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  1. #1
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    Bike help! Older schwinn road bike...

    Well, last summer I wanted a road bike. I am at most an amateur cyclist who rides for fun and exercise. Being 15 and without a job, I didn't have a lot of money to blow. Ended up paying $20 for an older schwinn, I assume from early to mid 80's. It was in rough condition. I cleaned it up and was demoralized, didn't really want to continue the project.
    Bike help! Older schwinn road bike...-599252_3122777958387_882825401_n.jpg
    So, that's the bike. The handlebars that were on it were not drop bars, but a weird bar that slightly curved up. Didn't have a rear brake, only a poorly working front brake. Converted to a single speed, old cassette was still there. Removal of grease and electric tape revealed that the seat post was too small. I would like to fix this up as spring is coming around the corner. I fear that I may have spent $20 on a pile of junk. Some of the components seem like they are nice replacements, many of the wheel parts were belgian made. Not sure if that's good (weimann company?) Bike was painted over in a matte gray. It appears that the original color was black. Whoever painted it painted over stickers on the frame like the schwinn compass logo.

    I'm looking to repaint this. place drop bars, get a proper fitting seat, new brakes, and possibly make it multiple gears again. I would appreciate help to identify what type of schwinn this is, if it's fixable, and if it is, what parts would fit. Just thought I would ask for help online before going to a local shop to get over-charged. Thanks so much, guys.
    -Max
    Last edited by maxgmayer; 04-02-2013 at 07:01 PM.

  2. #2
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    Max, you write well, but I didn't read it all. It hurts my eyes ;-) Bust it up in paragraphs with some blank lines in between. then you'll get some more people to read it, and get more advice.
    Ubuntu: I am what I am because of who we all are.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    Max, you write well, but I didn't read it all. It hurts my eyes ;-) Bust it up in paragraphs with some blank lines in between. then you'll get some more people to read it, and get more advice.
    You're right. I went ahead and cleaned it up. Any help would be much obliged, thank you so much.

  4. #4
    Cranky Old Bastard
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    Hi Max
    I don't know enough about Schwinn to be able to say if yours is special or worth much. Maybe put some paint thinner on a rag and carefully wipe off the stickers/logos to see what model it is?
    A lot of time you can tell by the components but it seems that yours have been stripped.

    I wonder if there is a Schwinn serial number archive where someone could find the model and build date by the number? Again I'm no expert.

    But I am writing to say that often a good way to fix up a bike like that is to get another one, or two, or however many it takes to get all the good parts that you need.

    Those bikes aren't worth a lot and are cheap. Today I passed a "junk emporium" that has at least a dozen old drop-bar bikes out front.

    My point is that buying new parts, if they are available, would be expensive and the best way to get what you need is from another bike.

    Always be on the lookout for old bikes that you can get cheap or free.
    When I was your age I had brothers and friends and we always had a few working bikes and a few "strippers" laying around for parts. Sometimes someone would put an old bike out with the garbage and I'd grab it. People knew I loved bikes and would give me one they weren't using any more. I'd watch the newspaper ads (and now CL).
    Make friends with your local bike shop owner, he may have some junkers or parts for cheap or free.

    Over time you will learn about bikes and components and what will work for you and which bikes aren't worth dragging home.

    Look for good stuff like aluminum rims, crankset, and brakes (instead of steel). Aluminum parts weren't put on the cheapest bikes. Lugged frames may indicate a better bike.

    A few years ago I found a Univega 12-speed at a junk shop and got it for $10. It is all original and hardly has a scratch on it. It was made in the early 80s and must have sat in a garage for most of its' life. The handlebar tape is faded, the tires were dry-rotted but otherwise it is really nice and I replaced the tires, tubes, brake pads and cables and rode it often. The only reason why I'm not riding it now is that the frame was a little big for me and I gave it to a taller brother!

    So keep your eye out, good luck and good hunting!
    Last edited by Randy99CL; 04-02-2013 at 08:23 PM.

  5. #5
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    I say, have it powder coat painted and JP Weigle the frame afterwards. Then join a bicycle co-op. The co-op should have plenty of spare parts plus mechanics on hand, if you should need some assistance.

  6. #6
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Not to underrate your frame because I think it has some character, but for a number of reasons (probably, it's vintage) there's a potential for compatibility issues and/ or it becoming a money pit rather quickly.

    It'll be difficult for you to judge fit with the bike sitting 'bare bones', but assuming it does fit reasonably well, I agree with the posters above. Scrounge, salvage, find used/ cheap parts where you can - and wherever possible, build on what you already have. Otherwise, the $20 investment becomes ~$200, and that could get you a complete (albeit, well used) bike.

  7. #7
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    While not with a Schwinn specifically, I've been down that road.

    Singlespeed is actually a really great option for older bikes. Was it a thread-on freewheel, or did it actually have a splined freehub? Can you post a picture of the right rear dropout?

    Do you still have the stem?

    My advice would be to replace the parts that are missing and needed to make it safe and ridable and call it good. To my eye, that's handlebars, brakes, and the seat post.

    Getting the correct brake calipers for an older bike can be a little bit of a challenge. It's too bad you only had one. (And, too bad the hipster you bought it from didn't do a good job!) Here's an article about brakes.
    Installing and Adjusting Caliper Brakes

    The relevant parts for you are the one about reach - you need to get that right - and the one about mounting types, which can save you a lot of headache. If you go to drop bars, almost all the brake levers that work for drop bars work for your type of brakes, which are also referred to as "road" or "short pull" sometimes. Tektro makes some inexpensive but good brake levers. They also make good brake calipers, but figure out what, exactly, you need in terms of reach and mounting type before you shop and come back here and ask if it's something a little weird.

    If you can get the thing so it goes and stops safely, there are a couple things I might do if it was a bike for me to improve the experience of riding it. For a singlespeed, getting the right speed is really important. I rode my conversion with a 52t chainring and 20t freewheel. If you feel like you're usually geared wrong, changing the freewheel size can help. One or two teeth makes a pretty big difference. For any bicycle, I think it's nice to have pedals I like. For an inexpensive improvement, some $15 pedals with toe clips help.

    The last piece of advice I have is to look around for a place to get in-person, experienced help. A lot of cities support a bike coop - these can be great places to ask questions about older bikes, and they often have good parts stashes too.

  8. #8
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    You should read up on Schwinn serial numbers and see if you can find yours and use it to identify the model. Either that or post photos of your bicycle in the retro forum here. It's somewhat unlikely, but if you've got a Schwinn Paramount frame from the 80s, it's worth decent money even in that condition. I don't know enough about Schwinns to help you identify it. Regardless of what model you have, those 80's Schwinn road bikes were well made and you've got a good starter bike there. Please post more photos when you get that steed going again.

  9. #9
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    What I see is a classic style lugged frame with a nice fork and horizontal dropouts - all good in my book. Do the dropouts have adjustment screws in them? That would indicate a better quality bike. I think my old Schwinn World Voyager had them.

    The bike also appears to cable bosses on the downtube instead of bosses for the shifters. If so, that indicates a lower end bike with the shifters originally mounted up by the steering stem.

    Weinmann made nice wheels (I think they still make them) and they even showed up on some pretty high end bikes back in the day. The hubs are small, so probably no earlier than early 1980s, at least for the wheels. It looks like

    It sounds like you are shy for funds, but that's normal for a 15 year old. Look on ebay and you should be able to get a lot of parts for this very cheap (steering stem, handlebars, shifters, brakes, etc.

    Your best bet would be to engage your local bicycling community. Many cities have volunteer run bicycling centers that teach people how to make repairs on the cheap.

    Also keep your eye out on the street for bikes on trash day. People toss them on the curb when they clean their garages. That's how I got my World Voyager which was just too nice a bike to throw away. At a minimum, you can scavenge parts.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ88V View Post
    Weinmann made nice wheels (I think they still make them) and they even showed up on some pretty high end bikes back in the day. The hubs are small, so probably no earlier than early 1980s, at least for the wheels. It looks like
    I was given an old Schwinn Super LeTour about a year and a half ago, when money was extremely tight and I was between bikes. I rode it regularly for about 8 months, and then used it as a back-up/winter bike. Probably put 3-4 thousand miles on it, and lord knows how many miles it had on it before I got my hands on it. Weinmann wheels---probably the originals. Still true, and the spokes are as tight as a drum. Those things were built like the proverbial brick youknowwhat house.

  11. #11
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    Current Weinmann rims are made by a company in China that bought the name. Very cheap, but I have one on the back of my road bike and it works fine. I had one on the back of my commuter for a while, and while it was wearing shockingly fast, it still outlasted the frame.

  12. #12
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    I have a garage full of vintage (1980's) bikes and my experience says to try to flip this bike to someone who has the experience and interest in such a big project. Buy a more complete bike that is in need of maintenance (oil, grease, adjustments) and you will be ahead in the long run. If you don't have the tools for the maintenance buy a ready to ride bike. Putting togeather a bike from parts is more expensive than buying a complete bike when you are looking at older bikes.

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