Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CSA 6 Speed Auto-Bike "Classic"

Hello and Welcome.
I remember the TV infomercial but this is my first encounter with the CSA Auto Bike. A strange little bird indeed.
If those shorty fenders look familiar, they are. I originally used them on the Physio-Phat. But with the balloon tires there was almost no clearance. So I used them to brighten-up this very plain bike.
I replaced the original non adjustable "all black plastic looking" brake levers with these ATB brake levers. Not only an improvement technically but much better looking too. They are from my collection of salvaged parts. The original cable barrel adjuster for the front brake cable was pure rust. So I replaced it with a salvaged one. Also the brake cables were replaced with new Jag Wire Basics brake cables. I did re-use the original cable housings. Each housing received a few drops of clear oil before inserting the new cables.
There was no water bottle cage on the bike, only two rusty button top screws. I added this Schwinn water bottle cage, again to brighten up the bike a little. I don`t know about you, but I do not ride anywhere without water or Gatorade or Ice tea.
The original saddle was badly scuffed and ripped in one corner. So I replaced it with this salvaged Fuji comfort bicycle saddle. It took a little cleaning, but other than that it is in fine condition.
The original kick-stand was the cheapest type. The type you would find on the cheapest of department Store Bikes. I replaced it with this salvaged Greenfield kickstand.
I made this guide /guard to keep the kick-stand away from the Auto-Shift mechanism. I used a generic clamp that was left-over from some long ago project and a piece left over from a rear bicycle rack installation kit. And my family wonders why I never throw anything away. hah! The piece of the guard that hangs down is slightly bent inward towards the wheel. This prevents the kick-stand from accidentally going to the inside of the guard.
The guard works like a charm! And the cost was zero, right in my price-range :)
I decided Not to clean the front derailleur and Not to replace the derailleur cables. I have a very good reason for this. There is no front derailleur and there are no derailleur cables. Only this auto-shift mechanism you see above. I`ll try to explain how this thing works.
As you probably guessed The Auto Shift works by centrifugal force. As the wheel spins faster, the weights A B&C move move outwards sliding down the two spokes (marked with circle and cross) that pass through each of the weights. As this happens each weight pulls a Rod (labeled) with equal force. Each rod pulls a lever that forces a piston of sorts to push the Pie-Plate with equal force in three spots. The Pie-Plate pushes the derailleur till it moves to the next gear. As the wheel goes faster it pushes to the next gear. As the wheel slows, the weights move inward (due to less centrifugal force) and the process is reversed.
You will need to left click on the image to read this diagram. (A) Is where the rod connects to the lever mechanism. (B)Is where I think the lever that connects to the rod is hinged.(C)Is the cylinder that I think the piston slides in and out depending on the wheel going faster or slowing down. As you can no doubt tell, I am guessing at how this works exactly. I was unable to locate a break down or diagram. But I think I have a fair understanding of how this works.
If you are wondering how well this all works. I can tell you this. Once I had it all cleaned-up nicely with Clean-Streak. And then gave it a generous coating of Tri-Flo. It seemed to work pretty good. I did notice, You really need to get cranking at a good rate before it reacts. Although I did also notice it was more responsive when clean and lubed. And the best testimony I can offer is this. The couple who purchased it already have one they have owned for years. I think for occasional use in clean conditions (no dirt) Hey, I can see this bike working for some people.
Here is a road bike that I hope is going to work out nicely for me. This is a vintage 58cm MotoBecane Nomade. You gotta left click on this pic. The paint and graphics are unbelievable! I think if I hide it when people come around maybe I can manage to hang onto this one. This will be my third MotoBecane restoration and the fourth one I have owned. They are not letting me work much during this heat-wave but hopefully it will cool off enough for me to get some more work done. I got a bunch of work done during the last cool down. Yesterday I over did it working in the afternoon sun. And my legs have been hurting all day. Oh well, So it goes..
Until next time Ride Safe and remember to always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE.
Cheers,Hugh

P.S. I`m not sure how I forgot to mention this but. The Auto-Bike has a front free-wheel. Which makes sense if you think about it. Especially during sudden down hill accelerations and panic stops.
ATTENTION AMAZON SHOPPERS!! You can help Support This Blog by simply logging onto Amazon dot com using the Amazon Search Box located at the Top Right Corner of This Page. It will not effect your cost and I will receive a small commission. Thanks for your support, Hugh

35 comments:

  1. I don't know much about the Autobike, other than the shifting mechanism seems like a novel idea. I'm glad you've got a buyer.

    Now, for the Motobecane, that is a cool bike! And, from your photo, it looks like it's already in decent condition. Please be sure to let us know what you end up doing to it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I must admit, you run across some strange bikes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That Moto looks very nice as is I imagine it will be a gleaming smooth operating beauty when you finish with it. Keep it! I have started to develop a real "bike crush" on the old school Motobecane's and may try to turn my current projects (Raleigh Grand Prix and Peugeot UO-8) into a Moto for myself. Interested to see how yours turns out. Hope you get a cooling trend soon.

    Ryan

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Ryan,
    I did not expect the Moto-Becane to look so good "up close". I was amazed when I saw the bike. I paid more for this one than I typically would. But there is nothing typical about the condition of this Moto.
    This will be more of a "mechanical restoration" with a good detailing job. I do plan to make some changes. I would like quick release skewers (at least in front) and lighter handlebars. I might even go with a Brooks Saddle, if I can find a good deal. And I have a few other changes in mind as well.
    Not doing much this week, the humidity is way the #%&@ up there. There is an "old saying" here about the weather. If you don`t like the weather here in Michigan, Stick around 15 minutes it will change. This has been the longest 15 minutes of my life! Hey, did I just see one of your bikes on the old ten speed gallery?
    Cheers, Hugh

    ReplyDelete
  5. Funny Hugh, we have that same saying in Seattle, LOL, early this month I was complaining that it was like a rerun of April but we are finally getting some Summer. I do not envy you the humidity -that is a killer. You did see my first OTSG submission last week,the Miyata 912 which is my "fun rides in the sun" bike. I was very fortunate to find it at a Garage sale-its a solid mid range Japanese ten speed in my size with some nice components and it was a steal of a deal. It needed alot of TLC after being hung in a garage for 15 years but its was worth it. I love the OTSG!

    Have a good Weekend - Ryan

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey Steve,Thanks
    When I see something different my first thought is "That bike would make an interesting post". Yesterday an old friend stopped-by with a vintage "C.itoh" in awful condition. It was not worth restoring. So I offered him 20.00 for it.
    He declined my offer. And I did not have the presence of mind to photograph it. Maybe I`ll call him and see if I can borrow it. It had a few unusual touches.
    Cheers,Hugh

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Bill,
    I`ll be sure to do that. It is in very nice condition "cosmetically". But like tho Old Bikers used to say "Chrome won`t get you home"
    This bike needs a major overhaul. Right now it`s about as reliable as an AMF Harley.
    Cheers,Hugh

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Ryan,
    I would kill for a month of April weather right now. I think they call this Muggy because by the middle of the day you feel like you just got mugged.
    One of my first restorations was a Miyata and I did the best I could at the time. But honestly, I would sure love to get another shot at it. Thanks for the well wishes. And by the way. Nice job on the Miyata.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hugh coming from you that means a lot thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hugh!
    I bought a man CSA cruiser elite Autobike in so so shape,[on the picture] I'm wonder who and when made my bike? My have old fashion front suspension. most of the rust I will clean up.
    My bike ride very nice, shifting gears beautifully. In your opinion what value my bike have?
    Thanks for your answer.
    ikslow@yahoo.com
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Peter,
    Bicycle prices very greatly from state to state and even from town to town. The best advise I can give you is to check E-bay or Craig`s list in your area. You might have to do this often as these (Auto-bikes) do not come up for sale everyday. I can tell you mine sold for about $125.00 . I probably could have gotten 150.00 or more, if I had been willing to wait. But I did not have much invested in the bike, and I just wanted it gone.
    Good-Luck selling your bike. Sorry I could not be more helpful.
    Cheers, Hugh

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just picked one of these up for my daughter to ride to work and back and for doing some local shopping. I got it off an older lady that had kept it in her underground parking at her building. The tires are weather checked but other than that I'd say it was an 8.5 out of 10 condition wise.
    Came with all the factory manuals, instructions, tools etc. when she bought it.
    Big basket on the front, air pump, bell, U lock, helmet and gloves all for $75.00.
    The only thing I added was front and rear lights.
    I'm changing the brake blocks tomorrow because I think the ones that are on there are the originals, they look brand new but are rock hard and sqeal like a banshee when applied.
    Cheers, Graham.
    London ON. Canada

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey Graham,
    At first I thought maybe you paid a little too much for the bike. But after adding up all the extras in my head "The helmet, lock, pump and gloves probably cost 75.00 or more" And considering it came with the manual and tools. I would say you made a good buy. You are spot-on about replacing the brake shoes. They can look like new and do to hardening, be totally shot. And of course lights are always a good idea. There was one concern I had about the Auto-bike. How would it perform in winter conditions? I would recommend keeping the rear hub, spokes derailleur and auto-shift mechanism clean and lubed using a silicone based lubricant like Tri-Flo. I only mention this because I know your weather "like ours" can be pretty harsh at times. And the shift mechanism works smoother if kept clean and lubricated. As far as the tires go, that is a judgment call. Personally I don`t have a problem with fine "skin like" cracks as long as the side walls are still flexible. But if the cracks are opening up (and or) the sidewalls are brittle I would replace them. Let me say one thing before I close. I realize you "most likely" all ready know what I have mentioned above. But I can`t "assume" that you do. Also someone else who reads these comments
    might find this info helpful. So please accept my recommendations in the "spirit of goodwill" in which they are offered. Cheers, Hugh

    ReplyDelete
  14. I remember seeing those auto-bikes on late night TV infomercials. I think it was in the 80's early 90's. Nice find.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey John,
    Thanks, It sold right away to a couple that already have one. So I guess these strange little bikes do have some fans out there.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  16. Just passing through, but I'll add an Auto Bike Comment. My wife and I have the only Auto Bike Cruisers that I have ever seen. I purchased them because they reminded me of my 50's era Schwinn Black Phanthom, albeit, without fender lamp or tank. They are dressy, comfortable, shift perfectly and are still in brand new condition after owning them for over a decade.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey Anonymous,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. It has been my experience (so far) that people who own these auto-shifters enjoy them.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just got one for free, but it's missing a chain. Anyone tell me what I need to replace it?

    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey underapphusb.
    Basically you will need a chain and a chain tool. I think you can find both at Meijer for less than 20.00 total. You will need a multi-speed or 3/32 chain. If you go to my latest post about bicycle shop tools you can get a look at what the chain tool looks like.
    I am sure there are video`s on "you tube" to show you how to install the chain. Just search bicycle chain install. You may also want to pick up a can of Tri-Flo lubricant for the automatic derailleur mechanism. Good Luck with you project.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have had my AutoBike for 17 yrs, love it and would not consider getting anything else. It has worked better than any other bike I have tried. Lately I have a loud clicking in the gear shifting. How do I do a complete cleaning of the chain? I have been on a dusty trail and think that has something to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hey Anonymous,
    You can pick up a White-Lightning (clean streak) chain cleaner at Walmart. It will come with enough cleaner for one or two good cleanings. Also I recommend cleaning the entire mechanism with White Lightning "Clean Streak" (spray) Then a light coat of Tri-Flo after it dries. Dirt is the enemy! Also check for bent spokes and clean those up nice as well. This way the weights (that work the shift mechanism) will slide smoothly up the spokes as you accelerate.
    And use some chain lube on that chain as well.(also available at Walmart) Wipe off the excess. Too much lube only makes more dirt stick to the works.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hugh, would you know where I can purchase the plastic piece that pushes against the center ring. It is attached to the derailer with two small screws. Mine is broken.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hey Anonymous,
    Wow that's a tough one. I can only suggest that you watch E Bay for a CSA Auto bike for sale. I recently convinced the seller of a Roadmaster to sell me just the tank, light fixture and front fender I needed for my project.
    Or if the price is right, maybe purchase the entire bike for spare parts. Good Luck with your search.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  24. How much is this bike? you sell it?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Greetings Facelli,
    Yes I did sell it quite a while ago. I do not remember what I got for it. It was probably less than 100.00 U.S. Sorry for the delayed response. Have a Wonderful Holiday Season.
    Cheers, Hugh

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just stumbled on to one of these things somebody sat out for the trash man. Thought it was an old junker that I might fix up and ride. I'd never heard of one before and didn't stop to read the labels on the bike just thought somebody had removed the shifter. I got it home and thought I'd take it for a spin and wala the dang thing shifted and I kept pedaling and it shifted again. As it turns out everything on this bike appears to be in full working order. Looks like it was well worth saving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Anonymous
      Sorry for the delay. You actually sent this on my 57th birthday.
      It's true. One man's trash really can be another man's treasure. Thanks for sharing that story, it's a good one.
      Cheers, Hugh

      Delete
  27. Pulled my old autobike classic out of it's storage. Looks and works like new except I will need new tubes mine keep losing air. Checked on Craigslist and eBay saw them selling from $250 in fair shape to $450 in like new condition and this is in 2013. I'll be hanging on to mine cause I love it and for around town it can't be beat.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oops need to update my prev post where I list current used prices, believe it or not I found them selling for $799 used!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290733392240

    ReplyDelete
  29. Greetings Hugh, Enjoyed your website and your informative and thorough explanations!
    I have been riding my AutoBike since 1999.
    Originally, I was impressed by the television commercial but I was very skeptical.
    After receiving, assembling and riding the AutoBike, I was very pleased but I was concerned about the long term relability of the automatic shifting.
    After riding my AutoBike for 14 years, the automatic shifting has been very reliable and has not required any maintenance other than routine cleaning and lubrication.
    I have always used a silicon lubricant for the shifting mechanism just as you recommended.
    After about 10 years, I had to replace the tubes and the tires due to wear and degradation of the rubber.
    Recently, I changed the seat and the handle bar riser stem to accommodate my recovery from spinal cord surgery.
    http://www.home-machine-shop.com/AutoBike_Modiified.jpg
    I ride my AutoBike 3 miles everyday for exercise with about 1 mile of the travel on a dirt path.
    My AutoBike has been very reliable and has only required minimal routine maintenance which is outstanding considering that I am 6' 4"and weigh 265 pounds.
    I am very pleased with my AutoBike for daily casual riding and exercise.
    Thanks for your informative website ! ! !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I know this info will be helpful to anyone considering purchasing a used auto bike. The stem is probably a good upgrade anyway. As the original is very average. Good luck with your continued recovery.
      Cheers, Hugh

      Delete
  30. I managed to snag one of these bikes today at Goodwill (thanks for the birthday money mom!), for a mere $79. What isn't impressive is the price, but the overall condition it's in. Has an almost unused Bell springy bike seat, not one bit of rust, barely a layer of dust... As if this likely 15 year old bike went unridden and sat in a garage or storage unit until the owner threw up their hands and donated it. And indeed, that seems to be the case. The tires were pumped up and still holding air, no dry rot to be seen, it shifts very smoothly, and (once they come in) will have aluminum brake levers and mud guards installed. It's the exact same model you have too.

    Other than the same problems with the cheap levers, I'm not going to mess with a single thing, the bike is perfect, short of a few little scratches on the handlebars, nearly mint condition.

    Prior to this bike, I was wobbling along on a cheapo mountain bike with 24" rims. The 26" rims make all the difference, and I can finally pedal naturally.

    Since the only alternative at Goodwill was a mountain bike with a wrecked derailleure and rusted over chain for $20, I'm glad I picked this one.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I just picked up an Auto Bike that had been left outside for two years. Replaced the left crank and was able to ride. The automatic shifter works, but seems to require very fast pedaling for it to shift and will not remain in the higher gears during coasting. It seems to me that the springs in the three pistons are too strong for the centrifugal weights to overcome. Is there any adjustment that can be made? The derailleur works fine.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I bought an autobike classic for my wife in 1998 and she still rides it to this date and loves it. It has never given her any problems everything is still original.

    ReplyDelete

 
Cycling Blog Directory