With all the wonderful stuff we have these days, it's easy to forget what a watershed bike the Schwinn Varsity was in the re-birth of adult cycling in America. The Varsity outsold all other "ten speeds" combined in the USA during the 1960's, and this 33 1/3 year old example was one of over 1,500,000 built during its model year.

I'd taken in this bike to save it from going to the landfill some years ago. When my daily rider got stolen, I decided to rebuild the old Varsity using components from my "big box of old parts" under the workbench and put it back on the road. Most of the components I wound up using on the bike date from around a decade after it was manufactured.

I respoked the original alloy hubs onto 700c MA2s (rear: 3X+radial, front 3&3) with DT spokes. The super long reach alloy brake calipers are also original to the bike. The drivetrain consists of an American-to-British bottom bracket adaptor, a Phil Wood bottom bracket, Stronglight 99 cranks, a Shimano five cog freewheel and a shimmed Campagnolo Super Record front derailleur. I moved up Huret's model line just a bit from the original Allvit to a Duopar Titane and found a NOS Sedisport chain to use, shifted by one Sun Tour and one Shimano bar end. The bars are KB randonneurs and the brake levers are Shimano 600s. With the removal of the kickstand, the bike weights 25 pounds - 13 pounds less than when it left Chicago in October of 1973.

It's actually kind of frisky, the braking is strong, it shifts clean and light, the handing is sublime and it rides like a jackhammer. It draws attention from cyclists and boomers every time I take it out.

Tom Shaddox




Schwinn Varsity - side view
Schwinn Varsity - drivetrain detail
Schwinn Varsity - bottom bracket detail







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