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Roughly how much would it cost to fix up a 1972 Schwinn Varsity?

Question by [email protected]: Roughly how much would it cost to fix up a 1972 Schwinn Varsity?
My parents purchased the bicycle from a thrift store for less than ten dollars, but it needs a LOT of work. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about bikes — I just needed something that could get me from point a to point b. My biggest concern, though, is the back rim which is bent. Secondly, although the tires hold air, they’re original to the bike and have dry-rotted over the years.
While it’s still usable, I’d rather not risk wearing down the rear brakes as they bump against the rim. Additionally, (and these are the least of my priorities right now) I’d like to replace the pedals and the seat.


Best answer:

Answer by mlwoj
it really shouldn’t be too much. your best bet is to take it to your local bike shop and get an estimate. I would then hit a few places online, pricepoint.com , jensonusa.com and so on and get the parts much cheaper. take it back to the bike shop and have them install the parts.. you save some bucks and have a usable and safe bike.. good luck!!

Add your own answer in the comments!

7 comments on “Roughly how much would it cost to fix up a 1972 Schwinn Varsity?

  1. Carl_the_Truth on said:

    You’d be better off putting your money into a rideable bike that doesn’t need any work.This bike will cost you more to fix up than it’s worth.

  2. roadwarrior on said:

    its a looking bike. U should take it to ur local bike shop. but u can straighten ur own wheel for 5 bucks instead of paying 20 or 25 for it. u can find instructions for truing a wheel on instrutables: http://www.instructables.com/tag/?q=truing+a+wheel&limit%3Atype%3Aid=on&type%3Aid=on&type%3Auser=on&type%3Acomment=on&type%3Agroup=on&type%3AforumTopic=on&sort=none
    u don’t need a truing stand u can use ur bike, just flip it over and stablize ur bike so it doesn’t fall over. ur going to have to buy a spoke wrench they don’t cost much.

    If u want to make ur bike lighter theres the idea of converting it to a single speed. usually people do this when there parts are rotting off and they dont have much money to buy new parts or for repairs. I think ur bike is in really good condition considering how old it is!

    also use instructables to figure out how to change ur tires, tubes and rim tape. u dont need to much in the way of tools.

    once u have changed ur tires and fixed ur own wheel u should take it to ur local bike shop for a full tune up and some bar tape. read about what a full tune up is first to make sure ur getting it. some shops like to rip new riders off because of the hard times on shops.

    the money u might spend on everything could be around 100-150 bucks or less im not sure(if u get a new saddle, etc.). but by doing ur on work on stuff that doesn’t need expensive tools, it will save u 50 bucks. plus wheel and tire work is something that u end up having to do all the time. I also dont recommend bar taping ur own bars, if u dont do just right it doesn’t work.

  3. mtlbiker on said:

    If you don’t have the mechanical knowhow to fix the bike yourself, this could be costly. Depending on how bad the rear wheel is, it might be repairable, but once rims are bent past a certain point, they cannot be trued. If the back wheel can be repaired, it might cost $ 15- $ 20. New tires comparable to the ones on the bike would cost about $ 20 each, tubes about $ 5 each. From the picture, the bike looks pretty good, but the bearings in the wheels and cranks are probably in need of overhaul. Buying parts elsewhere and asking a bikeshop to install then is not a good idea, first if the parts you buy don’t fit, you will waste their time and your money, and second, they may refuse to guarantee their work. The little bit you might save is not worth it. The best way to fix up an old bike is to learn to do it yourself. These old machines are very simple. I bought my first ten speed bike about the time that old Schwinn was built, and by the time it was two months old I had taken it apart at least five times. Another thing to look at are the brake and derailleur cables. If they are frayed or rusty, they need to be replaced, if not they should be lubricated and cleaned. Even if the brake pads look ok, a new set of high quality modern brake pads would make the world of difference in your brakes, those original wheels have steel rims which really hamper braking, particularly if they get wet. If you do need to replace the rear wheel, it should be possible to buy one for about $ 60-$ 70. If you are able to do all the work yourself, the bike could be fixed up for under $ 100, less if the rear wheel can be saved. If you can’t do the work, expect to be charged $ 70-$ 90 for the labour, parts extra.

  4. “Fix up” is relative. If you want to modernize it, you’ll spend more than if you just want to make it roadworthy. Without seeing the bike in person and without knowing the fee schedules and markups at bike shops (LBS) in your area, it’s hard to say just how much it will cost. Here are my thoughts, given the age of the bike.

    First, the wheels. Are they free of heavy rusting (light surface rust isn’t an issue)? Are the rims free of cracks (look around the eyelets–where the spokes pass through the rim itself)? Do the braking surfaces appear heavily worn? If they’re in good shape other than the rear rim being tweaked, you can still ride them. The wheel (maybe front and rear) will need truing. The hubs will probably need an overhaul, which usually is nothing more than cleaning the bearing races/cones, possible installing new bearings, greasing, and adjusting. This work could be $ 50, more if replacement parts are needed.

    Tires: Replace them. If the wheels are original, the wheels are 27″, which is not quite the same as the 700c used on modern roadbikes. There aren’t many tires made today for 27″ wheelsets. Fortunately, Panaracer makes their popular Pasela tires to fit 27″ wheels. They’re quite good and very reasonably priced. Continental also offers its Ultra Sport in a 27″ version. You can often find either of these tires for about $ 15 each. Also might also plan on replacing the innertubes and rim tape, which will add about another $ 15.

    Drivetrain: If the chain isn’t rusted or worn, it’ll be okay with a cleaning and lubing. The freewheel (cogs on rear wheel) is also subject to rust and wear, but less so than chains. Should the chain and freewheel need replacement, it still won’t be expensive compared to what it would cost on modern bikes. Freewheels can be had for less than $ 20, and chains even less. Labor isn’t much of an issue here.

    Cables: Unless these are in good condition, replacing your brake and shifter cables/housings is not only a good idea for safety reasons, but doing so will help ensure you get the best performance/response from your brake calipers/levers and derailleurs/shifters. Cables and housings aren’t expensive, but it does take some time.

    Brakes: Pads (or “shoes” or “blocks”) can be inexpensively replaced. This is a good idea if the current pads appear worn, are embedded with road debris or metal, or have dried out over time. If you felt the bike warranted spending a few more dollars, you could replace the old calipers with a a better performing modern caliper. And if the brake levers are in poor condition or are uncomfortable, you can replace these, too. Many new lever sets come with cables & housings included.

    Other stufff: The headset and bottom bracket may need to be overhauled. This is similar to the work suggested for the wheel hubs. Mostly labor. The derailleurs could probably use a thorough cleaning and lubing. Hopefully the seatpost can be easily removed from the frame. It will need fresh grease applied to it. Same is true for the stem. You might want to replace the handlebar tape, depending on condition and comfort.

    Saddle (seat) and pedals: This depends on your personal choice. Your LBS can help you select from the many options.

    So, you can see that the $ might add up here. If you need a bike, and this one is in good condition and fits you properly, then you can invest the money in it and enjoy it. This would be an ideal project for the home bike mechanic. If you don’t understand bicycles, then you want to leave it to an experienced wrench at your LBS to do the work. And don’t bother shopping online for these parts, other than perhaps a set of tires/tubes. You won’t know what you’re buying (no offense) and will end up buying the wrong parts. Bad idea and bad suggestion. Just take it to a reputable LBS and have them write up a work order. You can then decide if it’s a reasonable amount or if it’s too much. IMO, that’s the smart way to go. You only have $ 10 invested so far. Good luck.

  5. wle atlanta on said:

    if that bike was ‘fixed up’ – totally rideable – it still wouldn;t be worth $ 75

    i’d just consider the $ 10 wasted and get something you can ride

    for $ 75

    dry rotted tires aren;t that big a concern, by the way
    and you can *probably* straighten the wheel for nothing

    thing is, that thing is HEAVY
    35-40 lbs
    you’ll get tired of it being slow, pretty fast
    also those old ten speeds don;t have very low gears
    combined with the weight, you will curse it on every hill

    and if it has steel/chrome wheels, which looks to be the case,
    in the rain you will have zero brakes, i mean none


  6. slucke on said:

    It looks like you potentially have a great deal for what you need to get from point A to B. Is the rim damaged/kinked from a blow or pot hole or just very wobbly? I have been able to nicely straighten some very wobbly wheels. The local bike shop can probably do it for $ 10-15.Which will be much less expensive than a new wheel. In the town I live in we have a local community cooperative bike shop that helps people get bikes like yours in serviceable condition and on the road again. You might want to check your area. Another option is to check the thrift shops again. Just find a bike with the parts you need and cannibalize them. It may be cheaper than a whole new rear wheel. Just make sure they are compatible. You will also get the opportunity to learn a bit about bike maintenance.
    I would suggest you make a new front tire/tube your top priority. A rear wheel that is out of true in the back is a nuisance. A worn out front tire is dangerous. A blow-out in the front can have a very unhappy ending.

  7. If it looks like the one in the picture I am surprised you got it for less than $ 10. Perfect condition Schwinn Varsities that old are beginning to increase in value.

    I actually remember riding Schwinn Varsities when they were new back in 72. While they weren’t preferred to serious cyclists as a Schwinn Paramount, Gitane, or Peugeot the Varsity brought cycling to the masses. They were heavier than the Reynolds 531 tubed bicycles but the were nearly indestructible. The ride was stable and comfortable.

    Fixing up that bike is straight forward and simple. You can do it yourself with some instructions from sites like sheldonbrown.com, or parktools.com. If you wish to take it to your local bike shop the biggest expense would be the price of the tires and tubes. Truing a wheel is no big deal to them and shops will true it for between $ 5-$ 10.

    Unlike a lot of other answers, I think it is worth fixing and giving the old bike a new life. It is cheaper than most anything else that will last you as long and be as dependable.