The copy for this Sears “Spyder 500” wheelie bike almost reads like an early ’70s soul jam:
“Butterfly bars, cheater slick tire, bucket banana seat on a lightweight racing bike.” All that’s missing is the diamond in the back, sunroof top.
What a beautiful, evocative ad, too. From the crisp white Chuck Taylors on the cyclist to the groovy five-speed derailleur on the 24-inch rear tire, this full-pager evokes a time when Sears was at the height of its retail dominance and truly “where the new ideas are.”
This Spyder 500 ad ran in 1970, just four years before the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago would become the world’s tallest building. Muscle bikes—wheelies, choppers, whatever you want to call them—were all the rage with kids (“7 to 17”) until BMX came on the scene later in the decade. The first of these cruisers, modeled after motorcycles and muscle cars, was arguably 1963’s Schwinn Sting-Ray, followed by the Raleigh Chopper. The Sears model is less explicitly chopper-esque and hints at “Stranger Things” to come, design-wise.
Meanwhile, the girl’s model in this pre-“Like a Girl” era is flicked at as an afterthought in the lower left corner here, “all dolled up with a daisy-covered seat and basket.”
Today, Sears is a shadow of its former self. But the kid in you can still hop on a cruiser and get where you’re going a little faster.