Thursday, December 6, 2012

Love of an Old Bike

My Schwinn World Today

Love of and Old Bicycle by John Z.

If you are anything like me you own a new high tech bike, with a space age frame, super expensive super lite wheels, integrated shifters and twenty speeds.  If your also like me you only ride it about 5% or less of your riding time. So what do I ride the other 95% of the time?  It is defiantly not my mountain bike, I don't even own one. The answer would be a 1983 Schwinn World. And before that it was a 1985 Cannondale ST-500.

I know, I know, I am nuts right?  Well let me explain a little why I have grown to hate my space age bicycle and I will start with my riding style.  First of all I am a practice cyclist, I ride everywhere I can that has a purpose, need a bolt or a lite bulb at Home Depot.  I ride.  Need to get to class.  I ride.  Need to get to work.  I ride.  Need groceries.  I ride.  Going out with friends on Friday night? I ride.  The list will go on...

This does not mean I don't ride for enjoyment, I do.  I feel lost and foggy if I miss my morning ride, like that feeling you have if you forgot your phone at home.  One of the great joys in my life is riding with no destination in mind, just out riding and seeing what happens, what I find, what's around the corner?  Riding on a long trail in the fresh air out in the country.

You would think that with all this riding I would be singing the praises of the newest everything in bicycle technologies when if fact the new technologies do nothing to improve my riding.  I need versatility in my bicycle for all the demands I put on it, and i don't want to own five or six bikes to meet these demands.  This is not what a Trek Madone one is designed for.

For years I have been trying to come up with a bicycle that fits all my needs.  First and foremost the bike needs to be comfortable, 30 year old bike, check, space age bike, no check.  The bike needs to be capable of fitting wide tires for the diverse surfaces I ride, old bike, check, modern bike, no check.  It needs to be simple and reliable, old bike, check, modern bike, no check.  It needs to have a rack and carry heavy loads, old bike, check, modern race bike, no check.  And most of all it needs to be inconspicuous, old bike, check, new race bike, no check.  Can you imagine locking up a Cannodale Caad 10 locked up outside the grocery store?

It has been an evolution, but I believe I have finally put together the bike that fit all my needs and that is my Schwinn World.  It is not even a world sport, just plain old world.  I got the bike for $10 at a rummage sale.  I rode it for many years as a ten speed with a ridiculous bio pace crank.  It has churned out many miles to work, school and everywhere in between.

Over time I have made many changes and I have kept a running total of the costs I put into it.  The first change I made was replace the suicide brake levers with ergonomic aero levers I got for $8 on clearance.  Next a traded the bio pace crank for a new single speed crank that I originally put on another project to sell, but ended up crashing before I sold.  The rear wheel with a flip flop hub and cogs came off that same bike, that I paid $40 clearance for the wheel and $1 for the fixed cog at a swap meet and $4 used for the freewheel.   The front wheel was donated from a customer that I switched the wheels off of a project for him.  Cost, free.  I had some 27" cross tires laying around the shop for years that where still in good shape, still had the mold fringes, cost? I don't remember where they came from the have been around so long, so we will put free on the tag.  The bar tape is used, it was replaced on a customers bike.  A little soap and water and the price tag cleans up at free.  The rack came with the bike.  Grand total $63, not too shabby.

I forgot, I did add new modern brake calipers this week, price, $20 and a mountain bike bio pace crank at a swap meet.  Grand total $83 and a parts box crank.  Next on my list and probably not the end of the evolution will be some scavenged cross brake levers.

Now you may be asking, what about speed?  That must be the slowest hunk of junk around.  My answer to that, I ride two-hundred plus miles a week rain or snow, even more in the summer, these legs aren't slow on any bike.

In the end I love this bike, the fit, the steel, the character.  I hope I am not the only one who has fallen in love with a bike like this.  Its bikes like this that I believe can change the world, not thousands of dollars modern race bikes.

Soon I will be writing about the true weight of a bike and the new bicycle tunnels that are under construction in our area under some pretty major roads.

P.S. anyone want to buy a Trek Madone or a Trek 1.5?

My Schwinn World - Angle View

My Schwinn World - Front View

My Schwinn World - Drive Train


  1. Beautiful bike and story. Keep up the good work.

  2. Old bikes have a feel of its own. I am glad I am not alone in this thinking! This is my very first bike I got 25 years ago from working part time at a bookshop. It laid forgotten after I had my time with it until 3 years back I saw it in my mum storeroom... and got it restored

  3. Always makes me smile to see old steel getting used, I got an old Azuki 10 speed for free and converted it to a single speed commuter I used a lot back in 2007 and 2008. ( I spent more than $83 though so congrats on getting a lot of bang for your buck.