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A Schwinn Suburban is calling me

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A Schwinn Suburban is calling me

Old 03-10-22, 07:42 AM
  #1  
swampyankee2 
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A Schwinn Suburban is calling me

I'm already into a couple projects, and this one would further distract me, but there is a decent, original mid-70s Suburban for $50 in the next town over. I've always liked the look of old Schwinn filleted frames, whether it's electro-forged or fillet-brazed. This one is in direct competition to my Raleigh Sports cellar-rescue project. Do I need 2 cruiser-style bikes? Of course not, but the ad has been up for some time now and for $50 (probably less if I wanted), it deserves to be rescued.
Someone please talk me out of this!!
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Old 03-10-22, 07:53 AM
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FFS Front freewheel system maybe positron is opening a can of worms.

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Old 03-10-22, 07:56 AM
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I briefly had one of those FFS bikes. I decided that the bike calling was a wrong number and gave it away.
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Old 03-10-22, 08:28 AM
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A Schwinn Suburban is calling me

​​​​​​
I decided that the bike calling was a wrong number.

Clearly harassing phone calls. Report this to your local Police and get call screening!
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Old 03-10-22, 08:31 AM
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Hold out for the real deal and get a made in Chicago fillet brazed chrome moly bike.
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Old 03-10-22, 10:46 AM
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Clearly no love for Schwinn Suburbans around here!

I need to stay focused on my current projects - the Dawes Galaxy and the cellar-rescue Raleigh Sport. The Sport has been waiting in the barn for 2 years now, since it was disinterred from the cellar.
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Old 03-10-22, 11:07 AM
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Funny this came up today as yesterday I was going through ancient digital files and I came across 35mm slides I had scanned years ago. In the files I found images of the first bike I decided to restore/refresh, circa 2005. It was the mighty Schwinn Suburban in that classic rust metallic. I spent a ton of time trying to make it right and in the end, it was just a boat anchor with cheap parts and steel wheels that wouldn't stop in the rain. But, at the time, it was the best boat anchor on the streets of Portland! I practically gave it away since it was just a test. I wonder where it is now and what it looks like.





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Old 03-10-22, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by swampyankee2 View Post
Clearly no love for Schwinn Suburbans around here!

I need to stay focused on my current projects - the Dawes Galaxy and the cellar-rescue Raleigh Sport. The Sport has been waiting in the barn for 2 years now, since it was disinterred from the cellar.
That is mostly, but not entirely true. I do like Suburbans and may even get one some way or another. The good thing about Suburbans are that they are the same frame as the Varsity and the Continental. It has the better tubular fork of the Continental as well as a few alloy bits like the stem that it has in common with the Continental.

What is often good about Suburbans is that they are available in better condition and a lower price than Varsity and Continentals. The tubular fork rides far better than the Ashtabula fork and saves about a full pound.

One thing about the one you are looking at is that it has the Front Freewheeling System. Some people like it. Parts and service is difficult. For me, being a bike guy and having no issues about figuring out when to shift. The FFS is added complexity with no upside. I worked in a Schwinn dealership when these were being sold and I didn't get why Schwinn would even bother with this system. When I would show the bike to customers and told them you can shift when pedaling or coasting, many of them realized that this was easier to figure out how to shift. Many of these also had the Positron system as well making it even easier to shift. We sold them as verified by the number that we see in the used market.

If I were to get a Suburban with FFS, I would remove it and the associated freewheel pretty quickly. I would also change over to aluminum rims. The steel fenders don't bother me too much. I have fenders on most of my bikes. They are not as heavy as these steel fenders but they may not last as long as these Schwinn fenders. So, they would stay.
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Old 03-10-22, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by swampyankee2 View Post
Clearly no love for Schwinn Suburbans around here!

I need to stay focused on my current projects - the Dawes Galaxy and the cellar-rescue Raleigh Sport. The Sport has been waiting in the barn for 2 years now, since it was disinterred from the cellar.
I dont think that is true. The value proposition is not there for a restore though. and the FFS is something that is not that awesome.

I have fixed a few up and if I find them free I will fix up more. at $50 there is no room for resale if it needs tires and cables you are probably over max resale value with zero labor.
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Old 03-10-22, 02:26 PM
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I'd love to convince you to hold pat, but since the Suburban was my third bike, I remember it fondly. Think of it this way, there are different types of tangy; lemon, salt, vinegar, lime, raisins, tomato and they are all vastly different in taste. The Sports and the Suburban are their own thing, really.
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Old 03-10-22, 03:07 PM
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it is calling you, about the FFS warranty being about to expire
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Old 03-10-22, 05:08 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
I dont think that is true. The value proposition is not there for a restore though. and the FFS is something that is not that awesome.

I have fixed a few up and if I find them free I will fix up more. at $50 there is no room for resale if it needs tires and cables you are probably over max resale value with zero labor.
yeah, I wasn't aware of the whole FFS thing. If it was a normal system that would be different.
My plan would've been to give it a steel wool and oily rag resto only, and replace perished rubber and such.
But as I mentioned before, I have enough on my plate.
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Old 03-10-22, 10:32 PM
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I love Schwinn Suburban FIVE SPEEDS (1970 - 1976) BEFORE THE FFS CAME ON THE SCENE.

The Schwinn Suburban TEN SPEEDS are not nearly as good as the FIVE SPEEDS! Why? The ten speed Suburban has the INFERIOR 14-28 freewheel(exactly same as Varsity). The ten speed Suburban has the INFERIOR Huret Allvit rear derailleur (exactly same as Varsity).
The FIVE SPEED Suburban has the superior Model J freewheel with 14-32 freewheel and the shimano built for schwinn GT-100 ('70-'73) and GT-120 ('74 on).
YES, THE 10 SPEED SUBURBAN IS AN UPGRADED VARSITY, SINCE THE SUBURBAN HAS THE TUBULAR FRONT FORK OF THE CONTINENTAL, BUT OTHER THAN THAT, THE 10 SPEED SUBURBAN HAS THE EXACT SAME GEARING & REAR DERAILLEUR AS THE VARSITY & CONTINENTAL!!!

The 5 SPEED SUBURBAN is a much better bicycle than any late sixties or seventies era VARSITY or CONTINENTAL because of the Japanese rear derailleur and Japanese designed Model J freewheel are better overall than the French model F freewheel and French made rear derailleur of the VARSITY/10spSUBURBAN/CONTINENTAL.
Certainly some folks might argue that the centerpull brakes of the Continental are better than the L.S. 2.4 weinmann sidepulls of the VARSITY/SUBURBANS, but I don't find that to be true with good fresh brake pads, as you're still dealing with relatively slow bicycles (at more than 36 pounds) with lots of steel including the wheels.

The 5 SPEED SUBURBAN has model J freewheel with 32-26-21-17-14 and one single front chainwheel of 46 TEETH.
( THE 1970 - 1977 COLLEGIATE has this same exact model J freewheel and the 46 T single front but 597mm (26 x 1 3/8) wheels instead of the 27 of Sub/Var/Cont)

The 5 speed SUBURBAN has a 1st gear of ( 39 GEAR) and a top end 5th gear of (89 GEAR).
This is compareable to the 10 speed VARSITY/10speedSUBURBAN/CONTINENTAL which have a 1st gear of (38 GEAR) to a top end gear of (100 GEAR)
These 10 speeds( late 60's and Seventies era Varsities-Continentals/1970 on SUB) have the exact same 52/39 FRONT with 28-24-20-16-14

Did you know that the 1970 - 1977 COLLEGIATE has better hill climbing ability with (37 GEAR) than the VARSITY-CONTINENTAL-10speed SUBURBAN does???
Well yeah it does that from just five gears, and no front derailleur. 37 GEAR is slightly superior to 38 GEAR in HILL CLIMBING CAPABILTY.
However, the 1964-1969 COLLEGIATE would be called terrible in comparison to that with 43 GEAR.
You see the 1964-1969 COLLEGIATE has that same French made Model F 14-28 freewheel that the late sixties & seventies ten speed Varsities/Conti/10spSUB continued to use. You see that the 28 cog being the 1st gear cog with the 46 T front only gives the '64-'69 COLLEGIATE a 1st gear of (43 GEAR).
THIS IS WHY THE 1970 & late COLLEGIATE IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE 1964-1969 Collegiate. Yes, the Shimano built rear derailleur is significantly better than the Huret Allvit, but the Allvit, though not on par with Japanese rear derailleurs, was perhaps one of the better European rear derailleurs in reliability.

That FFS that arrived in '77 allowed for shifting without pedalling at the same time as one shifted gears, did work very well, BUT IT IS ORPHANED, RED-HEADED STEP CHILD, ABANDONED TECHNOLOGY, that first hit the scene in 1977 on the Schwinn Suburban, and just perhaps a few bikes tried it in the late seventies and by 1980 it was going outta style and it was gone around 1984. It did work really well for what it did, but this was the Bike Bust period by then, and the FFS (forward freewheel system) did nothing to lighten the weight of a bicycle, or significantly improve the ride quality of a bicycle.................it simply allowed for a yo-yo, half wit, idiot, to successfully ride a ten speed without being concerned about pedalling while moving the shift lever. Most folks that could mount and ride a bike with handbrakes, could grasp the pedalling while shifting necessary on a traditional freewheeled bicycle. One analogy that American folks that are over 60 years old might understand, ....you recall the Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth PUSH BUTTON AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION (lever) that were in late 1950's and early Sixties cars from Chrysler Corporation. Well, in that example, instead of a lever on either the steering column or a lever stalk on the tunnel/console, you had mechanical push buttons on the dashboard.
Yes, it may have been easier to select a gear, but then again, children seemed to want to mash the buttons while waiting in the car/ or playing inside the car while in the driveway. Yeah, it (pushbutton selector..)might have been a feature that a very small subset that had severe arthritis or some particular disability might have found significantly beneficial but it made it super easy for your three year old to get the idling/warming up car in gear and rolling over the bushes and mailbox etc.... By '63 or'64 the pushbuttons were gone, though they worked very well. For the bicycle the FFS worked well but bicycle consumers did not want it because lightweight had already been in vogue for at least a couple of years by the time FFS arrived, and the yo-yo, half wits were no longer purchasing bikes as they had in 1973.......you could say that by 1977, there were no yo-yo, half wits, that didn't know how to shift while pedalling as was known by then to be a requirement of any derailleur'd bicycle. Shimano's FFS (forward freewheel system) was a very good, extremely well built, gimmick that would have been probably greatly received in 1965 or 1966, but definitely not by 1977.
The FFS is not bad in any way, other than it is different than normal and you will not find any replacement parts other than from other parts bicycles. Now, the hanger-set(bottom bracket for ashtabula 1 piece crank) is not different in that you can remove & replace with ordinary VARSITY/CONTI/10spSUBURBAN's double 52/39 or COLLEGIATE/BREEZE/SPEEDSTER's 46 single front. REPLACE that and then REPLACE THE REAR WHEEL WITH ONE FROM A NORMAL SUBURBAN/VARSITY/CONTINENTAL etc, and Shimano or Maeda SUNTOUR rear derailleur (because European rear derailleurs are not as good!), IS THE SIMPLEST WAY AND PROBABLY MOST ECONOMICAL WAY TO PROCEED IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KEEP THE FFS.
Certainly, you could do a 3 piece crank upgrade if you want to go with something significantly lighter and much more fancy........BUT REMEMBER THAT THE BIKE IS AN ELECTROFORGED SCHWINN, so I really doubt it would matter much, other than your Spandex weight weenie buddies might tease you less and be slightly more accepting if you have a lightweightweight 3 piece crank and remove the great kickstand from your great ol' chicago Schwinn.

The best of the Electroforged CHICAGO Schwinns ARE the 1970 - 1976 SUBURBAN 5 SPEEDS & the 1970 - 1977 COLLEGIATE 5 SPEEDS!!!
FFS came on in 1977 & 1978 on those models. As you have seen, the 1964-1969 Collegiate 5 speeds are Significantly Inferior!

All the old Schwinns were incredibly well built and supremely durable, nice general purpose, everyday rider, bicycles.
Those 5 SPEEDS from the 1970 - 1977 are the best.
The many 3 speed , Sturmey -Archer equipped three speed bicycles from post WW2 to about 1980 are good too but the 5 SPEEDS of the seventies are better overall with better gearing and simplicity.
The late sixties and seventies VARSITY/CONTINENTALS are practically improved when converted to upright TOURIST riders like seventies era10spSUBURBANS & sixties era Varsity tourist models. The slack geometry ( where seat tube & headtube slope LEFT to almost 11 O'clock ) these slack angles and the relatively long wheelbase, and the very heavy "lightweight" of these particular electroforged Schwinns provide a very comfortable, stable and predictable ride which cannot be beat for anyone wanting a relatively slow (8mph to 13mph) cruiser for general purpose riding.
Though a great many folks hate the 2 ton, boat-anchor, Varsity-Continentals-Suburbans-Collegiates, but you Ain't gonna break one of these frames unless you decide to ride off of the second level of a parking garage onto the street some twenty-five feet below.........but if you do that, whether the bike survives would be the least of your problems, because your next ride might be in an ambulance/hearse, and that ride off the second level of the parking garage would likely certainly be your last bicycle ride!

Stay Thin, Ride a Schwinn. 40 pounds of Chicago's finest which is built to last, not necessarily to go fast.... Incredibly simple and durable..........if you don't have a real need for something lightweight, the old electroforged Chicago SCHWINN heavy"lightweights" are fantastic general purpose bicycles!
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Old 03-10-22, 10:38 PM
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Tell us how you really feel.
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Old 03-10-22, 10:58 PM
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Well, the OP's plans for that dirty Suburban might be heading for the dumpster. I agree- even a "replace rubber, clean and lube" minimal restoration would eat up any profit from the deal. Anything mechanical with the FFS or Positron system would soon turn the bike into a money pit.

That's a darn shame. I bet the bike has had minimal wear and is good for a couple more decades. If he were buying the bike to ride and enjoy I'd say it would be a good deal. But since he's flipping it- nope.

FWIW: I just purchased a slightly older (early '70's) 5-speed Suburban through a local Facebook Marketplace ad. It's in decent shape aside from rusty chrome. I'll put up pictures once I start working on it.
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Old 03-11-22, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
FWIW: I just purchased a slightly older (early '70's) 5-speed Suburban through a local Facebook Marketplace ad. It's in decent shape aside from rusty chrome. I'll put up pictures once I start working on it.
Jeff, I would be interested in seeing your Suburban project.
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Old 03-11-22, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Schwinn View Post
I love Schwinn Suburban FIVE SPEEDS (1970 - 1976) BEFORE THE FFS CAME ON THE SCENE.
Stay Thin, Ride a Schwinn. 40 pounds of Chicago's finest which is built to last, not necessarily to go fast.... Incredibly simple and durable..........if you don't have a real need for something lightweight, the old electroforged Chicago SCHWINN heavy"lightweights" are fantastic general purpose bicycles!
Thank you for the treatise on the Suburban. I feel a bit more savvy about the whole "lightweight" line, and better informed if I run into any other barn-find Schwinns out there. And although I didn't know all the details, I also felt that 10 speeds on a "cruiser" bike were a bit overkill. A 5 speed Suburban would be a better choice for me anyway.
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Old 03-11-22, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by swampyankee2 View Post
Clearly no love for Schwinn Suburbans around here!

I need to stay focused on my current projects - the Dawes Galaxy and the cellar-rescue Raleigh Sport. The Sport has been waiting in the barn for 2 years now, since it was disinterred from the cellar.
Not all of us, paid $10 for a clean Suburban that I then left outside for almost 2yrs before I showed it some love, did a full restomod with 700 wheels wearing 38's and used as much Schwinn Approved parts building it. I like the old Schwinns like these and they always make me money when I sell them.


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Old 03-11-22, 08:10 AM
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I like threads like these because they show that C&V will not always push someone on the brink of temptation to N+1. Plus I learned things about other Schwinn lightweights along the way and got to see The Thin Man's gorgeous Suburban photos.
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Old 03-11-22, 08:19 AM
  #20  
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How do you replace out those bottom brackets? The crappy FFS ones I mean...are there replacements with square tapers...?
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Old 03-11-22, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc View Post
How do you replace out those bottom brackets? The crappy FFS ones I mean...are there replacements with square tapers...?
You also have to swap the wheel also, their are adapters out their to make a square taper work.
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Old 03-11-22, 10:30 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc View Post
How do you replace out those bottom brackets? The crappy FFS ones I mean...are there replacements with square tapers...?
The freewheeling is in the crank not the BB. You can replace with a standard 1 pc Ashtabula crankset or get an american to threaded adaptor to use a 3 pc crank. Shimano also make the FFS in a 3 piece crank often found on Japanese bikes. Because the freewheel cogs can rotate individually on the body it's a good idea to replace that as well. The freewheel takes an older style remover that may or may not be readily available. I had an older LBS remove it rather than find the tool.


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Old 03-11-22, 10:50 AM
  #23  
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Yep. Too complicated. I bought one a ways back and it went with the ex who wanted to restore it. Good luck to her!
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Old 03-11-22, 10:59 AM
  #24  
SirMike1983 
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I would pass on the Suburban and hold out for a Traveler, Racer, New World, or Collegiate that fits you. The earlier 3-speed and 5-speed bikes make better projects than the later 10-speed Suburbans with the FFS system. Your Raleigh Sports project is also probably a better one than this later Suburban.
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Old 03-11-22, 12:09 PM
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There are several kits available.


RJ is using the TruActiv kit. Many here seem to prefer this style of kit since it allows us to use common English bottom brackets, which would include good quality cartridge sealed bearings as RJ is doing. By the way, RJ like to keep his feet comfortable. he tends to work in just socks even in the garage. In this case, he's got slippers. You have to love the fact that he is more interested in getting the content right than what he is wearing on his feet. He seems to have a good reputation even among our rough crowd.

Or you keep the original crank and clean it up. Schwinn chrome tends to clean up surprisingly good.
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