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Schwinn Varsity upgrades

Old 09-10-15, 07:10 AM
  #126  
rhenning
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Buy the set at Walmart for under $10. Bell is the Brand and that price is for all 4 cables and the housings. It will be as good or better quality than the ones Schwinn put on the bike from the factory. Roger
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Old 09-10-15, 10:55 AM
  #127  
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
Buy the set at Walmart for under $10. Bell is the Brand and that price is for all 4 cables and the housings. It will be as good or better quality than the ones Schwinn put on the bike from the factory. Roger
The Bell kits are not very high in quality at all. I buy them only for their Campagnolo-compatible cable ends.
The angle of the inner wire spiraling is not so well directed to contribute to flex-free application of cable force and the un-lined housings are the lowest quality available.

The original Schwinn cables were better than most people will think, because most people's experience with Varsities is limited to perhaps having test-ridden a typical un-maintained 40-year-old bike. The original cables are known to last for very long periods of time, though of course the front derailer cable housing normally collects water since it's ends both point upward.

I would not bother to re-cable with any less than poly-lined housings, which make a huge difference in the accuracy of motion to the derailers and brakes. I would much sooner grab the well-used scraps of lined housing from any modern shop's dumpster than use new un-lined housings.

With good cables and pads, the old calipers have a chance to deliver decent braking with a solid and low-effort smooth feel at the lever.

Modern cabling also does a lot to rid an old Schwinn of the rubbery shifting actuation, just don't forget to lube the shift lever's inner pivots, which requires partial disassembly. Compressionless shift housing will not so easily adapt to all of the frame's cable housing stops along the derailer cable's paths, but you can at least use housing with the poly liner.
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Old 09-10-15, 02:32 PM
  #128  
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I thought we were talking about a Varsity here not a bike worth putting expensive componets/cables on. I wouldn't use them on a Campy equiped bike but is your bike to do what you want. Roger
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Old 09-10-15, 02:44 PM
  #129  
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
I thought we were talking about a Varsity here not a bike worth putting expensive componets/cables on. I wouldn't use them on a Campy equiped bike but is your bike to do what you want. Roger
I was thinking that any bike worth doing the work on is worth using lined cable housings, but honestly I don't have to pay for ordinary lined housings I recycle them. Even dirty housing can be sprayed out and actually scrubbed out using an old cable with kinks in it. I use Gripshift grease on the inner wire after the housing has been cleaned out and blasted dry using an air pump with Presta chuck.
I enjoy riding Varsities as much as any other bike, so like to have good shifting and braking along for the ride!

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Old 09-10-15, 07:08 PM
  #130  
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Thanks. Can you let me know where to buy the better housings and cables?

I bought the bike simply because I wanted a Sunset Orange Varsity or Continental. The value to me is not what I put into it. I've dumped so much money into car restos to get them right, knowing full well, I'll never get back what I put into it. There aren't many doing a full resto on ANYTHING that can claim they're making dough getting an oldie back to original specs.

Having said that, while I appreciate the thoughts on relative value, it's hard to put a price on fun. As for the extra weight of these bikes, the way I look at it, I get an extra workout.

I'll post a pic when I get her back together.

Thanks again.
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Old 09-10-15, 07:22 PM
  #131  
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Could anyone advise whether the stock Varsity hardware is the same or compatible with Shimano/SRAM? I noticed a lot of cable and housing description stating "Shimano/SRAM compatible."

Thank again.
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Old 09-11-15, 06:35 AM
  #132  
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The stock hardware is equal to what Bell sells at Walmart and other stores. If you hate Walmart then go to your local bike shop and buy what they have and recommend. Roger
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Old 09-11-15, 07:21 AM
  #133  
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Thanks. Sorry for my poor description. While I know to "serious" bikers," it doesn't make much sense to invest a lot of dough into a Varisty, I'm looking for decent quality components such as brake cables and housings. I'm just a bit confused. I noticed on ads for some of the cables/ housings it says "Shimano/SRAM compatible." Will a Shimano/SRAM compatible set fit/work with my bike?
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Old 09-11-15, 01:07 PM
  #134  
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You need the most simple kind of cable to make all the parts work on a Varsity. Schwinn never used Shimano components on the Varsity and SRAM didn't exist when the Varsity was made. The exception would be the aluminum framed Varsities sold by Walmat in the 2005 era. Those bikes look like this and have nothing to do with the bike you own. The silver bike in the picture is one of the Schwinn Walmart Varsities. Roger
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Old 09-11-15, 03:28 PM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by cqlink View Post
I noticed on ads for some of the cables/ housings it says "Shimano/SRAM compatible." Will a Shimano/SRAM compatible set fit/work with my bike?
Yes, brake cables sold as "road" or "Shimano/SRAM" will have the correct ends to fit your Varsity. The ends will match the profile shown as "A" in the following picture:



That picture is from the following page, which has an excellent tutorial on cables in general: https://www.bikeman.com/bicycle-repa...bles-a-housing

Here is a set of 10 high-quality stainless brake cables for $18: 10 Stainless Steel Jagwire Brake Inner Cable Road Bike Pear End Shimano SRAM | eBay
Here is a set of 10 galvanized brake cables (similar to what came on the Varsity new) for $12: 10 Pcs Galvanized Jagwire Brake Inner Wire Cable Road Bike Pear End Shimano SRAM | eBay

You'll need 5 ft. of brake cable housing, I would recommend this lined gray housing at a buck a foot: Bicycle Gray Brake Cable Housing by Foot Lined Gray | eBay

You could also pick up these cables individually and housing by the foot at any bike shop. I have no relation to any of the listings I posted (other than purchasing them myself in the past).

The shift cables are another story, they require "Huret" style ends (that look like small lollipops) and since they are not used on any modern bikes can be harder to find. Here is a set of 10 original cables for only $12: Huret Shifting Cables 63" Jubelee Schwinn Raleigh | eBay

You can get 2 for $5.50 here: Simplex Huret Campagnolo Shift Cables Double Ended | eBay

You'll also need about 5 ft. of housing for the shift cables, however note that I do *not* recommend using modern "compressionless" housing as the straight strands at the cut ends will actually jam up in the cable stops welded on Schwinn electro-forged (EF) frames, eventually preventing the cable from moving. There are work-arounds with small washers but it is best to avoid the problem in the first place.

For problem-free shift cable housing on EF Schwinn bikes I recommend either the lined brake housing I previously listed above or original NOS cable housing like this: Huret Schwinn 5 10 Speed Gray Ribbed Shifter Cable Housing by The Foot | eBay

Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
Schwinn never used Shimano components on the Varsity...
Schwinn used Shimano as a supplier of many "Schwinn Approved" parts on the Varsity over the years including front and rear derailleurs, freewheels and hubs.

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Old 09-11-15, 06:53 PM
  #136  
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A couple of notes about retrofitting cabling components.

Lined brake housings with just a bit of the plastic covering trimmed back from the ends will fit into many of the various electroforged Schwinn frame's housing stops, as well as some of the spot-welded Peugeot housing stops as used on pre-1979 UO-series bikes.

Modern Shimano and Sram gear cable ends can be filed "flat" to fit Huret levers, usually also with a bit of shortening or rounding of the corners.
I clamp the end in the vise and go at it using a coarse file. Usually takes 3-4 minutes each.

I admit to sometimes using a piece of compressionless gear housing with no ferrules, but I expect and accept a possibly shorter service interval. I fitted the bike below (1968 Sears Roebuck) that I just bought with a short piece of the compressionless housing only at the rear derailer, so as to fit the Simplex derailer and housing stop. If the rider uses a delicate touch at the lever, as I do, I've had such ill-fitted miracle housing last for at least some thousands of miles.
I also replaced the brake cables/housings, mainly because the front housing was just too short for proper routing to the hanger. The modern housing clacks loudly against the top tube, since the covering is firmer than on the ribbed vinyl original housing, ...note the wraps of thread holding it down against the toptube between the two original spring clamps. I added the Cane Creek hoods to the Weinmann levers while I had the cables off, and upgraded the saddle and pedals.






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Old 09-12-15, 08:30 AM
  #137  
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Gents. Perfect. This is just what I needed to know.

Thanks to all for posting links and the time taken to post pics.
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Old 09-12-15, 09:39 AM
  #138  
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Originally Posted by cqlink View Post
Gents. Perfect. This is just what I needed to know.

Thanks to all for posting links and the time taken to post pics.
Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
Yes, brake cables sold as "road" or "Shimano/SRAM" will have the correct ends to fit your Varsity. The ends will match the profile shown as "A" in the following picture:



That picture is from the following page, which has an excellent tutorial on cables in general: https://www.bikeman.com/bicycle-repa...bles-a-housing
That, right there, is money.
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Old 09-12-15, 09:58 AM
  #139  
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Boy, @dddd, you make real riders out of those low end bikes. I spy a leather saddle and clip-in pedals.
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Old 09-12-15, 12:22 PM
  #140  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Boy, @dddd, you make real riders out of those low end bikes. I spy a leather saddle and clip-in pedals.
I have a certain respect for the art of designing bicycles to be sold at very low cost, many of which are great riding bikes.

We'll probably never learn of any of the engineers who had to so delicately balance the performance specifications and manufacturing processes to meet very-limited production cost targets, but I think some of these people were un-sung heroes of sorts in helping to produce hand-made, mass-produced bikes like this one that could be purchased for well under $80.

In lieu of ever having a custom frame built, I use low-cost bikes and frames to experiment with. I take angular and dimensional measurements of every frame. My standards have gone up in some respects, and gone down in others, over the years. I do especially appreciate the more-stable handling bikes, most of which seem to be of the very low-cost variety.

And when one of the more interesting flippers I acquire ends up being a good size fit for me, it gets one heck of a thorough test and tune, I can tell you, before it gets sold. Iterative rounds of riding, wrenching, bending and cleaning. I put thousands of miles on some of them!

Good eye btw, that saddle is a new take-off Ideal #70 that I've had in my stash for ten years, it'll finally be getting broken in on this Austrian bike.
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Old 09-12-15, 12:25 PM
  #141  
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Yup. My 1971 Raleigh Super Course is an example of a bike that rides better than you would expect given its place in the model lineup. I moved the parts over from a UO-8 I had built earlier, and I had expected the ride to be similar, but it's not. The Raleigh is loads better. It's not entirely surprising, since it is better made, but the difference was striking.
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Old 09-12-15, 04:07 PM
  #142  
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Pictured is the suspect after I pulled the original rear cable, lightly sanded the rust and cleaned it. Followed 4D's tip re: cleaning the housing while I wait for the new cable and housing to arrive and put it back together. Voila! Works great.

I yanked the original long fenders and put the shorites on ($6.89 for BOTH on Amazon). Not sure if they'll stay. The Serfas Seca rubber was on the bike and highly serviceable. Pulled the rear wheel and blasted the chain and sprocket with brake cleaner and re-lubed. Gone is the working 70's Schwinn generator, headlight and rear light.

The paint had bad oxidation. A LIGHT application of Meguires 105 (heavy cut, be careful if you use this) took care of the oxidation. Followed up with Meguires 205 polish and wax. Elbow grease and Scratch X took care of the minor rust on the wheels and other chrome bits.

Now if anyone can point me to a 1974 decal set, I'll add that to the "to do" list!

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Old 09-12-15, 06:42 PM
  #143  
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There you go(!), the bike looks great, and I had no idea that shorty fenders were still on the market.

I hope that the stem is inserted down to the "safe" limit line, it looks well above that actually.

Re; noglider, I had a '74 SuperCourse long, long ago. Same layed-back geometry as an International iir, 72 degrees I think. That would be a more-stable steering head angle than an pre-1979 UO8, which is usually preferable imo.
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Old 09-12-15, 08:35 PM
  #144  
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It doesn't feel laid back to me. The fork has a lot of rake, so the steering is floppy. The bike climbs quite well for its weight. Acceleration ain't bad, either. It feels lighter than it really is. I can't explain it. Maybe it's the floppy steering.
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Old 09-13-15, 01:46 PM
  #145  
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Good eye on the stem. I'm pushing it. Is anything out there capable of safely giving me another inch or two?
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Old 09-13-15, 05:50 PM
  #146  
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Originally Posted by cqlink View Post
Good eye on the stem. I'm pushing it. Is anything out there capable of safely giving me another inch or two?
Technically your Varsity is too small for you. That is a 22" frame and I can tell by the amount of seat post showing you should be riding at least a 24" frame. That alone would give you 2" more stem height and a lot more comfortable ride.

But if you just want to change the stem then there are several alternatives. One issue is that you will need a stem that fits a fork with a 21.1mm (0.833") steerer tube ID. There are such aftermarket tall stems available like this one, however they are very heavy and IMHO not easy to look at.

The following picture shows your forged steel stem on the left and Schwinn's tallest '70s vintage alloy stem on the right, note that both are positioned such that the max. height lines are equal.



As you can see the stem on the right will gain you about 2" in handlebar height and 1" in reach as compared to your original. It also weighs half as much, saving well over half a pound in weight. There happens to be one of these currently listed on eBay (not mine): Vintage 1972 Schwinn Quill Stem Sports Tourer | eBay

Note that specific alloy "girder design" stem came on '73 and later Varsity models with 26" frames, as well as on '73 and later Continental, Super Sport and Sports Tourer models with 24" or larger frames. They are fairly plentiful and turn up on eBay all the time.
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Old 09-13-15, 06:24 PM
  #147  
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Did not know that we had a thread for these.

I would like like to contribute this example that I upgraded for a young man going off to college. Family friend and poor so gave up lots from the part bin.

1973 lemon yellow V new alloy wheels, leather saddle, alloy handlebars, better stem shifter and DRS. Plus the usual new cables and cleaned, lubed covers

He said recently it is a joy to ride. He really needed a lg bike !
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Old 09-13-15, 06:25 PM
  #148  
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Thanks! Yes. It really is too small but will have to do until I find another orange/ sunset orange Varsity or Continental.
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Old 09-14-15, 07:05 AM
  #149  
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Good luck finding the orange ones. Continentals were only made in the 1973 model year and Varsities were made for 1973 and 1974. I lucked onto a Continental but really haven't done much to it. It is very nice original bike. Roger
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Old 09-14-15, 09:40 AM
  #150  
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
Good luck finding the orange ones. Continentals were only made in the 1973 model year and Varsities were made for 1973 and 1974.
Since those were the peak bike boom years (and Schwinn's best sales years in history) I find them to be quite common. For example there are currently 7 Orange Varsity and 3 Orange Super Sport models on eBay. I also find them very commonly on Craigslist. What is much harder to find than the orange bikes is the original matching color Sunset Orange handlebar tape.

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