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  1. #1
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    Vintage Schwinn for possible Single Speed conversion

    Hey Guys!

    I'm just getting back into cycling after about a 5 or 6 year hiatus (wasn't too serious before) so I've been lurking around these forums for a couple weeks now. I've been toying with the idea of getting a single speed, because I love the idea of the simplicity. However, I was browsing Craigslist today and found an old Schwinn Le Tour that looks to be in pretty good condition. I contacted the owner and he wasn't sure of the year (says early 1970's after my research I would guess 1974 or 75) and they wanted $250 for it. That seemed a little steep to me so I figured I get some experienced opinions!

    Do you guys think that bike is worth that much? I was going to counter offer $100, which from my research seems fair.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Hello. The photos of the bike aren't the greatest. Regardless, that is not a $250 bike where I'm from. I have a 78 Le Tour III that is converted to single speed and I enjoy the ride. The bike was complete with original drivetrain when I bought it and I paid $65 for it. I have been noticing that Craigslist people have been asking WAY too much for bikes lately.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply! That's great to hear about your Le Tour III. Was it much of a hassle to convert?

    Yes, most of the decent looking vintage 10 speeds on Craigslist in my area look like their owners think they're worth a minimum of $200. Also, being taller and finding a bike has been a little bit of a process.

  4. #4
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    S.S. conversions can be as simple as stripping non-essential parts off and shortening the chain, or they can involve a new hub or wheel set. Check out Sheldon Brown's web site for good info. That site is invaluable.

  5. #5
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Good luck on your search for a bike! I have a Bianchi San Jose SS/FG and I love to ride it around town, out in the country, etc. Just hop on and ride.

    Here's a good site for info on how to convert a bike to single speed: Singlespeed Bicycle Conversions

    If you get a new wheel set or just the hub, get a fixed/fixed flip-flop hub. That way, you can put a single speed (coasting allowed) cog on one side, and a fixed (no coasting!) cog on the other side.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Used market pricing can vary from region to region, but $250 for a Le Tour is a bit steep regardless of location, IMO.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  7. #7
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    That's pretty steep for a bone-stock LeTour. I also have moral objections to making a single-speed out of a 40-year-old bike that appears to be in great shape.

    FWIW: I bought an '80's LeTour frame at the local co-op and built it into a single-speed: All My Bikes . It's a nice bike, but I'll be selling it soon. I'm moving on to my restomod Superior.
    Jeff Wills

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Uncle Randy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGVNOVA View Post
    Hey Guys!

    I'm just getting back into cycling after about a 5 or 6 year hiatus (wasn't too serious before) so I've been lurking around these forums for a couple weeks now. I've been toying with the idea of getting a single speed, because I love the idea of the simplicity. However, I was browsing Craigslist today and found an old Schwinn Le Tour that looks to be in pretty good condition. I contacted the owner and he wasn't sure of the year (says early 1970's after my research I would guess 1974 or 75) and they wanted $250 for it. That seemed a little steep to me so I figured I get some experienced opinions!

    Do you guys think that bike is worth that much? I was going to counter offer $100, which from my research seems fair.

    Thanks!
    That looks like my 25" Kool Lemon Schwinn Le tour that I bought new in 1974 for $179. It's a heavy bike weighing around 30 pounds. I got a set of used alloy wheels several years ago and ditched the steel chain guard and pie pan behind the freewheel. I'm thinking about making it a SS and using it as a commuter. 1974 was the first year Schwinn imported Japanese bikes and sold them as "Schwinn Approved" models.
    I'm not in a hurry. 24 speeds are enough for me.

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    Yeah, I think that I'll try an talk the seller down. He says he has 2 other ones as well that he would be willing to sell at $100 but if he wants $250 for this one, I can't imagine the others would be in the greatest of shape. I'm going to check them out today, so hopefully my haggling skills aren't too rusty and I can come out with a decent bike. It's nice to hear about the success you guys have had with this type of conversion. I figured one of the first "upgrades" I would do is to replace the wheelset with something lighter. Since 700c wheels are smaller than 27", I would be fine with that swap, correct? Anything else that would be a necessary swap right away?

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    I put 700s on my Le Tour and had no issues with the center-pull brakes. They work great. I got lucky and was able to find a 700c wheel set with a flip flop hub for 50 dollars.

  11. #11
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    I agree the price is high, unless Omaha is the new vintage bike capitol. Who knew?

    Unless you can get him way down, I'd pass, especially if you're going to spring for a new wheelset.

    If you don't already have another bike to ride, it's tough to be patient, but personally I would hold out for one of the later Panasonic-built Schwinns or even something like a Crisscross or Crosscut hybrid. The market will be softer on those and they'd make fine single speeds.

    As long as you get something with decent alloy wheels, I wouldn't waste the money on a fresh wheelset. It's a simple matter to re-space a freewheel hub for single speed use, and even easier with a cassette hub -just add spacers.

  12. #12
    Senior Member neo_pop_71's Avatar
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    Hi KGVNOVA,

    I gotta ask, are you over 6 feet tall? That frame 25 inch frame is massive, you'd have a 33" or 34" stand over height.

    I took a quick look and it is slim pickins for sure but this looks like a good candidate for a conversion for $85.00:

    Chavaltta Centurian

    85_dollar_bike.jpg

    If you wanted to convert a cool mountain bike with 26" wheels, this Raleigh Technium with internal cable routing is cool:

    Raleigh Bike

    Raleigh_Technium.jpg

    If buying one already converted is more your style, personally I'd rather build my own, check it out:

    Black Beauty Schwinn World Sport Single Speed Road Bicycle

    Converted_World_Sport.jpg

    Good luck!

    -D-
    I'd rather add more life to my years, than years to my life.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by neo_pop_71 View Post
    Hi KGVNOVA,

    I gotta ask, are you over 6 feet tall? That frame 25 inch frame is massive, you'd have a 33" or 34" stand over height.

    I took a quick look and it is slim pickins for sure but this looks like a good candidate for a conversion for $85.00:

    Chavaltta Centurian

    85_dollar_bike.jpg

    If you wanted to convert a cool mountain bike with 26" wheels, this Raleigh Technium with internal cable routing is cool:

    Raleigh Bike

    Raleigh_Technium.jpg

    If buying one already converted is more your style, personally I'd rather build my own, check it out:

    Black Beauty Schwinn World Sport Single Speed Road Bicycle

    Converted_World_Sport.jpg

    Good luck!

    -D-
    Yes, I should be good. I'm 6'4" so I have been having some issues finding larger bikes. Those bikes look nice, but unfortunately the bikes you posted appear to be a little small for me.

  14. #14
    Senior Member neo_pop_71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGVNOVA View Post
    Yes, I should be good. I'm 6'4" so I have been having some issues finding larger bikes. Those bikes look nice, but unfortunately the bikes you posted appear to be a little small for me.
    Oh, right on man, a tall frame is a must... did you see this gigantic 66cm Continental?

    Schwinn Continental road bike. Tall 66cm Frame

    66cm_Continental.jpg
    I'd rather add more life to my years, than years to my life.

  15. #15
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    Last edited by due ruote; 07-11-14 at 01:11 PM.

  16. #16
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    There is a Panasonic Villager on the Pocono PA Craigslist that is a monster of a frame. Not sure if they'd ship though. I know big frames can be difficult to find. I wish you luck.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Uncle Randy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
    I put 700s on my Le Tour and had no issues with the center-pull brakes. They work great. I got lucky and was able to find a 700c wheel set with a flip flop hub for 50 dollars.
    I only have 124mm in the drop outs of my '74 model. Does your Le Tour have more space?
    I'm not in a hurry. 24 speeds are enough for me.

  18. #18
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    I haven't measured, but the wheels bolted right on. I really lucked out with those wheels. All that I had to do was lower my brake pads a bit.

  19. #19
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGVNOVA View Post
    Yes, I should be good. I'm 6'4" so I have been having some issues finding larger bikes. Those bikes look nice, but unfortunately the bikes you posted appear to be a little small for me.
    I'm 6-foot-4 also. The 25" Schwinn frames should fit you just fine. Some versions of LeTour were available in 27" frames... these were too large for me!
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  20. #20
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    So I ended up picking up the Schwinn Le Tour. Ended up talking him down to $125. Probably still a little too much but it was the right size, in good shape, and I really enjoyed the ride. I'll post some pics when I get a bit more time.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Uncle Randy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    That's pretty steep for a bone-stock LeTour. I also have moral objections to making a single-speed out of a 40-year-old bike that appears to be in great shape.

    FWIW: I bought an '80's LeTour frame at the local co-op and built it into a single-speed: All My Bikes . It's a nice bike, but I'll be selling it soon. I'm moving on to my restomod Superior.
    Jeff, I was reluctant to make any more changes to my '74 Le Tour but after watching a pristine '74 Le Tour with original components sit on STL Craigslist for 3 months with a $100 asking price, I decided to make mine as light as possible.
    I'm not in a hurry. 24 speeds are enough for me.

  22. #22
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    Here are some pictures as promised! She needs a little touch up (I've heard model enamel is good for this?) but other than that she is a joy! I've only had time for a few short rides, maybe 25mi total, but I've enjoy all of them.
    photo 1.jpgphoto 2.jpg
    Threw on a saddle I had laying around but I ordered the Selle Royal Origins Contour in Tan Leather from Sierra Trading Post for $25 with a 30% off coupon. Hopefully this will match nicely with the new cork handlebar tape I added.
    photo 3.jpgphoto 4.jpgphoto 5.jpg
    The frames have some nicks and scratches, but for a 40 year old bike it seems to be in pretty solid shape!

    There may be a front basket in the bikes future, since I will be using it for commutes around town. This will be interesting since I would really like to keep the drop bars. Also, eventually, I plan on adding some new wheels (700c). What are my options as far as cheaper wheels go? Or are there any available in the 27in size that would fit my needs? Anything else you guys think I should look in to?

    Thanks again for all the help and advice!

  23. #23
    Senior Member Uncle Randy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGVNOVA View Post
    Here are some pictures as promised! She needs a little touch up (I've heard model enamel is good for this?) but other than that she is a joy! I've only had time for a few short rides, maybe 25mi total, but I've enjoy all of them.
    photo 1.jpgphoto 2.jpg
    Threw on a saddle I had laying around but I ordered the Selle Royal Origins Contour in Tan Leather from Sierra Trading Post for $25 with a 30% off coupon. Hopefully this will match nicely with the new cork handlebar tape I added.
    photo 3.jpgphoto 4.jpgphoto 5.jpg
    The frames have some nicks and scratches, but for a 40 year old bike it seems to be in pretty solid shape!

    There may be a front basket in the bikes future, since I will be using it for commutes around town. This will be interesting since I would really like to keep the drop bars. Also, eventually, I plan on adding some new wheels (700c). What are my options as far as cheaper wheels go? Or are there any available in the 27in size that would fit my needs? Anything else you guys think I should look in to?

    Thanks again for all the help and advice!
    It looks all original. Nice job on the handlebar tape! The dropouts on my '74 Le Tour are narrower than the dropouts on my newer bikes so I couldn't swap out the wheels without pulling apart the dropouts. Being a noob, I didn't know if this stress could cause a frame failure so I'm using an old set of alloy wheels with a shorter axle.
    Last edited by Uncle Randy; 07-14-14 at 11:27 PM.
    I'm not in a hurry. 24 speeds are enough for me.

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