Friday, January 31, 2014

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - One of My Favorite All Time Bicycles!

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle - After

When I was a kid, about fifth grade in 1988, I was given a Schwinn Varsity by my aunt.  It was red, my size and the greatest gift I had gotten, who cares that it was at least 12 years old the handlebar tape was falling off, tires shot and tubes dead.  I went right out and bought new tires,  tubes and that really cool thick black foam handlebar tape, or at least it was cool in 1988, wait I take that back, it was never cool!  

I loved that Schwinn Varsity and I still have it!  I broke my race legs in on it, I could get everywhere on it, I became fast on it.  I could get to my friend Jason's house 3.28 miles away in no time flat, with a record of 12 minutes 14 seconds, you can do the math on that!

The thing was the Varsity was bottom of the line but it was mine, my friends had the Schwinn Continentals, a full four pounds lighter at 36 lbs, awful weight for both!  A few even had Le Tours and one even had a Trek 420, but I always had my eye on the Schwinn Superior!

I wanted a Superior so bad when I was young; it was 28 lbs., had such nice components and just looked so much cooler with the hooded brake levers, real hooked rims, a real nice Sports bike!  I never got a Superior of my own but have been lucky enough to work on a lot of them.  

Later my thoughts changed, yes to girls and cars but also more sexy bikes like Bianchi's, Paramount’s, Miyata's, Treks and so forth.  For the riding I do now a Superior would be perfect, maybe someday I will find one for myself that fits my 6 foot 4 frame, maybe even a 1982 Baby Paramount Superior like Dave's which can be seen by Clicking Here.

The 1977 Schwinn Superior is black and chrome, my favorite combination, check out my mom's Schwinn Super Le Tour I restored for her by Clicking Here, black and chrome, the best!  This Schwinn Superior will be getting a complete restoration along with new tires and tubes, cables and cable housings, what could be consider a new old stock touring saddle, new brake lever hoods, and new synthetic brown leather handlebar tape.  It will look amazing, like an old classic sports touring bicycle with black, chrome and leather.

This Schwinn Superior is a little deceiving though, it is not to beat up, it is dirty but it is hard to see against the black but the real problem is the crank barely spins, the headset is super tight and a lot of components are frozen in place.  I think though a good restoration will take care of it all.


1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration -  Bicycle Before -Handlebars Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Bicycle Before - Stem

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Bicycle Before - Front Brake

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Before - Front Derailleur

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Bicycle Before - Crank

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Before - Rear Derailleur

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Before - Rear Wheel
Hub

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Bicycle Before - History Stickers

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Before - Wheel Rim

The Schwinn Superior was a little deceiving, it looked fairly clean, normal dirt and wear but getting the Superior apart was nightmare.  The stem was frozen, the crank dust covers where solid aluminum and frozen in place, the crank bolts where frozen, the bottom bracket bearings where shot and some general broken things here and there.  Also a bolt was broken in the brake caliper.

The stem sucked getting out because it was not a normal slant wedge it was a round stopper type so if you hit it from the bottom it just wedges in farther.

When I finally got the bicycle broken down I found the frame to be dull, dirty but not to many chips for a bike this old.  Photos do not do black paint justice, the before photos are worse then they appear and the after photos are not as good, the black polished is beautiful.  Black just does not photograph well.  Again, the after photos do not do it justice, the black is like liquid black!  Black in person is always the greatest transformation before and after but worst in photos.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Before - Bottom Bracket

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Before
Rear Brake Bridge

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Before
Head Tube

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Fork Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Polished - Bottom Bracket

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Polished - Schwinn decal

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Frame Polished
History Stickers Removed

At this point all the polishing of the components is finished, most of the assembly also, I just ran out of time to get more photos up right now.  The brake caliper before photo did not turn out so these will have to do.  In the exploded view in the middle you can see one of the longer bolts is broken, it was amazing the caliper stayed together, it is the one with the nut still threaded on a small part of the bolt.  i am starting here with the brake calipers because I didn't want all those parts laying around so I polished them first and assembled them first and installed them on the frame alter.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Brake Caliper - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Brake Caliper - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Calipers - Exploded View

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Calipers - Polished
1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Calipers - Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Front Brake Caliper - Installed

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Rear Brake Caliper - Installed
I actually installed the headset and bottom bracket before the brake calipers.  The bottom bracket was awful, corrosion and the old bearings and cages where useless.  the grease turned into a hard substance like amber.  I replaced the bearings with new and just went with loose bearings and removing the cages.  This allowed for a few more bearings and will work well with this type of bottom bracket.  The bottom bracket polished very nice and spins so smooth with the new bearings but ti should its a nice quality bottom bracket.

The headset took a lot of polishing but turned out nice, it also spins very smooth.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Headset & bottom Bracket - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Headset & Bottom Bracket - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Old Bottom Bracket Bearings

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - NewBearings

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bottom Bracket - Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Headset Cups - Pressed

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Headset Bearings - Packed

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Headset Complete
The stem was frozen in place, it took some doing to free it.  The stem and handlebars polished beautifully, I am very happy about that.  When things are frozen in place by corrosion little things tend to be damaged, in a photo below you can see me repairing the threads on the stem wedge, they where corroded and the stem bolt would not thread back in but all was good after a re-thread.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Stem Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Stem Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Stem Wedge Re-Thread

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Stem & Handlebars - Installed

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Stem & Handlebars - Installed
The crank is a beautiful crank, it is complicated though, in the 1970's they made beautiful cranks they just where not as refined as they became in the 1980's.  I disassembled the crank and its many bolts and spacers and polished each.  the crank turned out beautiful and really pops against the black frame.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Crank - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Crank Exploded
Lots of bolts and spacers!

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Crank Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Crank Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Crank - Installed
Next was the derailleurs, the derailleurs are pretty nice, the rear derailleur needed a lot of disassembling, after polishing they both look great and after a lot of flushing and lubricating the pivot points work great.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Derailleurs - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Derailleur - Exploded

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Derailleur - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Derailleur - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Derailleurs - Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Derailleur - Installed

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Rear Derailleur - Installed
 The brake levers turned out amazing but I was worried about them.  The Schwinn Approved brake levers from that era have huge adjustment barrels on the top.  The brake lever hoods where shot so replacements where needed and they don't make brake lever hoods that easily fit the large adjuster anymore.  I polished the brake levers and oiled the pivot points and that turned out fantastic.  I then greased the new brake lever hoods heavily and hoped they would fit.  i did not want to trim the hoods either because that would for sure cause a tear.  In the end everything fit and looks amazing, I couldn't be happier!! To bad you can't transfer the awesome patina from the old hoods!

One more thing about the brake levers, it pays off to save every little part and keep all the parts very organized.  I was able to replace the old cracked plastic barrel adjusters with polished metal adjusters, it makes a world of difference.  When ever I see a box of old parts at  Flea Market or bike swap and its really cheap I buy it not even knowing whats in it.  I then organize it into my collection and it is amazing how often i go in it for random parts.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Levers - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Levers - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Levers - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Levers - Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Levers - Installed

At this time I polished the seat post and seat post collar and cable hanger, this is an area I wish Schwinn would have done better on the Superior, the seat post collar is heavy, steal and huge.  They could have saved a lot of weight here and streamlined the look a lot better but I guess then again they could have just gone with a lugged frame!  The seat post and collar polished beautifully though and look awesome against the polished black frame.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Seat Post - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Seat Post Collar - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Seat post Collar - Complete



I think that just leaves the shift levers for components, I need to take a photo of the shift elvers so I will post those tomorrow.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Superior - Components Complete

The wheels are in okay shape, the front wheel is alloy and the rear is steal, I don't think that would be original but maybe, for some reason I see a lot of Superiors for sale missing the front wheel.

The rear wheel freewheel I think is toast, it did not spin at all.  Getting the freewheel off was also a choir, the freewheel is a really strange one.  I was so lucky I have the really obscure freewheel removal tool that fit this freewheel, I could be the only one in Illinois that has it or at least that knows they have it.

I found the freewheel removal tool at a flea market about three years ago, not even a bike swap.  I found it in a bottom of a box of old sockets, I recognized that it was a freewheel removal tool right away but never saw one like it.  I asked how much, the guy said a quarter and i said sold.  You can see it had been rounded off, it only works now with a pipe wrench.

I have flushed and soaked the freewheel all day and am getting no where, I will see what happens over night but might have to talk to the Superior owner about a replacement.

The rear wheel polished very nice and spins great, the new Kenda gum wall tires are a perfect match for the Superior.

The front wheel is alloy, it polished beautifully, I am very happy with it.  The front wheel hub is a high flange hub, high flange hubs are my favorite, they have a great classic look.

The freewheel is done, flushing and oil soaking for two days did not help it at all.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Wheel - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Freewheel - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Wheel Hub - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Freewheel & Freewheel Removal Tool

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Wheel - Old Grease

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Wheel Hub - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Wheel Hub - New Grease

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Wheel - Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel
Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel Hub - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel Rim - Before

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel Hub - Old Grease

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel Hub - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel Hub - Polished

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Front Wheel - Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
New Kenda Gum Wall Tires

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Wheels Complete
Yesterday I was able to finish up the Schwinn Superior, I ran the cables and housings, installed the saddle, installed the handlebar tape and tuned the Superior.  Today I was able to take final photos.

The handlebar tape looks fantastic and is perfect for the Superior but I was not impressed with the tape overall, it came in a roll that was way to short, it took a lot of stretching to cover half the tape so the handlebar make logo wouldn't show ever inch.  I guess I am unhappy that it was to short other then that it needed to be heated a little bit to get it to stretch and lay flat which is no big deal.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - New Bits & Pieces

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Brake Levers - Wired

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Front Brake - Wired

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Rear Brake - Wired

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Rear Derailleur - Wired

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Saddle - Installed

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Handlebar Tape - Installed
Again, the final photos deserve to be outside with better light in the bicycles natural environment but this winter is just to brutal.

I am thrilled that I got to restore a Schwinn Superior, it is everything and more I thought it was when I was a kid.  The black and chrome and leather color handlebar tape is just perfect, such a classic look.  The superior turned out incredible, the crank is bright chrome, the brake calipers pop against the black, the wheels look great and now the bike functions great!!  The new brake elvers hoods are perfect for the bike.  I do not think their could be a better Superior out there other then Dave's baby Paramount Superior but then that is comparing apples and oranges because they are not the same bicycle.

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Handlebars

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Front Brake

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Front Wheel Hub

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Stem

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration
Bicycle Complete - Front Half

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Saddle

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Drive Train

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Rear Brake

1977 Schwinn Superior Restoration - Bicycle Complete
Rear Wheel Hub

Thanks for the interest and thanks to the owner for bringing me the Superior, It was a joy!
John Z.

6 comments:

  1. Nice! So those were the bikes you were always talking about in your shop. I bet hard to come across! Your right the black on chrome looks sharp!

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  2. Nice job on the restoration. I have the same bike. 1977 black 26" Superior. I'm just putting it back together for some summer riding now. New tires/tubes. I went with black wall tires. Repacked bottom bracket, hubs and pedal bearings. Polished the wheels and fork. Not nearly a complete restoration, but I plan on doing more next winter.

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  3. Thank you John,

    Send me a photo of yours when it's complete how you want!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had a red Superior that I got as my high school graduation present in 1979. The guy at the Schwinn shop in Port Huron, Michigan told us that it was the last one he had, as the Superior was now discontinued. I still tell stories about how I could roast the back wheel in low gear, and pass traffic on main street in my home town, but no one believes me. I wish I still had mine, but it got swiped in 1981.

    :o(

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  5. The Superior is total love. I got one when I was a freshman in highschool and kept it all the way until I was a senior in college. I loved that bike and ran sooo smooth. It was all about the frame. The paint, the crank, the head set where the best, never loosened, solid incredible bike. The big thing is that it was light, so much better than the le tour.

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  6. Great Job. How the heck in the world do you get the metal parts so polished?

    ReplyDelete