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1977 Schwinn Caliente - hot or not?

Old 07-22-20, 11:55 PM
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sssarahhhd
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1977 Schwinn Caliente - hot or not?

I just picked up a 1977 Schwinn Caliente at a thrift store. I probably would have just skipped on it as it needs work and I am a relative newbie, but I just so happen to have decided to venture back into two wheeled life after some time and it happened to be my size. I had a beautiful champagne color 1969 Motobecane about 10 years ago - RIP - and was looking for something similar (European and pretty - what can I say, aesthetics are important to me!) but just happened to run into this thing for $59.

I looked up the serial number and got 1977, Chicago made. From what my newbie eyes can tell it needs basic stuff like new tubes, shifter cables, and there is definitely something up with one of the suicide levers as it keeps sticking and the brake cable seems loose. The original handlebar tape was nasty so I took it off, and obviously that will need replacing as well. I'm realizing that all this work is going to add up, but to how much? More than it's worth?

Wondering if given the work I could flip this thing and for how much? Additionally, if I do keep it that blue color is not very caliente to me so I am inclined to have it repainted which I realize is controversial. Is this bike too cool to paint over? The Schwinn decal on the tube is completely worn off and there are a handful of rust spots, but I realize you really lose the context of the bike when you paint everything. The star decal and stripes between the crank and seat post would be lost if painted, unless there is some magic way to put them back on.

Just trying to figure out what I want to do with this thing, any insights and thoughts are appreciated!
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Old 07-23-20, 02:57 AM
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I don't think the Caliente was made in 1977. You probably have a 1987 or 1988. Its a low-end Schwinn with steel wheels. Not worth much of an investment, especially a repaint. I recently sold one in mint condition for $95. If you want something to work on without the risk of messing up a nice bike, go for it. Otherwise, dump it and keep looking.
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Old 07-23-20, 09:03 AM
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sssarahhhd , if you are mechanically inclined, use it as a learning tool. Take it apart as far as you can, clean everything, re-grease and oil where it counts, put it back together and ride it. This experience will be worth much more than the few dollars you will make (or lose)...
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Old 07-23-20, 09:35 AM
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The Schwinn Caliente is essentially the SCHWINN SUBURBAN ten speed that is set up like a Varsity (with dropbars, racing seat, rat traps, & no fenders..)

The SUBURBAN ten speed came in 1970 and it replaced the Varsity Tourist, essentially same except SUBURBAN has tubular front fork of the CONTINENTAL.

The reason that I say that the CALIENTE is the ten speed SUBURBAN turned back into a racing look without fenders instead of tourist style with fenders is because the FFS (forward freewheel system--developed by Shimano was first seen circa 1977 on the SUBURBAN).....................You could say that the CALIENTE is the VARSITY with the tubular front fork of the CONTINENTAL and the FFS.
(****The SUBURBAN ten speed was identical to the VARSITY ten speed from 1970 through 1976 EXCEPT the SUBURBAN ten speed had the TUBULAR front fork of the CONTINENTAL but the SUBURBAN had the L.S. 2.4 Weinmann sidepull brakes of the VARSITY and does not have the CENTERPULLS of the Continental. Both the SUBURBAN ten speed and the VARSITY ten speed (and the Continental also...) have the crappy Huret Allvit rear derailleur unless the came off the production line when supply was depleted and the far superior Shimano built rear derailleur from the FIVE SPEED SUBURBANS/COLLEGIATES was substituted)

The CALIENTE has the FFS which many people dislike for no other reason that it was an improvement that added maybe 1/4 pound in weight but made riding a ten speed goof-proof for the many casual novices riding bikes. The FFS allowed the rider to shift whether not pedalling or pedalling. On derailleur equipped multi-speed bicycles, one must shift while pedalling.......well the FFS made it goof-proof for those casual riders. The FFS works very well for what it is. I remember folks saying at the time, oh, that new FFS is like having the Autostik (clutchless semi-automatic) in a '68 onward VW Bug or the Sportomatic in say the 1972 Porsche 911. It works really well but it might only appeal to those that don't know how to drive a stick shift. The FFS equipped SUBURBAN and CALIENTE ten speed was more reliable and shifted better than the Ten Speed VARSITY/Continental/earlier 10 speed Suburbans that came equipped with the piece of trash Huret Allvit rear derailleur..........even the later mid seventies updated schwinn approved allvit called GT-500 was a POS compared to anything from SUNTOUR or SHIMANO.

So, yes you can say the CALIENTE is the VARSITY with the Tubular front fork of the SUBURBAN and also the FFS that first appeared on the later SUBURBANS.
Most people today don't bother with any of the FFS equipped bikes because the shimano FFS was only in production for about 8 years and was abandoned when Shimano introduced INDEX SHIFTING as we know it.

Now, most people find it simpler and easier to find the VARSITY/CONTINENTAL/ 10speedSUBURBAN and do what folks did back in the 1970's with most anything with a Huret Allvit rear derailleur (or equally junky Simplex or Campagnolo rear derailleurs of that time compared to bulletproof and reliable Shimano and Maeda SUNTOUR..)
Just remove the junky European rear derailleur and go Japanese and that bicycle became bulletproof.
SCHWINNS WITH THE ONE PIECE ASHTABULA CRANK ARE INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TO SERVICE.
You could say those old electroforged HEAVY "LIGHTWEIGHT" SCHWINNS are perhaps the worlds most durable bicycles.


In 1977 model year SCHWINN also built a SUNTOUR equipped varsity with a tubular front fork from Suburban/Contintal and called that the SCHWINN SPORTABOUT, ...............the SUNTOUR equipped tourist model was known as SCHWINN RUNABOUT.............both of these were normal ten speeds without the FFS system.................you could get these in both Mens and Ladies models....................much much better than the VARSITY unless you were lucky enough to get a production Varsity that was built with the substitute part Shimano rear derailleur from the FIVE SPEED COLLEGIATE/FIVE SPEED SUBURBAN.

Schwinn in its quest to stay hip and have an assortment of "new" models for its then very long in the tooth VARSITY/CONTINENTAL electroforged line, continued to attempt to dupe the less informed bicycle shopper in 1977.......................... the 1977 SCHWINN SIERRA is simply the SCHWINN CONTINENTAL with the tubular front fork being chrome plated rather than being painted as on the Continental. Other than this, I don't recall any differences between the SIERRA and the CONTINENTAL.


Hey SCHWINN did introduce at least two bicycles during 1977 and 1978 that were competitive in overall weight and features with bicycles of that time. The SCHWINN SUPERIOR and the SCHWINN VOLARE were current for that point in time.

Too many people just shun the heavy electroforged Schwinns like the Varsity/Continental/Suburban/Collegiate, etc without realizing that they are fantastic durable bicycles with a very smooth ride with predictable manners. Not everyone needs to go 18mph + , or really ever will even exceed 14mph on whatever they choose to ride. Sure, chrome plated steel wheels and bicycle riding on wet roads or in the rain can make for long anticipated stops as braking will require significantly more stopping distance when wet, but it isn't that horrible if you're not exceeding 14 or 15mph and if you install decent brake pads like kool stops. There is no issue if you are not riding in wet conditions.

Today, your Caliente is likely to have minimal value because of both the FFS and the colors that SCHWINN chose for the Caliente and the decals and style of decals of that late seventies period. In roadworthy condition, needing no work at all, I would say that the Caliente is approximately equal in value to a women's Varsity or women's Continental that is roadworthy but a little more beat up and needing new tires.
What I would do with any CALIENTE today (or VARSITY/Continental) is that I find the tourist handlebars and the accompanying Weinmann brake levers from any sixties or seventies SCHWINN COLLEGIATE, Schwinn BREEZE, or seventies SCHWINN SUBURBAN. You want the 7881 schwinn handlebars and they are easily found on these and a few other schwinn models during the 1967 to 1977 era. You can acquire the 7881 handlebars without the brake levers from many ebay sellers who part out old Schwinns. The alloy Weinmann brake levers with 22.2 size stamp work great regardless of whether from early sixties (RED DOT eye poker style) or later sixties (RED DOT with safety ball point end style) or the later era GOLD DOT with safety ball point end style)................These are all great brake levers for tourist style bike. They are extremely well built and if they look decent, you are certain they will be great.............they are built better than anything repro or new on the market today for bikes with vintage brakes. You can buy them for almost nothing because millions of bikes were made. They are simple to install and tighten on the handlebar and they stay in place and the screw head for the flathead screwdriver to tighten the unit does not deteriorate. The Bell Pit Crew 600 cable set (approx $10) from online at Walmart and ACE Hardware has decent brake cables, although you will need a proper cable cutting tool or maybe just a dremel with a cutting attachment to do the job. The Bell Pit Crew 600 cable set does come with NEW ferrules that attach to the alloy weinmann handbrake levers where the cable exits the weinmann handbrake levers.
Turning any old electroforged VARSITY/CONTINENTAL etc from the stock drop bars to an upright city style tourist cruiser makes these old bicycles more desireable to the general public today. The relaxed frame geometry and great stable road manners of these heavy "lightweight" Schwinns are just perfect for tourist handlebars and a comfortable spring saddle seat. Back in the seventies during the bike boom, most people did ride their ten speeds with the riding position with their hands exclusively riding the "tops" with braking using the "turkey levers". I remember and most people in college at that time in 1969 surely remember that the new Safety "Turkey Levers" were a really big deal at that time and were probably responsible for getting millions of people riding ten speeds during the seventies. Everybody copied SCHWINN and soon offered the Safety "Turkey Levers" on ten speeds with drop bars. The serious roadies hate them today but the general public loved them during the seventies and if your bicycle manufacturer's line up did not offer them, you'd have lost thousands of units of sales. Not everybody was interested in imitating Eddy Merckx back in the day, and I'd bet that if you'd ask anybody that is still alive today that ever owned a ten speed bicycle during the period of the late sixties through the bike boom of the early seventies just one question and that question is: Do you remember the names Eddy Merckxx and Edgar Winter? I'll bet you that just about nobody knows who the heck Eddy is but many can tell you about Edgar. Some will tell you that they saw Edgar and or his brother Johhny.........I'm certain that you won't likely find anyone who saw Eddy or has a clue that he was one of the most famous tour de france champions........ It is simply a generational thing that we owned and rode bicycles in that era and didn't dress like bike racers or even know who the heck was. Again somebody that rode and owned bikes during the bike boom would be more likely to answer something on JEOPARDY with Alex Trebek today with the correct answers being who is edgar winter, who is bebe rebozo, who is spiro agnew, or who is db cooper, probably nobody would be able to answer anything that would have the correct answer of who is EDDY M........
No disrespect to all the greats that made fabulous achievements in racing, but it was simply just not on the radar screen of the millions of riders that made the bike boom here in the USA during early to mid seventies.

Just because the CALIENTE (or any Varsity or Continental) has very little market value today does not mean it isn't a practical and useable bicycle. It is incredibly simple to service after viewing YOUTUBE videos. It is rugged and extremely durable. Sure, you won't win any popularity contests when you're out riding any old heavy electroforged Schwinn "lightweight" unless you stumble across a few old folks that also like those old Schwinns...
I shouldn't say this because it might tempt younger folks to do what many of us old idiots did 50 years ago but here you go: Those Ancient Electroforged Schwinn heavy "Lightweights" like the VARSITY/COLLEGIATE/SUBURBAN/CONTINENTAL and your Caliente are the best all-time bicycles for riding with No Hands..............Warning: Full Disclosure, You are Responsible for Your Own Actions and Decisions and You Should Not Listen To An Old Fart Idiot on the internet that does not mention all those folks that he did know that lost teeth, and broke arms, wrist, elbow, one or more ribs, left or right clavicle, or suffered a cracked skull or concussion or other significant injuries while riding their VARSITY or CONTINENTAL with No Hands. Often these No Hands rides were flawless but as you may imagine young men of 50+ years ago were at least as stupid as todays' young men at that same age, and these tragic mishaps most often occurred while the young man was trying to show off while a beautiful girl was watching......................sometimes though the stunt went terribly bad and the young man needed immediate medical attention but sometimes that did succeed in getting the girl to assist in helping the badly injured young fellow................undoubtedly a few married couples met that way.

Have fun with the old Schwinn. Do not try to spend too much on it as most everything is simple and can be done without the assistance of the service techs at your local bike shop. It will be a practical and economical bicycle that is extremely durable if you read up and see applicable YOUTUBE videos for how to do it yourself.
One can easily take any old electroforged SCHWINN ten speed that needs work and simplify it by acquiring another parts bicycle or the parts to turn that SCHWINN ten speed into a FIVE SPEED, as that is as simple as it gets for something with gears that provide a very useful range. It is incredibly simple to change to a single front crankwheel on any ten speed with a ONE PIECE ASHTABULA CRANK..........................you also have a great many choices of the number of teeth on the front crankwheel...........so you can essentially dial in whatever gives you the best compromise of steep hill climbing and practical cruising speed. You would likely need a brand new chain for whatever configuration you might choose. A new chain is fairly inexpensive from a local bike shop and the labor to install that new chain on your bicycle is also inexpensive as it is a simple task, but you do want the local bike shop to install the chain because the integrity of the fastened link matters and they will do it perfectly and they will get the chain to the perfect length for your application. Bike shops routinely replace chains, just as they install new innertubes all the time, and their associated labor cost with these such tasks is minimal compared to other services that they provide. Do not get me wrong because as the old saying goes, IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT, but if you do happen to run across one or several old Varsities/Continentals etc that are beat up and you can't get the front derailleur adjusted and working properly, you could always consider making it a five speed. (you can also find many inexpensive new and NOS front derailleurs that can be installed if you wish to tackle that.... but most folks find that it is a heck of a lot easier setting up and adjusting a shimano rear derailleur than the best/easiest front derailleur from any brand----most all of the front derailleurs from most every brand since in the past 50 years are decent enough and good but getting it set just right might take a lot of time for someone that has never messed about with the front derailleur.


Basically if you can get something in the range of $35 to $70 for you Caliente in its current condition...............I would highly advise that you take $35 cash from the first person to appear. In normal , non-pandemic times, the expected as is market value would definitely be lower than this $35 value but folks everywhere are seeking anything to ride and someone who knows what they are doing can make a great riding Schwinn over a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon in the garage with the door open and the rain pounding and the bluetooth speaker belting out tunes while the cat sleeps on the convertible top of the wife's blue Mercedes-Benz. Schwinns are super simple and someone familiar with them and having spare frames, and parts can easily build something from scratch in an afternoon.............You can easily disassemble and repaint an old Schwinn frame but why the heck bother unless it is the exact frame size you need........ A quality decal set will cost about $35 or so.....
Painting is simple enough but prep is everything no matter what type of paint that you choose to use. RUSTOLEUM and those brands of FARM EQUIPMENT spray paint in the various factory tractor colors are good simple choices.............there are some very nice ORANGE and YELLOWs if you like those colors on a bicycle.
There are many superb examples where folks over there on the cabe forums have painted elaborate three and two color paint schemes on those 1930's, 1940's and 1950's fancy tank and springer and rear rack equipped cruiser bikes, often duplicating the original paint schemes or creating some that they think should have been offered. You'll find folks there that said using PPG two stage automobile paint with clear is best and nobody can get results from a rattle can, and that brought out about fifty different examples that were done with off the shelf spray paint that you can buy at Walmart/Home Depot/Lowes/Tractor Supply/ACE Hardware. The results on many of these look better than those that sprayed using professional spray equipment and quality automotive paint mixtures. I have seen such results in person and the person that owns the bike swears he painted using rattle cans, I thought he was joking until he told me the colors and where he got them and he then pulled out an extra can from his garage shelf which was the main color. There are things that you must realize with using certain paints are that many of these inexpensive rustoleum type paints will take a very long time to reach maximum hardness and will scratch easily until that time. Some folks paint and then hang the painted frame in the rafters of a shed or attic for five months get it hardened enough . Powder coating is perhaps an option but it limits color choices and limits the creativity in doing elaborate multi-color schemes and designs. The average person painting a bicycle for the first time likely will have average results at best but great results are possible.....go see examples at the cabe if you don't believe it is possible. For average folks with out the patience to do the painting, they are probably better off buying or finding another SCHWINN frame in the desired color and size that already looks nice. This isn't a possibilty with some brands where vintage frames might be extremely valuable and somewhat rare in the size and color one might desire, but with respect to the electroforged Schwinn frame that millions were sold and even the nice examples of complete bicycles have very little market value that anyone desiring a particular color and size frame can easily find it even though they will likely occur shipping costs to ship the bike or frame from many many miles away but if it is a color that you must have, such a sunk cost isn't too bad. Typically that is what some faithful Schwinn devotees do when seeking a particular color and size bike. Find it in great looking condition and pay the mkt rate to obtain said bike and the shipping costs.....yeah it will be way more than it might be worth to most, but really who the heck cares if it something that one really wants now, and its the best looking example that you've seen........... Those same devotees and collectors will never consider anything that looks faded , scratched or weatherbeaten unless it is free and nearby within ten miles from their home, because there are just so many of those old Schwinns out there. There is no flip potential for someone that doesn't already have a dozen similar Schwinns in their parts inventory, and still the flip potential is still nil when factoring in the time spent to complete the build of one or two bikes from the various "parts"- Schwinns that one might already have. You've gotta know what you are doing. It helps to have a large major university within 35 miles from your home because during normal back to campus time in August, you did have students wanting "cheap campus" bikes because they don't wish to have their nice expensive bike stolen. The ancient Schwinns will not be fragile and require the tuning and adjustments that a serious modern roadbike would if the rear derailleur gets banged around or if drunk folks in the same dorm or frathouse decide to do a late night celebratory ride. During this pandemic, back to school is not the same but you have folks seeking bicycles like not seen since 1975 or 1974, because many entertainment venues and sporting events and theatres aren't an option because social distancing in such interior enclosed spaces is not really possible or practical. Bicycling is something really fun that everyone remembers how to do it even if they haven't been on a bicycle since they were 14 or 15 years old in July 1965. New bicycles are a little different now than they were back then but riding a simple bicycle is just as easy today and just as fun as back then, although one should wear a helmet today and remember that an older person's bones don't heal like someone that is a young healthy 14 year old, so take care and wear the helmet and above all, have fun riding a bike. Another thing that doesn't bother the healthy 14 year old but may bother an old-timer getting back on a bike after decades off is the seat...............old folks figure that out quickly but sadly some just give up do to the PITA instead of at least getting a seat pad or trying a new seat.......... Whatever you ride must be comfortable and must be easy enough for you to control and feel confident and stable while riding and braking at whatever speed you choose to cruise. Otherwise, spend whatever you need, to get something that meets that criteria because getting injured because you lose control and crash is not fun at all and the long term effects of any crash could be significant. Wear a helmet because you have zero head protection if you don't wear a hemet and I'm sure you remember the tale of Humpty Dumpty and to get the picture, I'm sure you've probably have seen what a smashed watermelon looks like. Have fun riding your bicycle!
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Old 07-23-20, 09:37 AM
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Old 07-23-20, 02:18 PM
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Is there gonna be a quiz?
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Old 07-23-20, 07:49 PM
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Always an informative read, thanks Vintage Schwinn!
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Old 07-24-20, 02:55 AM
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I stand corrected. Always thought the Caliente was an 80s creation. Great info!
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Old 07-24-20, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by kross57 View Post
I stand corrected. Always thought the Caliente was an 80s creation. Great info!
Any Caliente I've ever seen was clearly an 80's design as well. I had to see for myself and what do you know... this 37lb gem first appeared in the 1978 catalog

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Old 07-28-20, 02:00 AM
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I owned a Caliente, I got it brand new in 1976. It was the week of July fourth, my parents then made a point of taking all of us to Washington DC for that year's Bicentennial celebration. We were walking along a street in D.C. after parking the car and we passed by a Schwinn dealer, out front they had a row of brand bikes on display. Having to some time to kill before our tour was sceduled to start, pop and I went browsing in the bike shop. I remember nagging him about a new bike, and they had a bright orange Varsity sitting there in my size.
He wouldn't here any of it, telling me the car is loaded and we're on vacation not bike shopping. We left and went on about seeing the sights that day and the next. I kept nagging about the bike, and finally he gave in but I had to work to pay the bike off the rest of the summer, but when we went back to that shop the orange Varsity was gone, the only other 10 speed bike in my size was a chestnut brown Caliente. Pop wanted to buy me a new Typhoon, which was $94.99 but I wanted a 10 speed. The Caliente was identical in every way to the Varsity except for a few details, and the price was a good bit less. The main differences were that the Varsity had several cable stops attached to the frame, the Caliente had only clips. The Caliente also had side pull calipers vs. center pull. Pop said its not what we came for, lets go. When we were about to walk out, the dealer came back and said he'd knock off another $10 if I wanted the Caliente. Pop turned around and said if you make it an even $90 with the tax included you got a deal. The guy said he could make that happen. I seem to remember it having a hang tag of $119.95 and it was on sale for $99.95 till the day before we were there but they were giving us the sale price anyway. The sales tax in the end didn't apply because the guy said if he wrote up the receipt to our out of state address, he didn't have to charge sales tax. Dad made a point of that not being the deal he thought he was getting if there was no tax anyway and the guy threw in a blue saddle bag and a Schwinn tire patch kit as well. I still have the saddle bag. Before we let, I also dug into my own pocket and bought a Schwinn cyclometer for it as well for $3.
I remember rooting through the back of dad's Torino wagon, that was loaded up with luggage, trying to find a wrench to take the bike apart for the ride home. I had to pretty much unload the whole car to get at his tool box that was folded away in the rear jump seat hatch. I had to remove both wheels, the bars and the seat and wrap it up in a couple of motel sheets so it wouldn't scratch dad's new car inside. The bike was dark brown. I had always thought it was called Chestnut brown, like what the catalog said was on the Varsity that year, but after having it side by side a few years later with a Varsity and a Suburban that color I realized it was a lot darker, almost a chocolate brown color. Another difference between the Varsity and the Caliente that year was the chainrings, the Varsity had a narrow or thin chainguard ring with oval slots throughout, the Caliente had a solid chrome 'dish' that covered the whole outer sprocket with only a few small oval slots around the center it was trapped under the chainrings in the center, vs. the 5 spoke pattern on the Varsity that bolted on with the outer chainring bolts. It was not a FF system, I don't think they came out for another year or two. It was one of the only things I ever changed on that bike besides the pedals. I spent my Christmas money that winter on a chain guard from a Varsity, and two counter balanced pedals. The pedals never got installed, I still have them, still new in the original Schwinn Approved box. I also have the original chain ring guard here as well. I did replace the chain rings themselves a number of years later as well as the freewheel and cables but not until they were so worn the chain was skipping under hard load.

Dad only kept that wagon one year, buying a brand new van in 1977. I have pics of the bike somewhere atop the roof rack of the wagon that fall at the camp ground we went too just before school started that year. The car got traded in right before the holidays with the plans to do another family vacation the following year.
I had that bike till I got my driver's license. I can't count how many sets of tires I wore out on it, back then I never realized it likely weighed close to 40 lbs.

The bike got handed down to my brother when I got a car, but made it back to me after about 20 years or so.
Looking back at the catalog, it was basically just a Suburban with Varsity bars and saddle, and no fenders.

About 10 years ago I gave the bike to my cousins son who thought it was the coolest thing he ever saw. He rode it all through high school and college up in the city and still has it in his garage today. I think he met his wife on it so its making him memories now.

I do remember more than once going into the Schwinn dealer here and they sort of looked at the bike strange and asked where it came from, as if it was something odd. I remember one guy calling the owner out and asking what it was, because supposedly the model was an upcoming model in some literature they had. This bike was already a year old. The model was never in the 75 or 76 catalog, the serial number was CM19903 on the headtube. For some reason I never forgot those numbers. But I spent a ton of time on that bike back then.

I finally got that orange Varsity about 30 years later, I ran across one at a yard sale while on a trip for work down in MD for $10, it turned out to have a bent frame, and two bad wheels. After some major frame tweaking, and building two new old stock wheels it was 100% again. I kept it for a few years and sold it, it was cool but I had no connection to it like the old Caliente.
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Old 07-28-20, 08:07 PM
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As I remember it, Caliente came out in the early to mid 70's as a 'Special model" around the holidays. They were all brown, they were all the same size. They were stripped down Varsity models with no cable braze ons at all, Ashtabula forks, Atom freewheel with a Schwinn Approved Huret derailleur and "Sprint' one piece crankset like on the Varsity. The Caliente had its own, much plainer chain rings and chainguard too, the sprockets weren't chrome plated, just zinc and they covered them up with a huge almost solid chainguard dish. The tires were those super fat Schwinn 'PUFF' Gumwalls in 27x1 1/4". The paint never got a name that I recall, customers would buy those and come back for touch up paint and all they had was 'Chestnut' which was lighter in color. The Caliente was a solid brown, not metallic. The bike itself wasn't a bad deal because for about 2/3rds the cost you basically had a Varsity. So long as you didn't mind brown. Something else I remember is that the frame was slightly different on the Varsity the bottom bracket shell was fillet brazed and smoothed, on the Caliente, only the head tube got this treatment. For as many of those that were sold back then, I'm surprised they don't turn up more often. I left the bike shop and went back to school in fall of 77, and I took one with me back then. That dealer used to sell me bikes at cost and I think that bike cost me ony $41 and change, I was going to take a Varsity but the price was a good deal higher.
For some reason I seem to think that the Caliente was replaced for a while by the "Sportabout" then brought back a few years later. When those special models would pop up, the boss used to order as many as he could because the mark up was better and the lower price meant they flew out the door pretty fast. We all saw things getting a little funny with Schwinn around that time, models would come and go, bikes were changing and not always for the better and the prices had jumped pretty fast in those few years meaning bikes were no longer a 'cheap' option. A few of the Paramounts approached $1,000. and Japanese bikes were making their way into the lineup as well.
The one I had was a 22" frame, and every one I've ever seen was that size and brown in color from that time period. I bought a longer stem and longer seat post for mine and rode it for about four years. It was probably one of my favorite bikes because it took a ton of abuse and never cost me anything. The brown color likely did a lot to prevent theft, because it was pretty plain looking compared to all the fancy bikes in the bike rack those days.
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Old 07-29-20, 09:58 PM
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Metacortex
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The Caliente was introduced in mid-1977 and was first shown in the "2nd edition" 1977 catalog. That year it was only available in Sky Blue or Lime Green. At introduction it cost $149.95, which was $10 more than the Varsity:



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