Classic and Vintage Bicycles: What's it Worth? Appraisals and Inquiries - 1974 Schwinn Continental vs. 1980's Ross Euro Tour
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I am trying to purchase a bike for my boyfriend. He would be using it for casual riding. I found a Schwinn continental (1974) 10 speed (25" frame, 34" standover) and a Ross Euro Tour 5-speed (24" frame, 33" standover)from the 1980's. Judging from the seller's photos they seem to be in similar condition. I have attached the photos that the seller provided. There was also a Ross Gran Tour 10 speed but I think it may be too small. It has a 31" standover and my boyfriend is about 6" 2. All of the bikes are priced around $100 which seems high but I do live in NYC. I would greatly appreciate any input. I don't want to get ripped off and I would like to make the best decision. Thanks.
12-23-08, 10:15 PM
I'm partial to the Schwinn, but I've owned a few over my lifetime & have never owned a Ross. I think, in general, the Schwinn line was a cut above Ross in quality, but Ross was an OK, roadable bike.
For more than $100, my vote is they should be in good riding condition or with only minor, easily fixed flaws like cable misadjustment. Pay much less than $100 if it needs tires & other service. Gets expensive quickly.
These are old enough that they will have needed fresh grease, wheels trued and spokes tensioned, etc.
Make sure it's been done or that you are willing to DIY or can find a trustworthy backyard mechanic who would do it for a reasonable cost. Costs a relative fortune to get all this done at a bike shop. For DIY, will take some specialized tools (cone wrenches, spoke wrench at a minimum) and an assortment of basic mechanic's tools, plus a bit of elbow grease. I know Schwinns are forgiving and need a minimum of tools to work on, would be a great first bike to learn maintenance with. The Ross looks like it is similar (with a one-piece crankset that is easy to service).
Hope this hasn't rained on your parade too much. I'm not against old bikes but it's taken a lot of care to make the ones I own into reliable road machines. Couldn't have bought this service (tried - realized i'd go broke), had to do it myself.
12-24-08, 08:21 AM
You are correct about the NYC area. Although I live in the Carolinas now, I lived outside of NYC for many years. The prices there are much higher than other areas. Actually, I think those are decent prices for those bikes in that area. duffer1960 makes a very good point. Find out if either of the bikes has had the bearings lubed recently. Watch the rims spin on the bike and look to see if they wobble or are they dead center or near dead center. Tires are important, but can be replaced.
The Ross Euro Tour is a decent bike, so is the Schwinn Continental. If everything is equal, I guess I'd lean toward the Schwinn because a Schwinn will re-sell easier than a Ross. But if the Ross is in better condition, I'd go with it. BTW, right from the get-go that Schwinn will require bar-wrap if it's going to be used in cool weather.
12-24-08, 08:30 AM
I would go with the Schwinn. I have owned both of those bikes (flipped them on CL) and the Schwinn is a better built bike. It is most likely a little heavier than the Ross, but that will just give it an even smoother ride.
All of those bikes have steel rimed wheels and I would strongly recommend replacing at least the front wheel with one with an alloy rim. Steel rims give VERY poor braking when they are the least bit wet. Even buying new, that would only add about $25-30 for a front alloy wheel.
I can't tell from the pictures (too small and low res) but the seat on the Schwinn might be a Brooks -- If that turns out to be the case, you could resell it, if it is on good shape, for a 1/3-1/2 of the price of the bike.
Thanks a lot for your input!...seems a little more complicated than I had anticipated. If we are just going to be using the bike to ride say, on a paved beach trail do you think it will still need to have work done? Also, the Ross bike has the upright handle bars which I thought might be more comfortable but, I am really do not have any experience. Also, my boyfriend is 6' 2, slim build- does one bike seem like it might fit better? My guess is that a road bike is maybe not the appropriate style of bike to purchase but, it is the most readily available. This has been very helpful. Thanks!
12-24-08, 10:27 AM
The BF is 6'2", but what is his pant inseam when buying trousers?
The Schwinn Continental is a 26" frame, and is everything of a 34" top tube height. I would suspect a 24" frame would fit better.
Yes the Schwinn is a good value at $100 in NYC area and with a Brook saddle a steal. A Brooks B17 or B15 sell for about $60 + on the auction site regardless of condition.
Likely both would need new grease on the steer tube and bottom bracket, and also the wheel hubs. 30 year old grease has little lubricating life remaining and if bike ridden with out greased properly, it will ruin the bearings and the provide poor ride as it requires work work than required.
Happy Holidays and all the best finding the correct gift.
+1 Yes, bikes will need some basic maintenance, and unless you or a friend does it, it could well cost you more than the bike.
Most times it is better off getting a ready to ride bike from a bike flipper (someone who fixes up bikes as a hobby). A full tuneup, cables, bearings, brake pads, and new tires can cost $200 at a local bike shop or more. I would call a few shops to check.
+1 Steel rims are a big negative.
+1 The Schwinn is the better of the bikes you mentioned.
12-29-08, 07:35 PM
The Schwinn is definitely a more durable bike (indestructable?). It also has what appears to be a leather Brooks B17 saddle ($109 new...$79 on sale at Nashbar - last time I checked). The Ross has fenders and a Pleitscher rear rack. Thrifty Bill (post above mine) is right on the money. You can spend alot of money on repairs. Also, you might be sinking good money into something that isn't that good. Pointer: Check the rims by spinning the wheels & seeing (looking downward) if the rim "weaves" in and out towards the brake pads. Also, does the rim go "up and down" (looking from one side of the bike) ... spins above and then below and then above the brake pad. That is how you check wheel alignment. Anyway, most importantly, make sure these are the kind of bikes he will like to ride..no matter how casually. Another pointer: The Schwinn Collegiate 5-speed is a better bike than the Ross. There are also many older Japanese road bikes that are better riding ... and still dependable... than the Schwinn. This time of year in NY? Shop around and get the right bike at the right price.
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