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Old 05-28-05, 09:20 AM
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Yes, the plastic sleeve is to help keep water and other crud(rust flaking off the inside of the frame tubes) from getting in your bottom bracket bearings. If you stay with the loose bearings instead of the caged ones, you can usually fit at least one more bearing ball in there and thereby distribute the load better.

There were a couple years around 1980 when Schwinn moved the LeTour production in house at the Chicago factory, but then went back to outsourcing them from Japan.
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