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Old 08-19-09, 10:47 PM   #1
Rouen
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Varsity worth it?

hey all, I have a womens 80's(?) schwinn varsity I was planning on fixing up to use as a partial commuter to college. it's got a bit of rust, mainly on the rims. I've tried lubing it up but the rear derailleur wont hold a position and the brakes stick. I'm wondering if this bike is worth trying to put new cables on and/or replacing the derailleur, as it rides like it's got a flat even when the brakes aren't rubbing and I just changed the tubes and treads.
anyone have experience with older varsity's, are they supposed to ride like they have a flat?
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Old 08-19-09, 10:52 PM   #2
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Please describe "rides like it's got a flat" in more detail.
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Old 08-19-09, 11:01 PM   #3
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feels like theres a lot of drag, on an incline I guess it would be similar to towing a pick up truck with it. the tires roll feely and the chain ring seems to work fine.
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Old 08-19-09, 11:11 PM   #4
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You realize that it is a 42 lb bike, right?
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Old 08-19-09, 11:13 PM   #5
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My advice would be to cut your losses and look for something with a better quality steel frame, alloy wheels, etc. By the time you're done fixing the Varsity up, you could've had a much better bike ready to go. No point in chasing good money after bad. It will always be a boat anchor.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 08-19-09, 11:36 PM   #6
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You realize that it is a 42 lb bike, right?

I've never had this issue with heavier bikes, my original was a 45lb Mongoose.
thanks bibliobob, what would you recomend for a college student in the berkshire hills?
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Old 08-20-09, 12:01 AM   #7
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what would you recomend for a college student in the berkshire hills?

A lighter bike.
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Old 08-20-09, 06:26 AM   #8
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The drag could be hub cones or perhaps the freewheel. Do a search on Sheldon Brown on these maintenance items. Rear derailleur not holding position on an old Varsity is often a lever problem, not the derailleur. Tighten the adjustment nut on the lever.

The ladies Varsity is not worth much. I would not put much into it for sure. Do the work yourself, and you can fix a lot for not much money. Take it to a shop, and the repairs will quickly exceed the value of the bike.

Any of the Japanese bikes from the 1980s or an older steel Trek would be nice upgrades, but it is too early to give up on the Schwinn.

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Old 08-20-09, 06:41 AM   #9
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The "drag" may also be tire rubbing against chain stays (frame) near the BB. Sometimes a wheel that looks aligned at the brake can be tilted into the chainstay down below, that creates quite a drag. Otherwise get bike up on a rack or some other way to get rear wheel free of ground and give the cranks a few turns to get the rear wheel going, then see how freely it spins. A drag as you describe will slow the wheel down quick! As for brakes, best thing there is to replace the existing brake cables and housings which are probably full of rust and gunk.
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Old 08-20-09, 07:14 AM   #10
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If you are not very mechanically inclined, this bike may be a good one to learn on. If you can learn to install , lube , & adjust the parts, this would be great. There are plenty of online tutorials, videos to walk you thru a lot of it. The " drag " could be a simple problem, easily corrected.
It is always hard for me to " give up " on an old Schwinn !
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Old 08-20-09, 09:27 AM   #11
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The "drag" may also be tire rubbing against chain stays (frame) near the BB. Sometimes a wheel that looks aligned at the brake can be tilted into the chainstay down below, that creates quite a drag. Otherwise get bike up on a rack or some other way to get rear wheel free of ground and give the cranks a few turns to get the rear wheel going, then see how freely it spins. A drag as you describe will slow the wheel down quick! As for brakes, best thing there is to replace the existing brake cables and housings which are probably full of rust and gunk.
Could be that or could be the cones on the hub are just a smidge too tight. Just back em off a quarter turn on one side if thats the case and it'll roll smooth.

I'd say spend the 20 bux to put new cables on, that should improve the brake and derailleur function. I love my heavy Varsity and climb north Jersey hills on it no prob..I'm not a fan of the stock "Schwinn Approved" brake calipers though....they never seems to work smoothly
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Old 08-20-09, 11:12 AM   #12
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I've never had this issue with heavier bikes, my original was a 45lb Mongoose.
thanks bibliobob, what would you recomend for a college student in the berkshire hills?
The conventional wisdom is to keep an eye out for an 80s Japanese bike (or mid/late 80s Schwinn), as they tend to be good quality, and reasonably priced.

My advice would not to get too hung up on brands. While there are some companies that exclusively made either good or bad bikes, most made both. Therefore, it makes more sense for a noob to learn what good tubing and good components are, and to decide for themselves whether or not a bike is good or bad.

You can learn a fair amount here:

Vintage Bicycle Quality Guide (for the bike illiterate)

Also, check to see if there's a bike co-op near you. Learning to overhaul your bike yourself is the best way to ensure an enjoyable ride and to also learn what makes a "good" bike. Tools and knowledge are the two challenges, and a good bike co-op can give you both at limited expense.

Feel free to ask value questions in the Appraisals sub forum, or back here.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 08-20-09, 07:34 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone.
would it be worth it to take the brake calibers off and clean them before I do the cables?
I did reseat the wheels on the dropouts and that seemd to have helped, it can actually be peddled it up hill now.
also does anyone have a good website showing how to adjust the derailleurs, I can't remember which screw does what.

I also tried to tighten the adjustment nut on the lever and the screw part of it broke.

Last edited by Rouen; 08-20-09 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 08-20-09, 08:02 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone.
would it be worth it to take the brake calibers off and clean them before I do the cables?
I did reseat the wheels on the dropouts and that seemd to have helped, it can actually be peddled it up hill now.
also does anyone have a good website showing how to adjust the derailleurs, I can't remember which screw does what.

I also tried to tighten the adjustment nut on the lever and the screw part of it broke.
Yes. Clean the brake calipers.

Set the derailleur so it's on the smallest cog with the shift lever as far as it can go in that direction. Give one of the screws a quarter turn counterclockwise while looking straight down from the top at the bottom pulley of the derailleur. If the derailleur doesn't move, turn it back and try the other one. The one that makes the derailleur move is the "high", and the other one is the "low" (which sets the limit on the movement at the other end of the range - the large cog).
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Old 08-21-09, 06:41 AM   #15
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Much info here;
http://bicycletutor.com/
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Old 08-22-09, 10:48 PM   #16
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Thanks USAZorro and Esteban32696
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Old 08-23-09, 10:25 AM   #17
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I also tried to tighten the adjustment nut on the lever and the screw part of it broke.

Not sure if you mean on the Brake Lever or the Rear Derailleur, but if you broke something on the RD, I've got a pile of Varsity RD's i'll send ya whatever ya need.
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