Schwinn Varsity back from the dead (at Walmart!)

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

  1. wtdel

    wtdel New Member

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    I had a 10-speed Schwinn Varsity in electric blue when I was ~14 in 1970. It had the large & heavy shifters as seen in the remake w/a HUGE circular front ring guard. It needed your full palm to handle its weight. The original rams head handlebars were different from the remake - the 1970 models upper and lower grip positions were parallel to the ground.
    There was NO problem of 25-30mph head-ons into brick walls, trees brush, rocks, ponds etc with this baby...most of the time with me bailing seconds before a crash. I used it in the woods and on the seemingly endless hills in the 'Ramapo Mtns'. I have no idea what happened to it after I left for College?

    Anyways...I'm looking for an inexpensive bike to get some exercise - basically, I'd rather ride a few miles to the gym then have to drive all the time and have to waste time warming up before I workout/ lift.
    I'm going to Wal-mart to check it out in the morning. I can't see a frame size though and I use a 58cm roadbike so it might be too small...
    __________________________

    The Wal-mart one can be had assembled or in the box as desired. Here's a partial from the site:

    The classic is back! The Schwinn 700c varsity road bike is updated and upgraded for today's more aggressive riding styles. Schwinn's handcrafted, lightweight-aluminum varsity road frame is built up with Shimano 7-speed shifters and a 14-speed Shimano equipped drivetrain for a ride that's equally responsive on hills and flats. Virtually bombproof alloy roadie pedals round out the package.


    Schwinn 700c Varsity Road Bike:
    • Handcrafted Schwinn aluminum roadbike frame
    • 14-speed Shimano equipped drivetrain
    • Shimano rear derailleur and shifters
    • Alloy road pedals
    • Frame material: 6061 series aluminum
    • Top tube: 55cm
    • Seat tube: 55cm
    • Frame features a sleek ball-burnished finish and classic design
    • Schwinn steel road fork
    • Dual pivot caliper brakes
    • Aero 36-spoke alloy wheels with radial laced front
    • Toe clips and straps
    • Schwinn 700c varsity road bike weight: 32 lbs.
    • Max. rider weight: 275 lbs.
     


  2. spookytooth

    spookytooth New Member

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    Any idea what a good rake would be on a replacement fork for this bike? Plus... Is it a standard one inch steerer tube?
     
  3. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Back from the dead? That would mean the bike was being made in Chicago not China. The Varsity is still dead and buried...where it needs to remain!
     
  4. Zayce

    Zayce New Member

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    So I want everybody to know that a Schwinn Varsity from Walmart should not be looked down upon. Today I reached 10,000 miles on my Schwinn Varsity which I bought for Christmas of 2007 for a low price of $150. I have had some things break. My rear axle broke one time when I was sprinting out of intersection. I've had my rear cassette break on me twice and the Bottom Bracket wore out. I have put more than $150 into this bike but I got every penny out of it in the enjoyment of riding it. I'm just about to graduate from High School and I'm not sure if I want to get a new bike since this one has lasted me so well. The only thing I wish this bike had is 2 water bottle holders!
     
  5. jptaguilar

    jptaguilar New Member

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    It's 1 1/8" and is pretty standard for road bikes. I replaced mine with no problem.
     
  6. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    Is it really worth doubling the worth of the bike in order to save a few ounces? Steel forks ride great.
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Water bottles are easy to get on. First, Walmart sells a water bottle holder with cage by Bell, it uses a metal band strap with a rubber bushing to go between the metal band and the frame, their cheap and they were rated 2nd in all the various holders on the market. The best ones are made by Minoura, see section entitled bottle cage holder at: http://minourausa.com/english/accessory-e.html These do no come with the cage thus you can get any cage that meets your fancy...though you can also do that with the Bell. Do not get the holders that use a velcro strap or a lever lock system, these do not hold well especially with larger 24oz Polar bottles.
     
  8. spookytooth

    spookytooth New Member

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    I'm doing it to take the edge off the stiffness of the frame more than anything. This is the roughest riding bike I've ever seen. Carbon fork and a carbon seat post should sort it out. More or less...
     
  9. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    I'm not looking down on your bike. Let's just say that it is not your father's Schwinn nor is it the same Varsity. The former Schwinn company was founded by German-born Ignaz Schwinn in 1895 in Chicago. It operated in the US, manufacturing good quality bicycles from 1895 until it declared bankruptcy in 1992. At that point it was purchased by an investment firm called the Zell/Chillmark fund. The manufacture of the original Schwinns ceased and the Schwinn name was placed on outsourced lines of low quality bikes. Zill basically sold junk, using the good name of Schwinn until until 1997 when the brand was so damaged that they could no longer turn a profit. At this point they sold the brand to Questor Partners Fund, another investment firm. Questor brought in the great-great grandson of Ignaz Schwinn and bought out GT Bicycles in 1998. They manufactured a nice line of MTBs called the Schwinn Homegrown series but then went bankrupt in 2001.
    On September 11, 2001, Schwinn Company, its assets, and the rights to the brand, together with that of the GT Bicycle, was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by Pacific Cycle, a company previously known for mass-market brands owned by Wind Point Partners. In 2004 Pacific Cycle was, in turn, acquired by Dorel Industries.

    Pacific Cycle sells essentially two lines of bicycles under the Schwinn name. One is a line of discount bikes offered through mass-merchandisers like Wal-Mart, Sears and Kmart. The other line, featured on the website, are higher end models sold through specialty shops. Unfortunately the Schwinn name is still tarnished from the time that it was abused under Zell/Chillmark.

    The lower quality bikes, like your Varsity, do wear faster and are made of inferior materials and components. A higher end bike would not have had the axle snap during a sprint. Normally a higher end bike would not have needed to have the cassettes replaced twice and the bottom bracket replaced in 10,000 miles. Maybe one cassette, and because it wore out, not because it broke. But the big thing is that you did get every penny out of it and have enjoyed it.

    I am going to guess that since you purchased this bike in 2007 and you are just graduating from high school this year, that you purchased this bike when you were 13 or 14 years old. Now I don't know about you but I did quite a bit of growing between 13 and 18 years old. Therefore, your Schwinn Varsity probably doesn't fit you as well as our bike should. You might want to use one of the online fit calculators(a good one that I use: http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CCY?PAGE=FIT_CALCULATOR_INTRO ) )to find your size and see if the bike is near that. One or two centimeters variance is usually OK, but more than that normally means that you should change to a different bike.
     
  10. CyclingHermes

    CyclingHermes New Member

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    My first MT Bike was a Schwinn. I loved that bike and rode it into the ground. Then I moved on to a Trek. Now I'm on a GT road bike and loving it.
     
  11. spookytooth

    spookytooth New Member

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    Welp... Got a Cannondale Carbon fiber fork delivered for $34. Everything fits perfectly and the bike rides considerably smoother. Next up will be a carbon fiber seat and seat post. You guys can look down your nose all you want but this bike is a great platform to build a decent bike from.
     
  12. sarms

    sarms New Member

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    Hello fellow cyclist,
    I wanted to weigh in on this to let you know my approach to a situation like this, being a beginner and all. Me and my wife walked in to Wal-mart one day and found mountain bikes on clearance, we hadn't had bikes in years and thought this would be a good place to start. We bought two (Schwinns) and are great bikes for the money, no problems whatsoever with the bikes. I worked up to 25 miles on my rides three times a week. I wanted a road bike at this point. Enter the GMC denali.
    It was an ok bike and I rode it for 2 months an kept increasing my speed and endurance, but I didn't like the triple chain rings and couldn't get them to function correctly. But for the purpose it was good enough. Keep in mind I was a green horn when it came to bikes and equipment. Anyway I was at Academy one day soon after and I spotted a Schwinn Prelude (looks same as Varsity) and I was in love.
    Brought bike home and sold GMC to a friend for 150.00. Prelude was quite an upgrade over GMC, it worked perfect from store and I was happy with it. It weighed in at 25 lbs. Well then the upgrade bug bit. I bought a couple of books on bike repair and started reading about component availability/quality on forums such as this. Well bike mechanicals are pretty straight forward and not that complicated, just go slow and remember its the little details that make the difference ( I am a diesel/transit tech.). So anyway fast forward to now.
    I added forks ( Forte carbon fiber ) 89.99, Mavic akesuim (spelling?) wheels 280.00, Forte bar and stem (for ergonomics) 60.00, shimano STI 2300 shifters 139.00, Sram 8 speed cassette at 29.99, 105 front and rear derailers free from a friend for installing upgrades on his bike. I think thats it so far and yes I could have bought a complete bike for that much but I doubt I would have learned as much and am very proud of mine and it rocks.
    The bike now weighs in at twenty pounds. One thing I found out about frame is that rear spacing is 135 mm as opposed to 130. I added a 2mm washer to each side of axle and redished wheel to compensate. But the frame is solid.
    I consider the main point of cycling is no matter what you spend on a bike you still have to peddle like hell.
     
  13. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I for one am not looking down at you. Heck my favorite MTB came out of a dumpster!! How's that for cheap? It's 08 Kona Lava Dome found in decent shape, put about $80 in parts and it's like brand new. Imagine throwing away a bike because the seat was screwed up, grips were worn out, chain was rusty and stiff, and a pedal was broken. Cables were broken too but not sure if that was the result of the dumpster or not. So not bad for a bike that retailed for $800 in 08. I ride my dumpster bike off road and take it camping and don't care what any one thinks...of course no one knows it's a dumpster bike and I don't tell them either!
     
  14. fsmith2610

    fsmith2610 New Member

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    Hello to all. I've been lurking on this forum for about a month and finally saw this thread.

    My roommate and I purchased Schwinn Varsities in early May, 1970. About three weeks later we embarked on a 72 day, 6500 mile tour through twenty western states. Back then you were on your own. If you needed something you had to carry it. If something broke you had to fix it, walk or call someone for help.

    The Varsities held up well, receiving their only major overhaul in Minneapolis. We found a bike shop on Hennepin Ave. that was just closing, but the owner agreed to stay open late to go over the bikes. His fees were minimal; back then touring bikers were rare and we only saw one other somewhere in Kansas, going the other way.

    We rode through Death Valley and over Yosemite and Yellowstone. Well, actually some shank's mare was involved going up Tioga Pass. The only mechanical failure happened riding out of Yosemite, and we were looking forward to the long downhill. My handlebar post broke. Luckily I was able to stop just as it came free of the bike.

    When we returned to Tucson on day 72 I walked down the road to a friend's house and sold him the bike.

    And now, after 41 years I'm getting back in the saddle again. I realize that it's a lower end machine, but I settled on a Diamondback Trace Comp.
     
  15. ax25nut

    ax25nut Member

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    I tell my friends and such around here not to buy a new or expensive bike for kids, as they'll grow out of it. Get a used one at a yard sale for less than $50 and see how the kid takes care of it. Same applies to an adult these days. No need to fork over a lot of cash only to find you're bored with it or don't like it after all.

    As for components, you really can't tell what you're getting at a department store by looking at it, but if you could cut the hubs in half with a hacksaw you could tell the difference in a blink, and you would be appalled by how shoddy most of these bikes are, regardless of brand name. Many dept store hubs are sheet metal that has been roll-formed like the lid on a tin pop can, while good ones are machined and much thicker, having better bearings, etc. Our local bike shop owner here has copies of each on his counter for comparison. He does this because the unknowing will come in asking "How come "Dick" or 'Wally' sells a bike for $XXX and you want $XXX higher price for one?"

    Bottom line is that if you don't want your bike parts failing while out for a nice ride you must remember that quality has no substitute. The one common denominator at Dicks or Wally's is they're bikes are all made by the same parent corporation with different brand-name stickers on them, and the common result is premature component failure. By the way, Wally's inner-tubes are 0.6mm thick, while the ones sold at our local bike shop are 1.0mm thick, so quality is greater on those, too.

    I feel I must advise folks that most bike shops don't make their money on sales, but on routine maintenance, such as tune-ups, tire changes, and other repairs on bikes that were sold at the department stores and not properly assembled.

    Finally, Zayce, I would like you to know that my old Concord, purchased at a now-out-of-business Bunny's Cycles in Lancaster, served me without any failures for the 4-5 years I had it, and cost about $140 in the late 70's. My 1984 Ross Gran Tour, purchased new for $272, has never had any failures and I just swapped the pedals and crank out because I never liked the originals (they are pristine). I put double-sided pedals on it in place of those blasted offset ones, and swapped the double chainring for a triple, as I need the lower gears for uphill climbs these days. That is the difference between a department store bike and the ones I got from a bike shop.

    Your mileage may vary, of course, but 25 years of service from one bicycle with all original components is, in my opinion, impressive. I've had to have it lubed, and tires changed, but that is all. I miss the old Ross bikes, and even the Concords. The Concorde is a different machine from the Concord, and both were fine bikes.
     
  16. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    For the most part most bikes sold in IBS's today are not going to hold up for 25 years of solid riding like they were made to do 25 years ago...but that's just my personal opinion so it ain't worth much. In 1984 I bought a Trek 660 frame and fork to replace a crashed bike, I transferred all the Suntour Superbe components that I had partially upgrade the crashed bike with then bought the rest of the Superbe group and the Trek was built with all Superbe components. Most of those components have about 150,000 miles on them, the frame, fork and derailleurs have about 140,000 miles. Those parts and frame and fork still work flawlessly today, of course I have kept strict maintenance on them. I race and trained on that bike for the first 3 years then I retired from the rigors of racing but still rode and rode a lot. I seriously doubt any components today will last even a third as long, and frames and forks lasting that long? I doubt that too, but that much time hasn't expired yet for carbon fiber and aluminium bikes to pass down judgement.

    I have semi retired the Trek since I have a bunch of other bikes that I haven't really rode much and I'm going to slowly work on having the paint and decals restored; so now I'm riding mostly the 87 Miyata Team I bought new with only about 8,000 miles on it, and a 85 Schwinn LeTour Luxe I bought used but it only had 250 miles on it when I got it 8 months ago.
     
  17. donnie22

    donnie22 New Member

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    I am brand new to road biking and have the walmart varsity coming in the mail tomorrow. I am hoping to get into biking a little bit and plan on riding it about 8 miles to and from work each day. My question is to those of you who have upgraded your "chinocrap" and what you would suggest for me to do both first and further down the road.
     
  18. spookytooth

    spookytooth New Member

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    Unless you enjoy pushing your bike home with a flat tire, the very first thing you need to do is upgrade the tires and tubes.
     
  19. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    First: Send it back for a refund. Further down the road, like in about a month: go to your local bike shop and take a look at their bikes. October and November is when bike shops start offering steep discounts on their inventory to make room for the new years models and to lessen their tax burden on inventory. You will probably be able to get a good price on a bike that weighs half of what the "chinocrap" weighs, one that will fit you right, one that is fully assembled and that you can test ride to see if you like it before you buy it, one that will come with a free first tune up, one that very well may come with free lifetime adjustments, and one that you can get warranty work done in the shop rather than having to have it shipped back to China or whereever to have it evaluated. You will also get a team of knowledgable people to help you with your bicycling concerns instead of the teenager who happened to get the job of assembling the bicycles that day.
     
  20. spookytooth

    spookytooth New Member

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    Wow. You must own a bike shop. There's nothing wrong with the Varsity as a starter bike. It's light and comes with Shimano derailleurs. It's a 700c and is standard size in everything so it's very easy to upgrade. If someone is thinking about getting their toe wet with road biking the Varsity is a tremendous value at $200. Also, many people possess mechanical skills and prefer to wrench on and maintain our own gear. In fact, maintenance and upgrading is part of the hobby.
     
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