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Old 07-30-14, 10:41 AM   #1
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73' Conti - New To Bicycling

Yesterday I bought a 1973 Schwinn Continental!! not sure why, in fact I had no intentions of buying a bike when I woke up in the morning; it was a totally spontaneous thing.

The thing is, I haven't been on a bike in 25 years... this is my first with gears. Im a novice in everyway. I slapped a milkcrate on the back and rode to the grocery store.... it was a lot of fun (besides the cars zipping by me)!

Anyway, I want to assure its in good shape but I am not sure where to start for servicing it. Is there a webpage or book I should seek for the basics? I would sure appreciate some tips about my new bicycle or cycling in general really.

I could take it to a shop but that would be expensive and not as fun. Plus they would probably laugh me out of the place with my 73' conti with a milkcrate on the back (pee wee herman looks cooler than I do)!!
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Old 07-30-14, 11:16 AM   #2
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Welcome to BF and C&V! This is a great place to learn and we have a large range of knowledgable people who can help. Clearly the best tool is search on the topic of interest. You might want to go over the Mechanics forum too.

Specifically for your bike, I would start with brakes and tires. Make sure the tires hold air and the sidewalls are not "checked" or cracked. If they are fairly new, then I would check the brakes. You need to be able to stop! How old are the brake pads? Koolstops are great replacements and even help if you have steel chrome plated rims (hopefully not!).

Next on my list would be lubrication. This is where it gets challenging in some cases. The chain is straight forward as is cleaning the rings (crank gears) and cogs (rear wheel gears). The brakes may need to be disassembled and cleaned with some lubrication on the pivot points. This is when you can examine all the brake housings and cables. If they look old, replace them. Next challenge are the hubs, and the freewheel (what the gears are assembled on) Do a search on these items including the tools necessary to take them apart and assemble. Then comes the heads set and bottom bracked. Again, search is your friend hear too. Did I mention pedals for lubrication? them too.

The next items is fit. Guess what, search in now becoming your BFF!

If you haven't already, cruise thorugh this site on topics of interest. They vary from day to day and from week to week on the first page, yeah hour to hour too. We really enjoy each other and the topics we come up with! When your up to it and you feel you can't find what your looking for, ask. We are ready and willing to answer questions, especially when you have made search you BFF and come with a question rarely or infrequently asked. this site has been around for a few years and there have been lots of newbies asking the same question. BTW, this was a good one, you will get tons of references in time. We like people to join the C&V club, wrench and ride!

You might want to start here:

Clean it all up and enjoy the rides

Last edited by SJX426; 07-30-14 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 07-30-14, 01:44 PM   #3
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Thanks for the suggestions.

As for me, it only took 24 hours for me to get into my first crash. Took a turn to fast and was approaching an 8" curb with cars in the vicinity. I had to sort of fall to my side into the grass. My shoulder is a little tweaked but I survived!!!

I had forgotten how it feels to fall off a bike, after about 30 years, it was a very familiar feeling still!
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Old 07-30-14, 03:30 PM   #4
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take few wild chances riding in the first few months. don't goof around too much while riding. get all the basics down. test your abilities and agility in safe areas to improve your riding.

my first year or two riding again as an adult resulted in three crashes. they're always jarring and have a lasting impact both mentally and physically. they all could have been avoided. i was either goofing around, not careful in busy areas, or was indecisive.

you can go fast and have fun and still be careful.

safety is key. every time you get on the bike, ensure ...
- the tires are inflated to a reasonable pressure as written on their sidewall
- the wheel axles are locked securely in the fork
- the brake levers provide the proper leverage to apply the pads.

there's just too much to say in one post. bon chance.
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Old 07-30-14, 04:05 PM   #5
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The Continental or similar Schwinns are the very best bikes for riding along jagged roadsides since they posess unrivaled steering stability.

Do make sure that the steering is free and moves smoothly, which is vital to realizing the famous Schwinn stability!

I've oiled up old Schwinns for their initial months of usage just by laying the bike on one side (then later, on the other!) and dripping in a few drops of oil at the headset bearings, pedals, brake calipers, derailers, hub axles, freewheel (gap between moving parts), derailer pullies (flood each dust cap, one side only), crank bearings, cables, seatpost, and at all threaded fasteners (including cable barrel adjusters).

I then put the bike upright against a wall and oil the chain with the kickstand up and the cranks turning, using a fine, steady stream of oil from a TriFlow applicator tube or similar.
I then wipe down the chain extra-thoroughly with a terrycloth rag.

The oiled-up bike is easier to then service as time allows, and the oil is good for many miles of service.
A proper greasing of bearing assemblies can then follow, if justified by satisfactory usage over time.

Many people don't know, and will never know, how good of a bike that these particular Schwinns really are!

I put 47 very hilly miles on my similar 1964 Schwinn Varsity this morning, and I'm a bit tired but that bike is ready for more!

Welcome to the club. I'm hoping that the bike is big enough for you, as these bikes ride well even if they initially seem to be on the very-large size for the rider.

Get some pictures up ASAP.
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