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i need your help or advice can you help??

Old 06-30-13, 10:18 PM
  #1  
71schwinn
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i need your help or advice can you help??

hi i'm danny, well i'll start off by saying i'm new to this forum and to road biking. i just recently got into it but, was riding the wrong bike. i was using a mountain bike and although it does the job, i wanted to look the part. plus it was a woman's mountain bike. with that being said, i recently bought a 1971 10 gear schwinn varsity in relatively good condition all original, almost no rust at all. i got it off craigslist for 60$. it's a real heavy bike(almost 40lbs) but once you get going your going and it's not that bad once i shift down. but of course it needs some work. i'm thinking of taking the whole bike apart to paint it(flat black). also was thinking of buying new tubes and tires for it, as well as brake levers and calipers, new seat, new tape for handle bars, wires for brake and gears, and i think that's about it. was thing of just taking off the crank and cassette to give'm a good clean and give it a new lube up. does anyone know how much does an original crank weigh in a varsity? anyways, what i need your fellow member advice in is, if i should restore it and spend money and time on it or save the time and just go for a new 250-300$ bike? by the way that's my budget if i decide to restore it. also i wish to make the bike a bit lighter any suggestion's? i think this is it and any help or advice is welcomed, i appreciate you taking the time you take in reading this thank you kindly.
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Old 06-30-13, 10:58 PM
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Why would you take a clean condition Varisty and paint it flat black? This is not a high profile bike that thieves are looking to get, so I wouldn't bother painting it flat black, what's next camo?

Your most important and first step in restoring that bike to commuter riding condition is to ditch the steel wheels because their very dangerous to stop with when wet, and get a pair of inexpensive aluminium wheels for about $300 a pair. Then get some decent tires that won't go flat as often like the Specialized Armadillo All Condition tires, or a lighter alternative and way cheaper is the Panaracer Pasela TG wire beaded tire and then for the rear install a Panaracer Flat Away tire liner to make it virtually bullet proof, the front is not as critical because most flats occur on the rear and it's easy and faster to fix a front flat. The wires may need to be replaces if their old. Handlebar tape if old may need to be replaced, as would perhaps the brake pads. Other than that I would not spend any money to get the bike lighter because the frame/fork is the biggest dead weight you have on that bike; and besides the bike isn't worth upgrading and you could easily spend $600 and more upgrading, then you could have bought a newer bike and been lighter in weight in the end! But a set of cheap aluminium wheels will make it change dramatically in performance of the bike, anything else you do you won't know you did a thing!
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Old 06-30-13, 11:24 PM
  #3  
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Pff, $300 for a pair of wheels isn't cheap... that'll get you 16/20h Shimano RS20s, with straight-pull bladed spokes with ally nipples and an off-centre rear. Pretty sweet wheelset.

An inexpensive ally wheelset is more like $110.

71schwinn, where are you? (There's a location field you can fill out in your user info.) At your budget, you need to find a co-op.

I'm assuming you're looking to spend as little as possible, since you spent $60 on a bike instead of at least $200-$300, where you'd have a chance of finding something nice.

There's probably not a whole lot of point upgrading the bike you have very much, unless you can get a line on cheap parts like you can find at a co-op.

And there's virtually no point in upgrading it if it's the wrong size. You can google up pages on bicycle sizing; I'd recommend you look at a couple to get a feel for what your size is, and only proceed with this bike if it's within an inch or so of your size.

So, if it is the right size but you can't find cheap parts, I'd probably just get an ally front wheel for about $50, maybe some fresh pads and cables and a new chain and freewheel, unless by some miracle the old drivetrain isn't worn out.

If you can find a local co-op that has lots of cheap parts, you can probably grandpa's axe this old heap into a total weapon over a year or so... I'd put some 700C/130mm (8/9/10s) wheels on it first (I scored an almost-new pair of the above-mentioned RS20s stupidly cheap at my co-op), which will require spreading the frame and probably some longer-reach brakes, probably 8s cassette and chain too. A 700C fork will allow you to mount a proper front brake (the rear hardly matters). Then I'd try to find some 8s STIs, plenty are abandoned due to gummy grease; these are usually easily fixed with WD40, and go forever. You'll need a Shimano rear derailer from about 1985 on to go with those. A light seat is a noticeable upgrade. I wouldn't worry about bars and stem until I got hold of a modern threadless framset (the frame doesn't care whether the steerer has threads, but 1" is almost always threaded and and 11/8" is almost always threadless), so I could go straight for 31.8mm. Cranks are no big deal, save them for last.

There's a link to a list of co-ops in my tag.

Last edited by Kimmo; 06-30-13 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 06-30-13, 11:37 PM
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My 2 cents, feel free to disregard.

If you have a Schwinn Varsity, that's a vintage bike, and half the appeal is supposed to be that classic look. A bike purist would think that painting the frame would be a sin, and replacing the parts takes it away from being "authentic."

I don't think a Varsity is going to make a particularly good commuter, mostly because of the poor braking (because of the steel rims). It's also heavy.

My advice would be to take your $300 and find a very nice used hybrid or road bike on Craigslist or a co-op. Get a knowledgeable friend to go with you, or ask on BikeForums to help you assess the value of a Craigslist ad. That money will get you a massive upgrade in the braking safety (IF everything is set up properly) and a huge upgrade in weight (10 pounds or more).

Then take the Schwinn Varsity and...
- If you need the room or money, resell it on Craigslist; you should be able to get just as much as you bought it for
- If you want a collector's item or the fun of having a project bike, keep it and take it to your local bike co-op and start the restoration process, learning about bike mechanics as you go
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Old 06-30-13, 11:52 PM
  #5  
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Don't put money into that relic. As long as it's running it's an OK ride, but as they say, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Save your dough for a true upgrade, either a low to mid level new bike, or a lighter more modern used bike. Then put the varsity out to pasture, or sell it on Craig's list for $30.00 so the next person can use it as a starter without having to spend lot's of dough to find out biking isn't for him.
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Old 07-01-13, 06:28 AM
  #6  
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I was use to ride Varsity's and knew people that had those and the others, like the Suburban and the Continental and others, they were all junk even when they were new, they were basically the equivalent of a modern Walmart bike. Those bikes are not collectible, that's why you can buy them for $50 to $75, some nuts will try to sell them for $125.

I did look at Amazon and they do sell low cost 27" front wheels for $38; see: https://www.amazon.com/Wheel-Front-Al...ef=pd_sbs_sg_2

And they have a 27" freewheel rear wheel for just $34; see: https://www.amazon.com/Sta-Tru-Silver...ef=pd_sbs_sg_9

So for $72 one could get a set of new alloy 27" wheels for a bike like the Varsity. But again depending on condition of the bike you could have other issues that could drive the cost up, and for the $72 for wheels plus say another $150 to get it ready to ride (assuming gears front and rear aren't worn out) you could buy another used bike and be better off and then sell the Varsity for whatever you paid for it.
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Old 07-01-13, 06:48 AM
  #7  
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I agree with the last three posts here.

Don't get me wrong, you got a good deal on that bike - I would have bought it as a project bike just for kicks. And if it runs, then it gets from A to B without issue. Probably the best thing to with it is clean it up as best as possible and make sure everything still functions as it should. The only thing I'd bother spending the money on is new cables and housing if necessary, which should really only run you about $10. I'd agree to skip the paint as well.

For $200 to $300, hit up craigslist, your local newspaper, something of the sort and try to get something newer. I always propagate used bikes - more bang for your buck - so that may be a way to go. But really, even one of the new Schwinns for $250 sounds like it would be what you're looking for.

Still, good buy on the old varsity. That will be a nice project for you, and you can probably learn a lot about bikes from it.
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Old 07-01-13, 06:58 AM
  #8  
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I have a 1980s Schwinn Traveler and was lucky enough to find a 27" aluminum wheelset on a dead Myata. Sounds like my vintage Schwinn was in about the same condition as yours. My fix up included swapping the wheelset ($0), new Bontrager tires and tubes ($45), general cleaning, repack all bearings, a set of Bell cables from WalMart ($10), new brake pads ($15), swapped for the lighter aluminum handlebar (also from the Myata), and new bar tape from a bike co-op ($5), and a used entry level Bontrager seat I had laying around. As I got the bike for free, I have about $75 into a vintage commuter that doesn't look or ride half bad. Not a modern road bike by any stretch of the imagination but well worth what I have into it as a Plan B bike that my stepson rides on a regular basis.

Don't put big money into an old Varsity, just clean it up, repack the bearings and lube the brakes and drivetrain, and replace consumables like tires, brake pads and cables with budget minded parts. You'll be able to ride it for a long time. When you get the funds together for a better road bike, the Varsity will still make a great Plan B / crappy weather / low theft risk commuter. I've owned a few old 10-speeds and they can still be reliable and a lot of fun. I know a guy who last summer did a 600-mile trip on a Schwinn World that was 90% original. In 1976 the big BikeCentennial trek across the United States included many steel 10-speeds so don't let anyone tell you they aren't capable bikes.
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Old 07-01-13, 07:02 AM
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Varsities and the like aren't the equivalent of a Walmart bike. They deserve a category of their own.

They look to have been designed to frustrate the best efforts of pre-teen boys to wreck them. I think that's why there are so many left. They started with a sturdy but heavy low carbon steel frame, sturdy but heavy Ashtabula crankset and sturdy but heavy steel rims. Handlebar? steel. Stem? steel. Seatpost? steel. Are you seeing a trend here? Also many of those parts, like the stem and seatpost, were Schwinn's own special size.

The upshot is that a Varsity, even if you don't mind upsetting the classic bike purists (I'd paint one flat black in a heartbeat), really isn't a very good basis for updating. By the time that you replaced all of the sturdy but heavy parts on this bike, there won't be anything of the original bike left.
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Old 07-01-13, 07:08 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Also many of those parts, like the stem and seatpost, were Schwinn's own special size.
That's the kicker right there. Even if you are willing to spend the money on newer, lighter components, current parts probably won't fit.

I agree with the posters above. Either ride the bike as is, with the possible exception of fitting new tires and brake pads, or sell it and buy a more suitable newer bike.
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Old 07-01-13, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
I've owned a few old 10-speeds and they can still be reliable and a lot of fun. I know a guy who last summer did a 600-mile trip on a Schwinn World that was 90% original. In 1976 the big BikeCentennial trek across the United States included many steel 10-speeds so don't let anyone tell you they aren't capable bikes.
I too own several older 10 & 12 & 14 & 18 speed 80's era bikes and any of those could make a cross country trip but only one of them is really made for touring and that one is a 85 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe and that one is more then capable of doing such a trip. So yes old bikes can be fun and reliable, just not all bikes like the Varsity. I've done auto road tours, and seen all sorts of cars, some of those cars should not have been doing those tours because they were constant dinkering around with mechanical issues on the side of the road yet they still did the tours. The same is true with bikes, you could travel across country on a $100 Walmart bike if you wanted to, but expect issues and be prepared to deal with them. I personally would not attempt a trip across country on a older lower level bike, at the very least a mid level bike is in order to do such a trip.

Doing a cross country trip with just 10 gears is not an issue at all, there are people in Europe who did that for years on single speed bikes climbing steep grades! then there were 3 speed bikes, then 5 speed etc. People adapt to what they have.
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Old 07-01-13, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 71schwinn View Post
i recently bought a 1971 10 gear schwinn varsity in relatively
good condition all original, almost no rust at all.
Hi,

So keep it original as possible, clean it up and lube/grease it.

Your completely chasing your tail trying to lighten a heavy bike.

Old bikes in good working order and condition and original
are always a lot worth more to someone than updating them.

rgds, sreten.

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Old 07-01-13, 01:16 PM
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As a wet weather transportation bike , know aluminum rim wheels stop better
than hard chrome plated steel ones

a set of wheels for a freewheel in27" will set you back about $50 each.,

just set the original ones aside , You dont have to dumpster them.
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