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1965 Allstate SGS 250 “Twingle”

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Sears, Roebuck & Company* was certainly the Amazon of the 20th Century selling everything from house kits to furniture, clothing, farm equipment, appliances and motorcycles. Much of their product line was sourced and rebadged or made to specification. The first Sears motorcycles were offered for only a few years just after 1910 with a second wave beginning about five years after World War II. Sears offered mopeds, scooters and small motorcycles from a variety of manufacturers. Many of today’s older riders studied the “Wish Book,” then visited a Sears Roebuck store and bought a bike; some were shipped to your door in crates with some assembly required.

With so many choices in scooters and motorcycles, the 1950’s and early 1960’s were a great time to become a motorcyclist. Cushman scooters, Whizzers, Vespas, Harley Hummers, BSA Bantams, and a wide range of offerings from many Italian manufacturers were out there, new and used. For America the Austrian-made Steyer-Daimler Puch (Pook) became the Sears Allstate that was made from 1953 to 1970. Black or maroon, later silver and red, the Allstate was pretty conservative in styling and performance. But it was also tough and got a generation out on the roads; with a torquey engine, some even used them for trail riding adventures.

Many of Sears offerings were of European manufacture and two-strokes, the big Allstate 250 a “twingle” by design. It’s easy to think of the “twingle” two-stroke engine design as similar to a split piston; a pair of pistons in two cylinders in place of one piston in one cylinder, but as shown in the photo below, the engineering is much more complex! In fact in the twingle design one is piston behind the other and each piston is used for different functions. One is bringing fresh fuel to the combustion chamber from the crankcase, while the other is expelling the burned charge out the exhaust. One connecting rod operates both pistons, with the secondary connecting rod forked off the main rod. The design** has many variants and is over 100 years old, with the designs by the Austrian manufacturer Puch dating to 1923.

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In addition to this handsome, original unrestored Sears Allstate 250, the National Motorcycle Museum has dozens of small motorcycles, scooters and power-cycles from the 1950’s and 1960’s and several others that were sold by Sears Roebuck. Baby Boomers and their parents are likely to find some that come under the heading of My First Bike.

*Sears, Roebuck & Company was formed in 1886. The name is now abbreviated to Sears.

**The term twingle is also sometimes used to describe parallel or V-Twin four-stroke engines which have been re-engineered to have cylinders fire simultaneously, acting like a single cylinder engine, typically offering better hookup for dirt track racing.

Specifications:

  • Engine: 248cc Two-Stroke
  • Design: Two cylinder “Twingle”
  • Bore & Stroke: 45mm x 78mm
  • Carburetor: Puch 32mm
  • Ignition: 6V Battery, Coil, Points
  • Lubrication: Oil Pump (+Pre-Mix for Break-in)
  • Compression Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Horsepower: 16HP
  • Clutch: Multi-plate in Oil Bath
  • Transmission: 4-Speed
  • Primary: Duplex Chain Driven
  • Starting: Folding Kick Starter
  • Brakes: 7” Drum / 7” Drum
  • Suspension: Telescopic Fork/ Swingarm, Twin Shocks
  • Tires/Wheels: 3.00 x 16 / 3.50 x 16
  • Wheelbase: 52 Inches
  • Weight: 342 pounds
  • Top Speed: 68 MPH
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  1. Howard Dorris

    Mine (68) isn’t quite as nice but has fewer miles. Runs when I kick it! Never been “fixed”. Sweet bike.

  2. El Engelter

    A few years ago we needed a pit bike for Davenport. I pulled our 250 twingle off the shelf after 18 years storage, put a 6 volt lantern battery in the box, added some two stroke oil and fuel. After 3 kicks it roared to life and we rode it all weekend at Davenport. Love the little popcorn popper.

  3. Randy West

    Been riding motorcycles for 65 years and bought a brand new Sears Twingle 250, remember it coming In The Box and assembling it and riding it for quite a while , knew it had the puch engine, in was very reliable.

  4. William Hall

    A friend took me for rides on his red and cream Allstate 125 back around 1961/62!

  5. Paul

    In the early 60″s, my brother and I used to go down to Sears and sit on the motorcycles, and pretend we were riding them.
    By the time we got motorcycles, we had graduated to Harleys, so we never actually owned an Allstate (Puch).
    We did know a guy who rode one down our street to work and back home 6 days a week.

  6. John Stevenson

    Bought a new 175 (model 810-94160) in 1957, and rode it summer and winter, to and from work and school for four years. One could get a limited license at 14 years old back then, and $5.00 for plate. No insurance needed. I put 14,000 hard, fast miles on it, and thrashed it without mercy. I have owned 14 bikes since then but none more reliable. I would do 200 plus mile road trips on it with no fear of mechanical failure. At 14-15 years old, I sure was glad my folks never found out. Back then you could enter and leave Canada without any extra bother. When I moved up to a Speed Twin at 18, I converted my Puch to an Ice Racer, and raced it for another three years, then gave it away to a friend who raced it some more. What a bike!! Oh yeah, I did shave .200 thou off the head, advance the timing another 8 degrees, raised the transfer ports .06″, pretty much gutted the mufflers, ( took them right off for racing,) and ran Sunoco 260 with Castrol racing oil at 40:1. Living in Detroit, growing up next door to a Pro Hill Climber, these mods had to be done, of course. If they weren’t so darn expensive, I’d like to fix up a Puch for my grand kids, just for old time’s sake.

  7. J. T. Cook

    When I was 15, I went down to the Sears store and saw this beautiful maroon motorcycle. It was a 175cc Allstate(Puch) and was quite heavy. This was 1955 and you could ride a bike in those days at 14 with no special license. I purchased the bike for $250 on sale and I drove that cycle for about 3 years and really enjoyed it. It was not really fast, as the Mustang scooter could run away from it, but it was a comfortable and a beautiful bike. One time, I drove it over 200 miles round trip with no issues. One problem that I did have was it was prone to fouling the spark plugs, so I had to clean them once a week. One morning, I was driving along at about 25 MPH and a guy ran a stop sign and I nailed him in the front door. It was a 49 Packard tank 4 door. I landed on the roof of the car with one of the sharp front brake handles broken off in my right knee and a broken nose. The front wheel of the bike was pushed up under the gas tank. I believe that the cycle protected me from getting seriously hurt as it was very well built with good metal. The bike was totaled and my parents said no bikes, so still miss that old bike. Even today, I would like to take a ride on one of those bikes. Good ole days!

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