Rough roller: 1964 Schwinn Corvette returned to service

Peoria's Illinois Cycle sold this Schwinn Corvette in 1964. The bike probably spent most of the past 30 years rusting away in a basement.

Peoria’s Illinois Cycle sold this Schwinn Corvette in 1964. The bike probably spent most of the past 30 years rusting away in a basement.

In 2013, Erik Reader, now president of Bike Peoria, was rehabilitating a $5,000 house just off Monroe Street. That’s when he asked me whether I wanted a bicycle he had found stuffed in a corner of the basement. I said sure. And I didn’t change my mind when I saw its condition.

The original wheels were trashed (though I may eventually resurrect the rear hub). The paint was and still is largely theoretical. The saddle was gone, and the saddle clamp, a famously non-standard Schwinn part, was missing as well.

It may have been the missing clamp that led to the bicycle’s consignment to storage. The owner–or whoever had possession of the Schwinn at the time–probably couldn’t figure out a way to attach a new saddle to the old post.

I, on the other hand, decided to attach an old saddle to a new post. Economically, you can consider that to be the first of several mistakes. Because there’s no way it makes any sense to return this bike to the road.

Except for the fact that it was a lot of fun to work on.

Schwinn Corvette, Illinois Cycle

You have to work to rebuild a bicycle this obsolete. Fortunately, there always seems to be a source for 26 x 1-3/4 tires on the Internet. And no, 26 x 1.75 tires won’t fit.

Economically, it doesn't make any sense to fix a bicycle this far gone. Here's what's original to the bike: frame, fork, headset, cranks, bottom bracket, fenders, chainguard, seat post frame clamp and Peoria bicycle license.

Economically, it doesn’t make any sense to fix a bicycle that was as far gone as the Corvette. Here’s a list of the parts I kept through the rebuilding process: frame, fork, headset, cranks, bottom bracket, fenders, chainguard, seat post frame clamp, coaster brake strap and Peoria bicycle sticker.

Nothing wrong with the old handlebars and stem, but this set was a little wider and a lot shinier. No idea why I still had Schwinn handlebars in the junk box.

Nothing wrong with the old handlebars and stem, but this set was a little wider and a lot shinier. No idea why I still had Schwinn handlebars in the junk box.

Everything you've read about the SRAM Automatix 2-speed hub is correct: 1) It doesn't come with a brake strap, 2) It should come with a larger cog because high gear kicks in early, and 3) It's nifty as all get-out.

Everything you’ve read about the SRAM Automatix 2-speed hub is correct: 1) For some bizarre reason, it doesn’t come with a brake strap, 2) It should come with a larger cog because high gear kicks in early, and 3) It’s nifty as all get-out.

This bicycle originally came with a sidepull rim brake. I filed the dropout openings just a bit so the drum brake axle would fit. It was easier to adjust the front brake than to read the instructions.

This bicycle originally came with a sidepull brake. I filed the dropouts just enough to accept the drum brakes’s non-flatted axle. Note: It was easier to adjust the front brake than to interpret the instructions for it.

Chicago-built Schwinn bicycles came with super-skinny, super non-standard seat posts. The new seat post is compatible with standard saddle clamps. The Brooks B15 saddle is another junk box find.

The new seat post is compatible with standard saddle clamps. The Brooks B15 saddle is another junk box find.

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About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Equipment, Other bicycles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rough roller: 1964 Schwinn Corvette returned to service

  1. Julian says:

    Neato! Love it.

  2. adventurepdx says:

    Nice! Yeah, sometimes restorations don’t exactly pencil out in the logical sense (don’t ask me how many hundreds of dollars I’ve poured into my Raleigh Wayfarer over the years) but they definitely are fun. And a great way to get a unique bike! Now I just wish I had a junk box stocked with Brooks saddles. 😉

    • The last bicycle I rode with cotter pins had a 50-inch front wheel and solid tires. I’m hoping your Wayfarer is easier on cotters than my old Kennedy Ordinary. I never went on a long ride without spares and a wrench. One of the reasons I eventually let it go.

  3. Apdx: Just the one–so far.

  4. Erik says:

    Sam, my hat is off to you! I am standing in front of the computer clapping with great zest. This right here is the work of a wizard and/or a mad man. Regardless, you have done it. I felt that same way with the house…

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