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When bike manufacturers tried to get parents to buy extra bikes

The new high-rise, low-riding bikes of 1969 were not just for going places, but were for looking "sharp" while getting around.

CCM sought to make sure each kid had two bikes at his or her disposal in 1969

High-rise handlebars and short fat wheels meant bikes looked cool and were made for stunts. (News Roundup/CBC Archives)

"Parents hate them, kids love them, and so does CCM ... Canada's only bicycle manufacturer." 

CBC News reporter Bill Harrington told viewers in 1969 that with their banana saddle seats, gearshifts, small fat tires called knobbies and names like cars had, now the kids could be "swingers, like their parents."

The 1969 CCM Mustang. (News Roundup/CBC Archives)

And kids were invoking child-power in their bid to get the new ones as a trade-up from the "conventional" bicycles.

CBC News visited the factory where the shiny new models were rolling off assembly lines and into shipping containers.

High-rise bikes are the must-have rides for 1969's kids

Digital Archives

2 years ago
1:06
The souped-up bicycles with gearshifts, banana saddles, backrests and small, fat tires are all the rage, summer '69. 1:06

'A two-bicycle child'

There CCM sales manager Doug Birch told Harrington that some youngsters were keeping the conventional bicycles for "longer rides" and wanted the "Mustang-style bicycle for the in-town, down-the-street, back-to-school riding."

"So you're aiming at a two-bicycle child now?" Harrington asked.

"That's our desire, certainly," Birch agreed.

The standard "sidewalk" bikes could be souped up with some of the new accessories. (News Roundup/CBC Archives)

The newspaper ads from the summer months at the time said it all, with department stores promoting models with names like Mustang, Panther and Cougar.

With descriptions of "glitter banana seats" and "hot-rod-styled mudguards" they offered "pizazz pedalling" and claimed to be "built to take all the bucks and stunts a vacation can dish out." 

Kids are crazy for the new bikes with gear-shifts and handbrakes. (News Roundup/CBC Archives)

And the colours were vivid too — "flamboyant flamingo" and "flamboyant lime" to name two. 

They contrasted sharply with the conventional bikes, advertised on the same page as "well-built and dependable" and available in colours of red or blue.

The final word was from the kids themselves.

"Why do you kids like these new bikes?" Harrington asked a trio of boys who were wheeling around a schoolyard.

The high rise bikes of 1969 are loaded with cool features

Digital Archives

2 years ago
1:23
The new bikes look sharp, and are fun to ride. 1:23

"Well, they're easy to handle and they're kind of fast if you've got the strong legs to pedal them," the first boy said.

"The handles are mod," added another. "They ride smoothly."

"How do you feel when you're riding them?" Harrington asked.

'You get more looks-at'

"Kinda sharp. Sort of like you're dangerous ... shifting the gears are kinda fun, too."

"I think you get more looks-at," he offered, explaining that "on an old bike you usually just get stared at."

Harrington asked about safety.  

With its "mod" handlebars, the ride on this bike was "smooth." (News Roundup/CBC Archives)

"Had any accidents?" Harrington asked.

"No, I used to run into a couple of people on my old bike." he was told.

"[On] my old bike the chain used to come off ... the handbrakes on these new bikes, [if] the chain comes off it doesn't matter."

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