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Old 01-28-08, 08:24 PM   #1
TacomaNarrows
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'86 Schwinn Sprint - Worth tuning?

We have Schwinn Sprint that has been in the garage for quite a while. My boyfriend (a recreational mountain biker) wants to start commuting to work so we thought we might tune up the old Schwinn. But it is heavy and we aren't sure that it is even worth the tune up. Is anyone out there familiar with this bike? Any opinions? Should we spend the tune up money on a better used bike?

This will not be a flat commute and he will be dealing with some busy streets sans bike lane.

More details:
10-speed?
Blue with pink and yellow decals
Schwinn badge imprinted with 1186 (118th day of 1986?)
straight seatpost (I did a little research; this is not a mid 70s model)
SunTour shifters
a bit scuffed up
wheels and frame look straight
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Old 01-28-08, 08:40 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by TacomaNarrows View Post
We have Schwinn Sprint that has been in the garage for quite a while. My boyfriend (a recreational mountain biker) wants to start commuting to work so we thought we might tune up the old Schwinn. But it is heavy and we aren't sure that it is even worth the tune up. Is anyone out there familiar with this bike? Any opinions? Should we spend the tune up money on a better used bike?

This will not be a flat commute and he will be dealing with some busy streets sans bike lane.
...
While someone like me would indeed be perverse enough to try it, most would advise against it. It's like polishing a turd - you'll make it shiny but you won't change what it is.

What is your budget, and is he handy with a wrench? If he is like me and likes to slowly collect used parts here and there (derailleurs, brake levers, crank) and spend a few bucks on the others at a shop (bar tape, bottom bracket, cables, chain) and then do the work himself he could do it on a budget and have a fair bike.

If he is thinking of taking it to a shop to get it upgraded, you'll be spending as much as a lower-end brand new bike just in parts and labor. If this is the case I would advise on looking around for a decent used bike. But be prepared to wait for the deals, they don't appear regularly. And do the homework to know what you want to look for, and what doesn't matter as much. If he really, really, really wants brifters (brake levers that double as shifters) than that ups the price you'll need to lay out; whereas if he's perfectly comfortable with older (but still good quality and good condition) components like downtube shifters you may find a mid-late '80's Bianchi for $150 that may only need new tubes and tires. Do not rule out new bikes and this is the time of year to get one - the Bike shops want to move out last year's models to make room for the new lines and bikes just don't sell too much in the winter so they could be more likely to make a deal. But go to a bike shop, not a Sporting Goods store or department store.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:30 PM   #3
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TacomaNarrows,

First, I love the area, and have cycled 5 mile drive many times! Graduated Stadium High in 1975 (Go Tigers!)

Anyway, for tuning, I would say the bike is well worth it. Assuming your boyfriend has done some of his own wrenching on mountain bikes. The maintenance issues are about the same.

The weight will be an issue primarily on any hills, and so I would vote depending on where the commute is from/to since I know this varies a lot in the Puget Sound area... If the commute is fairly flat, or he is a pretty good climber on his mountain bike, there should be little problem commuting on this bike.

When I was there in the 70's I rode a much heavier bike for leisure from NE Tacome to Point Defiance and back... Although on the way up Highline road (I think it is now Norpoint???) I did usually end up pushing the bike for half of the hill. But, I was never a good climber.

I delivered papers in the NE Tacoma and Federal Way for years on a bike heavier than that. Including a couple of pretty good hills carrying papers...

My bike was a 24" wheeled balloon tire bicycle with 26" 3 speed wheels wedged in with a banana seat and rams horn bars. Definitely heavier than the heaviest Schwinn diamond frame.

So, in summary, if the two of you can do the work, it is worth tuning and riding for long enough to see how well he likes it.

However, especially if there are significant climbs, there is some advantage to finding a higher grade bike.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:35 PM   #4
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Alloy rims with Hardcase tires, and decent shifting components and brakes. It will still be a little heavy, but it will be a lot more enjoyable to ride.,,,,BD
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Old 01-28-08, 09:46 PM   #5
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I'd spend a minimal amount tuning the bike, probably just lube the cables, pump up the tires and make sure the rims fit through the brakes. then ride it to work for a month to see if commuting is up your boyfriends alley.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:58 PM   #6
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I say go for it! Even if you dont want to do the stuff yourself. Well at least change the tires yourself. Especially since it will be a commuter. You'll need to learn how to change a flat. This is Tacompton we're talkin' about. Getting all the cables changed and stuff greased and adjusted will set ya back $100 or less depending on where you go.
Fenders are a must! But most important of all is.... does it fit properly? If not, the commute will not be comfortable or fun. If so and ya stick with it (and catch the bike bug here) perhaps later an upgrde would be an option. It will replace a car after all.........how much is that worth?
And a little off topic. After getting it fitted properly and ridin' smooth I would suggest getting some serious time on it in traffic or maybe find a partner to help with a route and traffic skills. You'll need em there. The commuting forum is great and an introduction in the PacNW forum would be great too......

Have fun!
Kelly D

P.S. My daily rider is a Sprint too.........Just converted to a fixed gear. Gasp!
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Old 01-28-08, 11:27 PM   #7
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Wow! Lots of great advice! Thanks all!
For those familiar with Tacoma - his commute is from the Narrows Bridge to Downtown T-town. He has done it on his mountain bike, but that isn't appealing on a daily basis. Myself, I'm just trying to work up the nerve to use my bike as a grocery-getter -- crossing Pearl at 21st to get to the Albertson scares me a little. But I can take the new trail from our neighborhood to Tacoma Boys - they have most of the stuff that we need. Looking around these forums is great inspiration. We are also headed down to the Worst Day Ride in Portland this weekend, which serves as a great reminder that it isn't THAT cold around here and a little rain never hurt anyone.
Thanks again, everyone, for the input. I'll let you know what he decides to do! And I'll be sure to check out the PacNW forum!
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Old 01-28-08, 11:34 PM   #8
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Swap the wheels for some alloy-rimmed ones. That'll make the bike much nicer to ride; even if you don't keep it, you can use those wheels on another bike.
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Old 01-29-08, 06:16 AM   #9
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I didn't realize the rims on the Sprint were steel (I guess I should have at least asked), so I would definitely look to move to aluminum... essential in the Northwest. Even if he doesn't plan to ride in the rain, any shower will impact the braking.

This also impacts the cost of getting the bike ready. A cheap set of alloy wheels can be had from Ebay for about $90. Actually, you could get by cheaper by just replacing the front wheel which is the one that is most effective for stopping. Those seem to be available for $25...

Check both bicycles section and collectibles/transportation/bicycles (where you can find some vintage parts more often than in sporting goods/bicycles.
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Old 01-29-08, 09:23 AM   #10
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See if you can lure stringbreaker into helping you with that tuneup .

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Old 01-29-08, 11:29 AM   #11
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Find a set of 27" alloy rims and clean it up and grease the wheel bearing and yer on yer way. I saw a set of 27" alloys on CL the other day don't know if they are still listed or not I know they were priced really low
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Old 01-29-08, 11:31 AM   #12
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found the link they came off a peugeot http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/554584649.html
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Old 01-29-08, 03:43 PM   #13
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Well I guess if we are all offering.........I've got a set or 2 of 27" alloys as well. Pm me if interested. I'm local.
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Old 01-29-08, 05:31 PM   #14
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Tacoma Narrows: KPUG is the man, I got the sweetest RARE Schwinn Volare frame and a fork for a very reasonable price so I know he won't try to make a killin from you. KPUG I'm thinkin of a different fork for the Volare, one with a little more rake. If you have something like that shoot me a message.
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