1996 Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe—Ver. 2.0—Full Rework Completed

Even with the amount of time and effort it took to bring this bike back together, it was all worth it.

I reported on this bike just recently and now it is time to let you know how the rework has come together.   It was a lot more work than I expected, but the results are so satisfying.   It rides smooth and quiet now, plus the shine is better than ever.   If you missed the story on how and why I got this bike, then I suggest you look back to the article I posted at the end of December.   Here is a quick update on that.

After 15 years, I sold my last Cruiser Deluxe to an out-of-state bike collector.   Then I acquired this one from a family who had won in in a raffle and left it untouched in the garage for 15 years.   It is the same exact bike as the last one, only in a different color scheme.   They wiped it down before I got it, but I knew it needed some special attention and a in-depth polish.   So the project began.

As I tore into it, I found all the bearings were set too tight.   Plus I found many loose fasteners.   That prompted the decision to do a full disassembly and re-lube in conjunction with the polish job.   I found at that time the bearings were only lightly greased and a few other things that needed fine-tuning.   The bike came apart into just over 225 pieces.   Yes, I counted.   I also spent the time to determine just how many parts it takes to make a bike like this.

I posted a video of all the parts laid out on my front room carpet.   You will find the link below.   I also posted a video of the bike when I first got it, and will post one soon of the completed project.   Before I laid them on my carpet, I took each part (not the bearings and plastic) and waxed them to perfection.   That includes all the fasteners and the such.   It was quite a undertaking, but now they all look great and will be protected from the elements.   So by the time I set them up for the photo and video, they were clean as a whistle.

With all the pieces laid out before reassmbly, I took a video that gives a close-up look of each and the feel of the work it took to make this project happen.

So how many parts does it take to make this bike?   Figuring the frame as one piece, the thought of tearing each rim down, and the many pieces the chain is made of, I counted 844.   Of course, the rims were fine and I had no intention of taking the chain into pieces.   I just did this count out of curiosity.   But I did tear in down into the 225 individual pieces to complete this rework to my requirements.

I fully cleaned each set of ball-bearings and re-lubed them with a clear synthetic grease.   This is a product of Tri-flow that I have come to like very much.   I carefully adjusted the free-play in each bearing set to my level of perfection.   I also did the same to the coaster brake assembly, as it too was under-lubed and set incorrectly.   I cleaned and lubed the chain using White Lighting chain lube.   Even though I took apart the pedals for a good cleaning, the bearings were greased and adjusted well, so I left those alone.

During all this, I was impressed with the level of quality that Schwinn put into this final version on the Cruiser Deluxe.   The fit and finish is very nice.   They speced locknuts on many of the fasteners.   The chrome work is exceptional for a bike of this year.   The ’AS’ markings on many of the bolts (Arnold-Schwinn) is very retro.   Plus the one-year-only pieces on this bike add to the look immensely.

During reassembly I took my time to make sure each part was aligned, not damaged, and tightened correctly.   I used anti-seize lube on all the bolts to protect the threads from corrosion.   A dab on the seat springs will keep them from ever squeaking.   A little white grease on the seat post and stem was called for.   I fixed the small rattle by repositioning the rear fender.

I removed the warning sticker and the one that said ’Made in Taiwan’ from the frame.   I covered the pedal reflectors with black electrical tape and rotated the pedal pads so that part is hidden to look like the original ones on the 40’s and 50’s bikes this is designed to replicate.   Those pads without the reflectors were a $40 option when this bike was new.   They also offered a classy tail light and a horn you could add inside the tank.

I also removed the wheel spoke reflectors, but didn’t have to take off the others because the tech who assembled this bike at the shop never installed them.   That tech also did the worst of jobs on this bike in regards to the bearing adjustments and the loose fasteners I found.   Now though, those problems have been eliminated and this bike is so much better than new that it makes me proud.   I love doing this kind of thing to my bikes.

I really scrubbed the white wall tires until they gleaned.   Inside went a pair of thorn-resistant tubes I got from Quality Bike here in town.   I added Slime green goop in the tubes to also help keep the tires from ever going flat.   When I put in the goop, I do it with the tube out of the bike and knead the tube for a while to distribute the liquid as best as I can.   That helps to keep it from just pooling in one spot in the tube.   The goop and the thicker tubes also keep the air pressure up as the months go by.

I did add some cool accessories.   My rear blinking red light is on the seat post.   I put my NiteRider Lightning Bug 1.0 on the handlebars.   My set of leather Schwinn hub shiners look great on the ultra-clean polished hubs.   A pair of blue dice valve caps adorn the tube’s filler stems.   My Bermuda bell adds a nice sounding touch.   Red, white, and blue handlebar streamers are kind of childish, but I like them.   A pair of American flags in the rack round out the whole red, white, and blue theme.

So my bike is better than ever.   The rides I’ve taken since the re-work have been filled with smiles and shine.   As much as I love my new bike and the way it came out, I don’t need it, and am willing to part with it.   If it takes me 15 years to sell it I won’t mind.   It will be posted on the local Craig’s List pages and you are welcome to come have a look and be the new owner if it pleases you.

Thanks for following this story.   Keep cruising, Turbo Bob.

“A young couple passed us.   They rode pedal to pedal and almost arm in arm.   The girl rode with her left hand on the boy’s right, controlling his handlebar, steering them both.   Then he moved his hand around the small of her back.   They reminded me of partners in a waltz.   The boy lowered his hand to the girl’s saddle and leaned to her, and as they rode they whispered.   In the often dehumanizing crush of urban China, two bicycles had made space for romance.”—Fred Streibeigh.

The first Ver. 2.0 article


The first Ver. 2.0 You Tube video


The second Ver. 2.0 You Tube video


About Turbo Bob's Bicycle Blog

E-bike Enthusiast Vintage Bike Enthusiast
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7 Responses to 1996 Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe—Ver. 2.0—Full Rework Completed

  1. James Copello says:

    I recently acquired one of these exact bikes. Mine is in nowhere near as good of condition as yours was when you started. Now that yours is completely done and you have moved on from it, would you say it was worth it to put this much time into a reproduction bike? Also I was wondering what methods you recommended for removing some surface rust off of the springer front end/ heads of screws. You did a great job on your restoration and the bike turned out amazing!

  2. That sounds great, James.
    For one thing, to call this a reproduction bike is a little misleading. It is a Schwinn and made to their specs. And it is a modern day version of the old bikes, not a copy. They tried to get the style and feel, without making it a exactly the same as a original.
    I would say the time and effort was well worth it. It rides and feels so nice. I am pleased and happy to have gone to the levels I did.
    On the older Schwinns, the chrome was better and deeper, (like so many things). So far I have used small wire brushes, steel wool, and lots of metal polish. Sometimes with better results than others. I had someone tell me about a newer product that you can get at auto part stores that is some kind of treated wadding. I am planning on looking into it as I rework my old English 3-speeds. Those up-coming articles should offer some insight as to what it is and how it works.
    In the mean time, I suggest you ask at your local parts and hardware stores to see if they know what it is. And then give it a try.
    Thanks for the input, and good luck getting that cool Schwinn looking and riding the way you like, Turbo.

    • JOE BARNES says:

      I have a 96 just like the one you have. it has 2 small scratches. All original even the tires. Since new it has less than 2 hrs on it outdoors. It has never been outside when the road was wet or while raining. I hardly ever take it out, it has never spent the night outdoors! The cobblestone tires are like new. Its not mint cond but I have taken care of it. My wife fusses cause we have a 3 car garage, but I keep “ole blue” in our house, in our bedroom! It’s been inside in climate control, in my home for about 18 yrs. Every time I get it out and ride up through town people stop me and look and talk about how nice it is and the one they used to have. It gets a total wipe down about every 6 months to get the dust off. But it really needs a good cleaning to shine it up. When it’s cleaned up the shine will blind you! If I could find someone who would keep it and use it and enjoy it as you and I do, I would sell it. Not on EBay though. It would have to be someone who wanted it to ride and enjoy it. Not someone trying to make a extra buck! Anyway I paid a bunch for it. I have looked a little on prices on these and other Schwinns similar. The blue and white 96 is very rare, whice makes it harder to find at going price. If you know anyone who may be interested let me know. It’s time to let someone else enjoy it now that can get it out more than I can. JOE

  3. Brian Henderson says:

    Hey Turbo Bob,
    Over Christmas, my wife bought me a red & black Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe 7. It was sitting in a Schwinn store in Florida. It was a new bike that had been on the show room floor and never ridden.
    It was shipped via Greyhound to my town in Michigan. So far I’ve bought a set of white wall Schwinn cord tires, a set of red reflector hub caps and the tail/brakelight that goes under the bookrack. I have a question regarding the quality of the chrome fenders. The “flaired” part of the fender looks kinda rough, like it wasn’t formed very well by the factory before it was chrome plated.
    Is that the type of quality of all the fenders for these bikes? I found a new set for $300 , but thats almost half of what I paid for the whole bike! Don’t get me wrong, I love this bike and I’m looking forward to riding it in the spring. In your experience, is that typical of the type of quality for the fenders? Any input is greatly appreciated. Thank you and Happy New Year!

    • Brian, that sounds like a great bike. Finding it that way must be so satisfying.
      It might be easy for me to say don’t worry about the fenders. They tend to get a little bumped up there anyway. My two Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe bikes look (and looked) very good in the fender department.
      I would think if you don’t rush it, you can find a nice pair at a much lower price. Just enjoy the ride and keep your eyes open for a good set at a decent price.
      Do consider giving it the full one-over and bearing relube as I did on mine. Just like so many bikes nowadays, they tend to overlook the small details as they are pushed through the factory. For the perfect ride and a long life, it is up to you to make sure everything is set just right.
      Thanks for letting us know about your new bike, Turbo.

  4. Marcus Smith says:

    I have this same bicycle brand new and never been ridden . However I need the bolt that the handlebar stem screws into. Any ideas where to get ?

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