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Schwinn Varsity upgrades

Old 04-16-12, 12:02 AM
  #76  
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The '78-'79 Caliente came with the infamous Shimano FFS (Front Freewheel System). This was (in the words of Sheldon Brown) a solution in search of a problem.

Here are links to some Shimano catalog pages describing the setup:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/shimano1982/pages/35.html
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/shimano1982/pages/36.html

It was used on certain Schwinn bikes from 1977 through 1985, and had the "freewheel" on the crank. This allowed you to shift even while not pedaling since the chain and rear "freewheel" would always be turning whether you were pedaling or not. When combined with the "Positron" rear derailleur it was also one of the first indexed shifting systems.

In Schwinn bikes the Shimano FFS first came out in the Suburban in 1977: http://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCat...0/1977_10.html

FFS combined with a "Positron" rear derailleur came on the Caliente in 1978 and '79: http://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCat...0/1978_19.html

FFS/Positron was added to the Varsity in 1980: http://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCat...0/1980_13.html

In 1982 it was used in the Deluxe Varsity, but not the standard one: http://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCat...0/1982_18.html

In 1982 it was also used on the World Tourist: http://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCat...0/1982_14.html

In 1984-85 the last Schwinn models with the FFS/Positron system was the Varsity, which from '83 to '85 was built by Murray in Lawrenceville, Tennessee: http://www.schwinnbikeforum.com/inde...83066#msg83066

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Old 04-16-12, 12:49 AM
  #77  
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I think that once a rider got used to it, it would be cool being able to complete a shift while cornering.

To keep a derailed or jammed chain from being forced by the turning wheel, a normal freewheel is still used on the rear wheel, but with a friction clutch added to drive the chain foreward.

Do the Murray-built Varsities look like a Schwinn Varsity frame, or more like a Huffy?

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Old 04-16-12, 05:41 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Do the Murray-built Varsities look like a Schwinn Varsity frame, or more like a Huffy?
This blog post has several pix of a 1984 varsity: http://www.cyclesnack.com/2010/10/19...n-varsity.html

You'll see that Murray put on a tubular fork instead of a forged one, so actually Murray was building Schwinns better than Schwinn.

I think that thread on the Schwinnbike forum must be a bit wrong though. I cannot think of a single reason Murray would want to buy electro forging equipment from Schwinn, and considering that I have never seen a Murray branded bike with electro-forged joints it's likely they didn't.

More likely Schwinn used Murray factory space to continue building some of their EF bikes with Murray.

If you look really close at that 1984 Varsity it is was obviously made only partly with Schwinn EF equipment. The dropouts and stays look EF, and the heard tube joints are EF, but the bottom bracket joints are brazed Murray fashion. Very interesting.
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Old 04-16-12, 07:57 AM
  #79  
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Great info once again. Some didn't understand why I would want to re-do 3 old Schwinn's. My nine year old gets it!!!! The kickstand on the Caliente does not stay completely retracted in the up position. Is there a way to fix the problem
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Old 04-16-12, 12:48 PM
  #80  
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The photos have me wondering if the very small frame size might have precluded using the original EF equipment for the BB joints, which appear to be welded.
Or might they have used up the supply of EF bb shells at that point, having sold equipment and/or space as they were "bringing the curtain down" on Varsity prod'n?
Maybe it was simply cheaper to use "plain" bb shells instead of socketed ones, with the cheap substitution being at least partially out of view?
Hey wait, does this bike even use the 1" diameter main tubing?

The fork itself was perhaps sourced from Japan at that point.
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Old 04-16-12, 03:28 PM
  #81  
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Yes it does. I just stripped it down and dropped it at the powder coaters. I used an old varsity crank set I had laying around to see if I could replace it with a triple chainring. I'm in business. I'll post before picks in a few
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Old 04-16-12, 08:39 PM
  #82  
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This is the little gem..........Rare find in my area!!!! Three bikes in four weeks....
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Old 04-16-12, 08:41 PM
  #83  
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Just waiting on the seat and the first one is done
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Old 04-16-12, 09:40 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
The photos have me wondering if the very small frame size might have precluded using the original EF equipment for the BB joints, which appear to be welded.
Or might they have used up the supply of EF bb shells at that point, having sold equipment and/or space as they were "bringing the curtain down" on Varsity prod'n?
Maybe it was simply cheaper to use "plain" bb shells instead of socketed ones, with the cheap substitution being at least partially out of view?
Hey wait, does this bike even use the 1" diameter main tubing?

The fork itself was perhaps sourced from Japan at that point.
I think it's the same fork Murray used on their lug frame models. In the thread on the schwinnbike forum and elsewhere people have commented about the BB being different than usual for a Schwinn (so the EF BB was probably dropped on all sizes). My guess is that schwinn did not see the value in keeping/moving all of the EF equipment, and only kept the tooling necessary for making parts where both the look and the strength were important. Murray's crimped chainstays for instance weren't going to cut it on a Schwinn.

The bottom bracket does appear to be brazed in the typical Murray fashion. Murray did not weld frames until the late 80s, so the joints were internally brazed which accounts for the sharp, clean appearance of the joint from the outside.

This thread contains some more pictures and info about the Schwinn/Murray bikes: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...the-heck-is-it

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Old 04-17-12, 12:43 AM
  #85  
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A brazed bb shell wouldn't be so cheap after all. I'll have to take a closer look at Murrays in the future.

The pink kickstand on that Varsity doesn't look bad at all.

You might want to check inside that tall stem, to see if there is any extra length of threading on the quill bolt above the wedge.
You could then have the stem quill shortened by nearly that amount.
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Old 04-17-12, 08:08 PM
  #86  
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Definite option. Went with a seven speed freewheel on the blue one.
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Old 04-21-12, 03:23 AM
  #87  
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Powder coater called unexpectedly. Looks like the Caliente is ready for pick up. Can't wait for the May 5th ride.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:06 PM
  #88  
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Blue one is about done. Need to lower seat and handle bars and instal front badge...One more to go. Thanks sailorbenjamin...Ill be sending something your way shortly!
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Old 04-25-12, 09:19 PM
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I had a 24" Varsity a while back. Turns out 559 moutain bike rims fit the brake reach real nice with skinny tires.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:24 PM
  #90  
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Now with the seat...wife came back from her maiden voyage with a big grin on her face...still missing the decals
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Old 04-26-12, 12:41 AM
  #91  
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back in the 80's i got a tubular OPC.. still recall it as the best crank,
of the type i've ever seen...
still used the cheap bearing races.,

but maybe that is a feature..
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Old 04-26-12, 01:35 AM
  #92  
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Those Varsities are looking like new now.

Were you able to fix that kickstand?

Some of the later Varsities have the deployed kickstand sweeping more to the rear.
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Old 04-26-12, 05:52 AM
  #93  
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Is there a way to replace or adjust the spring on the kickstand?
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Old 04-26-12, 03:25 PM
  #94  
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It's hard to imagine the spring going bad, unless it's from the very last years of production. The ElectroForged bikes got some parts and detail downgrades during the final years, and if the spring did lose length and compression, then it probably can be shimmed with a suitable steel washer.

There's a sort of cam detent thing in there, maybe worn or needs oil?

I've only seen the Schwinn kickstand assembly in the plastic bag it comes in, and have zero experience tinkering with Schwinn kickstands, but isn't there a solid pin that is sort of T-handled into the end of the shaft, & which acts against the cam detent?
Perhaps the pin bent or broke, especially if they went to a cheap, hollow roll pin and the lube dried out, ...but a stronger new pin could be cut from an old drill bit of the right diameter.

I would definitely address the kickstand malfunction before painting if it's not too late. They are supposed to be easy to remove.

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Old 04-27-12, 07:43 PM
  #95  
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I had it removed at my LBS. Looks like lack of lubrication and years of being exposed to a beach climate might be the culprit. Monday I'll drop this one off for final adjustment of brakes and deraileurs. Ready for a break and a long ride
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Old 05-04-12, 09:26 PM
  #96  
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Finally done decals and all. Now family fun ride tomorrow. Guy at my LBS looked at my bike and wanted to know where he could buy one like it.....I told him bike forums.net. I would like to thank all who contributed to this thread especially Sailorbenjamin and dddd. I will post pix tomorrow of our charity ride
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Old 05-05-12, 11:56 AM
  #97  
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It's great you are doing follow-ups! And you're welcome.

So, was the FFS stuck on a spline? I'd like to see a picture of that.

I hope your ride goes well, may your kickstands stand out!

I'm doing the Gran Fondo Sunday, about 50 miles with plenty of hills. I've gotta dig up and drag out something Italian for that.

Dave
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Old 05-06-12, 10:30 PM
  #98  
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The ride was fun. Daughter kept a good cadence on her bike. Swapped the FFS for a traditional set up
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Old 05-07-12, 02:52 AM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by sneakywrist View Post
Great info once again. Some didn't understand why I would want to re-do 3 old Schwinn's. My nine year old gets it!!!! The kickstand on the Caliente does not stay completely retracted in the up position. Is there a way to fix the problem
Originally Posted by dddd View Post
I've done a few Varsity builds by now, here's what I've learned:

[....]

Riding the Varsi-nental, after riding imported bikes, is gonna feel weird with such heavy steering flop at low speeds.
The payback is at higher speeds, off-road and when riding in the dark. Stability is unreal, and you get used to the weight and handling after just a few rides. It takes time to appreciate the handling traits which at first you will not be able to exploit.

[....]
Love this thread. I understand too, sneakywrist. Very nice work, the Schwinn spirits are smiling down from above. Thanks, dddd! I love the Schwinn handling but not smart enough to be able to explain. The forged fork, not so much. Not riding any Schwinn EF bike at the moment but have a fairly recent memory of a Continental I reconditioned. Seems very fast to me; I am not the strongest rider and the bike seems to compensate some for my weakness. The short-cockpit riding position is very comfortable for me. Confident and at ease due to the stable handling, even at night under the streetlights with a minimal headlight. The high rotating mass gives me more time to summon my strength when the slope turns (here, usually briefly) upward. The rigid frame and crankset, and efficient crank bearings, offset the heavy weight to some degree, imo.

Last edited by duffer1960; 05-07-12 at 03:25 AM. Reason: clarity and grammar
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Old 05-25-12, 08:58 PM
  #100  
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well , my other 66cm Varsity keeps starring at me....hmmmm what to do......and so it begins, AGAIN
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