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  1. #1
    bikebikebikebikebike
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    Old Schwinn-- problems to look for?

    Hey all,
    My girlfriend wants to get this old Schwinn we saw on craigslist, for getting to school (5ish miles, flat) and maybe some longer let's-go-on-a-picnic type rides.

    It seems to be her size, and she's crazy about the look-- my question is, when we go check it out, what kinds of problems should we look for. I.e...

    How much rust is acceptible?
    Which components will be really hard to fix/find replasements for?
    What other things are hard to fix once you're stuck with them?
    Are there any particular mechanical issues with Schwinns like this?


    http://westpalmbeach.craigslist.org/bik/204446440.html


    Thanks in advance!
    --Sean
    beast of burden: Liberia single-speed mongrel
    go fast for fun: Trek 1000




    sR+! bR/! rR/T/? ld so+ vP17/C12 c m+ i!
    the bike code

  2. #2
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    Seems like you should be able to get it for le$$

    Problems: tonnage, hardened brake pads, chain condition, tire condition, etc?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    I've never owned an electro-forged Schwinn, but I can tell you they're very heavy and virtually indestructible. It's hard to tell much from the photo, but it looks like the bike is at least in good cosmetic condition. A compatibility issue that might come up is the Ashtabula (sp.?) cranks, although Harris cyclery does sell an adapter that will allow the use of a conventional, threaded bottom bracket on the bike. The bike will have steel rims, also, unless they've been switched out; they're no good at all for braking in wet conditions. Sheldon Brown's site has some great info on Chicago Schwinns, Varsity/Continentals, and Ashtabula cranks. And these bikes are discussed A LOT on the Classic and Vintage forum. Here's a link to Bob Hufford's excellent site on old Schwinns: http://www.geocities.com/sldatabook/cover.html

  4. #4
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by singswhileridng
    How much rust is acceptible?
    Which components will be really hard to fix/find replasements for?
    What other things are hard to fix once you're stuck with them?
    Are there any particular mechanical issues with Schwinns like this?
    Keep in mind, this is a 30+ year old bike, so even entry level bikes of today will likely perform better than this. I'm not trying to disparage the bike, because they ARE very well built and last forever. I just recently reconditioned a 3-speed Schwinn for about $100, and I wouldn't do much more than casual/recreational riding on it. If it's more about retro-style for your girlfriend, then this bike fits the ticket, but it's not going to get high marks for comfort or performance compared to today's entry level bikes.

    You really don't have to worry about rust on this frame, unless you see obvious holes rusting through it (doesn't appear that way). These things were build with heavy gauge steel (hence the weight) and it would take a lot of salt and abuse to eat through one of these frames. It's likely you'll have rust on the chrome parts, but that is usually superficial and can be cleaned.

    Rusty, non-functioning components are a greater concern. If the bike rides well, shifts properly, brakes well, and handles well, I'd say it's a safe bet. But if there are any problems in these areas, you will either have to pay a shop for repairs, or you'll have to do the repairs yourself. So, at minimum, if the bike hasn't been recently overhauled by the current owner, you may have to replace/service the chain, the rear and front derailleurs, the chainrings, and the rear cogs. You'll have to replace brake pads, brake and shift cables and housing, most likely. You'd also be advised to service/replace the headset bearings, hub bearings and crankset bearings. And as mentioned earlier, if these are steel rims, you might consider upgrading to alloy rims which could be an expensive upgrade unless you can find some inexpensive used wheels (which really isn't all that hard - go to a garage sale and buy a cheap bike with the correct size alloy wheels and swap them out).

    Are the components hard to find? There were millions of these things built, so there are millions of these parts kicking around. Browse eBay or go make friends with people at the Schwinn Forums.

    Bottom line, these things do have retro-appeal, and they may be worth investing in for that. There ARE people who will say these are great bikes to ride and use them regularly. But, if you do decide to go this route, and the bike is not in pristine condition or hasn't been recently reconditioned, expect to invest some money and time in it to get it functioning as well as it did when it was new. And don't necessarily look at this as a bad thing. Reconditioning a bike like this is a great learning process and can be very rewarding. You might even grow attached to the bike. So be sure if you do end up with this bike, and you do overhaul it, you enter into it as a joint venture with your girlfriend so she doesn't become jealous of the bike!

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    cs1
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    Unless you can repack your own bearings and do the other major overhaul items needed, I would pass. Most bikes of that vintage have been sitting for years. The grease is usually hardend and needs to be repacked. Cables usually are a little rusty, especially in FL. If you have to pay to get it done, you're going to spend far more than $65. From my experience it would probably need new tires, tubes, cables (not casings) and brake pads. I would also check the chain, if it's rusty get a new one. Then the above mentioned bearing overhaul of the hubs, BB and headset. Check to see if the wheels are true. When your done it will be an indestrucable ride. Good Luck

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by singswhileridng
    Hey all,
    My girlfriend wants to get this old Schwinn we saw on craigslist, for getting to school (5ish miles, flat) and maybe some longer let's-go-on-a-picnic type rides.

    It seems to be her size, and she's crazy about the look-- my question is, when we go check it out, what kinds of problems should we look for. I.e...

    How much rust is acceptible?
    Which components will be really hard to fix/find replasements for?
    What other things are hard to fix once you're stuck with them?
    Are there any particular mechanical issues with Schwinns like this?


    http://westpalmbeach.craigslist.org/bik/204446440.html


    Thanks in advance!
    I bought my wife a '72 Schwinn Super Sport. Here's my experience on what to look for:
    --old brake shoes. make sure the brakes work perfectly. you may/will/should plan on new shoes and cables. On her bike, it needed a caliper, bought NOS ebay for about $15.
    --tires and tubes if they have not been updated.
    --be very wary of sending her out with steel wheels. Their braking in any kind of moisture condition is about ten per cent of dry.
    --Plan on repacking the hubs (but if you are planning on new alloy wheels, not an issue)
    --Plan on repacking the crank. Sheldonbrown.com has good instructions. Its not hard, but it will make a difference of night and day.
    --the shifting is friction. Is that a challenge to her?

    the super sport was a wonderful bike with an awesome ride. I enjoyed playing with it. It came from a local fellow who had wrenched it into shape for his daughter. about the time he finished, she discovered boys. Ultimately I sold it for $125, after having paid $60 and put in $40 for the NOS matching caliper, new brake cables and NOS handlebar yellow tape. I had a bunch of that tape left, which I recycled to Pastor Bob here.

    Then I fixed up a little newer bike for my wife--an '85 Panasonic DX 1000 Tange frame whose alloy QR wheels and bottom bracket rebuilt (with loose balls replacing the cages) astoundingly. Finished it out with a new six speed HG freewheel and chain, new riser bars, new matching blue grips, new brake levers, brake cables and new Shimano Tourney SIS thumb shifter right/and NOS Suntour friction left for the front double chainring. Selle Italia leather original period saddle and new Kenda 27x1-3/8 tires and tubes. Total all in around $150. Most important she's happier being released from road bars and friction shifting. She never bothers shifting the friction front just the indexed rear--it might as well have a single chainring.

    So an old bike maintained for someone you love, well, it costs money, which ever way you go. Hope you find bike maintenance as good a therapy as I do, as I suspect you may be doing plenty.
    Last edited by mrmw; 10-13-06 at 03:54 PM.

  7. #7
    bikebikebikebikebike
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    wow, thanks for the replies, that all sounds dead on. yeah, as far as the br. pads, tires and stuff-- we're both pretty excited about tinkering with it and learning how to do all these little fix-it things. the price? i think she may have already commited... she was just so excited about finding an all-yellow bike . but anyways 50ish for an old bike in running condition seems not terrible to me...

    mrmw, she says she used to have an old bike with stem shifters like these and she loved it, so no problem there. that panasonic rebuild sounds cool-- personally, i was thinking that if she really gets into riding (like i'm hoping!), we might do that with a newer old road bike. maintenance is half the fun

    Tim, that was exactly the kind of thing i was worried about (BB & headset stuff, difficult for beginners..). thanks for the heads-up. what i'm hoping is that, assuming it's rideable now, i can get some outside help and take on those overhaul tasks one at a time.

    junkyardbike, thanks! yeah, she's definitely more interested in retro style than high preformance. she's already talking about getting a fluffy seat to replace the one that's on there. And everyone's mentioned it so I'll be seriously looking at replacing the rims and the crank. As for becoming too attached to the bike, um, it's gonna happen anyways, might as well be hers instead of mine for once!


    Thanks again everyone! I'm really excited about getting a new project, and obviously will appreciate additional comments if anyone has more ideas
    --Sean
    beast of burden: Liberia single-speed mongrel
    go fast for fun: Trek 1000




    sR+! bR/! rR/T/? ld so+ vP17/C12 c m+ i!
    the bike code

  8. #8
    Mad scientist w/a wrench
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    I paid 60 for a '77 sportabout. I've since replaced it with a newer modern bike and can basically say this:

    they're heavy, the steel rims can't brake worth crap in the rain, and they're great for getting started/back into this because they give you one heck of a workout/lesson, I just wouldn't consider one for a day-to-day commuter or for any serious sport application, but then you don't.

    here's my advice regarding what to do when you get yours:

    pull both wheels clean and regrease the hubs, maybe even replacing the bearings...I'd get a gallon of simple green concentrate and dilute it (but not as dilute as they reccommend)

    if you're mechanical enough, pull the cassette off the rear wheel and degrease this too.

    Clean the chain (I like the idea others have suggested about taking the chain off, putting it in a 1-liter widemouth mt dew bottle with some degreaser and shaking it like a polaroid picture.)

    so far, aside from a pair of pliers and some wrenches, all you need are degreaser and a chain tool.

    the crank doesn't have to be replaced if its not broke, provided you like the current chainwheels and you don't have any issues with the choice of pedals (platforms or toe clips unless you want to drop $45 on an adapter so you can fit clipless) I went the adapter route and I like the crank just fine.

    The rims are what got me. 27" wheelsets are uncommon and as such a bit pricey compared to the value of this bike. Alloy rims can be easily gotten, but your hubs probably aren't of terribly great quality, so aside from braking performance, you're not getting much by switching, not to mention you've either got to learn wheelbuilding or get them rebuilt by a shop.

    These things are somewhat a pain, but there's just this charm to them.
    Proudly wearing kit that doesn't match my frame color (or itself) since 2006.

  9. #9
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by singswhileridng
    Tim, that was exactly the kind of thing i was worried about (BB & headset stuff, difficult for beginners..). thanks for the heads-up. what i'm hoping is that, assuming it's rideable now, i can get some outside help and take on those overhaul tasks one at a time.
    Don't be afraid of these tasks - bicycles are really very simple machines (part of the reason they are far superior to automobiles!) I don't consider myself very mechanical at all, but I find enjoyment in tinkering with bikes and in the few months I've been doing it, have overhauled a number of BBs, headsets, and hubs. Have fun with it, and you'll learn a ton.

    Two great resources are Sheldon Brown's website: http://sheldonbrown.com/glossary.html and Parktool's website: http://www.parktool.com/repair/

    I usually start at the Glossary on Sheldon's website because, despite the wealth of information, it's a bit difficult to navigate at times. Click on whatever area you're working on, and usually it will have links to more indepth how-to articles if they exist on his pages.

    Also, not a bad idea to purchase a good repair manual. I've heard Barnett's recommended as the virtual Bible for wrenching. I have yet to get it myself, but plan to soon. (Price listed there is a bit high. You can find it elsewhere on the web for about $75)

    Anything else you need help with, ask here. I've found this forum a very valuable resource and the people very friendly and helpful!

    Good luck, and keep us posted on the project!

  10. #10
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    Good luck with the "new" Schwinn. This thread was an interesting read - particularly since my first "real" bike was a yellow Schwinn Le Tour (1973) that I purchased new when I was in college. In 2001 I took it to my favorite LBS guy who upgraded the wheels, installed a 7 speed cassette and new chain rings (I'd have to go check what the tooth count is, but we greatly expanded the gear range).

    That bike has always been the fastest coaster of any of the bikes we own, and with the upgrades, it is quite comfortable and capable on long road rides. From 2001 through 2005 I probably put some 6000 miles on it.

    I always felt indexed shifting to be an unnecessary frill (until I finally broke down and bought a new bike that, of course, included indexed brifters). Still, friction shifters are quite capable once you get used to them. Except for the outside and inside cog limiters, there is virtually no other adjustment required - you operate the lever to reach the gear of your choice, and that is it (DO NOT LUBE THE SHIFTERS!). The only criticism I would have today is the location of the shift levers - something I used to brag about - that now I find inconvenient as I've been spoiled by brifters that allow me to shift while climbing hills out of the saddle.

    The brakes on my Le Tour were (and still are) very weak stoppers - but, once you get used to them, you simply ride accordingly.

    I still ride my Le Tour occasionally, and my son would love to "steal" it from me.

    I concur with most of the advice offered except that some of the posts make tuning up this old bike seem more troublesome than I believe you will find it. Any bike that hasn't been ridden for a while may need the same maintenance as described in the posts above, and any that have been ridden a lot will also require similar maintenance due to normal wear and tear.

    My two-year old bike needed just about all of what was described above, including a new cassette - and that was simply a result of all the riding I do.

    I'd say if she likes the bike, go ahead and buy it. $65 may be a bit on the high side, but, again, $65 isn't a lot of money. If I added up my cost of new wheels, cassette, new cranks/chain rings, pedals, and tires, I may have invested some $300 to $400 into my bike, and I enjoyed each and every upgrade. The bike rides far better than new, and I've surprised more than one fellow rider with how fast it will go and how long I can keep it at speed.

    Once you've made the upgrades, about the only disadvantage you'd have over a newer bike is the weight of the frame - and that is a very minor setback.

    Good luck. I hope you post back with your impressions after you have the bike.

    Caruso

  11. #11
    Electro-Forged
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    OK, here's my take as a Schwinn Suburban rider:

    >My girlfriend wants to get this old Schwinn we saw on craigslist, for getting to school (5ish miles, flat) and maybe some longer let's-go-on-a-picnic type rides.

    Great. Then the weight isn't a problem.

    >It seems to be her size, and she's crazy about the look-- my question is, when we go check it out, what kinds of problems should we look for. I.e...

    >How much rust is acceptible?

    On these bikes, rust is cosmetic.

    >Which components will be really hard to fix/find replasements for?

    Nothing's really hard to fix. The exception would be frozen components, but that's the same on all old bikes. You might want to make sure that the seatpost can be moved and is not rusted into place.

    Schwinn made their own tubing and many of their own parts, and therefore they are often a fraction of an inch off from everyone else. It is unlikely that you will ever find a properly-sized new replacement seatpost or handlebar stem in an online catalog. Old replacement parts are everywhere because zillions of these bikes were made. Also, its not like one of Schwinn's forged steel stems will ever wear out or break. It will outlive you, your kids, and your grandkids. Hell, I've got one in my basement. You can have it.

    >What other things are hard to fix once you're stuck with them?

    Truing wheels can be difficult because the spokes can rust and seize to the spoke nipples. Then you round off the nipple flats, curse, and say well, that's good enough then.

    >Are there any particular mechanical issues with Schwinns like this?

    Other than odd sizes, nothing out of the ordinary. Oh, that saddle looks like one of the old steel shell jobs. I would replace that right away.

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