My Old Bike: Night and Day

Well, after about a month of getting parts and tuning, my vintage 1970s Schwinn Varsity is ready to hit the road (I think). Take a look, here's a shot from before:

...and after:

Pretty cool, right? I'm a big fan of the bright red handlebar tape, a cheap buy from eBay. Nothing like the original from the 70s haha. Most of the hardware is the same, I just cleaned, washed, oiled, and tuned the bike so that it was running smoothly again. There are a number of new items, including:

- Tubes
- Tires
- Rim Tape
- Brake and Derailleur Cables
- Chain
- Handlebar Tape
- Lights
- Rack

It was quite a challenge getting it running smoothly again, many of the parts were out of true or bent. However, in the end it seems to work great. I'm amazed how similar it looks to my old bike (which I miss dearly :-( ...) Let's hope it doesn't have all the same initial problems as my old one though.

Today was meant to be the maiden ride for the bike, but I ran into a few snags, as with any new (old) bike like this. I got home fairly late, so it was dark by the time I put the last touches on the bike. I decided to attempt a 3 mile ride to the coffee shop to read my book and work on my novel. I should've known better, my previous old bike had issues repeatedly over the years.

After only a few hundred feet, the back wheel started rubbing badly against the frame. Then the wheel totally fell off and jammed against the frame. Whoops... Looks like I forgot to tighten and lock some bolts. After dragging the thing back to my garage (luckily I only made it a few hundred feet), I took apart the back wheel and forced it back into place and tightened everything really well.

I'm so happy I didn't get stuck in the dark somewhere in SJ randomly, THAT would not have been fun! I decided to lay low for tonight and just ride it around the garage and the block real quick. Everything worked pretty well. The gears were mostly smooth and the brakes worked fine.

Tomorrow, I plan on attempting the 3 mile ride again (during the day of course). Tune in to see what happens...hopefully I'll get farther than my apartment complex this time.

There are still some minor adjustments to be made, which I'm hoping to fix: the gears slip a little bit (a bent derailleur) and my front wheel hops (it's not true and needs the spokes tightened). After all those minor fixes, I'm hoping that this bike lasts for a long time.

With this bike, I'm replacing my other old red 10-speed that I sold in SLO. I didn't have the space to move it up here and I figured I wouldn't need it, so I sold it to get parted. MAN, was I wrong. An old bike like this is so useful. My newer bike is great, but I don't want to dress in biking gear and clip shoes to go to the coffee shop or Target. I mean, some people like to do that (my clip shoes have covers called "coffee covers"...apparently people do wear this stuff to the local Starbucks), but I rather just hop on and off a bike for those short trips. I also don't want to worry about dings and the possibility of my bike getting stolen. That's why a bike like this is so great.

Along with my test ride tomorrow, I'm also going to try out my new commuter route. It's about 30 miles roundtrip to HGST, so it will be a bit of a haul early in the morning, but I'm up to it. I found a great utility online that uses Google Maps to map routes for biking, running, whatever. Here's my second attempt at creating a route:

My Commuter Route to HGST

My first route was similiar, but some of the roads ended or were too busy. I don't want to be breathing exhaust along my whole trip. I've tried to update my route to take quieter and more direct roads this time. I even got some good advice from my manager Steve who's from the area and knows the traffice situation better.

With winter coming, the rain will come, so I'm not sure how much riding I'll get in right away, but I want to at least test out the route and get a feel for the ride after a few trials during the week. Eventually, I hope to build up to riding every day. That will involve changing my work schedule, how I dress and shower, etc, but I've done it all before in SLO when I biked 10 miles to and from Cal Poly every other day. In the end, it's all about the same 3 things:

1) Pollute less
2) Save money
3) Excercise more

It's a triple win! I mean there's the longer commute time and possibility of being late (flats, etc), but it's not like I have a final to get to anymore. And who knows, with how bad traffic can get in the Bay Area, I might not get there that much later haha.

We'll see how it goes. Wish me safe travels on my bike ride...make that rides tomorrow!

By the way, if you'd like to see more before and after photos of the bike, check 'em out here:

My Bike Pics



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Nurul Hida said...

hahaha.... ^_^
I like ur face, so funny n look friendly :D
and ur bike, great!! bring it to my country, Indonesia.

Unknown said...

lol thanks, I always look funny in pics. I'm not sure how soon I'll be heading to Indonesia, although I'm planning a trip to Europe next year. Who knows...

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