Thread: Step throughs
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Old 06-29-19, 10:23 PM
Vintage Schwinn
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The ancient Electro-Forged Schwinn STEP-THROUGH, five speed Collegiate of the 1970 - 1977 era and the five speed Suburban of the 1970-1977 are fantastic bicycles in the Women's (STEP-THROUGH) frames. They have SHIMANO gearing (Model J) Freewheel and SHIMANO rear derailleur ( GT-100 from 1970 thru 1973, and GT-120 from 1974 - 1977 .....both of these are Shimano built for Schwinn.................the 1970 five speed Collegiates/five speed SUBURBANS were the first Schwinn models to feature Shimano stuff instead of Huret.)
Yes, These SCHWINN Collegiates and Suburban FIVE SPEEDS are heavy at close to 39 pounds.
That isn't a huge deal for something utilitarian. The original equipment saddles(seats) on those bikes probably weigh four pounds but the work well and the coil springs really ride nice.
These bikes are among the most durable bicycles ever made.
THE MODEL J FREEWHEEL gives you 32, 26, 21, 17, 14 on the rear wheel --AND--- you have just a single 46 TEETH FRONT CHAIN Crankwheel
.............The reason that I recommend ONLY the 1970 thru 1977 COLLEGIATE five speeds rather than any of the earlier 1964 thru 1969 Collegiate five speeds IS BECAUSE THE EARLIER (sixties era) COLLEGIATE FIVE SPEEDS HAVE THE MODEL F gears which only have the lowest gear of 28teeth at the rear vs the 32teeth of the 1970-1977 Model J gears. The earlier sixties era Collegiate also has the Huret Alvit for SCHWINN rear derailleur which is undesireable compared to the Shimano built for Schwinn rear derailleurs. Other than those issues, the 1964-1969 Collegiate Five Speed is Excellent too.

It is worth giving these a look over.
The Collegiate did carry on for a couple of years after 1977, but I must refer you to the SCHWINN DATA BOOK of 1975-1979 and SCHWINN DATA BOOK of 1970-1974 etc , as well as the Schwinn Catalogs of each year model. THE SUBURBAN five speed adopted the FFS in the 1978 year model and thus is not something that you would typically want. The FFS does function Okay but the general weirdness of it, is not something that most non-Schwinn people will like.

You can find COLLEGIATE five speeds and SUBURBAN five Speeds for very little money ( typically around $30 to $75) in rideable condition if you look in certain areas/cities. For example places like Asheville NC and also the major cities in North Carolina like Raleigh, and Charlotte.
You can also find them in Atlanta Georgia. These bicycles tend to be in excellent condition and are typically owned by folks between 60 and 75 years old.
The Ashtabula (American style ONE-PIECE crank) is a marvel of simplicity and durability and should never be swapped out for a 3 piece unit because 2 additional pounds means nothing on this type of bicycle. These bikes also came in at least three frame sizes in WOMEN's frame (step-through) typically, 19 inch, 21 inch, and 17 inch (measured from center of crank on BB to the seat post clamp)..........
The only real difference between a SUB. and COLLEG. is the 630mm -27" wheel with 32mm tire of SUBURBAN versus the 597mm -26" wheel with 37mm KENDA tire of the COLLEGIATE. The other difference is that the SUBURBAN has a tubular front fork (same one that the Continental has)........the Collegiate has the Ashtabula BLADE Fork that the Varsity has.
The COLLEGIATE typically came in tourist handlebars in the Step-through frame BUT starting in about 1974, or maybe 1975, a Women's COLLEGIATE Sport was offered that had the racing handlebars and rat traps like a Varsity with no fenders. The regular Collegiate Women's model continued to be offered with Tourist(NorthRoad bars) handlebars.
I urge you to read up on these bicycles and review the COLORS and frame size offerings for each year model from 1970 through 1977.

Another thing to know:
How to determine what year SCHWINN you might be looking at:
THE SECOND LETTER determines the year (you'll find this on the head tube near the Schwinn badge from 1970-1977)
(you will notice that the the letter I is not used because it resembles a number one......ditto the letter O is not used for '78, as it goes from N to P...)

Now that you know the 2nd Letter is the YEAR of Manufacture..................The first letter is the Month of Production.....A= jan, B= Feb, C= March.......etc...

They are quality bikes. They ride really smooth and stable. Heavy, well heck yes but that isn't so bad on this type of cruising bicycle.
The COLLEGIATE in particular with its 597mm wheel and 37mm tire width is a fantastic ride. KENDA is the only manufacturer of this particular Schwinn only 597mm -26 inch tire...............they make it in the blackwall, the gumwall, and the whitewall varieties. You can buy it from major online bike shops for less than $20.
The Suburban has the 27" wheel (630mm) and many tires are available. I run the Michelin Protek 630mm x 32mm (27 x 1 1/4 ) tires on one of my SUBURBAN five speeds that have had the fenders removed. I different 630mm x 32mm (27 x 1 1/4) on my Suburbans with fenders in place.

These ancient bicycles deserve a look. They are incredibly inexpensive. They are durable workhorses that are very comfortable to ride. It is possible to upgrade to alloy wheelset but you don't gain much unless you wish to go a liitle faster and have good braking when wet. Other than that, you don't gain much because if your aim is for lightweight and quick, it is simply better to seek something other than an electro-forged Schwinn. Try one these ancient electro-forged Step-throughs and you may realize that they are better than you might think. Most people detest them because they are Women's frames and that they are Schwinns, but I love these Women's (step-through) five speeds in the Tourist variety in the larger frame sizes. Most Schwinn people use them as parts bikes and part out and junk them. I personally think the step-through in the Schwinn electroforged frame variety (continental/varsity/suburban/collegiate etc) are the best ones for Tourist use.
OLD GUYS can easily mount and get off of them. The ONLY FUNCTIONAL DOWNSIDE IS THAT THEY CAN BE A PAIN TO PUT ON A TYPICAL AUTOMOBILE BIKE RACK BECAUSE OF BEING A STEP-THROUGH FRAME, but if you have a pickup or a suv, or old station wagon can place the bike inside the car. I can place two vintage step-thru Vintage SCHWINN collegiates into the back of my Honda Fit. They are stacked on top of each other with bicycle box cardboard or an old rug as protection for the car............obviously the rear seats are folded flat............... LOADING one is simple, the second one is harder simply because of the near 40 pound weight of the bike, but it can be done within two minutes and in less than 45 seconds with two strong folks...
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