Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Princess Redd-Shift

Or, Emily's Sweet Schwinn

Since I started bike commuting, cycling has become a bit of a family affair. My daughter has a Trek children's mountain bike that's almost too small for her rapidly growing, long legs. My wife commutes to work often, and our son sometimes rides to the gym.

Since I got bike crazy, my daughter, Emily, has acquired a bit of a bike eye, and had begun to notice the difference between modern mountain bikes made for kids and more stylish vintage bikes. Since her legs are almost too long for her MTB, I started looking for a suitable lady's bike that she might like. One idea was to go the 650B conversion route and go with fat tires and fenders, perhaps adding a rack and/or basket.

Craigslist turned up an old Schwinn, the same color as my Le Tour II. We got a good price ($40) on the bike and proceeded to take it home to evaluate it. On the way home, I stopped by the Trek store to get some gloves and took the opportunity to ask Mark about the bike and how it might take new parts such as quick release wheels, new brakes, paint or powder coat, etc. His first remark was that the bike used Shimano's Positron shifting. This was an early attempt at index shifting using a freewheel in the pedals and a fixed rear hub. The idea was that shifting could be done while coasting. The system never really caught on, and it would be another ten years before indexing shifting really got into gear.

I'm not ready to attempt to convert the drivetrain to a traditional drivetrain, but the old rusty wheels had to go. I moved over the 27 inch chromed wheels from the Le Tour and so far, it seems to be a good fit. The shifting isn't quite accurate, but works. I think some play with the limit screws might help. I tightened up the brakes.

We went for an easy six mile ride to Blue Planet and Emily reported that the ride was super smooth. I guess the higher pressure, narrow and smooth tires were better on the bike path than her knobby MTB tires. The hills back home were a little tough since the heavy bike wouldn't shift down into the granny gear. There was a little pushing involved.

We'll add some new bar tape to replace the original cellophane orange stuff, replace the too-soft gel aftermarket seat, maybe get a paint or powder coat job and we'll have one spiffy looking, smooth riding vintage girl's bike with little investment.


Scott Redd said...

Yes, she wears a helmet. It was not on her head for the pictures. :)

Scott Redd said...

If anyone could ID this bike, I would be grateful. I think it might be an 80s era Varsity, but I am not sure. There's not much left of the original decals, and I can't find a serial number on the frame. There are some numbers on the head badge, but they don't seem to work the same as the numbers on my Le Tour II.

brady said...

I believe that's a 1982 Schwinn Deluxe Varsity Road Bike.

Search for "Deluxe" here:

Scott Redd said...

I think you're right, Brady. In fact, it was partially based on that picture, seen before, that I surmised that this bike might be an 80s era varsity.