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  1. #1
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    Rebuilding '73 Schwinn Conti

    Hi, just recently came into possession of my dad's old Schwinn Continental and I have been working to make it my daily commuter. So far i disassembled it, cleaned everything, lubricated and packed the bearings, put it back together, replaced the brakes and handgrips, readjusted the derailers, and got the wheels trued. I have been riding it for a week now and I can tell the chain is stretched. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good chain that would work. It's a 10 speed and I dont know much about chain compatibility. I am trying to stay relatively cheap and just get everything working well.

    Also here is a list of other less important issues that I would like some advice on. Some might need to be addressed while others I could live with possibly.

    -Tires are very old (they are Sears brand) cracked on sidewalls but ive been riding on them
    -rims are a little dinged up (causes some rough braking)
    -fork has a little play in it (don't know what to do to fix this)

  2. #2
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Welcome to C&V and thanks for coming by.

    Chain: You need a 3/32nd inch 5-6 speed chain. Begin by checking at Wal or K Mart. Don't buy a 1/8 inch chain. A bike shop should also carry them and can size it correctly if you don't have the tools. SRAM and a few other chains have what is called a quick link which makes the installation and removal for cleaning easy. I'd stay away from a Shimano chain because they don't have this feature.

    Tires: Since you have the original rims (which don't have a modern hook bead edge) you will need 27 X 1 & 1/4 Kenda gum walls (modern tires use this feature to run higher pressure). Buy new tubes at the same time. But---

    Rims: Since you mention your original steel rimmed wheels are rough, a big improvement would be different wheels with aluminum rims. Often you can find a used bike on your local Craig's List at a good price. Make certain the rear wheels has a 5 speed free wheel like your Continental.

    Fork: An adjustment to the headset nuts should solve this problem. Did you clean and repack these bearings? Release the cable tension on the front centerpull brake. Look at the picture below. It's not the same as your headset but gives you an idea about what I'm descriping.

    Loosen the top nut a 1/2 to full turn. Tighten the bottom nut (most likely a threaded knurled ring on a '73 Continental) until the play is removed but the fork still rotates freely in the headtube. Some tension is acceptable, just avoid any binding or ratcheting. Tighten the top nut while holding the bottom nut in place. Don't forget to set the front brake back up!

    Best of luck on your project.

    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  3. #3
    Rustbelt Rider mkeller234's Avatar
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    +1 on the wal-mart chain. It is normally in a Bell package but the links are marked Taya. Make sure to get the multi-speed version. I have noticed that it is sort of short straight out of the package.

    OR the KMC Z chain is very nice. It's usually only 10 dollars and has the removable link.
    |^^^^^^^^^^^^^^| ||
    |......GO.BROWNS........| ||'|";, ___.
    |_..._..._______===|=||_|__|..., ] -
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  4. #4
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    Ok, thanks guys. I'm excited now. One more quick question, and I'm sure this is a controversial one. Is it worth it?

  5. #5
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    You're right that it's controversial!

    This line of Schwinns has passionate opinions on both sides. I have a few in my basement, and I just sold one. These bikes are quite a curiosity.

    They were extremely popular, for one. They were marketed well, and they were from a time when Schwinn shops were in just about every town in the US. Schwinn was a very trusted brand, for mostly very good reasons. They were made with good quality control, and they were reliable and durable bikes.

    However, the emphasis was on reliability and durability and NOT ride quality. Everything was built extra heavy, and the bikes are extra, extra heavy. There isn't much you can do to lighten them. Actually, you can lighten them a lot by replacing the cranks, rims, and handlebars, but once you make it a lot lighter, it's still extremely heavy, so on the one hand, you've made a nice improvement, but on the other hand, is it worth it, given the end result?

    Some love the ride, and I respect that. I test rode the Varsity I just sold. It has slack frame angles, which makes the ride predictable and stable. I took it at very high speed riding no hands, and it was super-stable. There's something charismatic about a ride like this. But climbing hills gets to be a chore.

    For a commuter bike in an area without big hills, I'd say it will be a worthy bike. But if you want to take weekend rides with friends or family who have lighter bikes, you'll want to supplement with another bike.

    The differences between the Varsity and the Continental are the forks and the brakes. Varsity had sidepull brakes and a solid fork. Continental had centerpull brakes and a normal tubular fork which is lighter.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
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  6. #6
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skepsis View Post
    Ok, thanks guys. I'm excited now. One more quick question, and I'm sure this is a controversial one. Is it worth it?
    Absolutely!

    Here's my much loved and modified '62.

    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  7. #7
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Do I see Campy parts on a Varsity?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

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    No you see Campy parts on a Continental. There is a difference. Roger

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    OK, what's the difference? As I described above, the only differences I know about are the fork and the brakes.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  10. #10
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    So I am looking at SRAM chains and they only offer 8, 9, and 10 speed chains. Are these compatible with a 5 speed rear cassette?

  11. #11
    Rustbelt Rider mkeller234's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    OK, what's the difference? As I described above, the only differences I know about are the fork and the brakes.
    Duh.... the decals!
    |^^^^^^^^^^^^^^| ||
    |......GO.BROWNS........| ||'|";, ___.
    |_..._..._______===|=||_|__|..., ] -
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  12. #12
    Rustbelt Rider mkeller234's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skepsis View Post
    So I am looking at SRAM chains and they only offer 8, 9, and 10 speed chains. Are these compatible with a 5 speed rear cassette?
    Hmm... I have the sram pc-850 on one of my bikes with 6 speeds... I think it would be just fine with a 5 speed freewheel. The chain is shaped in a way that is supposed to improve shifting. It might, but I don't notice a big difference between it and the Z chains that I own, except maybe 8-10 dollars.

    Is a Continental worth fixing? IMO, yes! As heavy as the may be, they are an American icon. I had a Suburban which is very similar to your continental and I enjoyed it very much. It is much better quality than a lot of lower end offerings, clean it up and enjoy the heck out of it!
    Last edited by mkeller234; 10-05-09 at 04:56 PM.
    |^^^^^^^^^^^^^^| ||
    |......GO.BROWNS........| ||'|";, ___.
    |_..._..._______===|=||_|__|..., ] -
    "(@)'(@)"""''"**|(@)(@)*****''(@)

  13. #13
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skepsis View Post
    So I am looking at SRAM chains and they only offer 8, 9, and 10 speed chains. Are these compatible with a 5 speed rear cassette?
    Don't go with an 8-9 speed chain. They are too narrow and can become stuck between the chainrings. Look for a Z chain. You can order one here from Nashbar or from Loose Screws.

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...1_10000_201527

    http://www.loosescrews.com/index.cgi...d=322290112400

    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    OK, what's the difference? As I described above, the only differences I know about are the fork and the brakes.
    Interestingly, in 1962, a Continental came with a round headbadge, sidepull calipers, a chrome fork, and brazed on downtube shifters. Also, there were no safety levers on the brake levers.

    Also the geometry was different. My Continental handles very differently then any bike I've ever ridden.

    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  14. #14
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    I also have an early Continental, March 1960. and it is a lot different bike than any Varsity I have ever been on. Geometry is different if nothing else. Fork rake is a lot different also and handling is much better. The front shifter is also a bit different. Later Varsity bikes may have been close to the Continental but early ones were much different. Roger
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Interesting! I didn't know that. I'm not a Schwinn expert, so it's nice to learn this stuff. pastorbob, how would you describe the handling?

    And honestly, a plain old chain like this one will be fine.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  16. #16
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Tom,

    Great recommendation on the chain. I didn't have much time to search for a bargain. Good deal.

    There's something about the way this Continental steers. Strait ahead, no problem. I can ride for miles on level ground with no hands. High speed descents (40+ mph) are stable. But execute a low speed turn and the difference is very noticeable. The bike wants to turn itself very quickly. I guess this has to do with the angle of the headtube and the rake of the fork. I've toyed with the idea of installing a different fork for the '70s or latter, but never had a chance to do so.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    +1 on the rims. As a commuter, you will apreciate the alloy rims the first time it rains. The second time it rains if you replace the steel rims afterwards, hehe. It will also drop the weight considerably. Tires, I would definitely get something with flat protection. Even if it's the lowly Serfas, they are decent. I've only ever had one flat on them, while some other more expensive models I've had multiple flats. Panaracer Pasela tourguard tires are decent too, and 27" ones are readily available online. The price is also excellent for the quality level.,,,,BD

    Continentals are pretty neat actually, once you throw a few improvements at them
    "Whale. Oil. Beef. Hooked!" The Rumjacks

  18. #18
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    So just an update, replaced the chain and fixed up what I could. I have come to the conclusion that I need a new cassette. The new chain did not fix the problem of chain skipping. But do they even sell 5-speed cassettes anymore? What would you guys suggest I do?

  19. #19
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skepsis
    But do they even sell 5-speed cassettes anymore?
    Only 8 different ones!
    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/freewheels.html#5

    Ebay can be your friend!
    http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=5+s...%2F8&_osacat=0

    I have a couple of Atom 5 speed freewheels which are original to Varsitys and Continentals.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

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  20. #20
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    thanks for the links! Im sure not all freewheels fit the axle I have. If I am getting new wheels, would a replacement freewheel still fit? Also, I am wondering if I should stick w/ 27" rims or I've heard that 700c fits too.

    considering these rims:
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=4652 *i now think these wont work as they are for 7 speeds?

    as they are not steel, steel bead tires would not work with that rim correct?
    pastorbob, are those alloy rims on your continental?

    someone please point me in the right direction with wheels.
    Last edited by Skepsis; 10-09-09 at 10:33 PM.

  21. #21
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Skepsis,

    The wheels should work except you will need to spread your rear dropouts by about 5-6mm to make it fit. You can do this by "Cold Setting" the frame. Go to Sheldon Brown's site and do a search on that term. Harris also sells a set of replacement 27" wheels for about $120. A little more expensive, but I believe you can count on their quality. I'd stick to 27" wheels but that is just me.

    You will need a 6 or 7 speed freewheel. All new freewheels will work with that rear wheel. Stay away from any vintage freewheels that are marked as having French threading. Your new tires should work fine.

    I had my original 1962 hubs rebuilt with the aluminum rims you see. They were closeout specials from Nashbar, so quite cheap, but the cost to have them built was in the neighborhood of $150-75. The original steel Rigida rims on my Continental had served the bike for 45 years when I acquired it and were ready to be replaced.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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  22. #22
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    Alright, thanks again for the information. this site has been so useful with this project. last question, so typically when you buy wheels do they come assembled or or not?

  23. #23
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    The rims, spokes, and hubs are all laced together and ready to ride. A FW is easy to thread on. Use some grease on the threads.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
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