Gears and tires on my ss cruiser

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by The Bookworm, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. The Bookworm

    The Bookworm New Member

    Oct 31, 2018
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    I'm looking into replacing the fat tires on my SS cruiser (Schwinn Huntington Women's bike 26") with narrower tires and getting the gears adjusted so the bike can go as fast as possible.

    I don't want thin road bike tires, but definitely ones that are not so fat. Will changing the tires give the bike a little more speed? I've heard it's possible but I don't want to waste money on new tires if there's no change.

  2. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2003
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    26" is a tricky size, there's something like 5 different 26" that aren't interchangeable.
    And being a department store bike, there isn't much in the way of specification posted.
    Before you go tire shopping, try finding a tire size in millimeters.
    Most common 26" is 559mm Bead Seat Diameter( where rim and tire overlap).
    If you can find that, you're good to go. Plenty of nice tires in that size.
    I like the Continental Sport Contact in either 1.1 or 1.3 width.
    Narrower tires won't "give" the bike more speed. Speed still comes from YOU, the motor.
    Narrower, lighter tires pumped firm will likely redure the rolling resistance somewhat.
    Which is what allows YOUR input to create more speed.
    Mostly, lighter wheels will spin up faster.
    Doesn't matter much when moving, but has a big impact on feel when you bring the bike up to speed.

    And "adjusting the gears"...
    All Schwinn Huntington Women's bike 26" that come up at a quick search are singe-speeds.
    You can adjust the GEARING, but NOT the "gears".
    Whether there's any benefit to be gained from that is anybody's guess, since the stock configuration isn't known.
    Or your issues with it.

    And "go as fast as possible"...

    All engines - incl humans - work best in a (sometimes tiny) range of resistance and rate-of-turn.

    If you feel that the pedals are flying away from you , and your feet can't keep up - then you've "spun out" and MIGHT benefit from a taller gearing - bigger chainring(up front) or/and smaller sprocket(rear).

    If you feel that you're pushing too hard(stalled out), then a lower gearing might be good for you. Bigger sprocket/smaller chainring.
    You want to find the point where while turning the pedals as fast as possible, there's still a bit of resistance to turning them.

    Keep in mind that knees generally don't mind bending as such, but pushing HARD while bent will often upset them.
    While it may feel unnatural to inexperienced riders, pedalling FASTER is generally a better recipe for more speed than pedalling harder.
    It is well agreed that people generally do best at a cadence(rate-of-turn) in the 80-100 rpm range.
    If you're not there, work on pedalling technique, not bicycle technology.

    And, since yours is a single-speed, you have to pick a compromise.
    A tall gear that lets you go real fast will be hopeless for acceleration. Will make the bike very user-unfriendly on anything but open road. You'll grumble, grunt and strain at every intersection. And every climb.
    A lower gear will make it easier to get moving, but you will spin out at lower speeds.

    Last but not least - don't polish a turd.
    This is a very basic bike you're talking about. I see prices of $110-$130.
    And it has a very upright riding position.
    Even if you get the gearing right for spirited riding, air drag from that upright position and the difficulty in bracing yourself against the bars will limit your "go-fast-ability"considerably.
    CAMPYBOB likes this.

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2005
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    For the price of two decent tires and tubes and maybe a few dollars more, she can get another Walmart bike that has smaller width tires that will hold higher air pressure and put the rider in a more aerodynamic position...which equates to increased speed. And that bike will likely have multiple gears, another big plus for going a bit faster when you can use the gearing changes to your advantage.

    Before spending any money, make certain your tires are pumped up to at least close to maximum pressure, You may achieve lower rolling resistance just doing that. And that was satisfy your desire to move along at a speedier pace.
  4. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

    Jun 6, 2006
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    Yes but only if you take the fenders off.

    Northroad bars would make for a slightly lower and more forward riding position while still looking correct for a cruiser. Steel ones shouldn't be too expensive. They should have the same diameter at the stem, 25.4, and at the grips/brake levers/shifters, 22.2, as your old bar. That's probably what you have but measure first.

    Make sure whatever tire you buy has the same metric rim diameter as your old tires. They are probably 559s. It should say "55-559" or similar. You can't go by the inch size because there are several different rims called 26.

    Don't go much under 37mm or 1-3/8 if your rims don't have a hook bead to hold the bead of the tire. There should be a little ridge just inside the rim. You could put a 1" diameter tire on rims without a hook bead but you can't safely pump it up to adequate pressure and riding around with a too-soft, narrow tire will cause flats when the rim bottoms out on the tire and pinches the tube. Steel rims usually don't have a hook bead but many aluminum ones do even at the low end of the price range.

    If your bike is a 26X2.125 cruiser then your tires should be listed under 26" MTB tires.

    Going with a 20 or a 22 tooth rear sprocket should definitely improve speed assuming the bike came with the standard cruiser 44X18 sprockets. Don't forget you will have to add some links to the chain. You want to be doing around 90 rpm.

    I would definitely consider getting another bike rather than tinkering with the $100 cruiser unless the project appeals to the owner.
  5. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

    Jun 6, 2006
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    I agree with the theory but the fact is, most single speed cruisers are 44X18 which is too high for top speed even with narrower tires and a lower handlebar.

    Changing the rear sprocket to 22 would probably only let the bike be spun out (pedaled too fast) for very short bursts. It would be great for cruising in the 10-15 mph range.
  6. Chuckabutty

    Chuckabutty Active Member

    Jun 21, 2018
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    I think you have a single speed bike. If a cruiser is your style, and you need to "adjust" gears, I'd suggest you sell the bike and get a cruiser with a 7-speed derailleur. Then you can choose any gear you want as you ride. I had one and it worked well.

    I believe you also have a coaster brake (pedal backwards to brake). I think you'd find regular rim brakes on a 7-speed cruiser would suit you a lot better. Bear in mind that, with a coaster brake, you are depending on the chain to be able to stop. If the chain broke or came off the sprocket while riding, you'd have no brakes. That would be unlikely but not impossible. I had a chain break on my 7-speed cruiser.