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So I got This 1973 Schwinn Varsity the Other Day...

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So I got This 1973 Schwinn Varsity the Other Day...

Old 08-24-10, 07:27 PM
  #1  
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So I got This 1973 Schwinn Varsity the Other Day...

And I am interested to see what I can do with it besides the obvious of riding it. I posted about the tires, and I am still confused what to get. Picture is included below. Please feel free to submit your pics of what you've done or other bikes that have been modified/customized/transformed. I'm leaning more to make it a short commuter/urban bike than using it as a true road bike. Great forum by the way.

My first post...
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post11340955
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Old 08-24-10, 08:30 PM
  #2  
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First thing is to disassemble that Varsity and clean it up to see what you really have. First thing after that is throw away the chrome rims if they get wet your stopping distance can be measured in days not feet. You can buy a new set of alloys really cheap, try alfredebike.com or Niagra or even e-bay. Same with the brakes get them cleaned up and see if they are in good condition.Get some decent brake pads like kool stops. After that its a crap shoot you can even change out the single piece crankset by using an adapter and then get a modern bottom bracket and crankset. I think I have a new freewheel in case you don't get one with the new wheelset. I would be willing to part with it as my donation to your project. The cables on the Schwinns were Schwinn specific so its pretty tough to find them locally again e-bay will be your friend. Get rid of the Schwinn derailleurs both front and rear they are junk try to find some Suntour derailleurs even the lower end items work better than the Schwinn stuff. Just make sure the clamps are the right size for the seatube and the rear hanger is correct. Nice thing about the Varsity is you can disassemble it with a couple of adjustable wrenches and some screw drivers. If you don't want to spend a fortune and you shouldn't on this old boy you can get some stuff like cable sets with housing at Wal-mart or someplace like that. They aren't the best but will work. Or you can just get a new wheelset and turn it into a single speed if your commute is flat. Lots of possibilities. That frame should be checked for cracks but those old electro forged Schwinns are about as bulletproof as you can get. I'm sure you will get lots of ideas here.
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Old 08-24-10, 09:31 PM
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Once you've rebuilt or swapped wheels, replaced the bottom bracket, and replaced the derailleurs, you might just as well have started with a different bike. Why not get Kool-Stop brake pads and ride that classic as-is? Or sell it at a fabulous profit and buy a different, lighter, bike with better components already on it? People are starting to pay ridiculous prices for those bikes, and that one appears to be all original.
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Old 08-24-10, 10:32 PM
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I vote for doing as little as possible to it to make it rideable and stop well. Then just enjoy riding the crap out of it. It's a tank, and you should be able to have fun and beat on it pretty well without issue. Just make sure it stops well so you don't get hit by a car and then enjoy. Otherwise selling it for a profit if possible and getting a little better bike to begin with. I'd suggest getting the better bike before selling yours, though, if possible. You never know when you're going to come across good deals and it would stink to sell your Varsity and not be able to find another decent bike for a decent price.



On a side note to do with selling it, I wish I had known that Varsities would be worth something now. I literally threw two all original ones in the dumpster years ago because I had slightly better bikes and didn't think I'd Ever get on a Varsity again. They were in parts and I didn't want to spend the hours tuning them up and putting them back together so I tossed them. Guess I learned my lesson.
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Old 08-25-10, 12:48 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
On a side note to do with selling it, I wish I had known that Varsities would be worth something now. I literally threw two all original ones in the dumpster years ago because I had slightly better bikes and didn't think I'd Ever get on a Varsity again. They were in parts and I didn't want to spend the hours tuning them up and putting them back together so I tossed them. Guess I learned my lesson.
I wouldn't feel too bad. Varsities still aren't really "worth" anything—I think their primary value lies in the fact that you can get them for $10 (and rely on them to never break).


As for what should be done to the Varsity in question...
I typically tell people with cheap road bikes to spend as little as possible to get them up and running and perform absolutely zero upgrading (wait until you have a better bike to start throwing down for new parts).

Varsities might be the exception though—I've seen so many really *****in Varsities roll through this forum... My very favorites are single speed Varsities with really really fat tires and some kind of take on townie bars (moustaches, flipped northroads, porteur bars... basically anything swept back and slightly dropped).
The Varsity's (in)famous reputation for having a "tank" of a frame is completely deserved—it really will handle anything you can throw at it—and for that reason, it stands alone among cheap frames possibly worth playing with.

So... Completely stock or retro urban assault bike? Your choice.
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Old 08-25-10, 01:27 AM
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I agree with jtgotsjets up there. These bikes are tanks and ride best with minimal fuss. I really get a kick out of it when people turn them into "Scorchers." Either single-speed or fixed gears with fat tires and townie bars. They look great, ride smooth and will never break on you.
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Old 08-25-10, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jtgotsjets View Post
I wouldn't feel too bad. Varsities still aren't really "worth" anything—I think their primary value lies in the fact that you can get them for $10 (and rely on them to never break).
That's what's crazy, though. I've seen them on CL around here for $150ish, and they do disappear in a day or two, so they must be getting a pretty good price these days. Both of mine were side of the road finds on garbage day. If only I had known I could have put the parts in a box, stuck them in the storage unit, and put them together one day now to sell and buy a Miyata or something. Now I don't know if I'll ever throw another working bike/part away. ...which is gonna really keep the girlfriend happy.
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Old 08-25-10, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Nu_ Schwinn View Post
And I am interested to see what I can do with it besides the obvious of riding it. I posted about the tires, and I am still confused what to get. Picture is included below. Please feel free to submit your pics of what you've done or other bikes that have been modified/customized/transformed. I'm leaning more to make it a short commuter/urban bike than using it as a true road bike. Great forum by the way.

My first post...
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post11340955
Clean it up, get it tuned up, or tune it up yourself. New tires and brakes pads, and ride it everywhere. It's an entry level classic, strong and reliable. Plus, it's looks all original.

Mike
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Old 08-25-10, 06:11 AM
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Old 08-25-10, 06:12 AM
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I absolutely love my Varsity. It has been converted to singlespeed with a flat bar. I use it for strength training forcing myself to climb hills on it. The wheels are non-original but also steel, I just know not to ride it when it gets wet.

I agree with the others who suggested to just fix what needs fixing and keep it as original as possible. Mine was already mostly stripped down when I got it, so I did the minimum to make it a useable bike. Worked out well for me.

Good luck with it!






I've since swapped the saddle for a Brooks B17, added a Minoura dual underseat water bottle rack and an old school frame wedge bag, so if I decide to take it on a long ride, I've got everything I need to be comfortable. Doesn't look as "clean" anymore, but it's surely functional.

Pictures taken from a ride up Mt. Penn in Reading, PA to the William Penn fire tower and The Pagoda.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:31 AM
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Nice Varsities sell for $125 - 250 in many areas.
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Old 08-25-10, 10:16 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by jtgotsjets View Post
I wouldn't feel too bad. Varsities still aren't really "worth" anything—I think their primary value lies in the fact that you can get them for $10 (and rely on them to never break).


As for what should be done to the Varsity in question...
I typically tell people with cheap road bikes to spend as little as possible to get them up and running and perform absolutely zero upgrading (wait until you have a better bike to start throwing down for new parts).

Varsities might be the exception though—I've seen so many really *****in Varsities roll through this forum... My very favorites are single speed Varsities with really really fat tires and some kind of take on townie bars (moustaches, flipped northroads, porteur bars... basically anything swept back and slightly dropped).
The Varsity's (in)famous reputation for having a "tank" of a frame is completely deserved—it really will handle anything you can throw at it—and for that reason, it stands alone among cheap frames possibly worth playing with.

So... Completely stock or retro urban assault bike? Your choice.
That is the look I'd like to go for. Varsity's have been selling for $100+ and don't typically last long in postings. I am completely new to bikes so I have no idea where to begin to disassemble/reassemble/inspect. I was thinking first was to convert it to a 5 speed from a 10 speed, and upgrade the brakes. I'm trying to do everything to get it going for as cheap as possible. Brakes will need to be refurbed or new cables. I am excited though, for the price I cannot complain at all. I would like to stay to the idea of fixing it up and upgrade as need be, within budget, to use as a errand/small trip runner/commuter. I am looking at grad school and that was the reason I picked it up, to alleviate the driving to campus.

Thanks for all the responses and helpful information. On a side note, anyone in Charlotte, NC that would like to offer some help/expertise?
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Old 08-25-10, 10:35 AM
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Agreed with the "keep the original parts" crowd. I got a Varsity for $25 off of Craigslist and haven't changed a thing (outside of tuning it up and cleaning everything). It's a blast to ride, even if it's heavy as hell. Great backup commuter bike for my town, I briefly considered making it a single speed or fixed gear but changed my mind and kept it as 10 speed.
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