Saturday, October 22, 2016

1948 Schwinn Continental

Most of my bicycles begin as 'projects', meaning that they come in 'as found' condition, usually somewhat beat-up and in need of work. However, I recently bought a 1948 Schwinn Continental that had already been gone-over.

The three speed Schwinn Continental was a higher-end touring and road bike model produced by Schwinn shortly after World War II. The bikes had hand-built, fillet brazed frames made from seamless Chromium-Molybdenum alloy steel. This alloy is lighter than the thicker steels that Schwinn welded into frames for standard bikes. Later continentals were somewhat middling road bikes, but these earlier Continentals were second to the Paramount in quality in the late 1940s.

This particular Continental has some deluxe features that offered "high performance" in those years. This includes stainless steel rims, aluminum shell front hub, three-piece bottom bracket with lightened cranks, low-profile stainless fenders, and a two-piece adjustable alloy stem.

The stem is a flat, road bike shape and the bars are flat, all-purpose touring type bars.

Even the old Schwinn horsehair mattress saddle is in good condition on this bike.

I did make some very modest, reversible changes to the bike. First, I put a 22 tooth rear cog on the Sturmey Archer hub and added a German-made, nickel plated chain. Second I replaced the original brake cables with new brake cables for safety purposes. I kept all the original parts and set them aside. I also added Banjo Brothers barrel bag.

This bike rides more like a performance road bike than like a utility three speed. With lower bars and a little more aggressive riding, the performance is noticeably better than a utility three speed. It offers a neat contrast to my 1940s Schwinn New World.

I also really like the blue color and the aluminum-colored markings on the bike.

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