Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Schwinn New World and Evening Rides

Now that the days are starting to lengthen more, I've had a chance to ride in the evenings after work, at least a couple of days each week. I usually get my pick of a one-hour bicycle ride or a three-mile run each evening for exercise. I prefer the bike by far, but sometimes it's just too late and I need to do the run.

In any event, I took this 1941 Schwinn New World for a ride last evening. It was really, really nice out.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

More Cleaning - Raleigh Sprite 5 Speed

I cleaned out my spare shed some today. This gave me a chance to take out this late 1960s-era Raleigh Sprite 5-speed.

 It's a fun bike with a little more "go" than the average 3-speed Sports of that era. It was noticeably colder today than yesterday.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Vintage Schwinn 3 Speeds and a Jolt of Warmth

Well, from 45 on Thursday to 80 today... good turn. I got a chance to do a little spring cleaning in my garage and dusted off a couple 1940s Schwinn 3 speeds - a 1941 New World and a 1947 Continental.

These bikes show the excellent quality of Schwinn utility and lightweight road bikes in the 1940s-era. The blue paint on the Continental really sparkles and the red on the New World cleaned up relatively well.

I got a chance to go for a pretty long ride on the Continental. It's fast, light, and really lively. It really is a step up from the New World, even though the New World is itself a pretty good rider.

The Continental is a solid match for a Raleigh Clubman or other higher-end road bike of the 1940s period. I wish Schwinn had made more of these - I'd love to have a second one with a four-speed FW hub and maybe a Dynohub in front.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Bicycling Season Creaks to Life

With the changing of the clocks, we have more daylight in the evening after work. This week I was able to ride two of those evenings, for about an hour each. The weather one night was warm, and much colder tonight.

Both nights I rode the red, 1941 Schwinn New World I re-built last fall. There is just enough light to ride for an hour after work. I use a simple LED, clamp-on headlight bought on Amazon to help get me home. I don't need it to see, so much as I use it for cars to see me as the light fades.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Vintage Utility Bike Tires: "26 inch"

I've rebuilt quite a few old utility bikes over the years. This includes mainly English and American single and three speed bikes dating from the 1930s-1970s. I've seen a number of people struggle when building their own projects over what kind of tires they need. Here are my notes below:

"26 x 1 3/8" (English): when you see this nominal designation on an English bicycles, you want tires with a 590mm bead. The new, replacement tire should say something like "590-37" on the side wall.  This is a very common size of tire, still made today. It's the familiar size of the Raleigh Sports and similar English "light roadsters".  The other tires listed below will not fit this rim size because they are too big. Fortunately, this is the easiest tire size to find I am going to describe,.

"26 x 1 3/8 (Schwinn S-6) aka 26 x 1 1/4 (English): this tire has a 597mm bead seat. The 590mm tire (described above) will very likely not fit on the rims for the Schwinn S5/S6 tire. In England, this size is also known as 26 x 1/4, but it's the same 597mm tire that Schwinn called 26 x 1 3/8. There are a couple of tire models in this size made today, but not as many as the 590mm size described above.

"26 x 1.375" (American): this is totally different from 26 x 1 3/8, despite the fact that it would seem at first as if they are the same thing. In fact, the 26 x 1.375 tire has a bead of 599mm and will not interchange with the 1 3/8 English pattern tire. Do not attempt to fit  the English size 1 3/8 (590mm) tire onto a rim that wants 1.375 tires. These tires were made until some time in the 1960s, as far as I have seen. Most of these tires, I see, are cotton chord tires from the 1940s. I've seen a few nylons from the '50s-60s era, but nothing newer.

A common question:

"I have a really old U.S.-made lightweight from the 1940s, where do I get 26 x 1.375 replacement tires?"

These 599mm tires are no longer made, and probably have not been made in any real numbers in 50+ years. That's the bad news. The good news is that the 597mm size (the Schwinn S-6 size listed above) may fit your rims. The 2mm difference is very small. If you have rims with relatively short sidewalls, as were made by Lobdell, or those which were often on the Westfield/Columbia, Dayton, and CWC bikes, there's a good chance you can buy a set of Schwinn S-6 (26 x 1 3/8 Schwinn, with the 597mm designation on the sidewall of the new tire) and work them onto the rim by hand. In fact, I found the fit on Lobdell and Westfield/Columbia rims to be very good and not all that difficult to do by hand, without the help of tire levers to mount.

Again, you cannot use the English 26 x 1 3/8 (590mm) tires on your 26 x 1.375 rims. The English tire is too small. But do look into the Schwinn sized tires for your bike - you may find new tires at a reasonable cost.

If you really must have original 26 x 1.375 tires for a museum piece or the like, try eBay or the The Classic and Antique Bicycle Exchange (www.thecabe.com). Be prepared to pay a lot more for good, original tires than a new set of the 597mm (Schwinn S-6 26 x 1 3/8) tires would cost. For riding, I urge you to try the Schwinn tires - at least buy one and see if you can fit it to your rims.