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Schwinn Continental Build

Old 12-28-19, 11:56 PM
  #1  
Velo Mule
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Schwinn Continental Build

I know. It's a boat anchor. When I worked in a Schwinn shop I didn't try to sell them. Sometimes they got sold anyway. Yes, there are far better bikes out there. I have a Fuji Espree which is equally low in it's sale price at the time, and the Fuji is far superior.

So why the Continental? I think I went full circle. I had a nice handmade racing bike at one time in my life and I race a liitle so I got that exerience. Now, I am at a different point in life where this is a hobby that I want to keep the cost down and the creativity up. An old Schwinn that I can pick up and do what I want with is just what I want now. I am also less concerned about the weight since I am not riding in groups. In fact, the weight is an advantage because part of the reason to ride is to get the heart rate up.

My original thought was to modify the frame and make the bike look like a vintage Schwinn Arch Bar. Single speed, and try to emulate that look as much as possible.

Now I am also thinking that a more modern drive train and better wheels would be the way to go. Some of Squid Puppent's bikes have beeen an inspiration. I have a pair of suitable wheels off of my '83 Le Tour.

Either way, it is going to get painted.

What are your thoughts?

It is a 1980 model.
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Old 12-29-19, 12:23 AM
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I say that you've got a clean slate there, time to select a color and find a "right" set of wheels!

If it was mine, I would sand-blast and paint the fork legs, leaving only the fork crown chromed.

Looks like about a 1975 model. Is the fork spaced for a 100mm over-locknut dimension?

These bikes (Varsity and Continental) are always good candidates for 700c wheels, since the bb is so high and since the original calipers have the range. Braking leverage will improve as well, and tire choices will be much, much greater.
I believe that wider rims will give the best caliper arm geometry here, as well as better support for decently-wide tires.

I recommend sizing up a bit when building up one of these bikes, since the reach dimension tends to be quite short and since the stock .833" stem will typically give best handling.

I would toss the Randonneur bars if that's what they are!

I would retain the original cranks, Twin-Stik levers, and most of all the original kickstand. I would add lever hoods and perhaps keep the safety levers (making everything fit right of course).
Perhaps different levers would suit your hands?

Be sure and keep track of the special toptube brake cable housing ferrules during the painting process (as well as the derailer housing stop at the rear dropout)..

This should be a great build!

Last edited by dddd; 12-29-19 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 12-29-19, 02:31 AM
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One person's trash is another person's treasure. To me, it's not worth the fix. But who am I? I don't own the bike, so my opinion is irrelevant.
I too, have had bikes with the same thoughts in mind. Just remember, there will be no financial reward in the end, just the satisfaction of knowing you brought life back to an abused and neglected old dog of a bike.
Bottom line? If it makes you happy, do it. There are few things in this world that make us smile any more. If spending the money of a few rounds of golf to fix this old Schwinn up are worth it to you, then go for it.
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Old 12-29-19, 08:00 AM
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Velo Mule , I'm one of those suckers that bought a Continental in '81, still ride it regularly. Steel rims, rando bars (my favorite bend) and all. I did switch out the Twin Sticks for Suntour bar end shifters, took off the "safety levers" and rolled the brakes way down so I can stay in the drops. It's pushing 40 pounds with all the other stuff on it, means little to me while riding the way I do.
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Old 12-29-19, 08:14 AM
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If you're going to do it- I'd take a lot of dddd 's advice with a lot of weight. (so to speak). Not only does he always give thoughtful and relevant advice- but he also is one of the few people here that often posts pix of his EF Schwinns along with his other bikes.

IMO- the biggest draw to the old Schwinns is the mid-century style. The Schwinn logos, the starbursts... That's the stuff I would want to highlight.

Several years ago, I got a Continental- and I had all the ideas of building the bike up all pretty, replacing what I could replace without spending a fortune and making a cool, relaxed ride... before I got too into the project- I was really overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the project. (so to speak).

Best of luck in getting this off the ground and doing something cool with it!!!
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Old 12-29-19, 08:59 AM
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I like it! If it makes you happy then roll with it......
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Old 12-29-19, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
I know. It's a boat anchor. When I worked in a Schwinn shop I didn't try to sell them. Sometimes they got sold anyway. Yes, there are far better bikes out there. I have a Fuji Espree which is equally low in it's sale price at the time, and the Fuji is far superior.

What are your thoughts?
I had the same choice getting my 1st bike shop bike in '82 and went with a Fuji, but i always liked Schwinn's durability and paint colors. Also this article just made me want one for the history of the Schwinn Varsity's & Continentals: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/varsity-shaddox.html

It made me want to keep my '75 pretty much as it came off the showroom floor from Severson Schwinn in Chicago. It helps I'm on flat land and the almost 40 lbs doesn't become too much of a problem. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress @Velo Mule

I love this bike !! From yesterday's +70° ride.



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Old 12-29-19, 09:21 AM
  #8  
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I like these. I say give it a go.

Years back I bought a Campus Green Varsity for $20. I ended up using north road handlebars, cork grips, and an old friction thumb shifter. I set it up as a 1 x 5, and put a honey Brooks B17 on it and fenders from an old brown huffy that matched nicely. As an upright bike, it was wonderful.
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Old 12-29-19, 09:36 AM
  #9  
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When I was in college, there was Schwinn Contenental "zero bike" at my parents house. At some point, the wheels had been upgraded to aluminum weinmann concave rims. Made for a very enjoyable ride.
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Old 12-29-19, 11:19 AM
  #10  
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Looking forward to your build,Vm. I did a parts bin build this past summer on a continental. Used ‘FAVORITE” decals because of the colorway.

As found.

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Old 12-29-19, 11:59 AM
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I have always had a soft spot for the chrome fork Contis. For updates I would consider the following

-convert to a 3 piece crank there are kits and videos out there for doing this to Varsities etc, don't worry the bike will still be heavy LOL
-bar end shifters, not a fan of stem shifters myself
-maybe some nice Schwinn approved suntour derailleurs
- some plush Panaracer paselas 27 x 1 1/4
- I would lose the turkey levers
- a saddle you like
-kool stop brake pads if I wanted to go crazy mabye tektro aero levers and Tecktro nutted dual pivots to improve the stopping power

whatever you do have fun
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Old 12-29-19, 12:34 PM
  #12  
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I remember that SquidPuppet had worked wonders on Varsities. I have not seen any posts lately on this forum from him, but he may still be lurking.
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Old 12-29-19, 12:45 PM
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So, yeah, I found this Varsity in the alley the evening before large item trash day. It came home with me.

The big box of old parts came out from under the workbench.

One thing led to another.

It's not the kind of bike you'd look twice at - unless you noticed the Stronglight crank, Record front mech, Huret Duopar Titane rear mech, SunTour barcons and alloy rims (spoked to the original hubs).

Once I gave the weight of the finished bike here on this forum and got called a liar. Ha, learned my lesson there.

Sort of a silly project, really, but it was fun and the bike was a decent rider, actually.

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Old 12-29-19, 01:55 PM
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I had one of these when I was a kid 14 years old. In beautiful opaque blue.

Extremely durable!!!!

I do not worry so much about the weight of bikes. I more concerned about the weight of the rider

Last edited by bikemike73; 08-02-20 at 05:19 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-29-19, 01:56 PM
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Great bikes !!!

And AWESOME job on the pic above !!!
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Old 12-29-19, 03:24 PM
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Rain bike on a rainy day

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Old 12-29-19, 03:57 PM
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Wow, thanks for the stroll down memory lane.
My first bike was a Schwinn Racer (3-speed) I bought at the end of summer 1963. I sold it to a co-worker in about 1969 and began saving my pennies for a BIG upgrade.
In early summer of 1971 I picked up a Schwinn Continental! Rode that beast to work, up & down the coast, and loved every minute of it. I remember my quiet superiority when I’d pass a lowly Varsity and, when seeing a LeTour, remind myself that I wasn’t rich - just pretending.
I sold it a couple years laters later when I got married....
Time marches on.

Enjoy!
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Old 12-29-19, 05:14 PM
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With so many mid-level vintage bikes being so freakin' inexpensive right now, I don't understand any desire to build up (and paint!) an über low-level clunker, especially one that gets ridden... But I needn't understand everything in the universe, which is absurd on its face.
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Old 12-29-19, 09:00 PM
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Thanks for all the comments. SurferRosa, yes, it is not a great bike. And because they made so many, and I have a basement full of parts and can pretty much build it any way I like, I thought it would be a Interesting project. I have a Fuji Espree that will get a full restoration. It is a much better bike. I'll sell that.

So, my thinking was if it was not going to look like an old Schwinn Arch bar, then I would change the crank (I have a Dura Ace looking for a home) and remove the kickstand. These two changes would save some weight and the look of the bike.

DDDD's advice was not what I was expecting. But after thinking about it, I feel like I think I know why he is advocating for keeping the crank, twin stick shifters and kickstand and the other bits of advice. It is a Schwinn Continental, not a European or Japanese lightweight. The three most Schwinn pieces on the bike are the crank, the shifters and the kickstand. I also have to agree about the Randoneur bars. When I worked in the bike shop, I didn't see the point of this very small upward bend.

The front hub is 100mm O.L.D. The rear I believe should be 120. I'll have to check the hub. The drop out spacing is actually 124, so if I need to spread it, it would not be far to go. I've got 27" wheels from my Le Tour that I recently respoked with double butted stainless spokes. I like the idea of going to 700C also. I have a set of 700C wheels off of a project with a S-A three speed and two cogs to make it a 6 speed.

Thanks again for all the pictures. These help. I will try to post pictures as the project moves ahead. So, far the bike is totally stripped. Everything came apart easily. I was a bit worried since it looked like this may have been garden art.
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Old 12-29-19, 09:14 PM
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Remains of a vine that grew around the spoke. There was more evidence of the vines wrapped around the brake cables. It must have traveled up the spokes and then onto the brake cables. Both front and back, by the way.

Did you ever see a time laps video of a vine growing. Amazing how it finds things to wrap onto.
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Old 12-29-19, 09:29 PM
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The fork will get painted to cover up the rust shown in the picture below. I was thinking of chrome socks, however, DDDD's idea of a chrome crown is something that I haven't though of and I like.



These appear to be the original "High Pressure" tires. The black rubber is Ok. The gumwall is not. I did ride it around the block though. It seems to ride nice. The terrain is level. The south shore of Long Island is flat.

Last edited by Velo Mule; 12-29-19 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 12-29-19, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
With so many mid-level vintage bikes being so freakin' inexpensive right now, I don't understand any desire to build up (and paint!) an über low-level clunker, especially one that gets ridden... But I needn't understand everything in the universe, which is absurd on its face.
I am planning on doing one that is probably sillier. I have a 61 Racer 3 speed that is in pretty good shape except the paint. I have been riding it around town and have fallen in love with the heavy old thing. I have bought the decals and new pedals and when I finish a couple other projects I plan to paint it. I haven't found anywhere that has the exact color match paint so I may do it the same color as my magnetic red corvette. From looking at the unfaded paint inside the fenders its pretty dang close.
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Old 12-29-19, 09:54 PM
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Yes, the rear spacing was made wider to accommodate Schwinn's (made by Shimano actually) chain-catcher freewheel having a chain-retention ring outboard of the smallest cog.

So a126mm axle will slip right in and the dropouts remain parallel (if they are now!).

I always thought that my 1962-1/2 Continental would look better with the painted legs of the '62 model, but mine got exactly half of the'62-'63 upgrades because it was apparently built around this time of year. I'll be changing the handlebar to one with less drop, since the short forward reach of these Schwinns doesn't much tip one's body forward into a dropped (hands) position.
I found mine at Goodwill about ten years ago, it needed extensive clean-up and some rust removal, but apparently was never stored for any length of time outside in the elements.


Last edited by dddd; 04-18-20 at 11:12 AM. Reason: 1962 was 1964, corrected.
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Old 12-30-19, 12:11 AM
  #24  
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DDDD, your right it has a chain catcher outboard of the smallest cog on the freewheel. You can see it in the picture of the bike. Interesting is that this one is a Mallard or Normady with the old VAR 405 tool requred to remove it. I don't have the tool and am having problems finding one that is in the US. There seems to be quite a supply on Ebay in Greece. I don't have a problem with that other than it won't arrive until February. So, I'll try a former Schwinn dealership tomorrow.

Here are some of the parts that came off the bike.




I'm hoping this pie plate will clean up.

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Old 04-12-20, 06:05 PM
  #25  
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I finally got the paint stripped, at least most of it. I used some paint remover after the pictures were taken, however, some of the paint on the bottom bracket and kickstand area are still there.


Naked frame.

Seat Cluster close up.

Head tube to top tube junction.

Tange chrome fork. There is some pitting on top of the shoulders of the fork crown. The sides look good.
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