Thursday, January 1, 2009

Paramount Update

Well, those of you that have been following my blog for a while, or have discovered it recently and went poking around the archives, know that about a year and a half ago I bought a '73 Schwinn Paramount from a friend of mine. If you didn't know that, see the posts below:

The Paramount was Schwinn's top of the line, hand built bike, made in both touring and racing models. Mine's the P15-9 tourer, and I love it. When I bought it, most of the parts were completely original. I changed a couple of things... a longer stem, new cables and housing, new tires, and "clipless" pedals for most of my riding. The last item is the only one that's just plain "wrong" period-wise, but since I do much of my riding in SPD style sandals, it's an anachronism I'm willing to live with. And if I ever feel the urge to be more "correct", I have a set of old Campagnolo track style pedals with toe clips and straps that will be just dandy for that, and work with my big feet. The original "quill" pedals don't make my size 13s happy, unfortunately, and besides, they are pretty beat up.

Anyway, I have since made a few other changes to the bike, but have managed to stay with period parts. First, as noted in an earlier post, I replaced the "wrong" front derailleur it had with the proper Campy piece. Second, I replaced the two outer chain rings with slightly smaller ones... the originals were 36 teeth, 49 teeth and 54 teeth, and honestly, that gave me higher gears than I needed. Now it's set up with 36/47/52, and I'm a lot happier... with the (original) 14-31 five speed cluster in back, I have a pretty useful range of gears, and it's interesting to have a "half step" drive train again (

Most recently, I've added fenders to the bike, as shown in the photo to the left. I looked at and considered a variety of fenders, including some of the lovely Honjo alloy fenders that look very similar to older French fenders of the same period as the bike. In the end though, based on the advice of a trusted advisor, I opted for a set of black Bluemels Club Special fenders, which are actually a model made in the early 70s, so they are truly "correct" for the bike. I bought a New Old Stock (NOS) set of them on ebay a while back, and I have to admit, they look sharp. I had hoped to track down some red ones, but those are pretty rare these days, and the black might actually be a better choice, now that I see them on the bike. Most Americans eschew fenders, but I'm a big fan, as I have noted in previous posts.

Finally, I hung a NOS Schwinn Touring Saddlebag from the Brooks B.17 saddle. I bought the bag from someone on the Classic Rendezvous mailing list (, a fascinating group of folks that know a heck of a lot about older, classic bikes. The bag was made in England for Schwinn, by a company named Karrimor... sadly long gone, but I was lucky enough to find this one. Similar excellent bags are still made by another British firm by the name of Carradice (, but it's nice to have the original Schwinn bag. I also installed a small metal saddlebag support on the seat stays... you can just make it out in the photo to the right, the little silver wire under the bag. I don't recall the maker... something like Midland or something, another English company of that era. It helps to keep the bag from dragging on the tire, or resting on the fender, when fully loaded.

All in all I think the bike looks more "complete" with the bag and fenders... ready to go on a real ride in the real world, which is what these touring Paramounts were designed and built for. I still haven't decided whether or not to make the leap to getting reproduction decals, and whether or not I feel brave enough to apply them myself, but I suspect that one day I'll do that, or have them done by a pro.


Driver said...


But I think there is something wrong with the freewheel. It looks like there is only five rings!

Tim said...

Too funny! Yes, it's true, only five cogs there. Back in the day...

randallstek said...

I have some bluemels club specials also but am having trouble attaching the rear. The clip down towards the bottom bracket keeps coming loose and they are not drilled. Did you have to drill yours? did you run into that problem?

Tim said...

I don't recall running into any problems with the clip on the chain stay bridge. I think I might have had to trim the fender just a little, to fit between the stays, but the clip seems to stay in place so far.