Saturday, September 5, 2009

Schwinn Le Tour II Restoration, Phase 3.5 - Single Speed with Fenders


I put Phase 3.5 in the title because the bike's configuration hasn't changed that much from the so-called Phase 3. There will be a Phase 4, so stay tuned.

The addition of fenders, Brooks B17 saddle, cloth tool roll, silver crank dust caps and retro bottle cage does change the look somewhat, though.

The fenders are the 37mm polished aluminum fenders from Velo Orange. I installed them myself using the supplied hardware. Fortunately, I didn't have to drill anything, but unfortunately, I didn't have all the hardware I needed, and had to pick up some extra parts from Ace Hardware.

It seems to me that the tire clearance is a little too wide but due to the way the frame is built, there wasn't much I could do about it if I wanted to keep the clearance uniform.

The old-school bottle cage straps are designed to secure certain bottle cages against the tube. These straps don't have any nuts that would replace brazeons, so I can't use any bottle cage.

I felt a stainless steel bottle would work well with the chrome and polished aluminum elsewhere on the bike. Some also recommend steel bottles, as they don't get gunked up the way plastic can, leach chemicals in the water, and make the water taste funny. The bad news is that the bottle and cage aren't designed for each other, so there's a little vibration and noise when the bottle is empty.

The tool roll is a Bike Burrito and looks really good underneath the black Brooks B17 with copper rivets and rails. I keep an extra tube, tire levers, wrenches, rag, patches, pump, and a multitool in the roll.

I still want to cut the fender stays to keep a clean look.

I needed to create some spacers to move the fender further out from the chain stay bridge. I used a long bolt with washers and nuts as spacers. I used leather washers from Velo Orange to help absorb vibration.

This part was tricky. The sliding mount was in the form of a strap that I had to bend, fold, and pinch myself for a custom fit. This holds the top of the fender secure to the seat stay bridge. The hole in the strap for the brake bolt wasn't wide enough for the nut, so I had to ream it out a bit with a drill.

The fenders came with a fork crown daruma. This nifty piece of hardware connects to the brake bolt as it passes through the crown. It drops a bolt that goes through a hole in the top of the fender. I don't know if I did it right, but I didn't tighten down the nut under the fender too tightly. As a result, I can wiggle the fender a bit to align it over the tire, and it gives if I clip the fender with my toe, rather than bend the fender.

The Good

  • Fenders rock. I've got fenders on my Trek 7300 hybrid, and they've enabled me to ride comfortable in wet conditions. They also help keep the bike clean, especially the underside of the new leather saddle.
  • They look cool, I think. I feel almost caveman-like when it comes to shiny things. Oooohhh... shiny!
  • Yay! I installed the fenders myself! It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it did take a while. It should go more quickly next time.
  • Being able to carry a bottle is nice on those hot days when I might not be riding near water. This bike is more of a city commuter with skinny tires, and not intended for long adventure rides, but a swig of water every now and again is a good thing.

The Bad

  • These fenders, while not as pricey as Japanese Honjo fenders, were a little more expensive than plastic fenders.
  • I'm afraid the metal fenders will get dented and scuffed with everyday commuting. This is a working bike, and not being restored just for show.
  • Toe clipping is a problem now. My days of the almost-track stand are done on this bike, since my feet hit the fender if I move the handlebars from side to side.
  • I didn't notice any vibration or rattling during an easy test ride on the trail this afternoon but I wonder if commuting on the rough streets of Omaha will shake something loose.
  • I guess it's impossible for Velo Orange to predict all the parts that I would need. I spent an extra $10 on assorted nuts, bolts, washers, and such from the local hardware store.
In summary, I like the look of the shiny new parts. Fenders extend the riding days of any bike. I've got a few more ideas for the bike before I call it done, so be sure to watch for updates.


Steve said...

Cloth tape wrapped around key parts of a metal bottle can lessen the vibration noise.

Looking good.

Single_Speeder said...

You can install bottle bosses pretty easily. Drill two properly spaced holes and punch in some rivnuts and BAM! Bottle mount. We can order the rivnuts and we have the rivet gun at the shop. I love fenders.

erik said...

metal fenders tend to fare better than plastic ones in lockup and daily use, from my experience. The whole assemblage should be significantly stiffer (I've only dented my fenders once, when dropping my bike crossing a patch of ice). Still going strong, leather washers to dampen vibration is key so it's good to see you went that route.

Bummer about the cost of hardware, you'll slowly accumulate a good collection and then will be able to just pull from what you have -- it hurts the first couple runs to the store to buy stainless though.

Scott Redd said...

Thanks, Steve, for the cloth tape tip. I bent in the cage a bit to hold the bottle more snugly. It helps, but makes it harder to get the bottle out. It's not really a problem, since the bottle's screw on cap doesn't afford me the opportunity to drink while riding. It's more like I stop and drink.

The steel bottle reminds me of the steel canteens I got from the Army surplus store as a kid. :)

Single_Speeder: What shop might that be? I'm OK now with the strap on cage for now. I'm a little nervous about drilling my frame with a hand drill. Plus I read somewhere that the rivnuts can work loose over time. Do you know anything about that?

Erik: So far, so good. I haven't noticed much vibration from the fenders, except they seem to resonate with a kink I have in my drive train at times. I rode through a puddle deliberately today. :)

It looks like rain in the Omaha forecast this week, so I may well get a chance to ride the bike fearlessly on wet streets.

What do you know about the saddle conditioning? Is Sheldon's site the best place for that info?

erik said...

i wouldn't go with the sheldon technique, it's hard to say exactly what works for a given person best but it seems like using neatsfoot is a bit risky to me. Proofhide works well, and keeps the leather from breaking down at all. For breaking in period stuff, I've found a few hundred miles is all it takes to get a good comfy start. It will continue to get better over time, and it seems like several rides make a big difference more than just raw miles (that might be me fooling myself though). Also, the saddle tends to be most comfy when just slightly tipped upwards -- some folks like it way up, others not at all... it just tends to be a good starting place.

That bike is looking beautiful, by the by.


Single_Speeder said...

Trek Store. You can get the rivnuts through qbp, I don't know if anyone else in town will have the rivet gun but if you can find the nuts and drill the holes you can use our rivet gun.

I haven't heard of any issues with the rivnuts, though I have pretty minimal experience with aftermarket installations. I have a friend who installed them in his '71 Le Tour(amazing bike, by the way), and hasn't had any issues. I would think the problems would come from either overtightening or a lot of cage contact. Maybe they would work loose, not sure. Pretty sure that it's the same process that they use on a new bike.

Jerome said...

Dig your bike, dig your blog. Cheers.

MOD said...


Alex said...

Scott, I have a very similar Schwinn LeTour I, 1974 I believe, and I was wondering, is that the original stem the bike came with? It looks marvelous! My LeTour stem is quite tarnished now, and the scratches where it enters the headset look quite awful. Any advice on how to give 'em a good clean up or find an identical stem like yours? Thanks!

-Alex from Chicago

landotter said...

How do the brakes feel? I'm asking because those are Tektro drop bar levers for linear pull, not caliper brakes. Thus they'll pull more cable, but with less mechanical advantage. If braking feels anemic, swap them for the model with the correct pull. Otherwise, looks really nice.

Anonymous said...

This is great! I never knew that cavemen liked shiney things!