As a rule, I rule out Huffys, Murrays, Free Spirits, and all other big box store brands, or what I like to call K-Mart bikes. They tend to be built with substandard parts, and assembled poorly out of the box by workers in a hurry to get them on the sales floor. This post is about an exception to my hard and fast rule to overlook these bikes.
My friend José brought me this beautiful Huffy last fall to trade it in for some work I did for him on another bicycle. I looked it over and determined it to be a rare case of a solid build by Huffy. The brakes articulate well on both sides. It shifts beautifully. The wheels are what I would call overbuilt–a bit heavy, but more than capable of staying straight for another 40 years, which is the approximate age of this specimen.
Although this bike was in amazing condition when it came in (I don’t think it had 100 miles on it), there were some parts I had to find because of the decomposition of plastic and rubber. I’m talking about the tires, tubes, rim strips, brake cables, brake cable housing, and one hard-to-find after-market part, the Shimano Positron shifter cable.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Shimano occasionally used an alternative method of shifting for some of its 3-speed internal hubs and 5-speed rear derailleurs. It’s called a Positron shifter. The connecting device from shifter to the hub is less of a cable pulling on a spring (like on almost every bike), and more of a push / pull rod inside a housing. It’s a stiff wire which doesn’t just pull to change a gear, but also is able to be pushed through the length of the housing to change a gear. It enables very precise shifting, as the indexing mechanisms are inside of the hub or built into the derailleur. The original housing (replaced with the red outer casing seen here) was split open, and shifting was not possible.
I would have liked to find a better matching color for the new Positron shifter cable, but I had to snag what I could find. The tires were also a bit of a challenge to find, but Amazon had them (Kenda K123 Center Ridge Wire (Black, 26 X 1.750). If a wheel says that it’s 24″, find out which size of tire they’re calling 24″. There are at least 3 variations. These Kendas matched perfectly to the originals.
I splurged on this upgrade. I cut and disposed of the plastic cable guides that were original to this Huffy. These Dia-Compe ones will prevent the cable from flopping around and getting in the way of pedaling and such.
I smiled a lot while test riding this bike. It’s one of those that gives you the feel of a brand new bicycle, but from 40 years ago. I would compare the ride to the smoothness and trance-inducing carpet ride of a Chicago-Era Schwinn or a Detroit Cadillac. These Huffy Savannahs are usually a $10-$40 investment at a flea market or Facebook Marketplace. I’ve overhauled this one, as you can see. I’m asking $220, and in my experience, it will sell at that price. Consider the bike that $220 will buy at Target or Wal-Mart today. There’s no comparison. Thank you for reading, and ride safely!