After Christmas Gift: 1955 Huffy Radiobike

Christmas has come and gone, and some of us may not have gotten exactly what we were wishing for. Many of us receive Christmas money from grandparents, and other relatives, fueling our desires to get that one thing we really wanted for Christmas, like this bicycle. This 1955 Huffy Radiobike is a great survivor that is rare, and complete. The Radiobike was made for 1955 and 1956 making some very lucky kids the coolest kids on their street, being able to have portable music built right into their bicycle. Unfortunately, not long after the Radiobikes release, the transistor radio came out making it very easy to take music with you any, and everywhere. This rare two wheeled mercury vapor tube radio is offered at $1,800. Find it here on ebay out of Ohio.

Within this tank lies a narrow mercury vapor tube radio. There is a volume knob, as well as a tuning knob, and the key is a locking on/off switch to prevent others from draining your batteries when you aren’t with your bike. The white tube coming out of the bottom of the tank is the antenna. Wearing the lovely “Flamboyant Red” color, the Huffy Radiobike was also offered in “Flamboyant Green” and “Flamboyant Blue”. Although the Radiobike was offered for 2 years, it is speculated that there were only 8,500 bikes made. 8,500 doesn’t sound like too low of a number, but the Radio built into the tank was not cut out for the outdoors, and many fell subject to failure. Upon out living their usefulness as a radio with wheels, the transistor radio would become a quick replacement, and the “Muscle” bikes of the 1960s didn’t do the Radiobikes any favors, making them appear old and outdated.

Fortunately, this radio looks to be in fair health, needing to be cleaned and tested. Also fortunately the on/off switch key is with this bike as well. This 3 tube radio was designed, and manufactured by Yellow Springs Instrument Company.

In nice survivor condition, there are areas where some surface rust has developed.  The radio side of the tank has some minor surface rust, but much of the paint, and graphic on the tank is present. There is also some surface rust forming on the chain guard as well as the rear fender. The battery pack compartment is very clean. Thankfully someone removed the batteries preventing corrosion to the battery area.  The 1955 only headlight is nice with no rust, or paint issues. The handle bars and fork crown are beautifully shiny, although the wheels have not aged as well. There is some corrosion, and even minor rust forming on the rims. These wheels are likely suitable to ride, but they are just a bit ugly as far as condition goes. But we aren’t too picky, we would gladly welcome this 2 wheeled find to our collection. How about you?

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Comments

  1. Scotty Staff

    Very nice find, Brian! I vote for more bikes on Barn Finds! I’ve never seen a Huffy Radiobike but now I want one; much like pretty much everything that’s posted here every day. Dang Powerball..

    • Brian Staff

      Thanks Scotty! I feel the same way, I would love to add this to my bicycle collection.

  2. Rock On Member

    There might still be life left in those wheels, with some soap pads and a bit of elbow grease.

  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    That is mental – imagine how cool the dude(ess) would have felt fangin’ round on this baby when new – never heard of one (this is Australia)

    • Brian Staff

      Yes, you know the kids that got these were the coolest kids on their block. Didn’t matter it they were geeky or not cool, they had a radio in their bike that they could take with them where ever they wanted to go! Truly an awesome idea that brought about such a luxury to kids and even adults.!

  4. boxdin

    A tube type radio in 1955 was out of date when it was introduced.
    But what a great bike.

  5. Bingo

    This is a $800 bike tops. Huffy was always the red headed step child. I hate to be an ass but it is what it is.

    • grant

      I’m not sure what is worth cause I’ve never seen one, but $800 seems pretty low. Ultimately the market will decide what is worth. This is the coolest thing posted today, for sure.

  6. Steven C

    That would be a sweet guitar amp

  7. packrat

    Alright: somebody educate me on why this is being called a “mercury vapor tube” radio. I’m seeing a 1R5, a 1U5 and a 3V4– http://www.stevenjohnson.com/web-pics/1955HuffyBikeRadio.gif . To the commentor who said tubes were obsolete then: In 1955 point-contact transistor technology was rather frail as well, and the space-saving, hand-wrapped transistors were in sockets rather than soldered in, and commanded a premium. The Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor_radio talks about the second model of transistor radios being introduced by Raytheon in February of 1955 (the Regency TR-1 being the first). And the online discussion of a few years ago by enthusiasts http://thecabe.com/forum/threads/huffy-radio-bike-value.32313/ seems to put the value of one like this, finish problems and all, solidly in the > 800.00 value bracket. Sometimes rarer, easier to store and display–two wheeled vehicles do very well, pound per pound, in the collector market.

    • Nickinators Vintage Bicycles

      The green Radiobike bike in question was ours. The bike sold for more than triple the value you posted, because it’s green, which is more rare than red. Blue is the rarest. The posted red Radiobike, listed on ebay at $1800, is a decent deal, as finding a complete one is very difficult.

  8. Jay E.

    Wasn’t it a “Vacuum” tube? I don’t recall vapor tubes.

    It is interesting that the idea of portable music concept still lives on with docking ports for your smartphone.

    • packrat

      The writeup listed it as a mercury vapor tube radio. There was, and is, such a thing as mercury vapor *rectifiers*–I have an old signal corps RTTY power supply that is good for 28 volts at about 40 amps if I spring for a stack of fresh 866’s. Radios usually need only one rectifier, and only if they are running off of mains current–and the smallest ones I’ve used are bigger than the miniature tubes in this radio. The industrial-sized purple “glass octopus” units from days gone by are really cool looking… http://www.oobject.com/category/mercury-arc-rectifiers/

  9. Dan Farrell

    I wonder how many D-cells it takes to light up those vacuum tubes?

    • Mike Williams

      I remember a 67 volt battery in my portable radio.

    • packrat

      The filaments will wear a D cell out fairly fast (compared to a transistor unit). The real trick is subbing-in for the 67 volt batteries, which are unobtanium. OTOH, one commentor on the ‘thecabe’ forum (earlier comment above) suggested putting 7 or 8 standard 9v batteries in series, as the 63 or 72 volts is close enough. (I would suggest seven, since alkalines tend to run higher than 9v each if they are fresh).

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Cool bike! Fix the radio or hide a newer small style tuner in the POWER PAK wired to a new speaker in the tank and drive her as is. Or just park her on your deck and listen to some tunes. Is that an antenna under the tank fastened to the front down tube ?

    • Steve H

      If I owned that bike I would consider removing the radio and installing a Bluetooth speaker in the cavity… instant audio-quality upgrade and could play your iTunes as well!

  11. Jerry Long

    I still have my 1962 AMF Roadmaster Pleasure Liner with a horn tank and chrome fenders & wheels (whitewalls) & book carrier. It does need new tires and tubes.

  12. Nickinators Vintage Bicycles

    It is a transistor radio, not a tube radio. We have had a couple Radiobikes, and currently have a pristine original paint red one with the optional 2 speed. Can see it on our FB page.

    • Nickinators Vintage Bicycles

      Sorry misspoke came out opposite of what I meant to say and cant edit, radio IS tube, not transistor.

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