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Coca-Cola made this Hi-C bike. I want to know why.

An image of a bright orange Hi-C road bike.

Majestic, right?
Photo: Owen Bellwood

Here at Jalopnik, our team of authors have a large selection of cars, buses, trucks and other miscellaneous machinery. And because I do not want to be left out by this group of enthusiastic owners, I have since set out to fill the vehicle-shaped gap in my apartment.

The budget for doing this was tight, as was the storage space in my apartment. So anything with more than two wheels was quickly kicked off by me long list. ONEs I started trawling through Craigslist lists and eBay ads, it became clear that an engine could also break the bank.

So a bicycle it would be.

As with any self-respecting hipster, min There was a view of an old-fashioned Peugeot or Raleigh bike that I could lovingly bring back to life over the course of a few weekends. But the records were slim on the ground, and it seemed that the booming demand for bicycles in the midst of the pandemic would soon crush all hope of a budget whip, ready for redemption.

A photo of a bright orange bicycle leaning against a railing.

When we first met in New Jersey, it was love at first sight.
Photo: Owen Bellwood

But then a shiny orange creation jumped off the screen and yelled at me. Without wanting to sound too dramatic, it was love at first sight.

There it is was, a vintageappearance road bike with orange frame, 12-gear setup, dropped handlebars and dressed in some interesting branding that I have never had before heard of. On the front there is a yellow sign with the text "Limited Edition" and "Enjoy Hi-C Fruit Drinks. There is similar branding down the side of the frame.

Now I'm not from the United States, I had no idea what Hi-C was. But I loved the emblem on the front.

ONE fast Google of the brand and its bicycle raised similar ads for the same lively bikes. Some said they had been given to retailers to fill window displays, others said they had been won over with the purchase of the fruit drink.

From that point on, the specification of the bike didn’t really matter anymore. I wanted the gimmicky orange juice bike.

A close-up of the Hi-C mark on the bike.

Look at the glorious, high-quality labeling work.
Photo: Owen Bellwood

A few messages to the seller later and I drove excitedly on my new purchase along the banks of the Hudson. It turned out that the Hi-C bike, in addition to looking like the part, was surprisingly nimble.

Spec-wise, it's not great. But it's fine for a 30-year-old bike that I want to use to navigate the city. There is a 12-speed setup with a Shimano Skylark rear derailleur, Shimano front derailleur, star-marked brake levers, unmarked rims and an unmarked crank.

Close-up of the yellow sign on the front of the bike.

The brand that sold it to me.
Photo: Owen Bellwood


So, I now knew what I was riding, but I was still not sure why it existed. The plot really started to get thicker.

After trawling bike forums, blogs and other lists for similar setups, I could not determine the true story of the Hi-C road bike. Some reports said it was from the 1970s, others thought it was more likely it was the 80s.

Among guesses, I found another buyer looking for answers.

"I have the exact same bike! I found it in an old antique store with exactly the same components. I ended up taking it down to a solid and making it ultra-citrus. I wish I could figure things out. the bike, but I can not ... any help would be great! ”

So now I really wanted to find out more.

Since 1960, Hi-C has been branding fruit juices parent company Minute Maid, have been owned by Coca-Cola. This gave me hope that there might be some details they could share with me.

I've previously spent a fun afternoon visiting the archives of whiskey maker Diageo, and it was filled with lovely relics from Johnnie Walker's story. I was hoping Coca-Cola could have a similar setup.

A close-up of the 12-speed gearing on the Hi-C bike.

Who does not love a 12-speed?
Photo: Owen Bellwood

Wrong.

After many expansive email chains and phone calls with various people in the marketing departments of this mega-company, I had understood nothing. So it was back to the forum.

Now I got deeper in and trawled through serial number groups. And this turned out a little more fertile.

Here I found out that the bikes were most likely from 1985 and 1986. A post from 2012 written by someone named Heartlandcruisers suggested that they had been given away in the United States through a local chain called Save-Mart.

Annoyingly, the chain also had no information to share with me about the bikes.

An image of a Hi-C road bike.

So do you know anything about this bike?
Photo: Owen Bellwood

So now I have a potential production year and a list of parts. There are also a few suggestions that the frame may be made by either Panasonic or Fuji, as the serial number begins SC.

But there needs to be more information out there. Surely someone has some old promo materials or ads tucked away that contain these bikes? Or maybe you also ride around town on a Hi-C bike and have had a more successful search in its history?

I would love to know more about the origins of this lively and confusing bike.

Apparently there is also a nice Sundance Sparkler bike that has a striking resemblance to my beloved Hi-C bike, and another from Cheetos that might be worth checking out next time.

.

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