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73 Schwinn Varsity

Old 03-10-12, 03:04 AM
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junkpile
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73 Schwinn Varsity

I came across a bike I forgot I owned while cleaning out the attic over the garage last night. It's a 1973 Sunset Orange Schwinn Varsity in a 24" frame. The bike was ridden for a summer by a buddy of mine during his last year of school. He gave it to me when he moved out west. The bike still has the original tires on it, there's no rust, and no real wear. I pumped up the tires and it rides like a new bike. The paint has the usually scratches caused by a bike lock being wrapped around the seat post but otherwise looks like the day it was new.
I forgot I had saved it up there. It's not seen the light of day since 1975.
I was pretty amazed that the original gumwall tires are in like new shape, they still had some air in them. The bike was hanging from two ropes in the rafters suspended off it's wheels and covered with an old plastic cover or bag.
It rides far better than I remember these riding, of course back in the day I was 100lbs lighter and had far better bikes to compare it against. But all in all I had no problems riding it around the block a few times.
I took a look on eBay and most are listed cheap, and not selling.
What should something like this bring if I were to sell it?
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Old 03-10-12, 06:52 AM
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Bikes of that caliber typically are not sold on ebay, cost of shipping approaches value of bike, so no one wants to pay 2X what they can buy the bike for locally. Stop riding it, as it sounds like it has not been serviced in 35 years. So bearings and grease will be totally shot, risk damaging hubs and cones.

39 year old gum walls should be shot as well.

As far as value, depends on several factors:
1. Where do you live?
2. Overall condition (pictures)
3. Your ability to market the bike (write a good ad, take full sized pics, etc).

I cannot overstate the value of #3.

As a practical matter, the Varsity was an extremely heavy bike (40 pounds), with bottom end components, and Schwinn made millions of them. But people like them. And they are damn near indestructible.

Orange color is a plus.
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Old 03-10-12, 07:57 AM
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Sounds like it's a neat bike with some sentimental value . If it were mine , I'd service it , put new rubber on it and keep it. When you get a chance , post some photos .
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Old 03-12-12, 12:46 AM
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The original tires are as good as new, no cracks, no dry rot, they're not even darkened or hardened by age. The tires say Schwinn on the sidewall.
I pulled all the bearings out today, all the grease was like new but I redid it anyway using modern Park grease.
The bike was stored pretty much sealed in plastic in a heated/air conditioned area so it hasn't aged much. The chrome is in super nice shape, no pitting or rust, it's not even faded. I wiped the bike down with a rag dampened with some light cleaner wax and it looks almost new.

The cables are all in good shape, it needs nothing to be ridden daily. If the tires can take my 360lbs they can't be in too bad of shape.
The wheels are still true, it shifts all 10 speeds, and feels good on the road.

I haven't tried to market it anywhere yet, just from past experience, CL is probably a waste of time, I've listed bikes there before with all sorts of pics and a detailed description as well as with a minor description, nothing works, the average buyer around here wants a new bike for $10. I've also listed in Philly, but most buyers won't travel the 40 minutes to where I am. I get one reply after the other about wanting to meet in the city or will I deliver it for an extra $5.
I'm not delivering it, and I'm not shipping it. Its not worth the trouble to ship to me, it takes time to disassemble a bike and pack it properly, and finding a box to fit a full size road bike is nearly impossible.
I'm not as much worried about selling it, just what it should be worth. Basically I'm after an opinion of someone in a better bike area. Here, I see decent Varsity bikes listed anywhere from $30 to $100. I think a clean survivor like this has to have more value than a case of beer or two. You can't buy anything like it new, let alone something made in the USA.
I don't see the weight as an issue, the buyer of a bike like this most likely isn't looking for a light bike, I'd hope it would go to someone that appreciates it for what it is.
As a big man, there's not many bikes like this that would hold me, this does. At 365lbs could you imagine what graphite components would do? How about bladed spoke wheels on a high end racer?
After looking at eBay, I see listing just about anything there these days is a waste, after all the fees I'd end up giving it away if it even drew a bid. Over the past few weeks I've watched several similar bikes go without bids with $20 to $50 starting bids and one had free shipping.
I have no doubt there's a lot of these left but I don't know how many are still in really nice condition, especially one in a larger frame like this.
As someone who has always ridden 63cm/24" frame bikes, I can attest for how hard finding one used can be. There's a ton of little bikes, but not many big ones.

I should also note that the camera flash makes the orange look more peach in color, it's not faded, it matches the bar tape in person. I took the pic in a dim lighted garage after dark. I tried several shots, it came out the same each time, yet in person it looks much darker.
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Last edited by junkpile; 03-12-12 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 03-12-12, 01:55 AM
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why ask us its value then? your second post is essentially you telling us why it should cost x.

its in great condition, but at the end of the day it's still a varsity my friend.
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Old 03-12-12, 04:00 AM
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Personally, I can't believe that a clean survivor of any name brand bike won't bring more than $20 in most cases, it seems everyone only wants high end road bikes or old BMX these days.
I wouldn't sell it for less than $200. I'd value it because its something that can't be bought new, and something that will never be made again.
Bike manufacturers don't build bikes to last these days, everything is from China, I feel there will definitely come a time when a bike like this will be looked at differently. I've got a few hundred old bikes, most are much older but all are bikes I can ride. My favorites are pre war balloon tire models built for working. Others are British three speeds. All are steel frame, steel wheel bikes. From the days when bikes were built to last.

This, like many other bikes should be packed away for safe keeping, maybe in another 35 years someone will see these in a different light.
Right now it seems like this type of bike is looked down on, yet these are what most people bought and rode back then.
I fully understand their place in the market both then and now, but back in 1973 or so, you wouldn't have bought a Paramount to ride to school or to deliver news papers on. You also wouldn't have likely locked it up outside of school or the mall.
I feel bikes like this offer more a nostalgic value than anything else. That bike would be worth the most to someone who remembers riding one just like it back when they were new. Or to the kid that couldn't afford one then but can have one now.
I've got two just like it, one in mint condition, the other about equal to yours in condition. Both came from the same owner about 10 years ago. I bought 20 similar bikes off the same guy together for about $50. Everyone was super clean and in hardly ridden condition. I sold the two ladies bikes for what I paid for the lot and put the rest in my garage. Myself, I'll sell anything if someone is willing to pay what I feel it's worth, if not, I guess they'll bury me with the rest.

You won't find many serious buyers on CL, I'm in the same area and its nearly all tire kickers and scammers lately around here.
Serious buyers are few and far between. I've bought a few super nice bikes off CL, every seller told me I was the only person who either showed up or even replied with a real email, many were after weeks of it being listed as I don't check there very often these days.
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Old 03-12-12, 08:04 AM
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Schwinn Vartsitys sell for $75-100 max on craigslist.

Now, maybe it is worth more than that to you. If so I would keep it. It looks to be in very good condition. But as far as selling, an item is worth what someone will pay for it.
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Old 03-12-12, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by junkpile View Post
Basically I'm after an opinion of someone in a better bike area. Here, I see decent Varsity bikes listed anywhere from $30 to $100. I think a clean survivor like this has to have more value than a case of beer or two. You can't buy anything like it new, let alone something made in the USA.
And yet.... $70, give or take, is all it will ever be worth.

The bottom line is that it is one of the most common bikes of its era, there are still plenty around. It would be like trying to sell a mint 1984 Ford Escort. 1984 Toyota Supra in good shape? Worth a lot of money. Mint Escort? Meh.


I got the same exact bike, only the higher end one with fenders, out of the city dump for free.
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Old 03-12-12, 08:21 AM
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yeah varsities can be tough to give away - let alone sell - but i had a 71 for awhile - it was heavy - but i enjoyed every ride on it - schwinn makes great rides - anyway - its orange - it fits you - i'd say keep it
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Old 03-12-12, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
And yet.... $70, give or take, is all it will ever be worth.

The bottom line is that it is one of the most common bikes of its era, there are still plenty around. It would be like trying to sell a mint 1984 Ford Escort. 1984 Toyota Supra in good shape? Worth a lot of money. Mint Escort? Meh.


I got the same exact bike, only the higher end one with fenders, out of the city dump for free.
I'd rather have the mint Escort, what good is a Toyota?

I've got two older Varsities, one in orange like yours and one in green. Both are 1973 models and in decent shape, I gave $10 for the pair at a yard sale, but I hardly use yard sales or flea markets as indicators of value. I once bought a ziplock bag of old silver dollars off some woman for $10. The bag contained 22 Morgan dollars, 15 older nickles, and 44 1940's dimes, and a few steel pennies. No clue what she was thinking but to her it was just old coins. Chances are she didn't even recognize them as money. Face value of the coins was more than triple what I paid.

I just sold a 1972 Schwinn Breeze that I had hanging in the garage for 20 years, it came as half of a his and hers set I bought. I didn't want the woman's model but had to take both. It was a rarely used very minty looking bike but in powder blue and a ladies frame. It hung there for 20 years but someone finally noticed it and gave me $200 for it. A penny less and it would have hung there for eternity to maintain having a matched pair.

A bike is worth both whatever someone will pay, as well as what you decide will make you part with it. I'm sure I've got plenty of bikes that no one else in the world would want, but I wouldn't sell them cheap no matter what.
Old Varsities in nice shape are hard to come by, and personally I prefer the ones from that era, the older bikes didn't have the same 'feel' on the road and the newer bikes weren't as nicely made. The 1970's models for some reason just have more of that classic Schwinn look. A lot of may be that this was the era that I grew up in and those were the bikes we all saw on the showroom floor and couldn't afford.
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