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Why do I have to pedal my Schwinn Breeze so hard?

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Why do I have to pedal my Schwinn Breeze so hard?

Old 01-20-22, 05:03 PM
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gravelocity
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Why do I have to pedal my Schwinn Breeze so hard?

I don't remember it feeling this way on any other bike I've ridden. When kicking off, I've got to pedal pretty hard for a few seconds before it gets going. Once I have gotten going, the only time it feels easy is when the ground is completely flat. When the ground is on even a slight upward incline, pedaling gets significantly harder. I don't think it's just that I'm out of shape, because like I said, I've never felt another bike do this.


And I can't really coast almost at all. I have to pedal very vigorously to get going fast, and a second after I stop pedaling, the bike's forward momentum stops too. It is made of heavy steel, could that be it? Were these bikes just designed that way? I hope not, because that's not what I'm looking for in a bike. It's too hard on my knees for me to ride for any significant length of time, or to ride beyond a very slow speed. Is there some adjustment I can make? (besides raising the seat, which does take some of the pressure off my knees, but not enough).

It's from about 1977 (or whatever JN558795 means). It's a 3-speed with hand brakes. I bought it used, and I don't know much about what it's been through.

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Old 01-20-22, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by gravelocity View Post
I don't remember it feeling this way on any other bike I've ridden. When kicking off, I've got to pedal pretty hard for a few seconds before it gets going. Once I have gotten going, the only time it feels easy is when the ground is completely flat. When the ground is on even a slight upward incline, pedaling gets significantly harder. I don't think it's just that I'm out of shape, because like I said, I've never felt another bike do this.


And I can't really coast almost at all. I have to pedal very vigorously to get going fast, and a second after I stop pedaling, the bike's forward momentum stops too. It is made of heavy steel, could that be it? Were these bikes just designed that way? I hope not, because that's not what I'm looking for in a bike. It's too hard on my knees for me to ride for any significant length of time, or to ride beyond a very slow speed. Is there some adjustment I can make? (besides raising the seat, which does take some of the pressure off my knees, but not enough).

It's from about 1977 (or whatever JN558795 means). It's a 3-speed with hand brakes. I bought it used, and I don't know much about what it's been through.
Starting a bike with heavy steel wheels will always be harder than starting something with lighter wheels.

Have you repacked and readjusted all the bearings with grease? A bike that is darn near 50 years old needs all its bearings repacked with grease and readjusted at a minimum. You may need to replace some. If bike hasn't been maintained, have you checked the wheel and bottom bracket bearings to see if they rotate smoothly? The wheels are easy. Remove them from the frame then turn the axles by hand to see if they are smooth. For the bottom bracket, take off the chain and spin it. It should spin smoothly and continue spinning for at least a couple revolutions.
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Old 01-20-22, 05:22 PM
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You bought it used.

The rear hub could have a problem with one of the bearing cages or the choice of lubricant, which may have thickened.

Spinning it in your hand, the balls might drag around the cone or the cone may turn with the balls skidding. But piut load on it and the balls get traction and begin dragging the gummy, backwards or damaged bearing retainer around with force.

Another thing is the tires and tubes, there is a huge range of rolling resistance depending on the combination there and the air pressure.
Testing it at high air pressure might inform.

Bottom bracket same thing, might be a backwards or damaged retainer or who-knows-what else going on. Pedals and front hub are yet further possible contributors of parasitic losses.

Try swapping wheels with another bike!
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Old 01-20-22, 05:25 PM
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Are the brake pads rubbing on the rims when you’re not squeezing the levers?
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Old 01-20-22, 05:39 PM
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OK, what have you been riding recently? If you're moving from a fully tuned up road bike to a 50-year-old cruiser, yeah, you'll notice that it feels sluggish. OTOH, you can do a lot to make it more fun. In addition to all bearings, there are three other areas to investigate. 1) tires: are they at FULL pressure? If you don't trust them at that pressure, replace them. You might also look into smoother tread. 2) driveline: clean and lube chain and gears. (I prefer waxing.) 3) brakes: if it still has those red hockey pucks, replace them. Modern compounds are really better.

My commuter was a Schwinn World for about 20 years, until it was stolen.
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Old 01-20-22, 06:10 PM
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Keep in mind, full pressure on steel rims is no more then about 60psi no matter what the tire says.
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Old 01-20-22, 06:27 PM
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As others have suggested, perhaps some maintenance is in order. Note this one is gliding along (albeit with an Olympic medalist) without even needing feet on the pedals:



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Old 01-20-22, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Pcampeau View Post
Keep in mind, full pressure on steel rims is no more then about 60psi no matter what the tire says.
Not true at all with Schwinn's steel rims!

Schwinn's rims fit tires tightly such that it is very often a problem getting both beads to seat fully.
Reason might be that Schwinn used the same rims on their tandems where much higher pressure was expected to be used.
You'll damage the tire before over-inflating an evenly-seated tire off of a Schwinn steel rim!

With other brands of steel rims such as Araya, Dunlop/Sturmey or Arai, I used 90psi all the time back in the day with 27" tires.
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Old 01-20-22, 07:04 PM
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Some bikes are just slow.

Not only is it an anchor, the geometry and riding position inherent to the design is just not "fast". My GF's bike is painfully tedious (*for both of us!) to ride for example.

* No, she won't buy another, but I suppose that is just as well, as I would rather ride without her
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Old 01-20-22, 07:50 PM
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It's not a go fast bike. The only bike I've ridden in months is my Schwinn Suburban 3s from 1968. It's a step up from yours, and not a go fast bike. Enjoy the ride. It doesn't go fast unless you are really fast, and in that case, watch the handling.
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Old 01-20-22, 08:17 PM
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I've ridden Schwinn 3-speeds with 26x1-3/8" tires that felt lively out on the road, in very hilly terrain.

Something's wrong with that bike.
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Old 01-21-22, 08:12 AM
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It'll also be harder to start out in 3rd gear than first.
Lots of us also put a larger cog (more teeth) on the rear hub to lower the gearing on 3 speed cruisers.
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Old 01-21-22, 08:30 AM
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Proper full service. Unfortunately the pedals can only have oil added.

check for thorn resistant tubes, great for avoiding flats from thorns and marginal for anything else. They are 4x thick at the outer circumference - often quoted make a bike feel dead. Check tire pressure also.

There are so so many bikes with under inflated tires. Now that gas stations charge for air from wimpy compressors... just even more so
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Old 01-21-22, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
Have you repacked and readjusted all the bearings with grease?
I doubt it. If you read his other posts, he needed help raising his stem and changing an inner tube.

Some people want all their questions asked without doing any simple homework on their own. So they set the scene with completely general information that describes nothing in detail. It's insane to respond.
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Old 01-21-22, 11:45 AM
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Two definite possibilities - old grease in hubs and bottom bracket or tire rubbing on frame somewhere (probably the chain stay).
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Old 01-21-22, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I doubt it. If you read his other posts, he needed help raising his stem and changing an inner tube.

Some people want all their questions asked without doing any simple homework on their own. So they set the scene with completely general information that describes nothing in detail. It's insane to respond.
If you read the other posts, they claim newbie status. Certainly a newbie here. And, you know, some people aren't as mechanically-inclined as others, but BF C&V is full of people who can help guide this self-confessed newbie in the right direction. If you don't want to be one, that's perfectly okay, but man - chill out on the new person who's only got to 5 posts

I hope you get out for a ride soon!

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Old 01-21-22, 01:15 PM
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To the OP: If all this advice feels overwhelming, look for a community bike shop. In Rockville Maryland, there's https://montgomerycountymd.galaxydig...gency_id=76624

they are very supportive and not at all stuck up.
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Old 01-21-22, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
If you read the other posts, they claim newbie status.
I don't have a problem with that at all. I do have a problem with posting the most general information and not doing any homework on your own. It's preposterous and lazy.

"My bike doesn't work. Tell me what's wrong."

"It says 3000 on it. What's it worth?"
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Old 01-21-22, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I don't have a problem with that at all. I do have a problem with posting the most general information and not doing any homework on your own. It's preposterous and lazy.

"My bike doesn't work. Tell me what's wrong."

"It says 3000 on it. What's it worth?"
They came to BF C&V instead of dropping it off at their LBS - that's more than most bike owners do. You're really being overly judgemental.

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Old 01-21-22, 01:28 PM
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The "3000" guy is a completely different story - and you know it

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Old 01-21-22, 01:45 PM
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As previously posted ....check tire inflation ....eliminate brake rub

Then ....carefully apply some thought to HOW MUCH easier would you like the bicycle to pedal ?

Now, let's say you want the bicycle to pedal 10% EASIER ( example )

Relatively simple fix ....count the number of teeth on your existing rear sprocket ....let's say 18 teeth

Now multiply the rear sprocket number of teeth x 1.10 ( this incorporates your 10% desired ease in pedalling ) ....18 x 1.10 = 19.8

For sure nobody makes a 19.8 tooth sprocket

Simply round UP to 20 teeth

Put the 20 tooth sprocket on your rear wheel

Now your bicycle will pedal 10 percent EASIER

The 10 percent shown above is only used as an example

You may want your bicycle to pedal a different percentage easier ....15% ....20% ....? = ( multiplication factors = 1.15 ....1.20 )
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Old 01-21-22, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
They came to BF C&V instead of dropping it off at their LBS - that's more than most bike owners do.
And I completely disagree. I think most bike newbies would do the most simple kind of investigation to attempt to understand why their bike isn't coasting. Do the wheels turn freely without hitting anything? Do the pedals turn freely? Does the chain seem to work as it should? Is there even a chain on the bike? Are the tires inflated? Are there tires?

I looked up his other posts, because I thought, this has to be a troll, right?
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Old 01-21-22, 02:15 PM
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@gravelocity, If you haven't been there already, there is much to learn for those just getting into things over at sheldonbrown.com. That website was put together by a very gracious guy and is still maintained and updated by those who were close to him. Between there and on these very bike forums, I have personally learned a great deal.
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Old 01-21-22, 10:21 PM
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One word: ebike
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Old 01-22-22, 02:32 AM
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dddd 's comments are the most accurate of all the responses thus far.

It wouldn't make a damn bit of difference whatever brand of ancient 3 speed from about 1946 to the early eighties. Weight on most all of them fall into the 34 pound to 42 pound range, with the biggest determining factor being the weight of the spring saddle seat & the pedals, as well as the fenders, etc. Most all of these 3 speeds came from their respective manufacturers with Steel wheels.

Sure, there are variances as to the three gear ratios that perhaps have been employed over the decades, but that shouldn't matter squat to your situation in the inability to easily propel said bicycle on level flat ground. Certainly practical useability of the three gear ratios might be slightly better or worse depending on your elevation-terrain and whether or not you have hills or a billiard table like flat forever that you can see for miles.
The Breeze is no worse than the best built three speeds of the 20th Century. It has no weaknesses and it is almost indestructible. In fact, nearly all of the various 3 speeds built after WWII and well into the 1980's are extremely reliable and with better than average durability as to the internal gear mechanisms from Sturmey-Archer or Shimano. Both are incredibly well-built. Sturmey-Archer was building very high quality gear mechanisms when reliable decent derailleur systems did not exist. The quality was there in the 1940's and it never dropped, even though demand for such internal mechanism 3 speed bikes waned as derailleurs became reliable in the mid-1960's and ten speeds hit the scene. The 3 speed remained just as it had been as the choice for mature, reserved(conservative) riders that wanted to ride "city-style" in an upright manner just like the traditional bicycle that they may have ridden as an 8 year old to 13 year old. They didn't care about riding fast and perhaps they were too intimidated by having to pedal while shifting with a derailleur equipped 5 sp or 10 sp upright tourist style bike of the mid sixties to the eighties, and thus the simplicity of 3 gears and no worries of knocking the derailleur(s) out of adjustment, as the 3 speed format when in proper operational tune is very hard to f+@& up compared to something equipped with derailleur(s). The various 3 speed internal mechanisms from Sturmey-Archer and Shimano will last longer than almost anything else with proper care and oil. You may not realize it, but everything is available for Sturmey-Archer internal gearing, and it is not expensive at all. You have options to tailor your three gear ratios somewhat but that discussion would yield about ten pages of text. There are at least fifty prior threads on this topic both here on bikeforums as well as the c.a.b.e. forums. Three speeds are wonderful bikes that don't get the love that they deserve today, from those people under sixty years old simply because they have never been exposed to them and thus have no experience with them and thus no knowledge about them.

Youtube & web will have how to threads on how to do everything on any 3 speed regardless of the bicycle manufacturer's name on the headbadge.
The c.a.b.e. has sticky threads with the entire two thousand page Schwinn Shop Manual from circa 1970 that has plenty of detail, but navigating through 2000+ pages of information arranged for technicians within Schwinn store's shop may not be as easy for someone not quite sure where to directly start looking.
I highly recommend that anyone who owns a three speed, 5 speed, 10 speed, single speed or any bicycle manufactured between 1935 and 1976, that you go over to ebay and search all categories on the bay for: GLENN'S COMPLETE BICYCLE MANUAL.
You want to exclusively seek it from one of the several mega-used book sellers on the bay. You'll know because they have ten thousand to hundreds of prior ebay transactions next to their ebay seller name as well as probably a very high ebay rating. WHY? because these mega-used book sellers will sell such a book at a set BIN price of the range of probably $4 to about $6 maximum including free shipping in most cases...........whatever you shouldn't ever need to ever pay more than $6.50 Total for the book including the shipping. An individual ebayer cannot ship a book for what you can buy it from the mega-used book seller. That GLENN'S COMPLETE BICYCLE MANUAL sold hundreds of thousands of copies, if not more in over twenty printings during the 1973-1976 era. It is approx 339 pages in 8 1/2 x 11 softbound form and the copies that those mega-used book sellers on the bay have will likely be ex-library books, as nearly every library branch in the country once had at least one copy of the GLENN'S COMPLETE BICYCLE MANUAL during the seventies. It was published in 1973. It is the best bicycle manual for all bicycles made between 1935 and 1975. No other book is nearly as complete in detail and proceedure for bicycles from that era.
It is the best of its kind, barr-nunn.
The cover picture with the Schwinn 10 speed's Ashtabula One-Piece Crank and the low top Converse All-Star tenny shoes and the white socks with the three dark bands.., is the one that you want, as that version probably sold about a million copies. That is the (c)1973 version. There is a mid 1980's revision but that offers absolutely nothing if you have something from the bike boom '71-'75 back to the great depression era before WWII. Three speeds didn't see revolutionary change and that 1977 Schwinn Breeze isn't fundamentally different from something from 25+ years earlier than that.
If you have any ancient bike, you owe it to yourself to obtain a $4 or $5 used copy of the Glenns Complete Bicycle Manual. It is that good. It will look good on your reference book shelf but it will be worth its weight in gold in your DIY education in being hands-on with such ancient bicycles.

Such bicycles like your old Schwinn Breeze are relatively simple, as are other brand's 3 speeds, because most all of them employ Sturmey-Archer , although some brands from the mid/late sixties onward employ Shimano which is not too different from SA since that was the gold standard to copy from.
Youtube has a lot of folks that have shown their how to videos on how they dissasembled and restored their SA 3 speeds.......most of them are Schwinns because of the millions of Schwinns sold here in the USA from the 1940's to the Chicago end at the beginning of the eighties. You'll find that other than the 3 piece cottered cranks on most of the English, French, and Japanese three speed bikes versus the one-piece crank on Schwinn 3 speeds from about 1950 onward. Some 3 speed Schwinns, those from the 1940's, have cottered 3 piece cranks. Columbia's lightweight 3 speed from around 1948 or 1947 employed a one piece crank while Schwinn's 3 speed models still had three piece cottered cranks. Three speed bikes are really good bicycles. Most people today just don't understand or care to be bothered by learning anything about them. GOOGLE will bring you plenty of detailed previous bike forum threads on how to and restorations and how to change gear ratios to best suit you, etc. In such an information search, it does not matter that the bikeforums thread is from many many years ago because nothing fundamentally has changed. Many new replacement 3 speed parts are available today and they are not expensive at all.

Do not overlook the folks over there on the c.a.b.e. that love, live and breathe 3 speeds. Many that are here on BF that love 3 speeds are over there too, and vice-versa but there are some folks that "don't do derailleurs" and thus are more likely to be c.a.b.e. hermits but those people know everything about Sturmey-Archer three speed stuff and what swaps and interchanges from shimano and where to get new parts, etc.
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