I bought this Racer in '98 while I was in College up in Oregon. (I also had a '71 VW Type II--guess which one worked more often?) I only paid a few dollars for it and figured it would be fun to beat around on, but after I cleaned it a little and put new rubber under it I realized that this was the best way to get around that small college town. It also began my love affair with the SA 3-speed hubs. I put thousands of miles on it and along the way did some work. Firstly, I rebuild the hub as it was grinding a bit-- found some pretty well chewed gears inside and replaced them. I also repacked the bottom bracket and replaced a bent saddle and worn-out pedals. Besides that, and putting some lights and a lock on it, it was ready to go. Then I got broadsided by a girl in a Ford Ranger one night on the way to the library. The rear rim was bent and I had it replaced with a much thinner, but same diameter, alloy rim. Boy did I notice the difference in how it stopped after that. A few years later I was handed down a Trek 830 Antelope and the Schwinn was set aside in favor of the lighter weight and the better braking. Those chrome wheels look great, but they are really slippery in the rain--guess what it does a lot in Oregon? Rain. Now, ten or twelve years later, it is sitting in the garage and wanting some attention, but what to do?
A Brookes saddle is a must, probably sprung to keep the same aesthetic. It does need a new shifter, the one on there now is a bit rusty and newer than the hub, I would love to get a NOS from the '60's. But beyond that, I don't know how far to go. I would love some advice from the community, especially if you have done any of the changes I propose.
Basically the issues to deal with are the mismatched wheels and the rough paint. So, the question is to do a full restoration, or to make it more functional?
Should I repaint it and try to get some decals, put an original chrome rim on the back?
Should I repaint it but not worry about the decals leaving me the option of new, wider alloy rims for more comfort and better breaking?
Should I leave the paint, maybe touch up the really bad spots to slow the rusting, and get the new rims?
Exactly what size are those rims? Looks like you're running Schwinn size 26x1 3/8" which uses a 597mm rim, as opposed to the English size 26x1 3/8" which uses a 590 mm rim. There should be a little number on the tire to tell you for sure. Aluminum 597s are out there but really rare. Aluminum 590s are pretty easy to find but it looks like you may be at the end of your brake reach. Can you drop those pads another 4mm? Appropriately sized brakes are easy enough to find but factor this into your upgrade plan. Good quality 590 tires are easier to find than 597s, too.
Now 700s with skinny tires might be fun...
I wouldn't worry about the paint; just refer to the rust spots as "patina" using a snooty voice.
I would try to get matching rims though. I would think you can find an LBS or online replacement wheel for the front to better match the rear not too for much money.
One last remark: I can understand wanting to get a nice Brooks saddle for a bike like that. All my bikes have Brooks (or in one case, Wrights) leather saddles. The one exception is my old Schwinn that has a seat like the one your Racer has. I actually kind of like it and don't feel the need to replace it.
I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.
Originally Posted by bragi"However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
The front rim is original, it is stamped S-5 but I may be misreading an S-6 as it is definitely a 26" rim (Schwinn 26 X 1 3/8 or standard 597), the rear is newer and a 590 (standard 26 X 1/38). I think the rear is too skinny, and the fenders won't tolerate a 2.25 cruiser tire, at least I don't think it will. I think the best solution to matching the rims would be to switch to a 1.5 MTB size. The brakes are down as far as they will go, so if the rim won't reach I will have to source out some new brakes.
As for the seat, the vinyl is cracking a bit and I expect that will only get worse.