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1980 Schwinn LeTour -Refurb & Release

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1980 Schwinn LeTour -Refurb & Release

Old 02-17-22, 12:37 PM
  #1  
sovende
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1980 Schwinn LeTour -Refurb & Release

15+ years ago, I picked up a “way less than pristine” looking Schwinn LeTour 10 spd at a local thrift store. No real plans for it at the time. It was super cheap IIRC <$10 and I thought it would be fun to fix up. Well, didn’t really do anything with it. Stripped a bunch of parts from it for other potential build-ups (those projects sat idle too!). Once had an idea that my S-I-L might like a retro bike but learned that wasn’t going to interest him. Anyway, the frame languished in a corner of my workshop, wheels tucked under a workbench and most (I’m hoping all) of the stripped off components had been sorted into parts boxes. I know (to some at least) it might be blasphemy but my latest plan for this bike is “refurb & release”! Spring is just around the corner and I’m thinking that once the students in my nearby university town +OEM out of Winter hibernation, a bike might be in their future!
Not too revealing but here’s a couple of pics:




It’s definitely a 1980 model year version. Head badge stamp (0430) puts the mfgr date in mid-Feb 1980 and components mostly appear to be made in ‘79. The frame serial # of SL 99xxxx looks to be made in Dec of ‘79. Pretty easy detective work but kinda cool when there’s no real mystery. It’s not going to be a real issue but I’m pretty sure that I won’t have too much of an issue rounding up the OEM parts. I may have to make a few substitutions but they’ll be period correct (I hope).
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Old 02-17-22, 01:13 PM
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A lot of Schwinn branded bikes from that era came with "Schwinn Approved" components, but they weren't any different than the same part with the OEM name on them.
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Old 02-17-22, 02:59 PM
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A curb find LeTour I grabbed 15 years ago is also a 1980 I think. Research was interesting. IIRC they offshored to Japan and came back to Chicago for a bit and had labor problems then went to southern states and after that I forget. What I remember on my 1980, is they were some of the last Chicago Schwinns. Yours should have that history.

Kinda strange in that the Letour kinda replaced the Super Sport but had 1020 steel. That being said, it rode darn nice. Another head scratcher on it was reverting back to the awful steel wheels. My son has this bike now and likes it. I will have to go through it again as it’s been awhile. I think he likes the upright Continental build I gave him with a 1X5 and aluminum wheels more. Letour is a nice bike.
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Old 02-17-22, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by sd5782 View Post
A curb find LeTour I grabbed 15 years ago is also a 1980 I think. Research was interesting. IIRC they offshored to Japan and came back to Chicago for a bit and had labor problems then went to southern states and after that I forget. What I remember on my 1980, is they were some of the last Chicago Schwinns. Yours should have that history.

Kinda strange in that the Letour kinda replaced the Super Sport but had 1020 steel. That being said, it rode darn nice. Another head scratcher on it was reverting back to the awful steel wheels. My son has this bike now and likes it. I will have to go through it again as it’s been awhile. I think he likes the upright Continental build I gave him with a 1X5 and aluminum wheels more. Letour is a nice bike.
Mine does have the “Chicago Schwinn” decal on the seat tube just beneath the top tube. Interestingly, when I enter the serial # into the date of manufacture data base app, it comes back “not found”. While the frame doesn’t have any decals stating made in Japan, the steerer tube on the fork IS stamped Tange made in Japan! Tmar’s Asian serial number guide hints at the possibility (probably likely) that the frame is of MATSU***A origin. The YMxxxxxx format doesn’t fit neatly into most of the list, the exceptions being Miyata and Tsunoda. With the s/n being SL 99xxxx, I’m have a hard time getting the “S” to equal 1979 but the “L” as the 12th letter in the alphabet could easily equate to December perhaps verified by the 99xxxx sequence but nearly a million frames in a given year would seem excessive. The head badge stamp of 0430 makes a frame made in late 1979 seem reasonable. Obviously, I’m grasping at straws RE: the frame date (and prolly wasting the time I should be using polishing the “awful steel wheels”!)
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Old 02-17-22, 06:24 PM
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That bike looks good and should come out looking great with the chrome fork and good paint. I am surprised to hear that Schwinn put steel wheels on a LeTour. I don't remember them ever having steel rims but, I could be wrong. Then the other interesting thing in that era is was it made in Japan or Mississippi? If the head banged is Schwinn - Chicago, then it is likely to be Mississippi. If it is Schwinn Approved then - Japan.

By the way the real reason that I commented @sovende is because I like you frame holding fixture for your Workmate. It is simple but effective. I may copy it. I particularly like the axle with the wingnuts.
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Old 02-17-22, 07:03 PM
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Some discussion in the past on this forum seems to place 1979 and 1980 Letours in Chicago. Sorry to disparage your steel wheels, but I had some recent poor experiences with mounting tires on them. Strong and durable though.

Chicago Schwinn Le Tour
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Old 02-18-22, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
That bike looks good and should come out looking great with the chrome fork and good paint. I am surprised to hear that Schwinn put steel wheels on a LeTour. I don't remember them ever having steel rims but, I could be wrong. Then the other interesting thing in that era is was it made in Japan or Mississippi? If the head banged is Schwinn - Chicago, then it is likely to be Mississippi. If it is Schwinn Approved then - Japan.

By the way the real reason that I commented @sovende is because I like you frame holding fixture for your Workmate. It is simple but effective. I may copy it. I particularly like the axle with the wingnuts.
I have to admit that using my DIY frame holding fixture in my WorkMate is/was an afterthought. Its original purpose was to allow for transporting a bike in the back of our minivan while taking up minimal space. With the wheels and pedals removed, I’d loosen the stem quill and handlebar bolts so I could rotate the stem 90 deg and turn the handlebar down “into” the frame making for a fairly narrow package. The stubby support beneath the bottom bracket kept the rear derailleur elevated and protected from vertical stress while keeping the chain off the floor of the van.
I’m thinking of some changes that might make it more versatile. The bottom bracket support could be “pegged” and the long bottom board drilled with several pairs of holes (matching the pegs) to allow for different frame sizes / wheel bases. RE: the wing nuts, that was pure chance that I had a pair in a “junk” box. Of course, a hollow axle and a QR skewer would be easy to come by and be more elegant. I do have to narrow the segment of 2x4 above the axle (or even remove it) as it is in the way with narrow forks.
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Old 02-18-22, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by sovende View Post
Mine does have the “Chicago Schwinn” decal on the seat tube just beneath the top tube. Interestingly, when I enter the serial # into the date of manufacture data base app, it comes back “not found”. While the frame doesn’t have any decals stating made in Japan, the steerer tube on the fork IS stamped Tange made in Japan! Tmar’s Asian serial number guide hints at the possibility (probably likely) that the frame is of MATSU***A origin. The YMxxxxxx format doesn’t fit neatly into most of the list, the exceptions being Miyata and Tsunoda. With the s/n being SL 99xxxx, I’m have a hard time getting the “S” to equal 1979 but the “L” as the 12th letter in the alphabet could easily equate to December perhaps verified by the 99xxxx sequence but nearly a million frames in a given year would seem excessive. The head badge stamp of 0430 makes a frame made in late 1979 seem reasonable. Obviously, I’m grasping at straws RE: the frame date (and prolly wasting the time I should be using polishing the “awful steel wheels”!)
If your serial number starts SL9 that would be a Chicago made frame from November of 79.

https://frugalaveragebicyclist.com/2...f-manufacture/
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Old 02-18-22, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by sd5782 View Post
Some discussion in the past on this forum seems to place 1979 and 1980 Letours in Chicago. Sorry to disparage your steel wheels, but I had some recent poor experiences with mounting tires on them. Strong and durable though.

Chicago Schwinn Le Tour
Quite a bit of interesting history in the above link, RE: Schwinn in general and LeTour specifically. My guess (based on erroneous conjecture) that my LeTour frame was of Japanese origin seems to be not true. As indicated above and in the link, 1980 LeTours came out of the Chicago Schwinn plant. The move to the Mississippi facility didn’t occur until 1981.
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Old 02-18-22, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by BikingViking793 View Post
If your serial number starts SL9 that would be a Chicago made frame from November of 79.

https://frugalaveragebicyclist.com/2...f-manufacture/
Dates and location confirmed by multi-source verification!!!
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