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1972 schwinn varstiy on tour

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1972 schwinn varstiy on tour

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Old 07-08-10, 07:36 PM
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Kazarad
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1972 schwinn varstiy on tour

how well would a 1972 schwinn varstiy be on tour? the tour that im thinking about is a VERY long tour of 10,000 miles plus with about 100 pounds of gear on the bike it self plus my self (200 pounds) and towing another 200 pounds behind it. so about 500 pounds altogether.
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Old 07-08-10, 07:48 PM
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Before getting to the bike, why are you looking to take 300 pounds of stuff?

The bike would not be a great choice. Really heavy, not designed to carry a heavy load, steel rims on the wheels, blade fork, lack of fittings for fenders, racks, water bottles, -- I could go on..... Could you do a tour on a 72 Varsity, sure. Would it be as much fun as on a better bike with more gears, better brakes etc etc -- I don't think so.
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Old 07-08-10, 08:05 PM
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What on God's green Earth are you carrying!?!?!?

I remember Schwinn Varsitys being quite heavy by themselves and not too well suited for much of anything, even by the standards of 1972.

Carrying half again your own body weight is just not going to be pleasant for any distance, certainly not for 10,000 miles. Doing it on a 40 year old clunker that was at the trailing edge of technology in its time isn't going to help.

I suppose if you replaced the "gas-pipe" steel frame with a modern chrome-moly steel frame, and replaced the single piece cotterless steel Ashtabula crank with a modern 3 piece cotterless crank and bottom bracket, and replaced the steel rims and hubs and galvanized steel spokes with modern aluminum alloy hubs and rims and stainless steel spokes, and replaced the 5 speed freewheel with a 7, 8 9 or 10 speed cassette, and replaced those worthless stamped steel brakes with alloy cantilevers or V-brakes... well, you get the idea. The Schwinn Varsity wasn't the best choice around for a tour in 1972 (although plenty of people crossed the country on them and had a great time doing it, mostly because they didn't know any better), and the years haven't made it any better. Bicycles have advanced somewhat in the last four decades, why not take advantage of some of the current technology.

Sorry if I seem negative or elitist or anything like that, but I really can't help but think that you'll have a much better time if you lose at least 1/2 of your luggage weight and get yourself a machine built sometime in the current century. The load you propose to carry would tax any cyclist and any bicycle that's ever been built, let alone a low budget machine like your Schwinn Varsity.
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Old 07-08-10, 08:26 PM
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Kazarad
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ok well thanks for the advice the reson i ask is because i just picked one up because my bike was trashed and un-ride-able so i just wanted to see how far i could push the bike but i guess its going to be a good get a rounder lol. again thanks for the advice
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Old 07-08-10, 10:22 PM
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I'm still curious about the 300 lbs of stuff... maybe the OP is a competitive swimmer, and is carrying his own pool with him?

Anyway, I agree with the last poster. Get rid of MOST of the crap you plan on bringing, and get yourself a newer bicycle. Some of them are cheap. Hell, I built my own for about $600. Use this bike for tooling around in town, etc.

But yeah, seriously... shoot for a MAX of 40lbs of stuff. Remember, anything you buy along the way you don't have to haul up every hill.
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Old 07-09-10, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Kazarad View Post
how well would a 1972 schwinn varstiy be on tour? the tour that im thinking about is a VERY long tour of 10,000 miles plus with about 100 pounds of gear on the bike it self plus my self (200 pounds) and towing another 200 pounds behind it. so about 500 pounds altogether.

It would be h-e- double toothpick.
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Old 07-09-10, 09:41 AM
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The biggest factor in any bike your going to sit on for a long time, touring or otherwise, is how comfortable it is to ride. I don't think the Varsity would top anyone's list of preferred touring bikes, but if you find it comfortable to ride for long periods of time, then it passes the first test. But for 10K miles, you may want to shop around and find what you're most comfortable on. If it ends up being the Varsity, so be it. If you search Crazy Guy On a Bike, you will find a few references to folks putting some miles on their Schwinn Varsities, but mostly "back in the day" when the Varsity was in its prime, and probably not the distances you're talking about.

The 2nd issue is how it hauls cargo. If you're set on taking a trailer, then you can probably set up the the trailer to take the bulk of your gear, which should make the Schwinn's hauling capacity moot. A handlebar bag for easily accessible gear may be all you need. In that case, you just want to make sure every part of that Varsity is overhauled, examined, regreased. I would be willing to risk a very well-maintained Varsity on a long ride, but most of these bikes have been around a while and many parts could easily already be near the breaking point. Even if they're not, 10K is a significant strain to put on any bike, and it strikes me as too far to expect to travel without needing some repairs on the road, so then there's a question of how easy it will be to get parts while on the road. I don't know the answer to that, but I expect that a newer bike will be easier to find parts for on the fly. On the other hand, whole Schwinn Varsities aren't really in short supply, so rather look around for the right size bottom bracket bearings, you might just grab the next available Varsity and keep going. ;-)

But the real issue is the weight you plan to carry. That load is going to tax just about any bike. Maybe a cargo bike is what you really need. Or maybe you need to rethink your gear situation. I don't know if you have special needs/considerations that make 300 lbs of gear necessary, but I think most tourers on this forum would consider that to be beyond excessive no matter what bike you're riding. I think shedding at least 2/3rds of that weight will do more for your tour than any bike upgrade could.
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Old 07-09-10, 09:58 AM
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John Coloccia
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I owned a Varsity for many years, into my early 20's. As was said previously, it wasn't that great of a bike even at the time. I recall that it weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 41lbs. It was never terribly comfortable, and IMHO the gearing is all wrong for touring/commuting etc. Given a choice, I would pick practically any hybrid or mountain bike over the Varsity for just about touring or commuting application. Can you tell that I never bonded with my Varsity? LOL.
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Old 07-09-10, 10:07 AM
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Just wanted to add something. One thing it has going for it is that as far as I know, the thing is indestructible. I graduated from my BMX bike to the Varsity, and spent many years abusing that bike. Potholes, jumps, curbs, whatever. Not once did I ever break a spoke, bend a wheel, crack anything, bend anything. Maybe I was just lucky, but those extra 20lbs does seem to have some purpose, at least.
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Old 07-09-10, 10:18 AM
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LeeG
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You could use the Varsity as a touring bike for heavy loads but but carrying 100lbs and towing a 100lbs takes you outside the realm of most touring bikes and brakes into utility bike category with multiple brake systems. I've turned a few Varsitys into utility bikes and kid carriers but it usually means replacing the old corroded steel wheels with 700x35mm wheels and tires, better brakes and different gears. Using the stock gears on the one piece crank you've got a 38t low gear(I think) which will not be low enough for all that weight. By the time you get around to upgrading the crank, wheels, brakes you should have found an old mtn. bike whose wheels and brakes could better carry the massive load. I could see you using the varsity as a regular touring bike with limited low 38/34 low gear but not for the loads you're describing for any kind of hills.
If you reduced the load down to 40lbs , found a one piece crank adaptor for smaller rings and scrounged up a front rack it's doable but not for carrying 100lbs and towing 100lbs. That's so far out there in stresses that you'd be looking for the strongest rear mtn. bike wheel and heavy rims that could take the heat buildup and/or duplicate braking systems.
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