Ranging from kits you could build an entire house from to firearms, apparel, bicycles and jewelry, Sears-Roebuck offered it all, except maybe for food. Beginning in 1948* they offered Cushman scooters rebadged as “Allstate” and catalogued a range of scooters and motorcycles through the late 1970’s. Sears first offered this Compact scooter in 1957.
Sears imported small-displacement two-stroke motorcycles from the Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch, A.G, or Puch (pook), from 1954 to 1979. You may recall a range of mopeds, scooters and even two cylinder motorcycles up to 250cc’s.
The Allstate Compact used small wheels, has a short wheelbase, is light and nimble, useful in urban areas, derived from the needs of Europeans seeking utilitarian transportation. The pressed steel frame, leading link fork and swingarm rear suspension were cheap to produce. The 60cc Compact sold for around $300.
An interesting part of the design is the shrouded, fan-cooling set-up for the engine, great on a hot day sitting in traffic. Also a wonderful thing to polish! Unlike the “step-through” Cushman or Vespa, the more conventional Compact had the fuel tank between the rider’s knees and is a nicely styled machine. Being a pre-mix two-stroke, the fuel tank cap had a built in measure for lubricant. A gallon of gas blended with a measure of oil and you were good to go.
By the early 1960’s the chant, “Honda prices start about $215,” was heard across the land. The Japanese were creating strong dealer networks and exporting some great, more sophisticated two-wheelers into America. Sears, and Montgomery Wards, the other big catalog merchant in America, did not try very hard to compete, offering the same simple machines for a couple of decades, then abandoned the market around 1980.
This Allstate Compact is graciously on loan from James Slaughter. It’s one of about 18 scooters and mini-bikes you will enjoy looking at when you visit the National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa, Iowa.
- Engine: Horizontal Fan-Cooled Single
- Type: Two-Stroke, Piston Port
- Displacement: 60cc’s
- Carburetor: Bing 1/17
- Ignition: Flywheel Magneto
- Lubrication: Pre-Mix
- Horsepower: 3.9HP
- Starting: Kick-start
- Chassis: Pressed Steel
- Transmission: 3-Speed, Foot Shift
- Final Drive: Chain Driven
- Suspension: Leading Link / Swingarm
- Brakes: Drum/Internal Expanding
- Wheelbase: 46 inches
- Wheels/Tires: 3.00 x 12″ / 3.00 x 12”
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Description states “foot shift” but there is no foot shifter visible. Suspect that shift is accomplished with the left hand, evidenced by the two adjustable cables on the left hand grip as well as the clutch lever. Such a system was common on Italian scooters of the era.
You are correct, there is not gear shift on the left. The left hand controls the clutch and by rotating the entire left hand grip and clutch lever, the two cables control gear selection. I had an Allstate moped that shifted the same way, although only a two speed.
This exact year and model was my first motorized 2 wheel ride. What a thrill as a teenager to go zipping along at 30 to 35 MPH at wide open throttle, the wind in my face and blowing through my hair! I was “hooked” on 2 wheeled motorized rides for the rest of my life. And yes, it cost me $300 new at my local Sears store. Yes, the 3 speed transmission was shifted by twisting the entire left hand grip and clutch lever.
Had one of these Allstate scooters and restored it, entered in motorcycle show, won third place, it went up against all kinds of cycles. Cool little scooter. Really like your feature Bike’s, maybe you could put all the featured bikes into a book, would be a collector item :). Harry Bedford
As a young teenager, I lusted for one of these. From Sears! There wasn’t a motorcycle dealer anywhere near me, so the Sears catalog was a potential source of something as desirable as a motorcycle.
Learning to ride it in my back yard . I dented the front fender right off the bat. I was really upset. Had more fun on that little scooter than any vehicle I owned since! Wish I still had it!
My grandparents gave me a 40 cc Allstate compact on the spring of 63. Had to wait two days for Dad to get some two cycle oil, tough wait. We liveed out in eastern Colorado, on a 5.5 section ranch, boy did I have fun. Top speed was 37 mph, several times young Jack rabbits would race me, me on the road, them outside the fence, they usually won.
This was my first bike.
Could never get it to run properly.
Shifter was 3 speed left handgrip