Monday, February 4, 2013

2/2-3/13:Grinning like an idiot

Weekend Weather: Mild, highs in teens. Windy in afternoon. Snow intermittent < 1in accumulation.

The Schwinn Suburban lives! It may have a (still) out of true rear wheel, it may have fenders slightly askew, it may be a color that has my wife (and E by extension) laughing every time she looks at it, but that lurid green electro-forged tank from the 70s is turning heads and putting a smile on my face.

Perhaps it's the color, maybe it's my glee making a useless wreck into a usable tool, but this bike makes me happy. As a bonus, it also has a very comfortable ride, like what I imagine a opafiets would be like. After the almost hunched position that the Sakai puts me in, the Schwinn feels extremely upright with almost no weight on the handlebars. The fresh snow we received on Sunday gave me a chance to test the Schwinn's snow handling. I found it very enjoyable and easy to handle, even when bouncing over some frozen ice chunks on the bike path.

The reach from seat to handlebars feels very short, which is a combination of geometry and the frame being a bit too small for me. Height of the the seat is also an issue. I've maxed the seat post out, but it still feels too short. It is possible to put a longer post on, but finding a post of the correct diameter that is any longer than what I have may be hard to do.

This Saturday's work (if it is work, it feels like work acting like play) on the Schwinn concentrated on replacement and repair. All cables and sheathing needed to be replaced since the old was cracked and rusted. Cable sheathing was something new to me, but the trick seems to be cutting a bit long, then trimming to fit. The cable needs to be as short as possible while still maintaining a gentle curve. In other words, when it looks right, it's right.

Cable routing was pretty straightforward, excepting a tricky bit of cable that had to go over the bottom bracket between the seat tube and chain ring.

As mentioned before, the front wheel is in pretty good shape. The rear was not even close. An hour and a half of wrenching resulted in a somewhat true wheel. I was making progress until some of the spoke nipples rounded over. Replacement is not a big deal, but I was 90% of the way there and running out of time.
Dave showed me how to "help" the wheel along by laying it across the steps and gently stomping on the bend. This trick will be filed under Not To Be Done Around Bike Owner. The final resulting rim is straight enough to keep from rubbing fenders or brake pads, but does pulse pretty hard when braking. The front is nice and straight, so most of my braking will be done with the front alone. 

I believe that this bike was rode very lightly until something happened to mess up the back wheel, after which the bike was put into storage and forgotten. With a small investment in parts, and a slightly larger investment in time, the Schwinn is ready to go. Now I need to find a basket(s) to finish this bike into the utility bike that I think it's capable of becoming.

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