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  1. #1
    rocker BikeGuitarist's Avatar
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    Respect to the Schwinn Varsity

    I know it was fashionable to dis the so-called Schwinn "lightweights" back in the day, but I consider the Varsity and Continental series to be right up there with the Model T Ford and the Piper Cub in terms of making their form of transportation popular and accessible. The method of construction of the frame was unique too, and if Schwinn had used more alloy parts in other places the weight could have been made competitive (more or less) with their rivals.

    I found eBay to be a wonderful source for NOS and slightly used parts to restore and maintain my 1977 Schwinn Sportabout (a cheaper version of the Varsity but with better derailleurs than the Continental of the same vintage). Again it was about respect: the Japanese SunTour derailleurs were dissed just because they were Japanese instead of French or Italian, even though their slant parallelogram design was the best in the world at the time.

    I am proud to ride a vintage Schwinn of the Varsity family of bicycles. They are tough and reliable.

  2. #2
    I Like Heavy Old Schwinns
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    I hear ya man, and its good to be proud of what you ride regardless of what it is. After all, you're the one working on and riding it so why try to please other people?
    1985 Schwinn World Sport - Flat black
    Left to do: Some misc polishing, further straighten rear wheel, rebuild on the bottom bracket.
    Cost thus far - $22.50

  3. #3
    stringbreaker stringbreaker's Avatar
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    Gaspipe Forever
    (Life is too short to play crappy guitars) 2006 Raleigh Cadent 3.0, 1977 Schwinn Volare, 2010 Windsor tourist. ( I didn't fall , I attacked the floor)

  4. #4
    Senior Member skyrider's Avatar
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    Well said enjoy your vintage ride.

  5. #5
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    Suntour showed Campy and Shimano what a derailleur ought to be. I am going to start collecting all things Cyclone and VX-GT...For they are the finest ever made. My cyclone deraileur is one of the lightest meanest, badest shifting unites of all time

    Its a shame that all the tooling for Suntour got sold for scrap...Somebody with big bucks and good marketing could have brought the Suntour name back. Oh well the old parts live on.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I hear them called "Varsinentals"-- what are the differences between a Varsity and a Continental?

  7. #7
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    I hear them called "Varsinentals"-- what are the differences between a Varsity and a Continental?
    $20 and a chrome fork.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

    S. J. Perelman

  8. #8
    Chrome Freak Rabid Koala's Avatar
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    I confess to dissing the Varsities back in the day, even though I had one for a brief time. No dis at all to the SunTour derailleurs, as I had a VGT on a Nishiki and I was amazed with how well it worked. I wish SunTour had survived and could continue to innovate.
    1971 Paramount P-13 Chrome
    1973 Paramount P-15 Opaque Blue
    1973 Gitane Tour De France
    1974 Raleigh Professional
    1991 Waterford Paramount
    Litespeed Tuscany
    Holland Titanium

  9. #9
    stringbreaker stringbreaker's Avatar
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    My Conti had an aluminum handlebar and a forged front fork instead of the blade type fork.
    (Life is too short to play crappy guitars) 2006 Raleigh Cadent 3.0, 1977 Schwinn Volare, 2010 Windsor tourist. ( I didn't fall , I attacked the floor)

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    I hear them called "Varsinentals"-- what are the differences between a Varsity and a Continental?
    Aluminum handlebar, center-pull brakes, quick release hubs are the obvious.

    My '80 Continental has chrome forks, as well.


    Added images of cool Lemon, 1970 work in process, and 1980 Continental, not II version.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by bab2000; 05-07-08 at 02:13 PM.

  11. #11
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Continental II's had the chrome fork. Earlier Continentals do not:



    -Kurt

  12. #12
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    In the mid 1960s, my older brother was the first in the neighborhood to move from a BMX-type bike to an "English Racer": a blue Schwinn Varsity. It was coveted by all--and eventually run over accidentally by a neighbor as he was backing out of his driveway. He bought my brother a new bike and somehow bent the first back into alignment, and his son would ride it around the neighborhood.

    When it was time for me to get my first "racer" bike, I got a yellow Vista Flyer. Hmm.

    Neal

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    There is a story I read on another site, that a Schwinn employee took his Varsity to the top of his buildling, through it to the ground from the roof, 3 or 4 stories, went down, picked it up, realigned the handle bars, and maybe the seat, then rode of down the street.

    Much of the weight is in the steel rims, change over to aluminum or alloy rims improve performance I have been told.

  14. #14
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    The Schwinn Varsity:

    My dad had a late 60's Varsity that he passed onto me when he upgraded to the Raleigh Competition. I was in my early teens, too young to drive, too old to want Mom schlepping me about. It was my life. I had my first "date" with that bike, used it to ride to my first girlfriends house.

    Deep blue with a Brooks saddle. Down tube shifters, center pull brakes (may have been upgrades). Had the little black saddle bag and the rat trap rear rack. No dork disk or chainring guard.

    I remember tearing it down almost weekly, lovingly cleaning the bits and pieces, putting it all back together. Bars would get retaped almost as often as I changed socks. My friend and I would spend countless hours at the Schwinn dealer, hanging out in the air conditioned comfort, checking out all the bikes. I so wanted to be a mechanic.

    It was stolen off the front porch one afternoon. I was absolutely devastated, I cried for days. We replaced it with a Sprint but it just wasn't the same. The next year I started driving and the bike was consigned to the garage.

  15. #15
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cudak888
    Continental II's had the chrome fork. Earlier Continentals do not:
    Ahhh--- but some do young grasshopper, including my '62.


    The OP mentions the weight. The one above which I modified weighs just over 29 lbs. but under 30!
    Not too shabby for electro forged!
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
    FreeWheelSpa.com orpastorbobnlnh.com

  16. #16
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    Hey there Bike Guitarist! Welcome!

    It's Alice with the 77 Sportabout! Remember me?

    I still have Birdie and she is still all original.

    I saw you on the Old Ten Speed Gallery!
    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

  17. #17
    rocker BikeGuitarist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alicestrong View Post
    Hey there Bike Guitarist! Welcome!

    It's Alice with the 77 Sportabout! Remember me?

    I still have Birdie and she is still all original.

    I saw you on the Old Ten Speed Gallery!
    Yep. Hello again Alice. I'd love to have some photographs of Birdie and maybe some stories to put on my web site if you're willing. Sportabouts are relatively unknown compared to the ubiquitous Varsinentals.

  18. #18
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
    Ahhh--- but some do young grasshopper, including my '62.
    Thank you for correcting me on that point, Bob. I failed to recall the early models.

    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
    The OP mentions the weight. The one above which I modified weighs just over 29 lbs. but under 30!
    Not too shabby for electro forged!
    Not bad - my '61 Schwinn Paramount weighs around 25 with the original aluminum seatpost jammed in the center of the seattube and rather heavy Phil Wood touring hubs and SACHS 7-speed freewheel. Says a lot for the Continental, if you ask me!

    -Kurt

  19. #19
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    P.S.: Speaking of forks from Continental II's, I could use three of them, if anyone has happened to have stripped a couple. Either from a 22" men's frame, or a ladies' frame of any size.

    -Kurt

  20. #20
    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    You Schwinn people are infectious. I've been a Raleigh man all my life. Never would have jumped in a dumpster for an old Schwinn.
    Last week there was an old Continental at the dump. after reading a few of these threads, I didn't figure I aughta leave it there.
    i haven't had time to look it over yet, it's pretty far gone at this point and not my size but somehow I fielt I needed an EF Schwinn.
    I have spoken.

  21. #21
    rocker BikeGuitarist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sailorbenjamin View Post
    You Schwinn people are infectious.
    You mean SCHWINNfectious, lol
    Thanks for rescuing the Continental.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    The Schwinn Varsity:

    My dad had a late 60's Varsity that he passed onto me when he upgraded to the Raleigh Competition. I was in my early teens, too young to drive, too old to want Mom schlepping me about. It was my life. I had my first "date" with that bike, used it to ride to my first girlfriends house.

    Deep blue with a Brooks saddle. Down tube shifters, center pull brakes (may have been upgrades). Had the little black saddle bag and the rat trap rear rack. No dork disk or chainring guard.

    I remember tearing it down almost weekly, lovingly cleaning the bits and pieces, putting it all back together. Bars would get retaped almost as often as I changed socks. My friend and I would spend countless hours at the Schwinn dealer, hanging out in the air conditioned comfort, checking out all the bikes. I so wanted to be a mechanic.

    It was stolen off the front porch one afternoon. I was absolutely devastated, I cried for days. We replaced it with a Sprint but it just wasn't the same. The next year I started driving and the bike was consigned to the garage.
    Haiku-ish. Thank you

  23. #23
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    I never owned a Schwinn. My Uncle was a Raleigh dealer.

    While I appreciate Varsinentals as well made, durable icons, and will rescue ones that are in good condition, I've never been able to bring myself to keep one. It would probably be different if I had ridden one whilst growing up. My soft spot for entry level bicycles is reserved for the Raleigh Grand Prix.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  24. #24
    Senior Member Fissile's Avatar
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    It is possible to get a varsinental under 30 pounds, I know, I've done it. Swap out most of the steel components for alloy, include a 3 piece crank conversion, and you can get it to come in @ about 28-29 pounds. That's not too bad for a geared bike with a nuke-proof frame.

    EF Schwinn frames make very good starting points for utility/commuter bike build ups.
    Critical Mass

  25. #25
    Senior Member RoyIII's Avatar
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    My youngest brother still waxes nostalgic about his continental!

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