Garrett Fuller

1981 Free Spirit Pinnacle

PinnacleThe 1981 Free Spirit Pinnacle is my road bike. I originally got the road bike in 2011 at a garage sale for $20. The bicycle was originally rode very little before then. (I found the date code, which stated 81, on the rims.) The Free Spirit was originally sold through Sears-Roebuck stores during the 1970s and 1980s, and the bikes were (from my original reserach) manufactured for Sears-Roebuck by Huffy.

The tires were flat when I originally got the bike, but an air compressor quickly fixed that. The tires on the bike were the original "Golden Boy" tires with the original inner tubes from 1981. The tires did not last long, as I was riding down a street when I hit a rock. The rock must have punctured the tube, as I heard it hissing out air, and the tire was flat by the time I returned home. Thankfully, I was not far from home. The next day the original front tire was changed, and the the tubes in both the rear and front tires were changed. A puncture protection strip was also inserted into each tire.

The brakes were also upgraded, and the gears were oiled. After thirty years of sitting, the gears were oiled to maintain them. The entire bike received a tune up to restore it from it's 25-year slumber.

Tire problems returned, however. The rear tire was worn down so much that the nylon of the tire was showing on parts of the tire. It wasn't long before the tire went completely flat. The tire had to be replaced, as well as the tube. Enter the dilema with the Cheng Shin Rubber tires.

The first Cheng Shin Rubber tire, installed by a local bicycle shop (who did all of the work on the bike), was defective off the bat. It had a small hole in the casing, which allowed for the tube to show. This tire did not last long, and actually blew on the Katy Trail. I was eight miles out, and it was getting fairly late. I had to ride back on a completely flat rear tire on gravel - not fun.

The following Cheng Shin Rubber tires were almost as bad. However, the tires were not totally at fault. The rim was a steel rim, made before it was commonplace to add a hook into the rim for holding the bead in place. The original Golden Boy tires recommended a pressure of 75 PSI (rear; 70 PSI front.) The Kenda Tire which replaced the front tire when bought the bike requires 70 PSI, which is fine. However, inflating the tire over 80 PSI usually had disastorous results, resulting in a loud "BANG" and a flat tire. The Cheng Shin Rubber tires required a pressure between 85-90 PSI. 90 PSI was the rated maximum, but anything under 80 PSI would result in a snakebite flat, and anything over 80 PSI would blow off the rim. I went through around three tires, and countless tubes before discovering this fact.

Pinnacle BeforeConsequently, the bicycle was decommissioned for a couple years. The bike was temporarily replaced with another bike, the Huffy Superia. It also suffered tire problems, on top of gear issues. That bike was finally recycled after the pedals broke off, and replacement pedals had finally broke the rod off.

A neighbor was able to install a new tube in the front tire - the tire I replaced after buying the bike. He also installed a new tire and tube on the rear rim. Both were fixed, and the rear tire is safely able to be rode at the lower 65 PSI, rather than the recommended 95 PSI. I may borrow his mountain bike, which he rarely uses, for use on the Katy Trail.

My Plans

I plan on taking the Pinnacle with me to college, and using it as my primary mode of transportation around campus and for short distances. Until then, the Pintomobile will be my main mode of transportation (the Pintomobile will, of course, follow me to college. But since I plan on living on campus, a bicycle would be great exercise and faster than walking.)

There was a time where I rode a bike everywhere, mainly since that was my only choice and I didn't have a car or driver's license. I actually rode the Pinnacle (and it's replacement, the Huffy Mountain Bike) almost daily, and it proved to be good exercise. I actually burned a lot of weight riding the bike, mainly on the Katy Trail. (Since the Pinnacle is a road bike with 27x11/4 tires, it isn't or wasn't ideal to ride it on any type of trail, especially the gravel Katy Trail. The Huffy Mountain Bike was a better fit for that use, but the Pinnacle got me eight, or in some cases, ten to twelve, miles [or 16-24 miles round-trip] without any issues.) My plan is to eventually get back into shape. This fall, and next spring and summer, I plan on getting back out on the Pinnacle, and loosing some weight. However, it needs some upgrades and TLC before that can happen. (It sat in our damp garage for around three years waiting to be fixed.)

The first update which needs to be done is with brakes. The brakes on the Pinnacle are in very bad condition, and will not stop the bike at all. This is the main reason I haven't rode the bike lately, as it presents many safety issues. There were a couple times where I was not able to stop the bike before coming to an intersection, but thankfully, I've never been in a dangerous position where I may run into a car (or vice-versa.)

The second update I plan on doing is updating the wheels. I plan on replacing the 27" wheels, which are much more difficult to find tires for, with 700c wheels. The current rear wheel had been bent on a small jump I made (accidentally - not on purpose), and now the rear rim rubs on the brakes. I plan on also upgrading the tube to heavier-duty tubes, with Presta valves instead of Schrader tubes. I also plan on upgrading the tires to heavier-duty tires, possibly the Continental GatorSkin tire. However, I may replace the current 27" wheels with replacement 27" wheels, as 700c rims are more expensive and require additional modifications to the bike.

My third update is general maintenance, such as a basic tune-up for the entire bike. This includes lubrication and ensuring the bike is in overall good condition. This would also include repairing the issue with the pedals; the pins which hold the pedal onto the crankarm are loose, but are unable to be completely removed. Therefore, it squeaks while riding and I fear that over time and pressure this may damage or even destroy the nice original pedals, or I may completely loose the pedal and pins. This would possibly require taking the bike to a bike shop, as physically beating the pin would not budge it.

Update (10/29/2016): Once again has the Pinnacle been a victim of a flat tire. While riding the bike, I heard the dreaded hissing sound once again. However, within two seconds, the front tire tire went from inflated to the proper pressure (60 PSI) to completely flat. When I got home, I realized that a huge nail had made its way into the tire. The nail was bent, and ripped the inner tube to shreds. The tube is beyond repair, and the tire was already toast.

The bike needs brakes and new front tire anyways, in addition to a new wheels.

Update (8/3/2017): The "micro-restoration" has begun on the Pinnacle... more like a tune-up. You can read more here.


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Last updated 8/3/17 ; T420