Upright handlebars, mountain bike brake levers and SunTour bar-end shifters. There was a time before indexing when these SunTours were just about the best shifters made. If they had a problem, it was the domed nut that provided a smooth finish to the shift body. When you find these shifters in the wild, that nice, round nut is usually missing. You’d don’t absolutely have to have it for the shifters to work, but when you find a spare one in your junk boxes (like I did, unbelievably enough), well, life is good.
Original Schwinn-approved front derailleur, Nervar crankset and (non-original) alloy pedals. These are well-made pedals with no toe clips and no attachment for an SPD cleat. This is a commuting bicycle; the shoes you have on will work just fine. If you have to pull up on a pedal, you’re pedaling too hard.
The derailleur is way nicer than I planned to put on here; it’s actually a backup part for my tandem. If I ever find the top spring for the entry-level Shimano sitting back on the bench, I’ll switch this derailleur for that one.
The chain? Nothing special, except for the fact that this is the first chain I’ve installed in years that doesn’t need a double pin or connecting link. You drive one of 120 standard-width pins (I added a few links) almost flush to the inside of one side plate to remove the chain, and then drive that same pin back to the other side plate to install it. Easy-peezy.
Brooks Champion Flyer saddle and seatpost. I’ve owned very few suspended leather saddles over the years. There’s this one, one on a Kennedy Ordinary I rode several years on PACRACC (a long-departed three-day tour around Bloomington-Normal, Illinois) and a cruddy Ideale on a four-speed Peugeot I owned in college.
A suspended leather saddle is a good thing to have. You never know when you might need to show your credentials while sneaking into Portland, Oregon. And I still have an ambitiously long saddle in the basement that would be a perfect match for a rickshaw in Agra, India.
The seat post? All 350mm of it are perfectly protected within the seat tube of this machine. Yes, I too have friends who would find this appalling. Taller friends.
Mavic rims, Panaracer tires. The rims aren’t original to this bike, but they may be just about as old. There was a time when I wouldn’t build a wheel for myself that didn’t have a red Mavic label on it.
This particular Mavic is connected to the front hub, a high-flange Campy, just as I got it from Les Siegrist’s cycling estate. For some reason, it was built with 15-gauge spokes laced cross-four (a spoke at the hub flange crosses four other spokes before it enters the rim). And the valve hole isn’t where it should be (which is between two groups of four spokes, instead of within one of the groups). I’ll eventually rebuild the wheel cross-three with 14-gauge spokes to match the rear, which I built around a Phil Wood hub.
The tires are the same 700X35 Panaracers I ran on the tandem for a time last year. Nice rolling—lots of cush.
Cables and cable housing. That front brake housing looks a little long, doesn’t it, arcing from under the bar on the left side, up, over and behind the bar to the brake hanger. A little wasteful. Perhaps just a little too Jeffersonian a flourish, you might say. Yep. I like it.
I have to say the Teflon-lined cable housings may just be the biggest improvement to this bike. Ultra smooth action all the way around. And look what those housings attach to; there are clean braze-on cable stops all over this bike. And Schwinn built it in 1972, when so many other makers were trying to sell prospects on the beauty of their frame designs while totally overlooking how awful their rusty cable clamps looked.
Schwinn really did it right, even though the cable stops are a non-standard size, just like the 0.833-inch handlebar stem, the 91mm front dropout width (widened by yours truly to 100mm) and the Huret rear dropout (made compatible with modern derailleurs by a hand-fabricated derailleur angle stop adapter).
I like this bicycle. In some ways, I’ve summoned the ghost of my first derailleur-equipped bicycle: a Schwinn Collegiate. It also had upright handlebars, a seat with springs, about the same width tires, and fenders. And it was the same color: Opaque Blue.
You know, except for the Sports Tourer’s significantly lighter frame and wheels, higher-quality crank and brakes, quick-release hubs, front derailleur, wider gear range and bar-end shifters, the two are almost exactly alike.
Except I remember seeing a seat post on the Collegiate.