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Converting an old Schwinn 10-speed to hybrid trekking bike

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Converting an old Schwinn 10-speed to hybrid trekking bike

Old 06-01-12, 10:38 AM
  #1  
littlebum2002
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Converting an old Schwinn 10-speed to hybrid trekking bike

My wife has a great Schwinn 10-speed road bike. Since my wife and I mainly ride for exercise and comfort, not speed, a road bike is not exactly optimal for either of us. (Laugh if you want, but right now her drop bars are flipped upside down to create a makeshift butterfly bar so one can ride upright on the bike). Therefore, I have decided to convert her bike to a "hybrid" as well, or at least something approaching a hybrid. The main factor is cost: I am trying to replace as little as possible. the best inexpensive parts I can find. (I do far too much research on making sure I get a great deal on every part of the bike). So the main issue will be HOW MANY COMPONENTS I NEED TO REPLACE.

First is the handlebars and shifters. I have always thought road bikes were a bit stringent in the options that one is allowed to put on them. I'm certainly removing her friction stem shifters (HATE 'em!) and her drop-bar. I don't want to give her bar-end shifters, and brifters are out of our price range. I am thinking of replacing the handlebar with a butterfly bar, since this is very convenient in a trekking bike, andt also is sized for mountain-bike parts, which gives me much more latitude.

So right now I am replacing the handlebar and shifters, and by extension the brake levers and stem. I am going to put indexing twist shifters on instead. Sheldon Brown doesn't mention it, but I read here that this means I need a new freewheel. Is this correct? Not a problem, freewheels are cheap. However, I don't see any 5-speed indexing freewheels, so I'll get a 6-speed. Sheldon says derailleur speed numbers aren't very meaningful, but others say I need a derailleur that can handle at least the amount of speeds on my freewheel. Which is right?.

Now for the front, this is where it gets tricky. Supposedly if you have a "mountain" shifter, you need a "mountain" derailleur. From my knowledge of shifters, I would imagine that the problem with this combination would be that, instead of shifting from "1" to "2" to shift gears, you would have to shift PAST 2 to get the derailleur to move far enough to shift, in effect making it a friction shifter. Since there are only 2 gears up front, this would not be a huge issue, and I could live with it.Is this the issue with shifter-derailleur compatibility? Or will it simply not work at all? If it is the latter, then I will also need a mountain derailleur, which I understand is difficult, but possible, to make work on a road crankset.


So I have new:
handlebar
shifters
brake levers
stem
freewheel

and possibly new:
rear derailleur
front derailleur


Remember, the main issue is price. I am OK with finagling a bit with the parts to make them work, just as long as the bike is easy and comfortable for my wife to ride.
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Old 06-01-12, 11:01 AM
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Otter 718
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I hate to give you a non-answer to your clearly though out questions, but here it is anyway: Considering all the complications of road-mountain conversions, unless you are sentimentally attached to this particular bike, I would strongly recommend swapping the Schwinn for an old rigid mountain bike of equal value, et Voila!, the trekking bar conversion is 100% simpler.
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Old 06-01-12, 01:59 PM
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Well, that IS an option. There are 2 issues which make me want to rebuild this bike instead:

1. It IS a pretty bike. I plan on shineing (shining?) up all the chrome and repainting it to make it look very nice, and I am sure my wife will be very pleased with the result. My wife would certainly prefer to drive a nice classic bike, even slightly modified, than a generic Mongoose or Pacific that I could get for the $150-$200 or so it would cost to rebuilt it.

2. That wouldn't be fun! I like projects. They keep me busy. Just selling the Schwinn and buying a Mongoose wouldn't be exciting, or have a great story behind it. I am building a bike for myself currently, and if I also rebuilt my wife's bike, I could take pride in both whenever we went for a ride.
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Old 06-01-12, 05:35 PM
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Your classic Schwinn was built in the era of friction shifting. Indexed shifting came with 6-sp systems. A 6-sp indexed-compatible freewheel has profiled teeth which aid the chain's movement from cog to cog. I don't recall seeing any 5-sp freewheels, including those marketed as "indexed freewheels," that had such profiling. Profiled teeth are a plus for friction shifting, but they're a necessity for good indexed shifting. That may be why you didn't see mention of converting 5-sp systems from friction to indexed on Sheldon's site.

Conversion to 6-sp freewheel will probably become more complicated than you may now realize. The 6-sp freewheel is wider, so the drive-side locknut will need to be moved further drive-side by adding spacers. After re-centering the axle, you're left with a wheel that needs to be re-dished. The new locknut-to-locknut distance (OLD) is greater than the previous distance, so you then need to spread the rear triangle and check the dropouts for parallel alignment.

For someone that wants indexed shifting and doesn't want to deal with the mentioned work, I've seen 5-sp thumb and grip shifters available. But I question how well they really shift with a freewheel that lacks profiled teeth. I think their use was mostly confined to low-end dept store bikes.

Regarding derailleurs. In all likelihood, your RD isn't indexed compatible. As for grip shifters for 5-6sp systems, what I've seen is Shimano or SRAM (MRX). Either of these shifters will work with any Shimano road or MTB RD that's within your budget, as long as it's compatible with your largest cog and chainwrap. The front derailleur isn't much of a concern, since the front grip shifter has micro-detents. It won't work better than a friction front shifter, but it should work well enough.

If cost is really the greatest concern, then getting some friction thumb shifters should be on your list. Minimal cost, minimal maintenance, reliable, and no compatibility issues.
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Old 06-01-12, 07:02 PM
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My 2 cents on the matter:

Forget about the index shifting and search out a set of Suntour ratcheting thumb shifters. I like and use trekking bars, but a set of north road bars might be better. They normally have more rise to them, compared to trekking bars. You also want to make sure that what ever stem you are going to use has enough rise to it.

These are not mine, but as an example, here is a set of the thumb shifters:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Suntour-Ratc...#ht_500wt_1156
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Old 06-04-12, 12:10 PM
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For a second, I had given up hope and planned on getting a North-type road bar and sticking with friction shifters as suggested. However, I looked at the bike (one would think I would have done so earlier) and found good news and bad news.

The good news is: I have a Positron rear derailleur!
The bad news is: I have a Positron rear derailleur!

Seriously, this means I do have an indexing rear freewheel. At first, I wondered why I had assumed this bike was friction-shifting, then I noticed that the cable housing was all but gone, held together by only 2 threads which must have caused the poor shifting Actually, I do remember seeing that when I first looked over this bike, but that was years ago. About a week ago my ancient wal-mart special mountain bike finally tacoed and I just hopped on my wife's until I could build a new one, and apparently didn't look it over very well.

Now, the cable itself is fine, and I am of the understanding (probably incorrect, of course) that Positron simply had a unique CABLE, not a unique HOUSING. So I will try to slide this cable in an old housing and see if it will work. That would be nice because I could buy any friction shifter for the front and still have an indexing system.

However, since that almost certainly won't work, I figure I'll just buy a decent rear derailleur and an indexing shifter for the front. Now I can stick with the trekking bars, since I have a million mountain bike indexing shifters to choose from, and still have a happy wife. Hooray!


Anyone want to bet that, after all this work, my wife just uses one gear? I'll bet I could make this a single speed and have shifters for show and she won't know the difference. Actually, I may do that. Get the new handlebar and brakes, stick her bike in a medium gear, and see if she wants more gears or not.
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Old 06-05-12, 05:50 AM
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Does your Schwinn have a Shimano FF ( front freewheel ) system ?

If so, you'll probably want to change that out also.
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Old 06-05-12, 06:08 AM
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I've done a bit of research on the bike, with serial numbers and all that, and I think it is a 1983 Schwinn World Tourist, which does have front freewheel
https://bikecatalogs.org/SCHWINN/1983...1983Ltwt11.JPG

Again, i think I'll keep it on, and if she decides that she wants more than one speed, I can upgrade it long with the rest of the drivetrain.
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Old 06-11-12, 06:24 AM
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It's actually coming along nicely so far. The only issue I have is that $&*$@ Schwinn and their $&*$@ special sizes on everything! The stem I ordered was the standard 22mm, but of course it has the 21mm stem, so I had to order another one.

Once my new stem comes in, I'm replacing it, the handlebars, and the brake levers. I've replaced the tires with some knobby 27" tires (stupid special tire size, too) since there is a patch of sand on my trip to work that threatens to wipe me out every morning. I'm leaving it as a single speed for now, so it is really a pretty simple conversion, costing under $150. I also got some Turtle wax chrome polish and rust remover, and buffed up the frame. It's looking great. I'll have to post pics when I'm done.
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Old 06-11-12, 09:24 AM
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27" tires shouldn't be that hard to come by. I know you can get Panaracer Paselas in 27 inch...because I'm getting them on my bike!

Yes, hope you're taking lots of photos...the before-and-after threads are some of my favorite on here.
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Old 06-11-12, 02:50 PM
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I didn't even think of taking "before" pictures. Just a dusty, rusty old Schwinn. But now that I've already done the work, I wish I had, just to remember exactly how much work has been done. Anyway, we'll have some shiny pictures when I'm done, so that's almost good enough.

Wow, those Panaracers are exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a tire with decent tread, but not too knobby. I ended up getting very knobby Kenda Krosscyclo k161 tires. I didn't wipe out in the sand pit I encounter every day on the way to work, so they're fine with me.
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Old 08-03-14, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by littlebum2002 View Post
I've done a bit of research on the bike, with serial numbers and all that, and I think it is a 1983 Schwinn World Tourist, which does have front freewheel
https://bikecatalogs.org/SCHWINN/1983...1983Ltwt11.JPG

Again, i think I'll keep it on, and if she decides that she wants more than one speed, I can upgrade it long with the rest of the drivetrain.
would you mind giving a step by step of how you converted this to single speed with the ffs? im trying to do the same, but am quite new to bikes and have found limited info
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Old 08-03-14, 02:44 PM
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For the amount of money spent on the conversion, you could get a brand new hybrid bike and avoid having to swap parts.

Unless a vintage bike is very desirable, one is better off selling it for a better bike.
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