I have become "that guy" (old Schwinn Varsity)

Sep 13, 2006
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I'm sure some of you are "that guy" too... the guy who gets to hear "Hey, you're into old bikes. My uncle's neighbor was cleaning out his garage and he's got this old XXX he was gonna throw out. You want it?"

That's how I ended up with this:
20200217_133307.jpg
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This here is a pretty big ouch
20200217_133319.jpg


No immediate plans, I haven't even checked the serial to see what year it is.
 
Aug 17, 2019
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I'm sure some of you are "that guy" too... the guy who gets to hear "Hey, you're into old bikes. My uncle's neighbor was cleaning out his garage and he's got this old XXX he was gonna throw out. You want it?"

That's how I ended up with this:
View attachment 114090 View attachment 114088 View attachment 114087

This here is a pretty big ouch
View attachment 114089

No immediate plans, I haven't even checked the serial to see what year it is.
Cool bike. If the guy just gave it to you, I’d be doing backflips!!!
 
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Sep 13, 2006
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Cool bike. If the guy just gave it to you, I’d be doing backflips!!!
It's actually funny, kinda. When I heard the words "old Schwinn," of course visions of balloon tires or Stingrays danced in my head, but I figured it'd be rude to say "yeah I'm only interested if it's a certain kind of bike." Gift horses and all that. So when it ended up being a '76 Varsity I was a little disappointed and then immediately guilty for being disappointed.

But then I stumbled on this pic online (no idea whose it is, just popped up in a Google image search):
bluevarsity.jpg


Wow. I'm thinking if I spit-shine this thing and get some new gumwalls and a new white seat and bar tape, it could look pretty darn good.
 
Jan 21, 2009
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I think that would be a good idea because of the bad rear rim. You'll need a set of 26" wheels for the knobby tires along with a 26 bmx style fork and handlebars with stem. The rear wheel will need a coaster brake because those brakes won't reach on the back. You could stay with the original forks and it would work also, as long as you have rear coaster brakes. The cranks are good to go, just need the larger sprocket and guard unbolted.
This is a Schwinn I converted with 26 x 2.125 beach cruiser wheels added, keeping the original forks:
racer.jpg
 
Jan 21, 2009
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There's another option. Since you need both tires and a new rear wheel, a conversion to 700c might be a good option. The diameter of the rim is only smaller by 4 mm or so, so your brakes should reach. 700c rims give you a bigger variety and widths of tires.
So, white tape and seat with 700c rims and tires and you're off and running.
Gravel bike:
 
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Apr 24, 2007
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need more ideas? here are about 30 single speed conversions I've done. Many using old Schwinn road bikes. The flat blade forks on the Varsity will accomodate a wider tire that the tubular forks on the "better" Schwinns. A good source for acceptable rims, spokes and handlebars is wallyworld mountain bikes with aluminum rims. And I get 36h hubs from kid bikes with 36h wheels. There is no end to the supply of parts donor bikes so my cost is just a couple hours time. An angle grinder makes quick work of excess cable stops and add a bit of touch up paint (or no paint).

 
May 10, 2016
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Nice! Can’t beat free! I dig the longer Schwinn cranks on there. Lil better then their usual 165’s. To me atleast. I’ve done many a build on varsity’s and suburbans. Fun bikes and easy to mess with.
I’m also ‘that guy’ to some folks. I’ve come home to bikes on my driveway with no idea who left em. My rule is, always say yes. May not be what you’re into, but parts can go a long way.
 
Sep 13, 2006
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Wow, I haven't been around RRB in a few weeks... check in on this thread and all kinds folks weighing in. It's good to be back! Not sure which way this Varsity is going... may become parts, or may end up a single-speed cruiser like @rickpaulos suggested. For now it's hanging in the shed. :bigsmile:
 
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