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  1. #1
    Senior Member giorgios's Avatar
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    A few weeks ago I picked up a 1972 Schwinn Varsity the bike is in very good condition complete with front and rear fenders and the original bar type (that does'nt absorb any road vibration at all). It's a big bike 62 cm seat tube and a 63 cm top tube. My question is why it weighs 43 pounds!?

  2. #2
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giorgios
    A few weeks ago I picked up a 1972 Schwinn Varsity the bike is in very good condition complete with front and rear fenders and the original bar type (that does'nt absorb any road vibration at all). It's a big bike 62 cm seat tube and a 63 cm top tube. My question is why it weighs 43 pounds!?
    It's made out of plumbers pipe among other things. Check Bicycle mechanics:Recovered Schwinn varsity from trash.
    Last edited by sydney; 09-01-04 at 08:16 PM.

  3. #3
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Read all about Schwinn's electroforge process on www.sheldonbrown.com. Those double-walled steel rims and that one-piece forged steel Ashtabula crank weigh in pretty heavily, as well, and the steel handlebar, stem, and seat post don't help, either. The best thing you can to do a Varsity is to replace the rims with hook-beaded aluminum rims, the brake pads with KoolStops, and the 70 PSI blackwalls with high-pressure tyres. For further enhancement, buy an adaptor which enables you to install an aluminum cotterless crankset. All of this is cost-effective only if you can find used parts and can do your own work, but you will end up with the best Varsity in your community! (About 9 years ago, I commuted on a 1974 Varsity for a few months. I eliminated the spoke protector and chain guard, switched to downtube shifters, and installed an aluminum-rimmed wheelset with quick release hubs and an "ultra" 6-speed freewheel. I drilled the original pedals for toe clips, but kept the Ashtabula crank for cost reasons. I think I got mine down to about 34lbs.)
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  4. #4
    Glutton for Punishment
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    Fill the tires with helium.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    The best thing you can to do a Varsity is to replace the rims with hook-beaded aluminum rims, the brake pads with KoolStops, and the 70 PSI blackwalls with high-pressure tyres. For further enhancement, buy an adaptor which enables you to install an aluminum cotterless crankset. I think I got mine down to about 34lbs.)
    Now you have spent more than a much better semi vintage oriental bike would go for at a garage sale,and you still have a 34 pound piece of junk.

  6. #6
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    Now you have spent more than a much better semi vintage oriental bike would go for at a garage sale,and you still have a 34 pound piece of junk.
    not really, no

  7. #7
    Glutton for Punishment
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    Sydney has issues; I think he was run over by a Schwinn as a boy...

  8. #8
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Steel. The bike has a lot of steel. If you replace the wheels and handlebar, and remove the fenders you will probably save a couple pounds, but no matter what, the frame will still be heavy.

    If you want to fix up the bike, the weight is something you will just have to accept. Think of it as extra conditioning when you are hauling up the hills. The good news is that the frame will probably never fatigue on you.

  9. #9
    Senior Member TechJD's Avatar
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    I'm currently doin it to a 79 Schwinn Continental
    the BB insert cost $20 TruVativ
    and not sure what BB the bike shop will use but will let you know when I get it put in
    I bought a Shimano Sora Crankset to put on it off ebay $25
    Bike shop told me $20 for BB and $20 to put it together
    oh and just figured out new 116L chain for me $?

    but once the insert is in you can put any crankset you wish on it
    got some Weinman Rims with Shiwinn Hubs on it and that made a major differance
    accordign to shwinn mine weighted like 36lbs to start ( not sure but that may be just the frame ) I will have the LBS put it on a scale while they have it
    Last edited by TechJD; 09-02-04 at 02:33 PM.
    79 Schwinn Continental II
    Ride cause you enjoy it!

  10. #10
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    Now you have spent more than a much better semi vintage oriental bike would go for at a garage sale,and you still have a 34 pound piece of junk.
    I think I spent the princely sum of $20 when I upgraded my Varsity as described, courtesy of my parts bin and eBay. Because of the 12 percent climb from the commuter rail station to my office, I replaced the Varsity with a comparable-period Peugeot UO-8, only to crack its chainstay 4 years later. (I somehow suspect the Varsity would have survived the hill.)

    I no longer own a Varsity and have no desire to buy another one, but I will staunchly defend their reliabiliy, durability, and construction quality. The paint, fit, and finish on my two Peugeots, particularly the PKN-10, is embarrassing.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  11. #11
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    I think I spent the princely sum of $20 when I upgraded my Varsity as described, courtesy of my parts bin and eBay. Because of the 12 percent climb from the commuter rail station to my office, I replaced the Varsity with a comparable-period Peugeot UO-8, only to crack its chainstay 4 years later. (I somehow suspect the Varsity would have survived the hill.)

    I no longer own a Varsity and have no desire to buy another one, but I will staunchly defend their reliabiliy, durability, and construction quality. The paint, fit, and finish on my two Peugeots, particularly the PKN-10, is embarrassing.
    The biggest problem with Varsities =is= their durability. You know it's junk, but how can you throw it away if it still works? They just don't have the decency to die in a timely fashion.

    It's easy to make a bike that's durable, it's hard to make a bike that is durable and a joy to ride.

  12. #12
    Senior Member giorgios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    Read all about Schwinn's electroforge process on www.sheldonbrown.com. Those double-walled steel rims and that one-piece forged steel Ashtabula crank weigh in pretty heavily, as well, and the steel handlebar, stem, and seat post don't help, either. The best thing you can to do a Varsity is to replace the rims with hook-beaded aluminum rims, the brake pads with KoolStops, and the 70 PSI blackwalls with high-pressure tyres. For further enhancement, buy an adaptor which enables you to install an aluminum cotterless crankset. All of this is cost-effective only if you can find used parts and can do your own work, but you will end up with the best Varsity in your community! (About 9 years ago, I commuted on a 1974 Varsity for a few months. I eliminated the spoke protector and chain guard, switched to downtube shifters, and installed an aluminum-rimmed wheelset with quick release hubs and an "ultra" 6-speed freewheel. I drilled the original pedals for toe clips, but kept the Ashtabula crank for cost reasons. I think I got mine down to about 34lbs.)
    thank you John E for this website... www.sheldonbrown.com it has a WEALTH of interesting and educational information. It is way too much to digest at once...with all the hyperlinks to everthing bicyles its just awesome

  13. #13
    Senior Member markm109's Avatar
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    I was going to fix up a varsity for bad weather and winter days but found a Schwinn Traveler in the local area for $90 that looks like it was never ridden. I changed the tires, put a new rear wheel on and took off all the reflectors. With spd pedals, computer, bag with spare tube etc and pump the bike weights in at 26lbs, not much more than my regular bike. The bike is a 14 speed, 7 speed rear cassette with index down tube shifters. All components are Shimano Exage EX300. You can get decent older bikes if you look around.

    Mark

  14. #14
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giorgios
    thank you John E for this website... www.sheldonbrown.com it has a WEALTH of interesting and educational information. It is way too much to digest at once...with all the hyperlinks to everthing bicyles its just awesome
    Yes, his website is one of my all-time favorites. When I visited Boston earlier this summer, I jumped on a local commuter train for a pilgrimage to West Newton MA, where I got to spend a few minutes with Sheldon and the rest of the Harris Cyclery gang.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  15. #15
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    Giorgios,

    I am still riding the '71 that I got for Christmas about 35 years ago. I had to rebuild it after my dad left it outside for a year (about a dozen years ago) but it is as good as ever and I am sure that it will survive me. The rebuild is straight-forward and uncomplicated. My only modifications were to add cork wraps on top of the original wraps, and a more forgiving seat. They are great bikes, and truthfully, I was never aware of the weight. I was wondering, though, if you still have the fenders, and what shape they are in. Mine were lost years ago in a move (along with the luggage rack), and I would love to replace them for nostalgia's sake. In the Varsity's day, Schwinn was very well regarded as a top quality American product, sort of the Harley-Davidson of the bicycle world (and given the relative weight of both, it's not a bad comparison). Both brands have been widely copied - and there is no higher praise than that.

  16. #16
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    I'd give a princely sum to recover my late 60's Varsity. I spent many a weekend tearing it down and rebuilding it just for fun. Downtube shifters, centerpull brakes, rear rack and a snazzy Brooks seat, it was the vehicle of my youth.

    Snatched off the front porch in broad daylight 30+ years ago, it probably rests in some landfill.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  17. #17
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    When we were kids we'd make them faster by filling up the tubes with lead fishing sinkers
    at least faster when moving down hill
    check out the tubes for that
    Last edited by Sigurdd50; 08-10-05 at 12:03 PM.

  18. #18
    SLJ 6/8/65-5/2/07 Walter's Avatar
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    "Hot-rodding" a Varsity the way John E. describes was a pretty common thing back in the late 70s and early 80s. As John said you'll have the best Varsity around but it's still pretty darn heavy. The crank conversion will probably knock another 2# off but you're still on the wrong side of 30.

    What killed them was lower priced imports. I bought a Motobecane Nomade that even with steel rims came in at 28#. . Switching to alum alloy wheels got me probably a bit under 27# and with the the new wheels I was under 250$ out the door. Not light at all except when compared to a Varsity that was similarly priced and then it seemed as if I were riding on a cloud.

    Things like a SunTour Superbe RD and Barcons came later and made the bike better but not much lighter. Friends on Varsitys would start saving up for a Euro or maybe Japanese import and the writing was on the wall.


    “Life is not one damned thing after another. Life is one damned thing over and over.”
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  19. #19
    blithering idiot jhota's Avatar
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    after reading this and the "improved varsity" thread, i want to get a varsity and rebuild it with all DA 10. just 'cause it would prove i was nuts.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhota
    after reading this and the "improved varsity" thread, i want to get a varsity and rebuild it with all DA 10. just 'cause it would prove i was nuts.
    Dare to be different, dude. Chicks dig an original.

  21. #21
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    In the 1965 to 1975 era, there were no "mountain bikes". Guys THOUGHT a Schwinn Varsity was a mountain bike. Rode them on dirt and gravel roads. Down mountain trails. Over curbs. Off of loading docks. The steel cranks, steel rims, and steel handlebars took that sort of abuse year after year. And, many of those bikes are STILL on the road, three decades later.

    The life span of a 1970's French or Italian bike, with alloy cranks, alloy rims, and alloy handlebars, subjected to similar levels of abuse could be measured in hours, not years. The 25 pound imported bikes were great bikes for 150 pound riders, riding on smooth pavement. But, for blasting down the side of a mountain on a fire road, no bike was better than a forty pound Varsity.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    In the 1965 to 1975 era, there were no "mountain bikes". Guys THOUGHT a Schwinn Varsity was a mountain bike. Rode them on dirt and gravel roads. Down mountain trails. Over curbs. Off of loading docks. The steel cranks, steel rims, and steel handlebars took that sort of abuse year after year. And, many of those bikes are STILL on the road, three decades later.

    The life span of a 1970's French or Italian bike, with alloy cranks, alloy rims, and alloy handlebars, subjected to similar levels of abuse could be measured in hours, not years. The 25 pound imported bikes were great bikes for 150 pound riders, riding on smooth pavement. But, for blasting down the side of a mountain on a fire road, no bike was better than a forty pound Varsity.
    Yup. Elitists like to dog on the Varsinentals for being "junk quality". The gas-pipe Schwinn road bikes were intended for adolescents. They weren't junk quality, they were tank quality. These were bikes that could not be broken by a teenage boy, and that's really saying something.

    My father bought me a Varsity all those years ago, because he knew it would be the last bike he would have to buy before I got my DL -- and he was right. I don't know how many curbs I slammed with that bike, I even rode it down the stairs in front of the school building. I just couldn't break that summbich. How many el-cheapo department store bikes of that era would have lasted even a year under that kind of abuse? The bikes were damn nice looking also. As I recall, you couldn't leave one unattended for more than 5 minutes without having it disappear.

    In their day, the Varsinentals were the best value going as concerns bikes intended for the adolescent market.

  23. #23
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    This was one of my lighter Schwins of the gaspipe variety.
    32# as it sits here. Pretty nice ride really.

  24. #24
    crotchety young dude el twe's Avatar
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    Really? Only 43? Enjoy it. These old Schwins are wonderful to ride.
    Quote Originally Posted by CardiacKid View Post
    I explained that he could never pay me enough cash for the amount of work I had put into that bike and the only way to compensate me for it was to ride the hell out of it.
    IRO Angus Casati Gold Line

  25. #25
    i am batman gregtheripper's Avatar
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    I love my '76 varsity. The weight isn't a big deal at all, because the bike is solid as hell. Especially riding in a city with crappy roads, I couldn't ask for a better bike. Then again I ride for purely practical purposes most of the time, but on hard rides I guess the extra weight could be some kind of conditioning For those who own one, did the drop bar version come with fenders also? Because mine doesn't have them but it looks like there is a tab for mounting a rear fender by the kickstand.

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