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3 Speed for Tall Riders

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3 Speed for Tall Riders

Old 10-14-19, 09:21 PM
  #1  
Schwinneffect
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3 Speed for Tall Riders

I'm about 6' 5", returning to cycling, and looking for a bike. For various reasons (large frame, 27" tires, comfy seat), I've decided that a 1971 Schwinn Suburban might be a good choice, but 3 speeds are hard to find. I'd welcome opinions on alternatives. I like English bikes, and I already have an old Invicta, but it is a lady's bike and way too small. Perhaps a newer and less expensive bike like a Huffy Savanah might be a good choice? I think I would like 27", or 700C rims, but other than that I'm just looking for a 3 speed that fits.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:38 PM
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Good fun. But the Suburban is not a 3-speed. So find a Suburban in a color you like and have a shop put a 3 speed hub in the Suburban's rear wheel. Or DIY. An English bike as tall as a Suburban might not exist.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:40 PM
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At 6’5” you’ll probably be most comfortable on a 25” frame. You’ll have an easier time locating a 25”
frame with a derailer drivetrain than with a 3 speed. The Suburban was available with a 25” frame, a Raleigh Sprite is another, both with upright handlebars, full fenders, and chainguard a la 3 speed.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:43 PM
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I think there were actually some 3 speed suburbans but I couldn’t advise a year. Somebody on BF knows. There are a bunch of old Schwinn catalog scans online.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:54 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Schwinn made the 3 speed 27 inch wheel Suburban in 1971 only according to the catalogs. I assume they did not sell well, and the 5 speeds are much more common. I have not found any English bikes with a 25 inch frame, although a 23 inch frame might be suitable. The old Ross Eurotour is another bike that seems like a good candidate, but like the Suburban it appears that the 5 speed Disraili gear versions are more common.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
I think there were actually some 3 speed suburbans but I couldn’t advise a year. Somebody on BF knows. There are a bunch of old Schwinn catalog scans online.
The Suburban was available in 3, 5, and 10-speed in 1971. IIRC, in the late '60's you could even get a Paramount with a 3-speed hub.

Right now I'm putting together a Super Sport with a newer Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub... because I want to. It's a 24-inch frame, though.

Scan of the 1971 catalog:

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Old 10-14-19, 10:08 PM
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Thanks Jeff:

Unfortunately I may need to wait a while before a 71 Suburban shows up on Craigslist, and the good riding weather is tempting me to get a bike right away.

I found a blog post by a fellow who converted a Raleigh Sprite to a 3 speed Sturmey Archer, but I don't think he will part with it...

I'm guessing that the late seventies would be the timeframe for me to look at. Ten speeds were wildly popular then, but the 3 speeds were still around, and the 27 inch wheels had become common. A childhood friend had a Huffy 3 speed back in 1971 or so that was the envy of the rest of us. I think it may have been a rebadged Raleigh or Phillips.
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Old 10-14-19, 10:09 PM
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Have patience. This is nice. 24 inch was available.
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Old 10-14-19, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Have patience. This is nice. 24 inch was available.
That looks like it just left the showroom. Not for sale? Does anyone have an opinion on the Columbia Tourist 3? I've located one, but I don't know the frame size yet.
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Old 10-15-19, 01:27 AM
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I'm guessing you're looking for a rim brake 3-speed?
There are plenty of Dutch bikes like that in similar sizes, all the way up to 63, 66 or even 70cm frames (25, 26 or 27.5 inches).

Finding one in the US however might be tricky.

Last edited by JaccoW; 10-15-19 at 02:28 AM.
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Old 10-15-19, 04:01 AM
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Old 10-15-19, 07:47 AM
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That DL-1 looks wonderful. Does anyone know if the 28 inch wheels on the Raleigh Tourist are the same BSD as a 700C?
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Old 10-15-19, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW View Post
I'm guessing you're looking for a rim brake 3-speed?
There are plenty of Dutch bikes like that in similar sizes, all the way up to 63, 66 or even 70cm frames (25, 26 or 27.5 inches).

Finding one in the US however might be tricky.
It took me a while to find a 65cm in the Netherlands and not too far away, and I'm in the tallest region. A height of 188 cm (I guess that fits the 65, I'm 6ft4 and it's a bit small because I like the saddle much lower than the handlebars) was pretty tall in 70's, only nowadays it's average. There's the odd 70cm or more but that's usually a special frame and often a single speed.

I came across a green 66 cm 3-speed Gazelle cheetah with rod ands drums a couple of months ago, but that doesn't happen a lot. I only look for rod brakes though. The guy probably still has it, he wasn't happy with the offers while it needed some minor work, he said he retracted it to make it perfect but I doubt he has already started. Maybe he's willing to ship it.
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Old 10-15-19, 10:30 AM
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OP you might want to post to the "for love of english 3 speeds" thread that you are ISO of an tall 3 speed, they may know of A) the models to look for like what @BigChief posted and B) what is available on CL, FB etc near them in the size you're looking for, also many times folks on the forum help facilitate getting bikes from one part of the country to another and in looking for a somewhat one off type of frame it may help to expand your search. Good luck
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Old 10-15-19, 11:09 AM
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I feel your angst as I am also 6'5". BUT I also have a fused right ankle so wear a leg brace. That said, I have 2 bicycles custom built and the 2006 started touring Australia with one of them. 27 speeds and 26" wheels (PW hubs) with 48 spokes (!) front and back. I tour unsupported and now am planning one last trip this summer from Cairns to Cape York. The bicycles fit me well, but cost several thousand USD each.

That said, I have always "fancied" the bicycles built in India - so bought the largest one they made (24" frame) with a double bar between seat and head. Can't remember the name of that bar (cross bar maybe). Naturally, it has rod brakes! I did this when I visited the KW Cycles factory in Ludhiana, India. Got extra rims and an extra Brooks type seat. Two extra chains and the 28" tyres (!) too. All for maybe $80 USD. Web site is: "Ludhiana,India,Punjab based manufacurer exporter of bb cups ,bicycle parts, punjab, ludhiana, manufacturers, exporters, export, directory, import, manufacturers, traders, companies,yellow pages, trading houses,database of indian products, firms, cons".

I have an old SA 3 speed hub and will lace up a wheel, put on the cables, shifter, etc, and see how it goes.

It will remind me of my old CCM with 28" wheels that I rode in the late 50s and early 60s 🤪

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Old 10-15-19, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Schwinneffect View Post
That DL-1 looks wonderful. Does anyone know if the 28 inch wheels on the Raleigh Tourist are the same BSD as a 700C?
No, these tires are 28 x 1 1/2" 635mm. Easy to find. I have Continental Tour Rides on mine. I love these bikes. Not for everybody though. Very old fashioned. Smooth, comfy ride. Mine came with a 16T cog on the AW hub. Waaay too tall for me. I replaced it with a 22T. Still saving up for a proper Brooks saddle.

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Old 10-15-19, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
It took me a while to find a 65cm in the Netherlands and not too far away, and I'm in the tallest region. A height of 188 cm (I guess that fits the 65, I'm 6ft4 and it's a bit small because I like the saddle much lower than the handlebars) was pretty tall in 70's, only nowadays it's average. There's the odd 70cm or more but that's usually a special frame and often a single speed.

I came across a green 66 cm 3-speed Gazelle cheetah with rod ands drums a couple of months ago, but that doesn't happen a lot. I only look for rod brakes though. The guy probably still has it, he wasn't happy with the offers while it needed some minor work, he said he retracted it to make it perfect but I doubt he has already started. Maybe he's willing to ship it.
I hear you, though when I check Marktplaats and just filter for 65cm or taller gentlemen's bikes there often a good selection all over the country. Roughly 300+ right now.

If you like tall rod-brake bikes you might like this one:
70 cm Gazelle Populair 3-speed

Edit: or this one
Batavus 65cm €50

Azor Texel 73cm modern crosstube frame

Last edited by JaccoW; 10-15-19 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 10-16-19, 01:26 AM
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Why not just locate a LARGE frame (26 inch electroforged frame) VARSITY or CONTINENTAL and then convert it to 3 speed configuration. It would be fairly simple to do. Easiest way would be to also have a decent Schwinn Three Speed in whatever frame size, women's-step through or men's version.
ABOUT THE ONLY THING YOU WILL BE MISSING WITH THE LARGE TenSpeed FRAME IS THE Welded on tab where the Chainguard bolts above the hanger set(bottom bracket). Heck, that is simple to fabricate a bracket that goes around the frame tube.....heck you can go to Home depot/Lowes and buy a $0.89 electrical conduit hanger bracket.....called "CONDUIT HANGER"for 3/4" Steel EMT and Rigid Conduit (UPC code 031857491109).....This 3/4" steel strapping bracket will fit snugly around the One Inch (25.4mm) Schwinn frame tubing.......you might then need a small piece of metal, about 1/3 inch to 3/4 inch in length that you can fabricate from almost anything IF you want to connect this CONDUIT HANGER to THE FACTORY LOCATION ON ANY SCHWINN CHAINGUARD OF THE 1950's/1960's/1970's.
SCHWINN made it extremely EASY to identify and determine WHAT size Weinmann "Schwinn-Approved" Caliper Brake Assembly that YOU WOULD NEED BASED ON THE SIZE OF THE FACTORY SCHWINN WHEEL THAT YOU WOULD USE IN THAT FRAME beginning in 1969, according to GLENN's COMPLETE BICYCLE MANUAL (c) 1973 approx 340 pages 8 1/2 x 11" softbound.....more than a half million copies printed and sold in the years 1973 - 1976 and beyond. From Chapter 10, -Overhauling Brakes- on page 307 it explains that beginning in 1969 that Schwinn had a visible stamped code on the face of the outer brake arm to indicate the type of wheel on which the caliper brake assembly is to be used.....etc
You've got something like LS 2.4 for the Varsity/Suburban that has 27 inch (630mm) wheels, and you have something like LS 2.8 for the Collegiate/Breeze/Speedster etc with 26 inch (597mm) wheels............. .....................L (that first letter) tells you that caliper goes with the Schwinn LIGHTWEIGHT MODELS' wheels.
S (that second letter) tells you it is SIDE PULL...................................The numbers tell you this------------the TWO tells you that the whole inches without added fraction portion is TWO INCHES from center of mounting bolt to center of brake pad mounting slot-----+++++ then the .8 --------------each "dot whatever" (tenth) is equal to 3/32 inches...................so the "point eight" is 3/32 times EIGHT.........................................thus two inches plus 24/32 or 2 24/32 iches or 2 3/4 inches.................
Schwinn didn't change anything really from the CALIPERS that were seen on 1968 models, as I seem to recall the 1968 Collegiate brake calipers say something like Weinmann 810 or something like that but they are the exact same as those on a 1971 which says LS 2.8
Schwinn simply did this to make it easier for their dealer shops and maybe the factory too, to be able to easily determine what goes with what.
Okay, now if you see a FIRST LETTER that starts with M, that goes with MIDDLEWEIGHT SCHWINN and if you see a first letter B, that goes with BALLOON TIRED WHEELS.
The Second Letter indicates whether it is S (side pull) or C (center pull) , that probably will be easy to see without having that, but if you had the caliper completely disassembled in many pieces, perhaps you might could get it wrong if you were drunk maybe.
I highly recommend that you obtain a $4 free shipping copy from the bay, Many giant booksellers with large ebay operation have these old books and you can always find a USED Copy for about $4 to $5 total with free shipping. YOU NEED THAT BOOK ON YOUR SHELF, IF YOU OWN ANY BICYCLE THAT WAS MADE BETWEEN 1935 and 1982. Glenn's Complete Bicycle Manual by Clarence W. Coles and Harold T. Glenn (c) 1973 340 pages covers everything from coaster brake models to ten speeds from every manufacturer.....................if it was made between WWII and the mid 1970's, you can bet there is helpful information on how to maintain and adjust, disassemble and repair!
As for SCHWINN not making the exact "nameplate" 3 SPEED bicycles in the gigantic frame size that the Varsity/Continental were offered with during some years in the 1970's..................................HECK, you can buy the REPRO Decals that say Schwinn Speedster, Schwinn Traveler, Schwinn Breeze, or whatever the heck Schwinn model came with 3 speed...................................and Bingo then after that, you've got the SCHWINN size that fits you................With the DECALS and shiny new paint, IT WILL BE A SCHWINN 3 SPEED, that the factory custom built for you.........just don't tell others that in this case the "Factory" was in your backyard. As the Nike ad says, 'JUST DO IT!'. You'll have fun.
There is a 26 inch VARSITY FRAME on the bay with zero bids at opening bid of $16 and $36 to ship it to my region. There is no stem, no seat tube, no calipers, but THERE IS KICKSTAND, HEADBADGE, FRONT FORK and the 1977 era Varsity graphics and green paint look okay. For less than $60, you can have the gigantic frame at your doorstep..............to build a 3 speed that will fit you. Yes, you'll be overpaying for it because you can buy complete Varsities for from about free to $50 but it may take driving around and hunting awhile to find the needed gigantic frame sized Varsity.
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Old 10-16-19, 08:00 AM
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Old fashioned sounds good to me. I think I know what you mean about short gearing. When I was young I seldom stopped pedaling. Downhill stretches were an opportunity to upshift and see how much speed and momentum I could gain before the next hill. A ten speed bike was great back then, but a 3 speed with short gearing seems like a great idea now that I have become a coasting enthusiast. I don't know if I shall ever find a large frame Raleigh at a price I would find attractive. I have a feeling that older American bikes (Schwinn, Ross, Columbia, etc.) that others may overlook might be suitable for me if I can find one that fits.
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Old 10-16-19, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Schwinn View Post
Why not just locate a LARGE frame (26 inch electroforged frame) VARSITY or CONTINENTAL and then convert it to 3 speed configuration. .
Wow. Thanks for all the info. I really like Continentals because that was the bike my Scoutmaster had back in 1977. I had an AMF Scorcher at the time that was beat to death. We swapped bikes one time and the Continental was a revelation since it rolled almost effortlessly. Is the rear spacing in a Varsity or Continental the same as the Sturmey Archer Hub? Although building a Colleginental is a cool idea it may be easier to locate a 5 speed Suburban and do a hub swap. That would be an odd bike since both the hub and front sprocket would freewheeel.
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Old 10-16-19, 08:28 AM
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If I were that tall and wanted a 3-speed I'd build one on a nice 27" or 28" frame like a Fuji Royale or one of the Panasonics, something with at least a few CroMo tubes in it. There are others but these are the most common. If you insist on a Schwinn there are probably tall LeTours/Travelers/Luxes and perhaps others. My plan is for a Raleigh Professional frameset hanging in the garage and parts in a pile awaiting assembly.
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Old 10-16-19, 11:24 AM
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I'm not stuck on Schwinn or any other brand. I've not found many Fuji or Panasonic 3 speeds. I did notice a Ross Eurospprt 3 on eBay. The brazed lug frame looked interesting, but it's a 23 inch frame bike way out in Phoenix...
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Old 10-16-19, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Schwinneffect View Post
I'm not stuck on Schwinn or any other brand. I've not found many Fuji or Panasonic 3 speeds. I did notice a Ross Eurospprt 3 on eBay. The brazed lug frame looked interesting, but it's a 23 inch frame bike way out in Phoenix...
I meant to build your 3-speed bike based on a derailleur road bike frame. Take an old 12-speed Fuji Royale in 27" frame size and build a 27"/700C wheelset for it utilizing a 3-speed rear hub. Tall road bikes are fairly common (well, ones built in the '80s are still easily found) and building a 3-speed out of one should not be too difficult. Search on your local CL in the Bikes section and use the keyword "tall." Here's a Nishiki locally right now.

Of course, one could argue that making a bike like this into a 3-speed is more of an exercise than an improvement. Keeping it stock would give you a much broader selection of gears (probably over the same range from lowest to highest, depending) but, hey, we're not the types to talk you out of it.

https://richmond.craigslist.org/bik/...000333353.html
Road Bike - $10 (Richmond)






bicycle frame material: steel
bicycle type: road
frame size: 66 cm
make / manufacturer: Nishiki
wheel size: 27 in
Bike has been stored in a dry place over the years. Will tires and tubes

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Old 10-16-19, 09:34 PM
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Only ten USD for the monster bike, and it looks barely used. I can understand the advantage of using a more modern bike as the basis for the three speed project; however, I really have too many projects already. I'v located a slightly rusty Raleigh Tourist rod brake bike in Atlanta, but I think I'll pass for the same reason--not enough time. Perhaps my situation is analogous to the guy who always wanted a Harley Electra Glide, or a Gibson Les Paul. More affordable and arguably better alternatives to these items exist, but sometimes you just go for what you've always wanted. One of the early eighties imported bikes with a Shimano hub might be ok for me. The advantage of getting a cheap bike is that I can probably sell it for just a little less than I paid. The bad news is that it is a cheap bike.
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Old 10-17-19, 04:37 AM
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I mean, failing all other options - since you’re going to be sitting upright anyway you can buy your choice of existing 3 speed and simply add a longer seatpost and taller stem. My ‘83 Schwinn Collegiate has a 22” frame and at 5’12” I needed a little more seatpost than the stock one provided so I did just that, replaced the seatpost and stem and now can achieve a sit up and beg position a la Dutch bike. It took 3 days for the stem and seatpost to arrive from eBay, total cost $25, paid $40 for the bike and $40 for new tires, overall investment about $100. It does have the crappy Shimano hub but I don’t ride it that much. This is the best photo I have unfortunately.

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