Schwinn Varsity back from the dead (at Walmart!)

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by the beef, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    how do I know if I have a freewheel as opposed to a freehub?
    and I guess that would mean that the taiwan version of the Dawes bike must have a freehub by virtue of the fact that I have over 500 miles on it and I weigh in excess of 300...
     


  2. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Look in the right side of the rear hub. If the lockring holding the sprockets on rotates with the wheel, it's a freewheel. If it rotates with the sprockets, it's a freehub.


    I know though that the GMC's and the New Varsity have a freewheel.

    You can go longer than 500 but if you inspect the bike you will find the axle is bent and the wheel may be a little loose with respect to the frame. It won't break outright for some time.
     
  3. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    I will verify the denali again tonight but I remember kind of doing that and based on your description, it has a freehub not a free wheel... I will again verify it tonight and let you know...
     
  4. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Maybe it's the Yukon.

    The lockring is in there about a half inch deep, inside the outermost sprocket.
     
  5. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    ok, so I went to look at it and compared it to my trek 7100 and my Dawes...

    well, on the trek, the outermost sprocket seems to "enclose" the axle compared to the denali and my dawes... so I am guessing that you are probably right about them being freewheels instead of the freehubs...

    ok, so now Im worried about wobble on my Dawes because of the mileage I have put on the bike... so I try getting the wheel to wobble but it seems ok so... I guess Im not sure what to do about it at this point.

    I had an old motobecane that I had a bike shop refurbish for me where I had to purchase a new wheel because the other one was so old that they couldn't do anything with it... I wonder if that has a freehub. That wheel was only about 40 bucks... assuming that I needed another wheel for the Dawes or the Denali, that isnt too high an investment for a bike so I don't really feel ripped off by buying these bikes at this point...

    there was a thread on bikeforums where a guy put on over 2000 miles on the denali without a breakdown but he also looks to be much lighter than I am...
    guess I'll just have to keep an eye on it... would there be other clues for when the freewheel gets to end of lifetime? like squeeking or rubbing sounds?
     
  6. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Sometimes you will be able to move the wheel from side to side, as in closer to one chainstay then closer to the other, but only a small amount. I've had ball bearings get so bad they broke in half and all I felt was a bit more drag. Then you check tire pressure and realize you can move the top of the rim 1/4" right or left.

    More commonly, you repack the hub and find the cones badly pitted, metal debris in the grease, and then find the axle can't roll freely across a flat surface because it's bent.

    If you're really worried, take the wheel off, hold the wheel horizontal like a pizza with the sprockets pointing upward, and twirl the axle between your fingers where it comes out of the bottom of the hub. Instead of just spinning, the top of the axle may draw a little circle in the air.

    Sheldon Brown's site had a link to an article by Jobst Brandt on freehubs vs. freewheels and their relative strengths and weaknesses.

    Freewheels themselves are quite durable. What wears out are the wheel bearings because the axle bends and misaligns the cones. There's a lot of space for the axle to cover between the hub and frame, whereas on a freehub, the right hand bearing cup is actually located inside the ratcheting mechanism which holds the sprockets.
     
  7. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    I think you should just ride it until it breaks unless you take really long trips. Your lower end axles won't break outright like the better freewheel axles used to, they'll just bend.

    It's not a big emergency. I used to love fixing up an old steel "bike boom" bike with the chrome parts and the skinny frame tubing. They never left me stranded. I could probably keep doing so but just hate the thought of riding around on a bent axle with pitted cones.
     
  8. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    ok, thanks for the info...
     
  9. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    So has anyone had a problem? I wouldn't mind picking up a cheaper (new) bike like the Varsity, in case the axles don't exhibit the problem any more.

    Why should new bikes be any different, with the same axle design? Well, if the frame is much stiffer and the dropouts can't twist, then that would serve to reinforce the axle from bending. The cone, spacer, and locknut abuts the dropout and must twist said dropout in order to bend, at least with a bolt-on. So maybe new, stiffer frames make the design tenable.

    P.S. the 'lac is now $229 on amazon.
     
  10. mp96b

    mp96b New Member

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  11. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    I haven't tried any of these bikes but I like the Varsity's fork. Those others look like real boneshakers.

    So how about it everyone? How are those rear wheels on your varsitys, yukons, and other low end road bikes holding up?
     
  12. backtobiking

    backtobiking New Member

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    I had a varsity for a day and no the rear wheel didn't hold up. The axle bent in the first couple of miles. Then again I tip the scale at just over 300lbs. My friend has one and he can't be more than 180-200lbs and it seems ok for him. Anyone interested he'd like to sell it due to he bought a Specialized Epic road bike last fall and doesn't need the Varsity anymore.
     
  13. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    I have a theory that the hub design used on varsitys, gmc's, cheap MTB's and older bikes is dependent on bearing adjustment to prevent axle bending.

    The spacer and cone on the RH side won't let the axle bend outboard of the hub. The axle bends inside the RH cone, inside the hub.

    If you keep the RH cone from twisting you keep the axle from bending. If the RH cone is snug against its bearings and cup then you can't twist it without also twisting the hub shell. There would have to be a bit of preload though, so the cone couldn't twist while it was taking up the slack.

    Jobst Brandt says you have to run cup & cone bearings with a bit of preload and he is the only degreed mechanical engineer I know of who writes on the subject, so it won't hurt and may help your bike whether I am right or not.

    I have used this method but the bike had 120mm spacing for a shorter stronger axle, and I rode it gently. You can adjust the bearings from the LH side because the axle is solid.
     
  14. backtobiking

    backtobiking New Member

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    I have a theory that it is lack luster at best. It isn't very good. The original varsity was superior. To me finding a nice older one your going to be money ahead than buying this model...
     
  15. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    haven't put much on the denali, but have gotten up to 600 miles on my dawes with no discernible bending
     
  16. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Sheldon says the old Varsity came with some of the strongest bike rims ever made.
     
  17. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Where the axle is concerned, the only real difference between old and new is that the old ones had 120mm rear spacing and five speed freewheels. Of course, that may have made all the difference to axle durability. Trust me, I've had old and new freewheel hubs apart; you could swap axles and freewheels between new and old at will although the rim would wind up off-center.

    It would be nice to be able to pick up a new, utilitarian bike for not a lot of money, which you could use. Something just like a varsity or denali but with a 14mm rear axle instead of 9.5.
     
  18. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    I don't have a prelude, but the advertisement link you posted shows that it goes for 200.00. I saw one at my local target for 150.00...

    in my opinion, if you can spend around 200, I would recommend the Dawes from ebay... it cost around 240 (including the shipping) and I have found it to be a great bike for the money.

    in terms of the prelude or the denali (assuming you can get a prelude for the same price as the denali). If I was sweating about the cost and I just wanted something to ride now as opposed to finding something used that is in good condition and a good price... I would give the edge to the denali only because it has more reviews written about it... (go to www.amazon.com and do a search on "gmc road bike")

    given that, I did prefer the components on the prelude over the denali (prelude uses stem shifters like my dawes, denali uses a "gripshift" mechanism). The tires looke a bit more normal on the prelude compared to the "aero" wheels that the denali has. I think the prelude was a 14 speed like my dawes and the denali is a 21 speed. I actually prefer the 14 speed setup because its easier to adjust...

    whatever you get, please give us a review of the bike...
     
  19. jcrarela

    jcrarela New Member

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    I recently returned the GMC Denali bike -- http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=3663046 -- since the rear tire blew out. Maybe I need a euphemism: I realized the tire went flat the day after a commute from home + work + home.

    I read up on what people's opinions were about the Denali prior to purchase, on its specifics mostly, and I guess there's a consensus about the poor quality of the tires and the difficulty trying to find one; according to most folks, the denali's 700c tire is not ubiquitously carried by most bike shops.

    Is that right?

    Anyhow, like I said, I returned the Denali (it was an awesome bike -- I put about 80+ miles on it before the rear tire went flat all of a sudden) and bought the Schwinn, which is the topic of discussion here. Walmart has a great return policy: 90 days.

    So I bought the Schwinn...

    I rode it earlier to where I was going to take the Denali the day I realized it had a flat, and I gotta say, the Varsity flies. Putting one of the pedal straps on your foot while you're riding can be a bit dangerous, but I hope I'll get used to it sooner than later.

    Anyhow, the derailleur/shifting is pretty simple and easy.

    My point here is, if you want to get around fast, "road bike" style -- I've never tried a fancy $1000+ road bike before, so I wouldn't know how they are, yet since I couldn't find one this weekend to replace the Denali, I was almost considering blowing a bunch of money on an expensive one since bike shops never carry cheap road bikes [right?] -- mode of transporting yourself, the Schwinn is worth the money.

    I do advise that you tinker with the bike, make sure the screws /allen aren't loose or something, before you ride out, which one should always do before a ride, nonetheless.

    The walmart I went to isn't very good at putting bikes together. They do their best though -- some clearly just want to get it done and make it look cohesive on the racks; you can get lucky when you get a good assembler, like I had with the Denali.

    So, to wrap this, the Varsity is a great, fast bike. The quality easily surpasses that of the Denali -- it's lighter = more speed.

    Hope that helps. I'm no bike connoisseur, but it's easy enough to discern whether or not a bike is in your control, or the other way around.

    As for the endless contention of expensive road bikes vs. cheap road bikes, well, if the cheaper end can get the job done, why harp on it? (Most of us don't compete at the Tour de France.)

    Yeah, yeah...quality, the long-run, etc. Expect to change your tires someday, that's expected, but otherwise, the quality on the Schwinn is worth more than its price -- and also the Denali...and so on.

    If anyone is kind enough to answer, can I easily buy the tires that the Varsity is sporting at any bike shop? I'm worried I wouldn't know where to turn to once the tires start giving up.

    Thanks.
     
  20. e0richt

    e0richt New Member

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    sounds like the rear inner tube blew out (which is common for these bikes) but the tire is still ok? you could have gotten a 700x25c inner tube (with a presta valve). That works with the tire / rim and you would have solved your original problem. Actually you would also probably have had to replace the front one too. They use barely adequate tubes on the cheaper end of bikes...

    the tires on the schwinn, I would guess they are probably 700x25c which bike shops carry...
     
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