anyway). The other thing that caught my eye was the brand "General". I had never seen a General bicycle or even heard of the manufacturer for that matter. That in itself made it a must buy. The tires were dried out and hard the bicycle brake shoes needed to be replaced only because they had hardened too. The components were all very cheap but functioning as well as cheap components do. Well I replaced the tires with some inexpensive Cheng Shin gum-walls. And did the same with the brake shoes. I cut off the foam handlebar grips (I hate that stuff) and replaced it with some cork handlebar tape. I thought this will make an ok bike for someone who does not have a lot to spend. And ridden gently, who knows? it might last longer than I expect. So after giving the bike some long overdue lubrication I put it up for sale for about 25 cents more than I had invested. Ok it might have been a little more. When I sell a bike that falls into that" department store bike" category. I let the buyer know what it is they are buying and not to expect too much. And when it is something exceptional I let them know that too! (which was definitely not the case with this bike)
Sometimes the only thing exceptional about a bike is how obscure or just plain weird it is.
Sort of like a puppy that is so ugly it is cute. One day I will post my B.C.A. "Small Mixtie" bike,
talk about obscure. I`m still trying to get myself to restore the thing. One of these days I will.
I am still waiting for tires and tubes for the "Ross from Hell" I will definitely post a pic of the finished bike. Today I worked on the BMX Bike that was interesting but I will save that for another day Remember, Rescue ,Restore & ReCycle! Ride Safe
Cheers, Hugh

33 comments:

  1. Hugh,

    I could be wrong, but in your blogger profile picture, you look a lot like celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.:)

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  2. Hey Cameron,
    I`m not sure if that is good or bad. A girl once said to me "You look like Mickey Rourke"
    But she was hammered at the time..LOL
    Thanks for stopping by my friend

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  3. Purchased my General Journey from James Vincent Bicycles in North Bergen, NJ in 1984. It is my only bike and rode it most recently in the Bike New York, Five Borough Bike Tour.

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    1. Thanks for leaving your comment. I think yours is only the second General I have heard about since finding this one. Seasons Greetings, Hugh

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  4. One of these was actually given to me. Tires are very dryrotted, one is flat, derailer is bent, brakes are terrible, and it's about the heaviest road bike I have ever seen. But yes, I am curious about it like you. There is a Miami bike shop sticker on this one. Did you ever find out any more about them?

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    1. No not really. It is a very generic bike, meaning it may have been sold under different brand names. Do not invest too much into it unless you plan on keeping it.
      Cheers, Hugh

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    2. Actually, General Bicycles manufactured their own bikes around the world, but only for sale as General.

      General relied very heavily on their dealer network, however for the very rare occasions some product was sold to big box stores, it was still labeled "General".

      My dad was one of the initial staff and Sr. VP. I still have some very cool stuff from those days.

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  5. Hey Lee,
    No, I never really learned anything about the brand. I wonder if the bike shop sticker is there because they serviced or sold the bike.
    I have a hard time picturing these bikes on a bike shop showroom floor.
    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Lee,

      Actually no. When General was big (1980's) they relied almost completely on their bicycle store network. There were every few exceptions that I can recall.

      General had a huge catalog. It was up to the bike shops what they ordered. There were very entry-level bikes, mid-high end mountain bikes, all the way up to aluminum frame (newish for the time, I still have one), all Shimano hardware and so on.

      Additionally, General entered into the freestyle scene big in the 80's, my father (Sr. VP and one of the founders) actually stole R.L. Osborne from Redline and built their team around him and Fred Blood, where they competed nationally and at Madison Square Garden.

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  6. Hi. I´m from Mexico and i buy on sale a kind of race bike, and the brand and color was the same as yours.
    Orangey red "Geneal" Bike, but it work perfectly, actually i renew it and i looks great. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hey Eduardo,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you enjoy cycling for many years to come. It is a good feeling to ride a beautiful bike that you brought back to life yourself.
      Cheers

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    2. We have one too but is that company still exist still

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  7. I took my pristine General Journey for a spin yesterday. Still using the original tires, tubes, brakes. It as been in my garage since it purchased at a bike sop in Congers, NY. Shortly after receiving as a gift I switched to MTB hence it got limited use <200 miles.
    Due to my aching back I want to change it to straight bars. Suggestions welcome.

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    Replies
    1. You might want to consider bars with about a 5 or 6 inch rise. That should make it even more comfortable. Also a set of Ergon grips will give you more support. And if it is a 1980's model, you really should replace those brake shoes and tires.
      You might even consider going to a slightly wider tire to smooth out the ride a bit.
      Cheers

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    2. P.S. And a comfort sport saddle like the WTB Speed V Comp might be another change to consider.

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  8. Aha! I got a General Journey off Craigslist earlier in the summer and couldn't be happier with it - admittedly my bar is set rather low because it's incredibly difficult to find decent 48cm frames, but even so. So far, so good! (Although, like someone else said, very very heavy for a road bike.)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lauren,
      Just don't carry it up the stairs and you will be ok :)

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  9. I start riding bikes in the late 50's, and I just have a great time. Started with my father's "Phillips" British bike, used and used by who know how many people before my father bough it. My father needed the bike for transportation. (this is in one of Argentina industrial ports blue color community) Now I am living in USA for 44 years and always loved bikes.
    This past Saturday I find a bike at a "garage sale" The brand on the stickers said "General" and the "model" is "New Horizon" It has a shimano derailing 12 speed. Also has a decal at the frame seat pipe: "Hi-Ten" "General" "Special design tubing". Any comments? I will start to clean it and remove some of the rust before start to ride it. More in the future. Carlos.

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  10. Start to love bikes since very young, love to ride my father's English bike, old, many owners before my father, but it was the only transportation at the time for the house. Remember waiting for my father coming back from work to ask his to let me ride around the block, just once!, on the dirt street of my native small industrial port in Argentina.
    Yesterday I've picked up a General "New Horizon" 12 speed Shimano Tourney derailleur "Hi-Ten General Special Design Tubing"
    Bike is heavy, rusty spokes, etc.
    I will get back with more comments after cleaning the rust and lube it. Appreciate any comments.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your story. You might want to try sand paper on the spokes. If the rust is not too deep they should clean up nicely. Before tightening any spokes you will want to put a small amount of oil on each spoke nipple one day in advance.
      You have some really great boxers or fighters in Argentina. Lucas Matthysse has been putting every opponent on the canvas at some point during his fights. And Sergio Martinez is one of the best of all time. You have much to be proud of.
      Keep me posted about you bike.
      Cheers,Hugh

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    2. Try a product called CorrosionX; spray a bit on a paper towel and rub gently on the rusted parts. Let sit for several minutes and wipe off. Great stuff and I've used it on things like this. It's better than using something abrasive unless you have to.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. I just recently purchased a general Catelina Plus 6.....at a greater good thrift store. Wow what a good thing to acquire. I was sold on the drive around the block with a bike,bike.... Checking out your blog to see what a find I found, sealed the deal. My only other bike is a Falcon purchased in 1973. Thanks for doing this. rix

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    1. Catalina Plus X was the way to determine the number of speeds that bike had; 6, 10 and I believe an 18 at one time. I still have the original dealer catalogs from 1984-1987.

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  13. I bought a General Rutherford in august and have serviced it. It rolls like a champ for an all steel bike. i have found out it is one of the better dept store bikes (though none of them were ever really good to begin with). I ride it to work at least twice a week, 6.5 miles one way. mine has falcon componentry on it, which is supposedly entry level shimano. its not very valuable, but it goes the distance.

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  14. Here is a magazine advertisement for General ~1987.

    http://media.coreyribner.com/Images/General/general_ad1.jpg

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  15. I have an General Mountain bike with Shimano gears and shifters. It's been sitting my garage for years so I had new tires and chain put on it and little lube. It runs great. I think its late '80s bike but I dont remember when I bought it. It has some rust on the tire and seat release but otherwise in great shape.

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  16. I have a General Horizon 12 speed Touring Bike. Only complaint is now the pedals feel a little bent. Any way to correct this reasonably? Doesn't feel heavy at all(compared to my Schwinn Varsity) !

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  17. I have a General Horizon 12 speed Touring Bike. Only complaint is now the pedals feel a little bent. Any way to correct this reasonably? Doesn't feel heavy at all(compared to my Schwinn Varsity) !

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  18. Hey Frank, Not many bikes feel heavy compared to a Schwinn Varsity :) About the pedals, if the spline or splines are bent the only way I know of fixing the pedals is to replace them. Just make sure the crank arms are ok before you replace the pedals. You might want to do a quick swap with an old set of pedals. Then see if it feels ok before you spend any cash on new pedals. Good Luck, Hugh

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  19. Hi Hugh. Neat to see this thread goes back over seven years. I was curious about a General Mountain Shadow bike that I salvaged from someone's trash. It looks to be an all terrain bike, not really a mountain bike due to the more upright posture. It is heavy as heck. I'm putting on a new dérailleur cable, chain and seat to make it rideable. Don't know if I'll ride it much but I couldn't leave it by the curb. That's a sickness of mine. Haha. At least until my basements full. Fun blog

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  20. Hi Hugh. I found a General Mountain Shadow bike along the curb with a "free" sign on it. Couldn't resist. It was in pretty good shape. It looks like an all-terrain bike, not really a mountain bike due to it's more upright posture. Haven't been able to find any info on it. I put a new chain on it and am replacing the dérailleur cable and seat. It is super heavy but over all not too bad. Enjoyed your blog. Neat to see this thread goes back over seven years.

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  21. Good Afternoon all,

    I posted some replied above, but my father was one of the founders of General and its Sr. VP. He was responsible for product development and manufacturing.

    Through my childhood I got a pretty in-depth look at General, and I still have a fair amount of memorabilia.

    Quick Background: General was started back in the late 70's as a moped company (4 Star General). The company added bicycles following my father's arrival, as he had been in the business for a while. Once the bicycle products took off, General changed from General Bicycles and Mopeds, Co., Inc., to General Bicycles, Inc.

    The company's original offices were in Midtown Manhattan, but moved to the large warehouse building they already owned in East Rutherford (50 Oak Street, East Rutherford).

    Taiwan was the primary manufacturing location, mainly because my father had many contacts there, and was an expert at manufacturing and logistics.

    General bikes came in every variety; basic coaster bikes to mountain bikes, racing bikes, freestyle and other specialty bikes, and even scooters.

    If anyone has any questions about the company, products or history, please let me know. I'll be happy to answer those I can.

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