Saturday, May 27, 2017

1981 Schwinn World Tourist

A slight restomod. I'll try to keep this one short and sweet.

This 1981 Schwinn World Tourist was left abandoned outdoors for over a year, yet still looked like it had barely ever been ridden.

This bike was made by Giant in Taiwan, distinguished by its G serial number on the right dropout. I almost thought it was humorous when I found the Chicago zip code stamped as part of the design of the head badge. I thought the trend of showing one's "pride of originating from a depressed post-industrial rust belt city" with an area code or zip code was more of a recent thing, but apparently not; evidently, it started even before Schwinn's Chicago plant fully closed.

This bike had a 5-speed Shimano derailleur drivetrain with a nice thumb shifter (as opposed to a stem shifter) and nearly-pristine steel wheels, but for whatever reason, I felt it was more appropriate for me to fit this Shimano Nexus 3-speed alloy wheel set. I've had this pair of wheels sitting unused in storage for over a year now. The rear wheel, hub, and shifter came off a damaged bike - I had to find a new rim with a similar ERD and lace it onto the hub with the original spokes. The wheel was super easy to true and tension, much to my surprise and relief. The front wheel and hub are completely new and having a wider 3/8" axle, I had to file out the front dropouts. I was actually glad to have found a good home for this set of wheels since they deserved to go on a nice bike, yet I personally had no use for them because I still had all of the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed wheels and hubs that I have grown to love. Plus, I hate twist grip shifters (matter of preference) and the Shimano Nexus hubs only use twist grips. This bike will most likely go to one of my friends who is looking for a laid back cruiser.

I really loved the details that the Asian factories bothered to put on the cheapest of frames. Here, the frame lugs are not only cleanly brazed, but outlined ... and not only that, but much more neatly-done than those on certain supposedly higher-quality European bikes.

The design on the chain guard mimicked that of other late '70s/early '80s Chicago Schwinns. I think they actually match better with the outlined lugs on this bike, whereas extra ornament often looks out of place on the smoother electroforged Chicago frames.

Despite it being way too small for me, I really liked how this bicycle rode. It actually surprised me. The internal gear hub, of course, makes stopping and restarting a simple act requiring no coordination at all - the opposite of its old friction-shifted derailleur drivetrain. I suppose part of the surprise was that I usually associate internal gear hubs with my Raleighs with relaxed geometry when it comes to lugged frames, or just heavier, slower-handling bikes in general. This bike was much lighter and seemed quicker to handle, almost like a road bike but with upright bars. I didn't bother actually measuring the geometry but it makes me want to do a conversion like this on an actual road bike frame. And lastly, of course, the alloy rims not only made the brakes more effective, but they feel less crashy and heavy over cracks in the pavement. To date, I think this bike offered some of the best improvement in ride quality given the amount of time and money invested into it.