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Old Schwinn- Weird gearing set-up

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Old Schwinn- Weird gearing set-up

Old 01-22-16, 06:09 PM
  #1  
speedy25
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Old Schwinn- Weird gearing set-up

Making some more scrap and saving potentially useful pieces.

Found a Schwinn 10 speed where the FRONT sprockets ratcheted and the rear gear set was fixed.

What was that all about? Obviously it didnt catch on.

-SP
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Old 01-22-16, 06:11 PM
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Shimano FFS system. Donate it away. Heavy, balky, and lots of bearings fall out if you ever want to overhaul it.
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Old 01-22-16, 06:19 PM
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oddjob2 speaks the truth. FFS was an evolutionary dead end which died a rapid, merciful death.
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Old 01-22-16, 06:33 PM
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Wow, what a blast from the past. I wonder if it also has the Positron shifter and deraileurs? In the thread,
https://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-me...ear-cable.html
someone suggested chucking such a bike into a river when no one was there to witness.
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Old 01-22-16, 06:34 PM
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Seems to me like this would be collectible for the sheer quirkiness of it.
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Old 01-22-16, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by speedy25 View Post
....

What was that all about?... -SP
Shift while coasting/freewheeling...
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Old 01-22-16, 09:12 PM
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When was this produced?
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Old 01-22-16, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
When was this produced?
Sheldon Brown's SHIMANO page has it listed in 1982.

1982 Shimano Catalogue Page 35

Cheers
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Old 01-23-16, 08:00 AM
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Front Freewheeling System FFS, as others said. The racheting is in the bottom bracket axle. The chain's always moving with the bike in motion. Likely a development during the 1970's bike boom. Often sold to less serious bikers. Scared of dee-railers,, drop bars, Etc. Schwinn might have built the most of them, I don't think the technology was a Schwinn exclusive though. Chris
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Old 01-23-16, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Sheldon Brown's SHIMANO page has it listed in 1982.

1982 Shimano Catalogue Page 35

Cheers
Thanx, this is my first time hearing of it.
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Old 01-23-16, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by TireLever-07 View Post
Front Freewheeling System FFS, as others said.

Schwinn might have built the most of them, I don't think the technology was a Schwinn exclusive though. Chris
Widely available on Panasonic, Villagers IIRC
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Old 01-23-16, 09:44 AM
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Question. Do these front freewheeling bikes have a "standard" bottom bracket that would allow conversion to the "normal" type bottom bracket that can be used with normal rear wheels?
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Old 01-23-16, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by imabeliever1 View Post
Question. Do these front freewheeling bikes have a "standard" bottom bracket that would allow conversion to the "normal" type bottom bracket that can be used with normal rear wheels?
No, it is threadless.
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Old 01-23-16, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TireLever-07 View Post
Front Freewheeling System FFS, as others said. The racheting is in the bottom bracket axle. The chain's always moving with the bike in motion. Likely a development during the 1970's bike boom. Often sold to less serious bikers. Scared of dee-railers,, drop bars, Etc. Schwinn might have built the most of them, I don't think the technology was a Schwinn exclusive though. Chris
Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
Widely available on Panasonic, Villagers IIRC
I remember those from when I "worked" (I was underaged and the owner called me an apprentice) in a Schwinn shop sometime around 1979 or so. Definitely a bike boom "innovation" that didn't last. Schwinn imported alot of Panasonics when they realized the Varsity/Continental was way outdated and I'm sure this drivetrain was on Panasonics that had their own label as opposed to a Schwinn name.
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Old 01-23-16, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
When was this produced?
The Shimano FFS was used on certain Schwinn bikes from 1977 through 1985, and had the freewheel on the crank. This allowed you to shift even while not pedaling since the chain and rear sprockets would always be turning whether you were pedaling or not. When combined with the Positron rear derailleur it was also one of the first indexed shifting systems.

The first Schwinn with the Shimano FFS was the 1977 Suburban: Schwinn catalogs, 1971 - 1980 (344 of 579)

FFS combined with a "Positron" rear derailleur came on the Caliente in 1978 and '79: Schwinn catalogs, 1971 - 1980 (386 of 579)

FFS/Positron was added to the Varsity in 1980: Schwinn catalogs, 1971 - 1980 (520 of 579)

In 1982 it was also used on the World Tourist: Schwinn catalogs, 1981 - 1990 (78 of 456)

The last Schwinn with FFS/Positron system was the 1985 Varsity.

Originally Posted by imabeliever1 View Post
Question. Do these front freewheeling bikes have a "standard" bottom bracket that would allow conversion to the "normal" type bottom bracket that can be used with normal rear wheels?
Yes. Schwinn bikes with one-piece FFS cranks such as the Suburban, Caliente, Collegiate, and Varsity had the same OPC bottom bracket as the non-FFS models. Likewise those with 3-piece FFS cranks like the World Tourist had the same 68mm English threaded bottom bracket as used by non-FFS 3-piece crank models.

Note that converting a FFS to a standard crankset would require changing both the crankset and the freewheel.
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Old 01-24-16, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by TireLever-07 View Post
Schwinn might have built the most of them, I don't think the technology was a Schwinn exclusive though. Chris
There's a Miyata mixte out in the barn that is so equipped.

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Old 01-24-16, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post

Yes. Schwinn bikes with one-piece FFS cranks such as the Suburban, Caliente, Collegiate, and Varsity had the same OPC bottom bracket as the non-FFS models. Likewise those with 3-piece FFS cranks like the World Tourist had the same 68mm English threaded bottom bracket as used by non-FFS 3-piece crank models.

Note that converting a FFS to a standard crankset would require changing both the crankset and the freewheel.
Truth. Also, as Meta pointed out, most of the FFS bikes came with Shimano Positron index shifting. None of the parts of the Positron system interchange with standard derailleurs. Conversion is possible, but not practical. I worked on a few in my bike shop days (1979-1984).
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Old 01-25-16, 11:04 PM
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Thanks guys for all the wealth of info about this strange setup.

-SP
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Old 01-25-16, 11:37 PM
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There are competition trials bikes that have the freewheel mechanism on the front.. very different quality and price from the FFS stuff though. They use ultra fine ratcheting.

I've a collected a few FFS sets for screwing around with on tandems. They were available for more than one BB type.
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Old 01-26-16, 10:21 AM
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I picked up a 1980 Suburban with this setup, back in late November, for $20 & change at the local sally. It was interesting, and the bike is very clean, but I mostly wanted the tires it was wearing. Someone had put on some awesome brand new 27" Kendas, with a knobby tread pattern, which rubbed the fenders a bit. Apparently, they just gave up before they started, on the clearance, and donated it. Score on the tires, for my old Trek 330 winter bike.
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Old 05-09-16, 04:57 PM
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Hi looking for a shimano FFS. Has anyone got one?
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Old 05-09-16, 06:27 PM
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I had heard about FFS but never actually seen one until someone brought an old Ross women's bike into my shop earlier this spring. The grease in the bottom bracket had turned to tar, and the front freewheel mechanism was so gummed up that it no longer worked. Someone had replaced the original FFS freewheel with a conventional one to allow the bike to freewheel.

After I overhauled everything, the FFS worked again, but was defeated by the conventional freewheel. The only remaining FFS attribute was that when you rotated the pedals backward, the chain didn't move. I had to explain that I hadn't broken anything--that it was designed to work that way.
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Old 05-09-16, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Mccowejw85 View Post
Hi looking for a shimano FFS. Has anyone got one?
It hasn't been made in 33-ish years. Your best bet is to find a bike with all the parts intact.

From 1982: 1982 Shimano Catalogue Page 35

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Old 05-09-16, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Someone had replaced the original FFS freewheel with a conventional one to allow the bike to freewheel... After I overhauled everything, the FFS worked again, but was defeated by the conventional freewheel.
There seems to be a virtually unlimited supply of FFS freewheels on eBay: shimano freewheel ff | eBay
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Old 05-10-16, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
There seems to be a virtually unlimited supply of FFS freewheels on eBay: shimano freewheel ff | eBay
I know--I told the owner that we could restore the "shift while coasting" feature--which she vaguely remembered from when the bike was new--but she didn't think it was worth bothering with, given the $ that an original-type freewheel would cost.
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