Smooth as Butter

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The Schwinn Suburban project is coming along great! Check out the new pictures. This is how things stand as of last night.

A big shout out goes to Al Schorsch, of Rapid Transit Cycleshop in Chicago, whose bike was featured on Chicago Bike Blog a couple of weeks ago. I got the idea for setting my handlebars this way from the pictures of his bike. Thanks for the inspiration, Al! I won’t know until I’ve had a chance to ride it whether they’ll work like this. They are pretty low. When I begin this project, I had in mind to retain the cruiser style, but these bars just look so cool and funky like this. Keeping this modified look while achieving a slightly more relaxed and upright riding position might be as simple as changing the stem. We’ll see.schwinn-project-030-reduced

So here’s what’s left to do:

+ Paint and install the chain guard and fenders. I’ve decided to go with gloss black. It’s not the most exciting color scheme, but it’ll have to do this time around. (I am, however, totally digging the GM Blue on the frame and fork. That turned out to be a good call.)
+ Clean and install the brakes, and run the brake cables.
+ Clean and install the derailleur, and install the new chain.
+ Figure out what to do about the pedals and grips. I have the original pedals, and I might just keep them. The original grips are in so-so shape. The question is whether to use them anyway, replace them with something suitable to the look of the bike, or tape the bars. The last option is probably pretty unusual on a bike like this. But part of me thinks it might work, and why not. What do you think?

schwinn-project-029-reducedWell, I’ll admit, I’ve grown pretty attached to this bike in the process of fixing it up. I realize that a large part of that is due to the fact that it’s my first build. I know a lot of people who ride bikes also enjoy fixing up old ones, and I’m sure there are a variety of reasons for this. Yet, I’m inclined to imagine that they all hang together around notions of simplicity and quality. Last night, as I was polishing the ball bearings for my bottom bracket, I realized that no one will ever see how unbelievably shiny they are, let alone know how they looked when I first pulled them off the bike. But I will. And feeling the way that crank turned after I had repacked them and reassembled the bottom bracket was so incredibly and deeply satisfying. Sure, you could pedal the bike just fine before the overhaul. But now things function even better. Things move the way they were designed and manufactured to move. Smooth as buttah.

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One response to “Smooth as Butter

  1. I hear you! I’ve just finished a rebuild of an old Schwinn Traveler. I also experienced that deep satisfaction when I spun those cranks for the first time! Now I’m working on an ’86 Schwinn World. Taking it down to the metal.