Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1972 Schwinn Speedster: I Think It's Here To Stay

Surprise! Another Schwinn seems to have rolled my way.  This time, it is a 1972 Schwinn Speedster.  My friend's girlfriend's dad was cleaning out the garage when my friend noticed it and thought I'd like it.  He sent me a photo and seeing that it was a 3-speed, I went crazy.


My friend tossed it in his F-150 and brought it to me from Dearborn.  While assessing the damage (or lack thereof), the bike began to grow on me.  It had a 1988 Sturmey-Archer AWC (3-speed coaster brake) hub with standard size 26 x 1-3/8" rims.  Perfect! I cleaned it up, aired up the tires, adjusted the cables, and threw on a new chain.  It ran beautifully.  It was super smooth, yet felt a lot more solid than any of my other bikes.  That might be in part because I don't have any noisy attachments on it yet.  The old speedometer, which is the same as the cheap. draggy one I had bought earlier and hated, actually ran smoothly because it had been worn in nicely.


Apparently, the headbadge had been stolen years ago so I bought a yellow NOS unit that was intended for a Stingray to go with the gold chain.  I also threw on some rear reflectors and a Wald front basket.


So far, the proudest hack I have done with this bike is the front fender stay.  It was broken when it arrived, luckily on the same day as my new set of punches.  I drove out the old rivet and made a new stay with a coat hanger and a piece of an old rack stay.  It works surprisingly well (days later, I was chatting with the shop owner downtown who said he carried NOS stays for $3.95 and we proceeded to laugh at the fact that I "done made that for $3.95!).


My first impression was that the original Schwinn saddle, while beautiful, was rock hard and very painful to ride on.  I swapped that out for the Planet Bike saddle that was on the Super Sport and the Super Sport itself got the old seat from my Raleigh Superbe. I guess it gives me a reason to preserve or otherwise hide the saddle from pickers.


The tires are still in great shape and ride very smoothly, but they have surprisingly terrible wet weather performance.  This bike has a coaster brake along with its caliper brakes, meaning it can stop in the wet.  However, in multiple instances, I have spun my rear wheel on wet concrete and nearly lost it coming away from a stop sign.  The coaster brake did prove to be a lifesaver, though. A couple days ago, it rained so hard during dinner in Ann Arbor that the street turned into a rushing river about 6-inches deep.  I just threw my shoes in my backpack and rode home barefoot with no problem.  Thank goodness for flat pedals!


I think I'll be keeping this one for a while.  It suits me too well to just fix-and-flip and old Schwinns have been growing on me.  I do have to thin out the stable a bit, though - sell off the ones I've been meaning to sell and maybe pick and choose from the ones I don't necessarily want to get rid of right away.  Rest assured, the Raleighs aren't going anywhere. Anyway, I have a few updates in store for the Schwinn including a 20 tooth cog (to replace the 18) and some lights to bolt onto it.  Mostly simple things to make it more practical.  Oh yeah, and the tires.  Once I find another bike to put these on and resell, I'm thinking of a pair of Continental City Ride tires.


An interesting side note is the history behind the Cherry Hill Cycles (Dearborn Heights) decal.  No, it is not a sticker.  It's a decal.  Back in Schwinn's golden age, it not only encouraged American shops to carry their products, but also pushed for Schwinn-specific shops.  Looking at how the shop name is incorporated in the logo, Cherry Hill Cycles looks to be one of the specialty shops.  I tried searching for it online and no results popped up, likely because Schwinn-As-We-Know-It took everything with it when it went bankrupt.