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Getting a used Schwinn Varsity?

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Getting a used Schwinn Varsity?

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Old 10-08-17, 07:33 AM
  #26  
Gresp15C
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I guess I only know Schwinn from that era and I am sure Schwinn from that era commands a premium. You said maybe broadening my selection what other used bikes from that era besides Schwinn were you thinking of that were great bikes?
A couple brands that I remember are Miyata and Fuji. But that might just be what was available in the shops that I had access to. I recall that there were a lot of brands that came and went quickly, but were decent bikes. Here's how those brands seemed to differentiate the price scale: Once it's got a lug frame, then it might not be a super lightweight, but it probably won't be a tank. Cr-Mo tubing was likely to be lighter, but not guaranteed. Fancy tubing will usually be identified by some kind of brand label on the frame. Beyond that, more fancy bikes tended to have more braze-ons and more aluminum parts. Rear drop-outs with an integral derailleur hanger is a bonus, as it allows you to use a modern derailleur with no fuss.

I'd suggest going in with reasonable expectations about project cost. There will invariably be a few things that you end up replacing. A bike that's got no flaws and has had its components updated will cost as much as an entry level Bikes Direct bike. I wouldn't do this if I didn't enjoy tinkering with old bikes.
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Old 10-08-17, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I guess I only know Schwinn from that era and I am sure Schwinn from that era commands a premium. You said maybe broadening my selection what other used bikes from that era besides Schwinn were you thinking of that were great bikes?
You should check Craigslist a few times a day.
You need a very small bike: 19"-20" or 49-52cm.

Once you see a bike, google information about it online.
Check the condition of the bike from photos. The fewer scratches it has, the better. Rust is unacceptable.

For example, this is a Schwinn Prelude from Chicago.
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...337657632.html

It's from 1988. It has an indexed drivetrain.
Here is a page from a 1988 Schwinn catalog. The Prelude weighs 24lb, it should weigh even less in the 19" size.
http://www.trfindley.com/flschwinn_1...90/1988_16.jpg
The bike has pretty good Italian double-butted tubes.
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Old 10-08-17, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
You should check Craigslist a few times a day.
You need a very small bike: 19"-20" or 49-52cm.

Once you see a bike, google information about it online.
Check the condition of the bike from photos. The fewer scratches it has, the better. Rust is unacceptable.

For example, this is a Schwinn Prelude from Chicago.
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...337657632.html

It's from 1988. It has an indexed drivetrain.
Here is a page from a 1988 Schwinn catalog. The Prelude weighs 24lb, it should weigh even less in the 19" size.
http://www.trfindley.com/flschwinn_1...90/1988_16.jpg
The bike has pretty good Italian double-butted tubes.
yeah that is a nice bike that would fit me... I might think about that bike thanks for the tip
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Old 10-08-17, 01:17 PM
  #29  
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Another notable feature of that Prelude, worth looking for in other bikes as well, is that the parts all conform to standards that were in use for a period of many years. So it's easy to find spares, either new or used. And it's new enough to have 700c rims, meaning that you can find a wider range of modern tires for it. No matter how nice an old bike is, if it still has its original tires (and brake pads), those things will have to be replaced because the materials deteriorate chemically over time.

It's a modern bike, but it still has the classic look.
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Old 10-09-17, 06:48 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I guess I only know Schwinn from that era and I am sure Schwinn from that era commands a premium. You said maybe broadening my selection what other used bikes from that era besides Schwinn were you thinking of that were great bikes?
Lot and lots of options. Think American, British, European, and Japanese. If you go British, Raleigh was a benchmark of quality. I still remember lusting after a high end Raleigh back in 1981 but because it cost $600, I had to go Japanese. In the 70s and 80s, French bikes were great. Peugeot, Motebecane, Gitane, Mercier. (lots of low cost French bikes, especially Peugeot. Beware some of these bikes, though good for the time, also have issues you need to be aware of if you are planning a restoration) If your taste runs more to Italian, Bianchi, Pinarello, Colnago, De Rosa.

Vintage Japanese bikes represent a great value. Panasonic, Bridgestone, Fuji, Miyata, Nishiki, for example. All of these brands made high quality bicycles from the top to the bottom of their lines.

Finally, vintage Treks are fantastic, though because of the popularity of modern Treks, might go for a premium.
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Old 10-09-17, 08:44 AM
  #31  
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had 2 as a kid, they were both stolen. got years of fun out of them before they were gone. once I got my drivers license I rode less. way later "cycling" became a thing around here & bike commuting became a thing. started biking again & got an old Varsity to fix up for a while. it was quiet & comfortable. heavy? yes? a little slower, especially up hill? yes. interesting & heart warming few months? yes. the guy who bought it from me was extremely happy to get it. now ride a much lighter aluminum bike w a carbon fork & integrated brake/shift levers. huge improvement? oh yes
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Old 10-09-17, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I guess I only know Schwinn from that era and I am sure Schwinn from that era commands a premium.
Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
A couple brands that I remember are Miyata and Fuji.
Some of the non-road bikes like the Stingrays do, but other than Paramounts and some of the other less common higher-end models, there isn't much of a premium commanded over any other manufacturer (at least, from my daily perusing of CL). There's just too many of them out there to command any special value.

I'd agree (once again, in my area) that Miyatas seem to be some of the better deals, and I'd probably add Univega and Raleigh to that list too. Any of the French bikes of decent quality command a pretty decent price. If you are worried about things commanding a premium, Italians are probably out completely.
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Old 10-09-17, 01:53 PM
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My father had a garage ornament 70s Schwinn Continental which I think is just above the Varsity. The bike was very heavy and both him or I did not enjoy riding it which is why it sat unused.

I would agree with the previous posters about getting a higher end frame like the Paramount since the additional cost is minimal. The more you enjoy the bike, the more you will ride it.
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Old 10-09-17, 06:35 PM
  #34  
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If you are talking about a pre 1993 or so Varsity, then I used to have one. In fact I kept it and rode it for 35 years. They ride great, but they were heavy. Mine was 44 pounds.

When I started to ride for fitness after turning 50 something, I got hooked on riding and really shaped up. But then I realized why you don't want a heavier than necessary frame.

Irregardless of what you say... there is always some competitive instinct buried somewhere. Once you start feeling fit, you are going to see someone ahead of you on the trail or someone will out climb you. Then you are going to start an impromptu race known only to yourself. A lighter bike is much easier to accelerate and much easier to climb with.

When I realized that, I got a 23 pound 1978 Raleigh Competition. Accelerating and climbing were amazingly easier. I started beating many younger guys at climbs. Of course they may have been finishing up a 40 mile ride, but it boosted my ego! It didn't make a big difference in my averages, but I felt much better at the end of my rides.

So take a close look at what @jefnvk has posted. Those are some nice bikes that can be had for a decent price and are much lighter. A Varsity like mine in very good condition is not worth what they ask for them on Ebay and Craigslist. I sold mine for $35 bucks. Only because the buyer took my asking price. I would have given it away for a sob story.

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Old 10-09-17, 06:48 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If you are talking about a pre 1993 or so Varsity, then I used to have one. In fact I kept it and rode it for 35 years. They ride great, but they were heavy. Mine was 44 pounds.

When I started to ride for fitness after turning 50 something, I got hooked on riding and really shaped up. But then I realized why you don't want a heavier than necessary frame.

Irregardless of what you say... there is always some competitive instinct buried somewhere. Once you start feeling fit, you are going to see someone ahead of you on the trail or someone will out climb you. Then you are going to start an impromptu race known only to yourself. A lighter bike is much easier to accelerate and much easier to climb with.

When I realized that, I got a 23 pound 1978 Raleigh Competition. Accelerating and climbing were amazingly easier. I started beating many younger guys at climbs. Of course they may have been finishing up a 40 mile ride, but it boosted my ego! It didn't make a big difference in my averages, but I felt much better at the end of my rides.

So take a close look at what @jefnvk has posted. Those are some nice bikes that can be had for a decent price and are much lighter. A Varsity like mine in very good condition is not worth what they ask for them on Ebay and Craigslist. I sold mine for $35 bucks. Only because the buyer took my asking price. I would have given it away for a sob story.
Yeah all choices. I am partial to the old Schwinn's I have to admit, maybe it is just growing up with them as a kid and my dad riding them. I really like the look of the old Schwinn's I think they are beautiful bikes. I actually like them better then the new Trek road bikes out there, even though the Trek Road bikes are probably faster. I just love the way the old Schwinn's look. Buying a road bike based on how beautiful I think the bike is and not how fast it is or great the gears shift doesn't make a lot sense to me. I don't know my feelings don't make a lot rational sense sometimes, I guess I would rather have one of those old Schwinn's then a new Trek Road bike. I just really love the way they look, seems like a dumb reason to love a bike but can't help it. I really fell in love with the prelude when I saw it online. There is a good chance I might contact the seller if someone hasn't already bought it lol

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Old 10-09-17, 11:04 PM
  #36  
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I rode one for some years BITD,

but it's a crappy bike & the love affair might wear thin, especially if you have hills.

If you're going for love & nostalgia at least get a Paramount.
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Old 10-10-17, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I am partial to the old Schwinn's I have to admit, maybe it is just growing up with them as a kid and my dad riding them. I really like the look of the old Schwinn's I think they are beautiful bikes
They are. I only ride old steel bikes too because I think they look like I grew up to think a bicycle should look. My son won't though. He only rides the new bikes. So it's really just a matter of personal choice to a large extents.

But do realize that Varsity was one of Schwinn's lowest priced road bikes. Because they were cheap, more were probably sold. They had pretty much the same geometry and tube sizes as their other road bikes of the time. That is why they are "pretty". But their weight at 44 plus pounds compared to Schwinn's other road bikes put Varsity's at the bottom of "ideal" road bike.

There are many of Schwinn's better models available for very reasonable prices. You can find sub 30 pound Scwhinn's for less than 150 bucks if you are patient.

As well, Trek made bikes back in the mid to late 70's too. They are some pretty bikes, as well as Raleigh England, Raleigh USA , Fuji, Panasonic and a plenty of others.

Another consideration though, old bikes have old components. Though they will still function very well, you will not get the benefits of things like 11 speeds on the rear which gives smoother gear ratio transitions. And most will be downtube shifters instead of "brifters" or "STI's" which make shifting so much better... IMO. I know, I just recently went from downtube to STI's and am calling myself stupid for not doing it sooner.

You can upgrade old bikes with new components. I do. But I can do all my own work on them and have the tools and other resources, such as friends with machine shops and even more tools that make it less costly than just buying new bikes.

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Old 10-10-17, 10:54 AM
  #38  
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Weight is not the be-all end-all criteria for selecting a bicycle or measuring its value for the user. There are other features not alweays appreciatedby weight weenie obsessed enthusiasts. Durability, price, nostalgia (in the case of the OP), intended use and a host of other factors may make an "old school" Varsity just the ticket.

Pictured is a $5 garage sale find in 2006, second picture is the Varsity refitted with upright handlebars from my old parts bin, used for the last 11 years for local shopping with a $10 garage sale trailer.
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Old 10-10-17, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Weight is not the be-all end-all criteria for selecting a bicycle or measuring its value for the user. There are other features not alweays appreciatedby weight weenie obsessed enthusiasts. Durability, price, nostalgia (in the case of the OP), intended use and a host of other factors may make an "old school" Varsity just the ticket.

Pictured is a $5 garage sale find in 2006, second picture is the Varsity refitted with upright handlebars from my old parts bin, used for the last 11 years for local shopping with a $10 garage sale trailer.


I would have upgraded to at least a $10 bike years ago.
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Old 10-10-17, 01:55 PM
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I have an 87 Schwinn Prelude in the 19" size. I got it for $125. It has good Shimano components, 700c wheels, Columbus Tenax tubing, braze-ons for racks/fenders, etc. It's a really great bike. Mine weighs about 24 lbs, which isn't much, really.
I wouldn't get a Varsity, personally...there are just so many nicer bikes out there, even if you just want to stick with Schwinn. They come around often enough. it's just that the smallest of them/the nicer bikes, in good condition, usually cost a bit more, at least in my area. At 5'5, you might be able to get a 50-52 or so, depending on your measurements and how you want it to fit, though.

Other brands I would watch for are Miyata, Univega, Trek, Raleigh, Centurion, Nishiki, Specialized, etc...Spend some time over in the C&V sub forum
If you want to see some other Schwinns, though these are from the 80's - Show off your late 1980's Schwinn road bike here

If you can't see all the pictures because of the photobucket mess, you can download this add-on so you can see em, if you are using Firefox or Chrome.
Firefox - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/fir...dl-upandcoming
Chrome - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/d...alioapbifiaedg
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Old 01-31-19, 06:32 PM
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I see nothing wrong with owning a Schwinn Varsity and using it every time you want to. It is heavy, yet durable. It has less than desirable components but they are easy to service and keep limping along year after year. I own a Varsity but chose to replaced everything on it. Aluminum rims and good deraileurs are a great start. 700C wheels are great also. With 700C wheels you can run 40mm tires front and back. Aluminum seatpost and lighter handlebars. Did I mention that the reason so many are still around in straight and true form is because the frame and fork are seriously tough. Basically after changing out the heavy crank, heavy wheels, poor derailleurs you end up with a bicycle that will weigh about 6 lbs greater than good chrome moly framed bicycles. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking some chrome moly bicycle is any better than a 1010 steel bike. They are just lighter for equivalent strength. In other words a Varsity is no doubt as strong as any chrome moly frame/ fork because of all the extra steel put into it. They are roughly double the weight of a normal chrome moly frame and fork. Steel weighs the same per cubic lb whether chrome moly or low strength steel. So extra lbs of low strength steel is additive in strength. I note that a lot of comments are on perceived worth. You can buy a much lighter bicycle from the Chicago Varsity era with better components that were available at the time. I find from reading a lot of bicycle blogs that those old components last just long enough to get the bike home and then are swapped out. Either from the parts bin or new/used purchases. So upgrading an old Schwinn Varsity with lighter and better components would be no different than what so many of us already do to our bicycles. Basically all 40 yr old bicycles with original components are worn out and need a component group change anyway. I have ridden a number of 1010 low strength steel frame/fork equipped bicycles from different manufacturers and have noted a unique quality about them that keeps me coming back for more. Low strength steel absorbs road vibration much better than hardened alloy steels. I ride my 40mm tire equipped Varsity off road all the time because it is so smooth and comfortable. I ride another 1010 steel frame/fork bicycle with 27x1 1/4" wheels with 100psi tires and it is very vibration resistant. If you are competing and are very competitive then old Schwinn Varsity's are not the way to go. If you like an easy riding durable bicycle that fills a lot of other roles beside racing then the old Varsity has a lot to offer. And lastly a comment about the worth of all older steel frame/forks being sold out there. If the frame/fork is serviceable then the value of buying older bicycles lies in their low initial cost and the low cost of upgrading the component groups. Especially if you do the work yourself. You will save hundreds of dollars over new purchase and get your money's worth in service.
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Old 01-31-19, 06:34 PM
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Sorry for the photo flub. I'll figure out how to put a photo on one day.
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Old 01-31-19, 07:57 PM
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Forty-two pounds is also my recollection of a Varsity's weight. A modern road bike would be considered somewhat heavy at 22 pounds. It rode like a tank, too. Stay away!
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Old 01-31-19, 09:37 PM
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As someone whose first adult bike was a Continental, a step up from a Varsity but also a boat anchor, I don't understand the desire some have for these bikes.
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Old 01-31-19, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
If you really must have a Varsity, you can improve it by replacing the wheels with Aluminum ones. I have an old Schwinn Speedster with aluminum rims (and a triple crank!) that is at least pleasant to ride.
Back in college I had had a nice Raleigh Competition (Lavender! A Carlton-built 531 frame - later stolen - sob) with a nice setup of wheels, and my friend Gary had a Varsity with aftermarket aluminum wheels. We went out to ride and went about 60 miles. Five miles outside of town he said "I'm sprinting in: anyone wanna come?". In short, he kicked my tushie with that alloy-wheeled Varsity.

That said, I have a Superb and its head and shoulders above the Varsity. Trust me, I worked in a bike shop in the 70s and set up 100s of Schwinns. A Le Tour or Superb will come with the aluminum wheels and will give you an even nicer ride that the Varsity.

But hey, if you like the Varsity ride, go for it!
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Old 01-31-19, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
Back in college I had had a nice Raleigh Competition (Lavender! A Carlton-built 531 frame - later stolen - sob) with a nice setup of wheels, and my friend Gary had a Varsity with aftermarket aluminum wheels. We went out to ride and went about 60 miles. Five miles outside of town he said "I'm sprinting in: anyone wanna come?". In short, he kicked my tushie with that alloy-wheeled Varsity.

That said, I have a Superb and its head and shoulders above the Varsity. Trust me, I worked in a bike shop in the 70s and set up 100s of Schwinns. A Le Tour or Superb will come with the aluminum wheels and will give you an even nicer ride that the Varsity.

But hey, if you like the Varsity ride, go for it!
Actually, the '76 Le Tours came with steel rims. I moved up from a '73 Continental to a Le Tour. After I replaced the wheels with aluminum-rimmed wheels, the Le Tour was great - huge improvement over the Continental.
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Old 01-31-19, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tallbikeman View Post
I see nothing wrong with owning a Schwinn Varsity and using it every time you want to. It is heavy, yet durable. It has less than desirable components but they are easy to service and keep limping along year after year. I own a Varsity but chose to replaced everything on it. Aluminum rims and good deraileurs are a great start. 700C wheels are great also. With 700C wheels you can run 40mm tires front and back. Aluminum seatpost and lighter handlebars. Did I mention that the reason so many are still around in straight and true form is because the frame and fork are seriously tough. Basically after changing out the heavy crank, heavy wheels, poor derailleurs you end up with a bicycle that will weigh about 6 lbs greater than good chrome moly framed bicycles. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking some chrome moly bicycle is any better than a 1010 steel bike. They are just lighter for equivalent strength. In other words a Varsity is no doubt as strong as any chrome moly frame/ fork because of all the extra steel put into it. They are roughly double the weight of a normal chrome moly frame and fork. Steel weighs the same per cubic lb whether chrome moly or low strength steel. So extra lbs of low strength steel is additive in strength. I note that a lot of comments are on perceived worth. You can buy a much lighter bicycle from the Chicago Varsity era with better components that were available at the time. I find from reading a lot of bicycle blogs that those old components last just long enough to get the bike home and then are swapped out. Either from the parts bin or new/used purchases. So upgrading an old Schwinn Varsity with lighter and better components would be no different than what so many of us already do to our bicycles. Basically all 40 yr old bicycles with original components are worn out and need a component group change anyway. I have ridden a number of 1010 low strength steel frame/fork equipped bicycles from different manufacturers and have noted a unique quality about them that keeps me coming back for more. Low strength steel absorbs road vibration much better than hardened alloy steels. I ride my 40mm tire equipped Varsity off road all the time because it is so smooth and comfortable. I ride another 1010 steel frame/fork bicycle with 27x1 1/4" wheels with 100psi tires and it is very vibration resistant. If you are competing and are very competitive then old Schwinn Varsity's are not the way to go. If you like an easy riding durable bicycle that fills a lot of other roles beside racing then the old Varsity has a lot to offer. And lastly a comment about the worth of all older steel frame/forks being sold out there. If the frame/fork is serviceable then the value of buying older bicycles lies in their low initial cost and the low cost of upgrading the component groups. Especially if you do the work yourself. You will save hundreds of dollars over new purchase and get your money's worth in service.
+1
My 1974 Varsity is really a 2017 Ultegra/XTR in disguise. It is the most comfortable bike in the fleet. Ideally suited to gravel grinding & general all-round use. I mostly use it for all weather commuting with full rack, fenders, panniers it tops 70 pounds, yet curiously in comparison to my race bike watt for watt it's only 1 mph slower. Modern bikes are hopelessly specialized.

Fwiw: My wifes varsity is sub 25 pounds. When stripped down, mine is 30. There is a thread in framebuilder sub about each. They're a special case though.

Op: A Schwinn Varsity is a right of passage. Money well spent. Money well wasted. Iconic universal. Don't pay more than a hundred bucks, don't expect much, but simply enjoy the experience of riding the bike that introduced your father or grandfather to cycling. They can be quite fun if you calibrate your expectations back 40-50 years.
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Old 01-31-19, 10:17 PM
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WizardOfBoz
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
Actually, the '76 Le Tours came with steel rims. I moved up from a '73 Continental to a Le Tour. After I replaced the wheels with aluminum-rimmed wheels, the Le Tour was great - huge improvement over the Continental.
Ah, thanks. A long time ago. But I always liked the Le Tours.
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Old 01-31-19, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
My father had an old Schwinn road bike he rode when I was a kid I couldn't keep up with him He said he bought it for $300 in the 70's was a lot of money back then. It was either a Varsity or a Paramount. He could go very fast on it and would ride 20-40 miles a day after work. He could go 20+ miles an hour on that thing.
reading thru this old thread has been funny.

this quoted part may be the funniest. His dad either had the lowest end tank of a bike or the highest end quality bike.
I certainly chuckled.
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Old 02-01-19, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
+1
My 1974 Varsity is really a 2017 Ultegra/XTR in disguise. It is the most comfortable bike in the fleet. Ideally suited to gravel grinding & general all-round use. I mostly use it for all weather commuting with full rack, fenders, panniers it tops 70 pounds, yet curiously in comparison to my race bike watt for watt it's only 1 mph slower. Modern bikes are hopelessly specialized.

Fwiw: My wifes varsity is sub 25 pounds. When stripped down, mine is 30. There is a thread in framebuilder sub about each. They're a special case though.

Op: A Schwinn Varsity is a right of passage. Money well spent. Money well wasted. Iconic universal. Don't pay more than a hundred bucks, don't expect much, but simply enjoy the experience of riding the bike that introduced your father or grandfather to cycling. They can be quite fun if you calibrate your expectations back 40-50 years.
Throw up a pic of that bad boy, I like a Varsity too

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