What would you all think of a ~1979 Le Tour III (made in Japan, I'm assuming Panasonic?)? I saw one today at the local Salvation Army Donation Center, a nice change of pace from the Free-spirts and 1980's Huffy mountain bikes that tend to dominate there.
Orange in Color with some sort of rainbow victory stripes on the seat tube. All the components were pretty shoddy looking, but I didn't exactly get to inspect the bearing races. There were some blemishes in the paint and the chrome fork-tips were marked, but I think I could bring them back up to speed. The biggest deal that I noticed was the seatpin, which tells me that the bottom bracket is probably in pathetic shape too, depending on how it was stored all these years. That and the headset. The rest of the stuff I have spares available.
It was the 23" model, which should be ideal for either myself or someone else who I have in mind and to whom I owe several favors. I was thinking of building a fixed gear from the frame and whatever else was in good shape.
I didn't get it, and now I'm kicking myself, but nobody else around here will know that the frame is actually well built. What do you all think? Should I pick it up for the (probably) modest price when it opens tomorrow morning? How does the "Le Tour III" stack up against other bikes from this period? The plethora of Le Tour models perplexes me a bit. Is it worth the trouble?
The 1978 Schwinn line-up (from the top by price) included the Touring ($785), Racing ($800), and Track ($559) Paramounts; Volare ($550); Super Le Tour 12.2 ($250); Superior ($230); Le Tour III ($180); Continental II ($165); Suburban 10-speed ($160); Caliente ($157); Traveler III ($150); Varsity ($147); then the Collegiates, Runabouts, Sportabouts, Speedster and Breeze.
Here's the catalog page for the Le Tour III. The one you're looking at is probably Pearl Orange -
In 1979, Schwinn had the Super Le Tour II and the Le Tour IV, but no Le Tour III.
These are nice mid-range bikes, and if it's in decent shape and the price is right, I'd grab it.
I have a Super Le Tour and I think it is a great machine - it was certainly an excellent bike for the money in the 1970's compaired with other offerings. Those were in the days when Japan had excellent quality and cheap prices. Unfortunately, that didn't last long as costs caught up with them in the 1980's.
I also have a Le Tour III. In my opinion, there is a big quality difference between the Super Le Tour and the Le Tour III with the Super LeTour being superior.
HOWEVER, for the thift store price (under $50.00?) you would pay for the LeTour III, it should be worth it if all the components work and if the rust isn't too bad.
I think I'd pass on the le tour III and keep my eyes open for a le tour from the mid-'80's. They're much better frames, 4130 chromoly compared to the 1020 high carbon steel used on most of the less expensive Schwinns of the '70's and early '80's. You can probably find one very reasonably priced, most people selling them don't know the difference. If the decals are still intact, just look for "4130" or "chromoly" in regard to the tubing material. And a fairly easy way to determine the date of manufacture of most old Schwinns is to look on the head badge for four small numbers stamped on it. The first three digits will indicate the day of the year, and the last digit will indicate the last number of the decade it was made. Example: 1455, assuming it's an '80's bike, would indicate the bike was manufactured on the 145thd day of 1985. Also, Travelers and several other models were greatly improved in the mid to late '80's, compared to the bikes of the '70's and early '80's. Good luck-
I have to agree with both Mike and well biked. The late seventies Le Tours all had 18 gauge 1020 carbon steel frames, while the ones from the mid-eighties used 4130 chromoly.
With regard to the fork, the simple answer is I don't know. The 1978 catalog didn't have the detailed model specifications that the 1979 and later catalogs had. The 1979 Super Le Tour II and Le Tour IV both have tubular forks. The Super Le Tour II fork had a semi-sloping chrome plated fork crown and 6" chrome on fork sides. The Le Tour IV had a chrome plated crown cover and 6" chrome trim on blades.
It was pretty heavy... and in awful condition. I know a bit about the schwinn lightweight line, my only ride is a 1986 World Sport made by Giant. Definitely a good value in its time (and certainly for what I paid!). Maybe I'll look again, maybe I'll pass...
Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but I figured it would be worth it to add a photo. Here's a '78 Le Tour III I picked up not long ago and then spent all day overhauling. I think it came out pretty good. Rides really smooth, shifts great. If it was bigger I'd keep it.