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Old 08-06-17, 02:47 PM   #1
hcfrishholz
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Beginner Tour Bike.. 70s Schwinn or 2000s mtb?

Hi, I'm looking to convert one of my bikes into a light tourer. I have a 70s Schwinn Continental and a 2007 (or so) Trek 850 mtb. I'm hoping for some advice as to which would be more cost-effective to invest in as a beginner tour bike for light trips. My concerns are as follows: the Continental has friction shifters and the frame only has rear eyelets near the wheel for a pannier rack, but lacks eyelets on the frame near the seat for a second point of contact (I'm assuming I would need a rack that attaches to the seat post?). The Trek 850 has a suspension fork with about 75mm of travel. I found a Soma 80mm corrected fork online for canti brakes that looks like it would work. ~It was difficult to find a 80mm suspension corrected fork for 26" wheels, and I've also read that suspension correction isn't as important as the axel-to-crown measurement... is this true? Could I buy a Surly fork that has the right axel-to-crown measurement that is not corrected?~ Overall, I'm leaning towards the Trek because it has newer parts and more rack options but am worried because it was a cheap bike and am chiefly concerned with it's unusual travel length and if I can find a rigid fork that will fit it.

Any advice is welcome, thank you!
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Old 08-07-17, 09:47 AM   #2
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Any advice is welcome, thank you!
Thread moved to Touring forum
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Old 08-07-17, 10:06 AM   #3
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What are you doing regarding touring (type of roads, distances, credit card v camping, etc.), and how well does each bike fit you/how much do you enjoy riding them?

As far as lack of upper eyelets, you can buy P-clamps at any hardware store dirt cheap that work just fine.
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Old 08-07-17, 10:22 AM   #4
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Honestly, which one do you enjoy riding more? I'd choose based off that more than anything else.
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Old 08-07-17, 10:42 AM   #5
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I converted a 90s Trek 7000zx MTB to a tourer; rigid front, SMS slicks, Jandd rack, butterfly bars, etc. I've ridden this bike on and off for the last ten years, some 100m days,...always a fun and trouble free ride.

As I recall, I used a unbranded Surly rigid fork, crown to axle measurement.

Speed-wise...not so great, more of a tank.
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Old 08-07-17, 11:10 AM   #6
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Yup to the above comments.

Try taking a piece of paper and writing down what you really see yourself doing in the near future for touring. Then write down the total budget you want to spend on your bike. Then compare what you have and how much it will cost to convert.

If you just want to get your feet wet with a simple road tour your Schwinn, while not ideal in the long run stock, would be ok with minimal cost. As stated you can buy P clamps or a seat adapter for the rack. To make it better you might replace the wheels with Al. if they are steel and maybe replace the drive train. That will start costing though so perhaps a small trip to see if you even like touring would be good first.

For the Trek a suspension fork kinda sucks if you are not going off road a lot and replacing a fork begins to get into higher costs considering you will probably be looking at new tires, maybe a seat, pedals etc... Kinda depends. To convert an old school rigid mtb you may want to look for an earlier model that can be had for very cheap and will probably come with eyelets, chainstay length and solid fork already. Then you just need to replace the tires, maybe pedals and seat.

But you should cost out the build before you start so you get an idea as, if you go too far down the rabbit hole, a rebuild can start to cost as much as a newer entry level touring bike. Here's an example of a build I'm doing right now:

$20 for a 1984 Diamondback Ridge Runner. I bought it because the parts were not seized and it has a good frame under the rust.

zzzzzP1240569 by dc460, on Flickr

Broken down for rebuild.

zzzzzzzzP1290599 by dc460, on Flickr


After stripping and recoating.

zzzzzzzzzz20170729_180213[1] by dc460, on Flickr


So far, pretty cheap not counting sweat equity (about $20) but from this point forward the costs mount.

Bike $20
Recoat $20
Tires $75
Grips $39
Seat $100
Brake pads/cables/chain $40
Parts I have but if I had to replace $120

Total (about) $415 (my cost) $295. That for a nicely lugged base platform with good tires, ergo grips and seat. But if you didn't like to work on the bike and had a shop do it it would easily be at the $700+ range.

That said, here's my other rigid mtb (1991 Marin) that I just did 419km's of mixed terrain in 2.5 days with along with a Giant Defy on the right. Both bikes did ok. The Giant was a little faster but then again the rider was 25 years younger too. I think of converted mtb's like Jeeps. No one buys a jeep for speed but they are still fun to drive

P2170618 by dc460, on Flickr

Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-07-17 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 08-07-17, 07:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by hcfrishholz View Post
...and a 2007 (or so) Trek 850 mtb.....as a suspension fork with about 75mm of travel. I found a Soma 80mm corrected fork online for canti brakes that looks like it would work. ....Could I buy a Surly fork that has the right axel-to-crown measurement that is not corrected?~ Overall, I'm leaning towards the Trek because it has newer parts and more rack options but am worried because it was a cheap bike and am chiefly concerned with it's unusual travel length and if I can find a rigid fork that will fit it.
not sure when the big switch to threadless stems occurred, and
when it tinkled down to "cheap" bikes.

better check your current fork.....theaded or threadless, and is
it 1" or 1-1/8"?

you should be able to find a suitable fork on ebay, maybe with
mid-fork eyelets even, for 20 bucks. could also check the
"junk" bin at the local lbs, or the bike parts at goodwill.

....and....you sure about the year? 850 went away in '97.

Trek Bike Models by Year and Color
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Old 08-08-17, 06:29 AM   #8
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Check the condition of all bearings (BB, headset, hubs) on the Schwinn. If you need all four rebuilt or replaced, that may affect your decision. (The rear axle is probably bent and you probably need a new chain and freewheel.) Check condition of wheels. Steel rims and galvanized spokes may not be serviceable.

See if you can convert to 700c wheels (brakes might not allow that). Newer wheels, especially with a freehub, will make the bike more tour-worthy. BB and headset can usually be replaced or rebuilt easily enough if you have the tools.

The Continental was my first touring bike and I enjoy seeing them rebuilt and back on the road, but many of them just aren't worth working on any more.

I wouldn't consider touring on a MTB with flat bars, and certainly not a suspension fork. Otherwise, the geometry and components would probably be fine.
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Old 08-08-17, 06:55 AM   #9
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Forget the Schwinn. About the heaviest thing ever produced. Made from thick piping. Has a one piece crank, lousy for converting to triples.
Total landfill/trash. Go with the rigid fork. ATB.
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Old 08-08-17, 07:02 AM   #10
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Forget the Schwinn. About the heaviest thing ever produced. Made from thick piping. Has a one piece crank, lousy for converting to triples.
Total landfill/trash. Go with the rigid fork. ATB.
Don't trash bikes. Donate them to an organization that will send them to the third world. In my area we have Bikes Not Bombs; there might be another one in your area.

Was the Schwinn Continental welded or filet brazed ?s I recall Schwinn did make a filet brazed bike back then.
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Old 08-08-17, 07:10 AM   #11
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Here's a good piece from ACA on touring on a MTB:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/res...-road-touring/
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Old 08-08-17, 08:00 AM   #12
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Forget the Schwinn. About the heaviest thing ever produced. Made from thick piping. Has a one piece crank, lousy for converting to triples.
Total landfill/trash. Go with the rigid fork. ATB.
While it may not be the best option available for this purpose, it is hardly only good for the trash.

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Don't trash bikes. Donate them to an organization that will send them to the third world.
Or even in your own community. Plenty of bike rescue/coop groups around me that refurb old bikes and give them to community members in need, while selling off the nice ones to C&V schmucks like me to fund the operation.
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Old 08-08-17, 08:57 AM   #13
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while it may not be the best option available for this purpose, it is hardly only good for the trash.



Or even in your own community. Plenty of bike rescue/coop groups around me that refurb old bikes and give them to community members in need, while selling off the nice ones to c&v schmucks like me to fund the operation.
+1
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Old 08-08-17, 10:32 AM   #14
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I was just trying to say that the Schwinn Continental is junk. Not something that I could imagine that anyone could ride for any appreciable length of time on and enjoy themselves on, while touring. Now some of you people will say don' t Junk the Schwinn donate it to someone. I just used it as a matter of lack of quality description. I am a frame builder, but I could not tell you how Schwinn joined the pipes together. I wish that you would not be so rigid and literal when I talk about lack of quality as landfill/ trash. Heck I don't care what the poster would like to do with his Schwinn, cut it up and make ear rings. Whatever.
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Old 08-08-17, 11:49 AM   #15
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I wish that you would not be so rigid and literal when I talk about lack of quality as landfill/ trash.
Well.. ok. Or you could resist the urge to resort to hyperbole when describing a bike as "Total landfill trash". Pretty hard to not interpret that in a certain way. How would anyone know it was just used as a matter of lack of quality description. Sounds like you said it was "Total landfill trash".
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Old 08-08-17, 12:17 PM   #16
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I was just trying to say that the Schwinn Continental is junk. Not something that I could imagine that anyone could ride for any appreciable length of time on and enjoy themselves on, while touring. Now some of you people will say don' t Junk the Schwinn donate it to someone. I just used it as a matter of lack of quality description. I am a frame builder, but I could not tell you how Schwinn joined the pipes together. I wish that you would not be so rigid and literal when I talk about lack of quality as landfill/ trash. Heck I don't care what the poster would like to do with his Schwinn, cut it up and make ear rings. Whatever.
Astonishing lack of being informed on some interesting history, particularly as a frame builder. They were electro forged, you should look it up. At least know why you are dismissive of them. Yes they are heavy, but if I could be around when the sun expands to encompass the earth, I would bet my last whatever that the odds of there being a surviving Continental frame buried in the bedrock somewhere are higher than there being anything you make.
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Old 08-08-17, 02:26 PM   #17
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....They were electro forged, you should look it up......
Schwinn Continentals have very well thought out geometry, they are comfortable to ride long distances; and more rugged than hell. The sole downside is mass. The frame is heavy, and the cranks even more so. Long distances on flat land, and they are competitive with any bike, but as soon as you start climbing, you feel the weight. On the flip side; a well maintained classic electro-forged steel Continental is very stable at high speed down hill.

@hcfrishholz as several have mentioned, which do you like to ride better?

I could see putting $200- or $300- into either.

For the Continental, here some of the things I would get:
https://www.amazon.com/BB-Conversion.../dp/B001G8TSPS
https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-Altus.../dp/B002I7K5LC
https://www.amazon.com/Tektro-Reach-.../dp/B006Z0OVWC
https://www.amazon.com/microSHIFT-Sh.../dp/B011IL1EP4
https://www.amazon.com/Tektro-RL726-.../dp/B01N0CI7NM
new derailleurs, chain, cables, etc.
If the hubs are in good shape, I'd use them with new Wheelsmith DB14 spokes and Velocity Dyad rims with 38-622 tires. And a 13-28 7 speed freewheel.

So many choices
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Old 08-08-17, 08:57 PM   #18
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I was just trying to say that the Schwinn Continental is junk. Not something that I could imagine that anyone could ride for any appreciable length of time on and enjoy themselves on, while touring. Now some of you people will say don' t Junk the Schwinn donate it to someone. I just used it as a matter of lack of quality description. I am a frame builder, but I could not tell you how Schwinn joined the pipes together. I wish that you would not be so rigid and literal when I talk about lack of quality as landfill/ trash. Heck I don't care what the poster would like to do with his Schwinn, cut it up and make ear rings. Whatever.
I wouldn't call a Continental junk. The 70's Schwinn road bikes were not at all badly made, and were well suited for their task. They were great bikes for riding around the city, and commuting to work. The frame was strong, the components reliable, their quality is far above similar department store bikes sold today.

If you are talking tours of under 100 miles, a Continental will do fine. You only need a rear rack for light touring. Friction shifters take a little practice to use quickly, but anyone can learn to use them quickly, and maintenance is very easy. The most expensive custom touring bikes made here in Japan right now almost always come with friction shifters, the panoply of cables, and the motion of the shift-brake levers can make mounting a bar bag or front panniers a little more difficult.

The Continental can be upgraded with period components, like the old Shimano Deore group. These parts are easy to find on eBay, and are cheap.
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Old 08-08-17, 09:23 PM   #19
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Schwinn junk

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I wouldn't call a Continental junk. The 70's Schwinn road bikes were not at all badly made, and were well suited for their task. They were great bikes for riding around the city, and commuting to work. The frame was strong, the components reliable, their quality is far above similar department store bikes sold today.

If you are talking tours of under 100 miles, a Continental will do fine. You only need a rear rack for light touring. Friction shifters take a little practice to use quickly, but anyone can learn to use them quickly, and maintenance is very easy. The most expensive custom touring bikes made here in Japan right now almost always come with friction shifters, the panoply of cables, and the motion of the shift-brake levers can make mounting a bar bag or front panniers a little more difficult.

The Continental can be upgraded with period components, like the old Shimano Deore group. These parts are easy to find on eBay, and are cheap.
FALSE
PUTTING PEARLS ON A PIG; Good luck shimming a deore derailleur onto a 3/4" seat tube and finding a decent .625" seatpost. Also the Schwinn does not have a modern derailleur hanger , so you would have to mickey mouse a bolt on hanger on it.
CHEEP EH; I just bought a whole brand new Windsor Tourist bike (with a sub 5 lb frame) for $ 200. With 9 speed STI shifting.
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Old 08-08-17, 09:37 PM   #20
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Hi, I'm looking to convert one of my bikes into a light tourer. I have a 70s Schwinn Continental and a 2007 (or so) Trek 850 mtb. I'm hoping for some advice as to which would be more cost-effective to invest in as a beginner tour bike for light trips. My concerns are as follows: the Continental has friction shifters and the frame only has rear eyelets near the wheel for a pannier rack, but lacks eyelets on the frame near the seat for a second point of contact (I'm assuming I would need a rack that attaches to the seat post?). The Trek 850 has a suspension fork with about 75mm of travel. I found a Soma 80mm corrected fork online for canti brakes that looks like it would work. ~It was difficult to find a 80mm suspension corrected fork for 26" wheels, and I've also read that suspension correction isn't as important as the axel-to-crown measurement... is this true? Could I buy a Surly fork that has the right axel-to-crown measurement that is not corrected?~ Overall, I'm leaning towards the Trek because it has newer parts and more rack options but am worried because it was a cheap bike and am chiefly concerned with it's unusual travel length and if I can find a rigid fork that will fit it.

Any advice is welcome, thank you!
Thought that it would be nice to offer some input on your thread other than arguing with another poster. I don't give advice without lots of info. We need pictures to see what kind of MTB you are working with. Here are some factors to think about yourself, that no one else can tell you. Do you feel that either bike fits or rides better than the other, how many miles have you put on each up to now with what kind of comfort? what kind of roads do you think you will be on, and how far, what is your camping experience and how heavy is your gear going to be?

Despite my defense of the Schwinn earlier, it will have some issues updating parts in an effort to make it lighter. Everything from the seat post, stem size to the rear axle width is seriously outdated, as is the clamp on size for the front derailleur. Not the end of the world, as it is all good solid stuff, but I only recommend serious updating of these bikes to serious bike nerds who do it for fun. My continentals have been mostly just converted to aluminum wheels with six to seven speed cassettes, leaving the stock stem shifters. the only reason is that braking is better with aluminum rims.

Here is one option for you. Pick the one that you like riding on the sort of terrain you are anticipating for the short tours you want to dip the toes into. Before heavily modifying either one with lots of new stuff I would focus on the basics, as others have said, brakes, cables, bearings. Get a rear rack and try to keep the load as light as possible. If you chose the Schwinn, see if you can find one of those old Pletscher racks, the kind with the rat trap clip thingy, at a bike shop. Believe it or not they can carry a decent load, and connect by clamping onto the seat stays. Go to a walmart and get some water bottle cages that don't need any bosses and some brake pads(unless the ones already on it are fairly new). Go on an overnighter.
Same with the Trek. Unless its just really horrible to ride with the front shock, try things with just a rear rack first. if you like it and think its worth it, then worry about the new fork.

This all may be carp, but its the internet and you get what you pay for
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Old 08-08-17, 10:08 PM   #21
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I've done weekend 2-night tours on a Continental, and on a converted MTB. Actually two Continentals; one pretty much stock, the other converted to a 3-speed with a Shimano (gasp!) 3-speed hub from the 70's.

Both were comfortable tourers, quite stable on the road. The MTB had better brakes and more versatile gearing, while the Continental had better hand position options and a better ride. The 3-speed was a slow flatland tourer, though good for 90 casual miles. I found the Continental, like a vintage Super Sport or vintage Motobecane, has a magical feel you rarely find in modern bikes. A big downside with the Schwinn, if you stay with stock wheels, is the very limited tire selection.

All in all, I think the rigid-fork MTB is a much more versatile platform, while the Continental will provide more cycling joy.

Last edited by downtube42; 08-09-17 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 08-09-17, 07:02 AM   #22
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CHEEP EH; I just bought a whole brand new Windsor Tourist bike (with a sub 5 lb frame) for $ 200. With 9 speed STI shifting.
Cool. Where can I go buy that exact same deal? I'd love to buy one. From my vantage point, Windsor Tourists are $700.

I've never understood the responses of "I scored this awesomely amazing deal, just go do that". Awesomely amazing deals are few and far between and rather dependent on dumb luck to find.

As to the rideability of the Continental, I can't say because I've never ridden one, but my Le Tour is well into the mid-30 pounds, and I've taken it on 40+ mile rides with the original steel wheels. I really wouldn't hesitate to load it down and take it on a couple day tour, especially if it was what I had and wanted to dip my toes into the touring waters. Only reason I didn't on my first trip is I was worried about airline imposed weight limits.

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