Saturday, September 1, 2007
My "New" Bike!
Okay, so it's not really new. It's new to me, but it was built almost 35 years ago. It's a 1973 Schwinn Paramount. Those of you who know older bikes, know that this is a good one. Those of you who don't are probably thinking "aren't those old Schwinns tanks???" Well, some of them were, like the Varsity, their low end 10 speed designed to take the abuse of adolescents. The Paramount, on the other hand, was their top of the line model, handbuilt in the USA, using high quality steel tubing (Reynolds 531 double butted), and excellent components.
The funny part of it is that I used to look at Schwinn catalogs and dream of owning one of these, way back when this bike was new. There were of course other bikes I dreamed of, but the Paramount was really high on the list. And now I own one. And now I understand why they were so sought after then, and still are now, in some circles. It's a beautiful bike, especially in the full chrome finish that mine has (it was a special order option, I think). And the lugs are classic Nervex lugs, with the lovely curves, very nicely filed and cleanly brazed.
And on top of it all, it rides great! I've only done short rides with it, but so far I love it. Smooth, stable, yet it feels light and nimble when I turn. And comfortable! About my only complaints so far are the fact that it has down tube shifters... no biggie, I rode with them for years, it's just I've grown accustomed to, and fond of, bar end shifters... and the gearing, which is set up as "half step plus granny". "What the heck does that mean?", I'm sure some are wondering. Well, with three chain rings up front, and five sprockets in back, the gear ratio differences between the two outer chain rings is basically half as big as the difference between each sprocket. This used to be a fairly common approach, and it was pretty versatile, and worked well with the components of the era. But it's very different from how most modern bikes are set up, and I haven't ridden a half step bike in years. I figure I'll give myself some time to get used to it, and if that doesn't work, I can change it.
All of that aside, I'm having a blast riding the bike. And it sure is pretty to look at too.