Well, I’ve been working on this for quite a while.
When I decided to get back into cycling about 3 or 4 years ago (after about an 8-year hiatus), I needed a bike NOW, and so I picked up a 1972 Schwinn Varsity off of Craig’s List for 75 bucks. It weighed about a million pounds and it rattled like fucking crazy, but it worked and I was riding again.
As time went on, I came across a free frame which went on to become my beloved Lean(tm) — urban smash-bike like no other — and so my beautiful orange bomber got stripped down to the parts and hung on the wall "for another time."
Well, that time came. I needed another bike project (cause you know, I need bike projects), and I’d been toying with the idea of building a fixie — a fixed-gear, one-speed, purist’s bike. I’ve previously admonished hipster fools for riding fixies, as they seem to be trendy these days. I, on the other hand, am not trendy, and I have been riding bikes since those fools were on momma’s nipple, so I let all the hatred go and committed to restoring and re-vamping the Schwinn with no gears and no freewheel.
And lo and behold, SCHWIXIE(tm) was born…
• ’72 SCHWINN VARSITY FRAME/FORK
• GENERIC HEADSET
• VINTAGE SEAT COLLAR
• VINTAGE STEM
• VINTAGE SCHWINN-APPROVED FRONT BRAKE
• 27" WEINMANN ALUMINUM WHEELS
• SHIMANO TRACK COG, 15T
• 27 X 1 1/4" DURO WHITEWALL TIRES
• CRUPI BOTTOM BRACKET CONVERSION CUPS
• SHIMANO BOTTOM BRACKET
• DOTEK CRANK ARMS, 165MM
• DIMENSION PEDALS
• PROFILE BMX CHAINWHEEL, 40T
• SHADOW CONSPIRACY "INTERLOCK 2" HALF-LINK CHAIN
• WALD STEEL SEATPOST
• GENERIC SEAT GUTS
• BLACK MARKET "KNUCKLES" SEAT
• AZONIC DOUBLEWALL RISER BARS, 1.5" RISE
• S&M LOGO GRIPS
• POVERTY BEND-E LEVER
This bike is fucking bad ass, and it gets a lot of looks and compliments. It’s still heavy, but it’s WAY lighter than it was when it was all vintage. And it’s surprisingly FAST. It’s very maneuverable, it’s completely trick, and with the exception of a loose headset (unfixable, thanks to the frame/fork’s age), it’s lock-down tight.
The element of the bike that I personally like best is that I’ve managed to maintain EXACTLY the visual layout of the original. The complete ’72 had a black seat, white cork grip tape, chrome cranks, etc.. I changed all the structures, but I kept all the colors in exactly the same place.
Yes, that’s a brassknuckle graphic on the seat. I could’ve shit when I found that seat online. Ordered it immediately. I really scored on those tires, too. WHITEWALLS? Come on, you know that’s ill. But the part that gets the most talk? The chain. I think it’s because it looks so unique. That chain is made for BMX bikes (most of the parts are, actually), but I got it cause it’s made of "half-links." Instead of having to take out an entire chain link to shorten it, with this, you just have to take a half of a link, cause that’s all there is. Meaning you can massage the size in a VERY savvy manner, which is important with these kinds of bikes. But it’s also bomb-proof. That chain is made to be grinded on. So it’s beefy as fuck. And people notice.
Anyway, this bike takes some SERIOUS control to ride. See, on a fixed-gear, you cannot coast. As the wheel turns, so do the pedals. There’s no freewheel and there’s no coaster brake. You pedal forward, you go forward. You pedal backward, you go backward. As you can imagine, this motherfucker is DANGEROUS. But it’s also VERY fluid once you get the hang of it. And therein lies the joy.
Also, this bike is CLEARLY a female. She can’t be controlled easily, she has a mind of her own, and if you don’t work WITH her, she’ll fucking throw you down. HARD. And yes, I love her.