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Old 05-26-11, 09:27 PM   #1
WJordan
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Convert 7speed to 21speed

Is it possible to convert a Schwinn cruiser 7speed to a 21 speed?
What I'm after is making this bike climb hills easier. (paved roads)
Or am I thinking wrong in the more gears, the better on hills?

Is it possible? Is it worth it to do on a cruiser? If not worth it, just tell me, I can take it.

Thanks!
Sorry if this is wrong place to ask!
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Old 05-26-11, 10:21 PM   #2
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The problem may be that your current rear hub is an internal gear hub. So if you were planning on putting a tripple crankset on the front, you cant do that without having a rear derailleur (which internal gear hubs wont have) to take up the chain slack from shifting the gears in the front. So unless the cruiser does not have internal gears, and has a typical cassette sprocket in the rear, you could mount a front derailleur, get a new 3 ring crankset, and get a left (3 speed) shifter. But then you run into finding a cable stop on the frame itself that front shifting requires to pull the front derailleur and shift. No doubt it would get lower gears from the crankset small gear, but it may be simpler to either:
A. If you have internal gear hub, look into an internal gear hub that gives a better range of gears for uphill.
B. If you have open cassette in the rear, buying a new rear cassette with larger rings in back, which may require a longer chain too.
I hope it helps a little. Either way, cruisers are made for flats so its hard to make it good for hills.

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Old 05-26-11, 11:08 PM   #3
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Thanks greyghost_6! This does help a lot.
I do have the rear derailleur and cassette sprocket on rear. Looks like the cable stop you mention is a problem as I don't have that.

To bad I don't live at the beach where this bike would be most happy, so maybe best to look into a better bike for my needs.
Thanks a lot for the info!
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Old 05-27-11, 03:08 AM   #4
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An easier fix may be to shift the overall range over into something more useful for you. Many bikes have a setup that'll allow the average rider to keep putting power into the pedals way over 25 MPH/40 KMH. If you, like me, find that you're not really using that end it can be fairly simple to lower the gearing w/o really missing what you've lost.

OTOH cable stops aren't exactly high art. There's a bunch of after-market wraparound ones available, or you can make one out of a ferrule, a hose clamp and a spot of soldering/brazing.
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Old 05-27-11, 06:29 AM   #5
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You could fit a triple crank, bottom bracket, front derailleur and shifter but the project will be anything from somewhat to quite expensive depending on what style crank and bottom bracket you now have. The cheapest change would be find a cassette or freewheel (whichever you have) with a larger big cog.

Otherwise, the smartest thing to do is get a more suitable bike since your cruiser probably isn't worth the conversion cost.
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Old 05-27-11, 07:33 AM   #6
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Give us your gear ratios. How man teeth on the front chainring? How many teeth on the largest and smallest rear cogs?

Probably the easiest thing to do is to get a different rear cassette. You also might be able to put on a smaller chainring.
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Old 05-27-11, 09:01 AM   #7
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One approach: rebuild the rear wheel with a DualDrive hub.
it is a combination of a cassette with multiple gear cogs on it,
and a internal geared 3 speed hub.

Sachs, now owned by SRAM, made a 7x3 years ago,
now that cog stack has gone up to 8 and 9, the 7 speed discontinued.
and this year Sturmey Archer has added a similar product.

you will have to spread the rear end some,
though maybe not much since you have a derailleur
on the bike already..
8~9mm spread / 126 ->135 4,5mm per side.

then the gear range further adjusted by the size of the 1 chainring in front..
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Old 05-27-11, 10:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
One approach: rebuild the rear wheel with a DualDrive hub.
it is a combination of a cassette with multiple gear cogs on it,
and a internal geared 3 speed hub.

Sachs, now owned by SRAM, made a 7x3 years ago,
now that cog stack has gone up to 8 and 9, the 7 speed discontinued.
and this year Sturmey Archer has added a similar product.

you will have to spread the rear end some,
though maybe not much since you have a derailleur
on the bike already..
8~9mm spread / 126 ->135 4,5mm per side.

then the gear range further adjusted by the size of the 1 chainring in front..
Good suggestion. Doing that shouldn't cost more than twice what the bike is worth.
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Old 05-27-11, 11:03 AM   #9
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the smartest thing to do is get a more suitable bike since your cruiser probably isn't worth the conversion cost.
+1

Cruiser: meant for cruising, short trips at slow speeds. If you're getting serious about actual riding you will soon want a bike more suited for that.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
+1

Cruiser: meant for cruising, short trips at slow speeds. If you're getting serious about actual riding you will soon want a bike more suited for that.
BINGO! Exactly what I was thinking after I started pricing the stuff to do this change. Found out it was going to cost dang near what the bike cost.
I've always liked the cruisers and rode them when I was a kid. But as a kid I lived where grounds were flat enough. Now, I have small to steep hills all around me. Looking for another bike more suited for my needs I think is the best bet. Later on I may want to try to beef up the cruiser just for fun project. Who knows, hmmm... maybe a gas engine. lol

I want to get out there with the big dogs, no fun sitting on the porch!!
Thanks loads to all for your help!
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Old 05-27-11, 02:35 PM   #11
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"Beach cruisers" are pretty much made for riding around flat land. They got associated with beaches, apparently, due to California and Florida being flat, so you find them near beach resorts.

History writers are a funny bunch, and you can find a lot of books with non-facts in them. A lot of experts in a lot of fields can cite a lot of things that never happened or are entirely non-true, but are common knowledge in a field. Everything from engineering to computers to bioscience has this, some "authority" writes something silly down and everyone buys it. Someone, at some point, wrote down in a book about American bicycles that "beach cruisers" were made to ride around on sand at the beach, and it stuck.

Funny enough, balloon bikes (so called due to their wide, low-pressure tires) were the base platform for mountain bikes, which do handle random terrain (and hills) to some degree; so there is a degree of truth to this...

Sorting out the whole story behind bicycle history would be interesting. I don't think it's readily accessible, and you'd have to do some digging, probably through bike companies as well as history books. Bike companies will likely have a lot of records that go, "What? Yeah, that never happened" when you flash "history" texts written by silly romantics past them.

Look for a nice hybrid or road bike, depending on your fancy. Hybrid will probably come stock with some lower gears; mine doesn't go into the mountain range, though, and I want to fix that....
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Old 05-27-11, 03:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Good suggestion. Doing that shouldn't cost more than twice what the bike is worth.
yea probably true , especially if its a big box store bought bike, since the name,
Schwinn ,
Has been sold and is applied to imported stuff.

spend Up .. hire a frame builders work.
http://www.ingliscycles.com/ a Schwinn cruiser look in a hand made custom bike.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-27-11 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 05-28-11, 10:42 PM   #13
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WOW fietsbob, I like those bikes. Pretty cool!

Bluefoxicy, you mention find a nice hybrid or road bike. Road bikes have tall small narrow tires, right? Are they going to hold up to my big ole' 370 pounds when I seat down on it???
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Old 05-29-11, 12:48 AM   #14
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370 pounds ?
light bikes will hold you up, but as the stresses on all parts require frequent maintenance

and parts replacement. .
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Old 05-29-11, 01:27 AM   #15
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... Road bikes have tall small narrow tires, right? Are they going to hold up to my big ole' 370 pounds when I seat down on it???
Well, kinda. They won't fold right underneath you, and may well hold up to careful riding. But you're in the range where you really should be looking at a bike equipped with some tandem parts to get some durability and peace of mind when riding. Particularly WRT wheels you would benefit from having a pair built for your situation.
A less expensive way might be to find an old rigid (steel) mountainbike, stick some DH wheels on to it - but instead of the knobbly tires, fit some Schwalbe Big Apples or similar wide but smooth tires on.
If you stick with Shimano, compatibility across the range is good, and it shouldn't be a problem setting the gearing up so that it suits you.
I'd be wary of suspension. First it doesn't sound like your style of riding would need it, next I fear you might just bottom it out.
But do try to master the concept of "going light". This means that when you know you're going to hit a bump, get out of the saddle and be ready to bend the knees/arms a little to allow the bike to move upward as you hit.
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Old 05-29-11, 03:20 PM   #16
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I don't know much, but I'm gonna add my worth anyways

I'd say that a decent specced Mountain Bike would be a good suggestion - I do many miles on my Land Rover and (with the right saddle) it's incredibly comfortable. I don't know much about cruisers, but I would say that from this thread they sound fairly similar to the MTBs. I spent about 350 on buying it, and its done 1200 miles faultlessly, aside from a couple of failed bearings and a stretched chain, although that's probably due to me riding it like a bit of a loony

And before people say they're slow, I keep up with and overtake people on it anyway!
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