A tale of two bicycles—Vintage Schwinn 5-speed comparison with possible E-bike conversion—Part 1—Introduction

My 60's Schwinn Collegiate.

As I start this story, you might ask why even care about these old bikes.   Like a lot of people, I don’t think new, modern things are always best.   Sure, you can get a bike that is fancier, lighter, and newer.   But so can everyone else.   It is sometimes better to embrace and enjoy old technology.   The thrill I get from riding and maintaining these bikes can’t be found on the showroom floor of your corner bike shop.   Another, more understandable answer is that both of them were given to me by people who no longer wanted them.   Who doesn’t love a free bike?   If you have the same attitude about this as me, follow along.

Next, you might think that they are women’s bikes.   Yes and no.   These are bikes that can be ridden by anyone.   I like to say that they have “comfort, step through frames”.   The frames are not as rigid as a triangle framed bike.   If you ride hard, like to jump curbs, or plan on very high speeds on bad roads, that might be a problem.   In addition, as I decide if an E-bike conversion is feasible, I will take that into account.   All the same, they are strong bikes that will continue to give good service.   Any bike restorer can tell you that a girls bike is the best source of misc parts like fenders and chain guards.   Why?   Because the boys tended to strip all these “unneeded items” off to make them into “racers”.   Both these bikes came to me complete, as delivered.

My 80's Schwinn World Tourist

So what makes these bikes so special?   We have already covered the fact that they are mine.   That says a lot right there.   And of course, they are not bikes that you see everyday as you ride the streets and bike ways.   That alone is reason enough for me.   Plus, they are both very simple bikes.   Not as simple as a single speed beach cruiser, but compared to modern bikes, they are not complicated or hard to keep up.   Other things that I like about them are the fenders, chain guards, and a kickstand.   I’ve been known to say, that if a bike doesn’t have those pieces, than it can’t be much of a bike.   To each his (or her) own.   Some of the named items can be installed on most bikes.   Or can be removed if you don’t want or need them.

Now a little about the type of bikes these are.   There are road bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers, etc.   In its day, I would think it was called a student bike.   Now, terms like free, comfort, and hybrid are probably more common.   It is not a racing bike, or designed for dirt trails.   They offer a fairly upright seating position.   There is no front derailleur or extra front chain ring gears.   This last item is why a chain guard is possible.   The tires are a size that is good for the road, but can handle hard packed dirt or firm gravel.   They are just general all-purpose bikes that will take you anywhere but the most severe places.

Ok, you’ve seen the bikes in question.   As this series continues, I will do my best to point out the good and bad of each bike, and the things that are similar or different.   I will cover….

Construction

Drive train

Wheels and Tires

Brakes

Condition and maintenance

Performance and Riding comfort

Up grades and Accessories

Adaptability to E-bike and conversion if it is done.

Thanks for getting involved with this story.   I would like to end each article with a quote about bicycles.   More on the way, Turbo Bob.

“Life may not be about your bike, but it sure can help you get through it.”—-Hallman

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About Turbo Bob's Bicycle Blog

E-bike Enthusiast Vintage Bike Enthusiast
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11 Responses to A tale of two bicycles—Vintage Schwinn 5-speed comparison with possible E-bike conversion—Part 1—Introduction

  1. Great vintage Schwinns there. 😉 I too enjoy things that are vintage and am looking to replace my 80’s beach cruiser with one of these gems.

    • Good idea. There are a lot of these types of bikes out there for the taking. Schwinn made so many that there still a lot of them in good shape and available for purchase. Good luck finding one you like.
      Thanks for having a look at my bike blog, Turbo Bob.

  2. Cool bikes Turbo. Those Schwinns were built to last–almost forever 🙂 I look forward to reading more.

  3. Random ID says:

    I just got a Vintage Schwinn today looks very similar to yours. Im just not sure how old it is? I notice you had a 60’s and 80’s. I assume that mines is an 80’s only because its in good condition…but I can be so wrong. Im excited to read more and to maintain this precious bike.

  4. When Schwinn bikes were made in Chicago, the serial number would tell the month and date of manufacture with a coded number and letter. (You can find a chart online with a little investigation). It sounds like this bike might be a little too new for that to help figure out the year. Sometimes you can only go by the style, color, and pieces it comes with to make an intelligent guess. Some internet checking might help you with this.
    As long as you like it, the actual year might not be as important as getting it the way you want it to be for riding. When it comes to getting replacement parts, some parts are easier than others. I am lucky to have some cool shops locally that deal with old bikes and save a lot of old parts for people like you and me.
    Of course eBay can sometimes help, but I’ve seen some crazy prices there, plus what you need might not be there for the taking. With any luck, you won’t need much but some tires, tubes and elbow grease.
    Let us know how it comes out and how much you like riding it.
    Thanks, Turbo.

  5. Pegtastic says:

    I just got one like your blue one above! At a thrift store for $15!!! It still has the electric parts. I can’t pick it up until Monday, but I’m trying to learn about it. Yours appears to be the only one like it on the interwebz. 🙂 Please tell me everything. It needs new tires for sure. I wasn’t looking for electric, so if that works, it’s an added bonus I guess. I don’t know squat about electric bikes. There was a dry-rotted bag tied to the back of it and a separate charger cord looking thing. I don’t even know where to start with researching how to make it as awesome as it once was, but I love how it looks. Now it just needs a basket and a cup holder!! 🙂

  6. Gnoam says:

    I picked one up free from a neighbor – exactly like the one pictured! However it needs a new front wheel (not just the tire) & is stuck in the highest gear. Think it’s worth it to fix it up? I love the look of it (I prefer an upright bike to those newer styles that force me to put a lot of weight on my wrists, as I find that painful) but I’m also on a budget & would rather give it away to someone who wants to put the $$ into it if it’s going to be quite pricey.

  7. Gnoam says:

    Whoops, should clarify – it’s the blue 80s World Tourist, not the 60s bike.

    • It is all a matter of preference—what kind of bike you want to ride. I just recently finally fully went through this one (also the green 69 again). It rides so great and is fully worth it to me.
      Without a doubt, fixing one well to sell for a profit is not really going to happen. If you want to ride it—rework it. If it isn’t your kind of bike—pass it to someone who will.
      Thanks for following along with my blog.
      BTW, you can see the results of both of these reworks on my You-Tube site.

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