the time has come for a somewhat formal introduction and to hopefully begin contributing to the community that has helped me out tremendously in my first bicycle project.
let's start with the basics first, and we'll progress from there. i'm michael from the mullet-tastic city of louisville, kentucky. a master certified automotive technician by trade, one would assume a fixed gear road bike project would be a breeze... if only that were the case.
back in 1981 there was a man who fancied a gal enough to buy her a shiny blue schwinn le tour road bike right off the shelf from broad ripple schwinn in indianpolis, indiana. four years later they produced a charming young son (me!) and promptly decided to call their relationship quits.
after countless moves, and thrashings by children with no business on such a large frame, the old schwinn appeared destined for the dumpster. just how many dirt jumps can an old le tour endure? i lost count in the mid 90's, but trust me, it was a lot! however, as the years rolled by the old schwinn hung around and finally nestled its way into the hay loft of my mother's barn. the chicken took a liking to it as well as some very peculiar looking species of arachnid.
fast forward to mid summer 2009. the boy has become a young man destined to be the next ben spies, if only in his mind. on a trip down to my mother's to help out on the farm over a long weekend i ventured into the barn to take inventory of some old air cooled bug parts i've stashed up there over the years for safe keeping. low and behold there was the old schwinn with the affectionately named "mr. rooster" perched on the top tube daring me to challenge his roost. three pecks and a few scratches later i was on my way home studying the war wounds for signs of infection and celebrating my victory with the schwinn in tow.
the best i can recall the old schwinn has been under water at least four times. been through four different states, two garages, one storm cellar, two pole barns, one hay loft, and finally my garage. not too shabby looking for such a rough life. after the picture was taken i hosed it off and filled up the tires. remarkably the tubes still held air. according to my mom they are original to the bike, pretty cool. further inspection revealed frozen cables for the shifters, one brake shoe fell off on the maiden voyage and the rear wheel needed to be trued.
at this point it was my intent to give the entire bike a once over, pitch a couple bucks at it, and then strap on a baby seat and take my daughter for rides around the neighborhood, just like my mother did for me when i was her age. unfortunately mid summer is prime motorcycling season which left little time for bicycle restoration. after being bumped around in the garage for a month or two the schwinn went into the attic of the garage to wait it's turn on the ever growing project list.
not that the project list has shortened, but i finally brought the schwinn back down from the attic and began to ponder what to do with it. i also just transferred jobs and my commute is only 2.5 miles each way. so a bicycle seems to be an excellent idea for strength building and cost savings. with this in mind, i set out to build a simple, cost effective bicycle that will take me from point a to point b with the least amount of trouble.
simplicity in mind a fixed gear/single speed was the only option. and based on aesthetic preferences, i decided to go fixed (i think rear brake surfaces look tacky). with the fixed gear decision made i stripped the bike down to a frame to see what exactly i was working with.
and a shot of the front emblem that somehow stayed in place all these years.
after some browsing on this very forum, and late nights reading sheldon brown's excellent articles i knew that it was time to start the process of buying parts and putting this thing back together.
first up was removing all the braze on pieces and checking the frame and fork for cracks or metal fatigue.
next up was to have it sand blasted and powder coated. i made the decision to have the bicycle match my daily ridden motorcycle. i'd hate to open the garage to see a pretty white motorcycle then a neon orange bicycle, it just wouldn't look right. i built the bike with parts off ebay. some are used, most are new. and it is with great pleasure i present the somewhat mostly finished product that is my fully restored fixie conversion 1981 schwinn le tour.
as a rolling frame,
the badge made it's way back onto the frame!
installed the drive side crank to get a feel for the overall look. (i purchased the wrong bottom bracket originally, new one should be here in the next few days)
resting against her younger sister,
on a side note: measure twice buy once! little did i know that some road bikes of this vintage have some squirlly measurements for seat post and steering stem diameter. i had to mill down both to make them fit. the aluminum steering stem had tons of material to remove, so no biggie there. the carbon fiber bontrager seat post also had enough material, however i did put another coat of resin on the outside and one layer of 2x2 twill on the inside just to be safe.
foot retention is next up along with installing the front caliper and lever. more pics are sure to come from the various places she will take me.
now the blasphemy begins...
i built this bike 100% off ebay. with that being said i'd like to leave this section open to review the quality of the parts and how well they last, or don't for those of us who would rather not pay the premium of shopping with a local vendor but are worried about the inexpensive components found on the internet.
hopefully you guys enjoyed the story and the pictures.