Hey folks, my name is Geoff Greene and I've been a Schwinn nut for well over a decade. You might also know me as "greenephantom" on the Schwinn Forums; my screen name is play on my last name and a collectable Schwinn model. As a collector I've taken a bit of an odd path for the last seven or so years, focusing just on green Schwinns.
Before I decided to get really focused I had about fifty bikes, mostly Schwinn. I've winnowed my collection down to about twenty bikes. Most are Schwinn, and almost all of these are green. The Schwinns range from Sting-Rays to Middleweights to Heavyweights, with a few mild customs just for kicks. Two of my bikes are Raleighs (a burgundy '69 Superbe and an emerald green '59 Sports) and two are Sears Tote Cycles in what appears to be the Sears version of Radiant Coppertone.
I've worked in a few bike shops over the years, and have always enjoyed the experience. I started out in Eugene Oregon selling bikes on my own to the other college kids. The thrift stores almost always had a Breeze or Collegiate for $5 - $10, and the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store had a small mountain of dead bikes to pull parts from. In Davis California I worked for Ken's Bike 'n' Ski doing repairs and assembling new bikes. I also ran a recumbent-building workshop at the UC Davis Craft Center, using women's Varsity frames to make long wheelbase recumbent choppers. During this time I got to see the massive bicycle scrap yard in Sacramento, the pile was usually 50 feet wide and 200 feet long and 20 feet high. It's gone now, but the memories remain.
In 2001 I ended up back in Portland Oregon, and shortly thereafter started working at the CCC (Community Cycling Center). I lasted for several years. The CCC was a gold mine of Schwinn parts and knick-knacks. I pulled a lot of recycling-bound Schwinns from the dumpster's maw. (A few memorable bikes that I saved from the recycler: 5 speed Manta Ray (rusty, non-disc, w/Stik, no seat), complete 1950s men's Corvette with original tires, 1980s DG BMX, 1964 Lime Sting-Ray (rusty but with 2 speed) And I also put a lot of Schwinns on the showroom floor, and helped a lot of people get back on bikes again. It was one of those jobs that I actually looked forward to going to most days.
But the hard reality is that there is little money to be made wrenching on bikes for a shop. I've maintained a personal bike shop as a hobby and a small-time money generator. From time to time I will find a worthy Breeze or Racer or Collegiate or similar not-yet-collectable Schwinn, and then overhaul it and make it feel like a new bike again and sell it on craigslist. But there's fewer worthy Schwinns that turn up these days, at least in this town. And there's even fewer buyers who can understand why a fully overhauled bike with new tires and new pedals and new Kool Stop brake shoes is worth more than one that hasn't been serviced since it left the Schwinn dealer in the early 1970s.
So instead of letting all my years of Schwinn knowledge slowly dissipate, I decided to write it all down and organize it so that other bike nuts would be able to get a leg up on the wide world of Schwinn bikes. And then it got rather out of hand, and the Tech and Spec Guide took on a life all its own. It's not everything there is to know about Schwinns, but it's a solid floor to stand on, and it's more info on Schwinn bikes that has ever been gathered together in an organized manner. Then I figured, hey, let's do some specific Guides for overhauling hubs and such. And why not a guide for overhauling an entire Schwinn bike?
These Schwinns aren't getting any younger, and there needs to be an army of people out there to keep these great American icons on the road. Be part of that army, and keep a Schwinn rolling. I can't do it all by myself, and lord knows I've tried. Every Chicago-made Schwinn that is kept alive is another little bit of America that gets to live on. These bikes were made to last for a hundred years or more, and I want to help make that happen as much as possible.
Call it an obsession, you wouldn't be far off the mark.
This snap is of a Schwinn Varsity that I had sold a friend several years back. She brought it back with a badly bent frame, not her fault at all. Bike was locked to a rack and hit by a car that had wrecked off another car. The down tube was bent, and the top tube and head tube followed along. You can see how far off center the head tube is from the seat tube. Wild stuff. A sure total. Any other brand of bike and this would have been just scrap metal. Any other brand of bike would have had the frame tubes flattened by the impact.
But this is a Schwinn.
I chocked the frame up in a vise, and with the help of another mechanic and some serious leverage tools took the bend out of the down tube. The top tube and head tube came back into perfect alignment once the down tube was straightened. Bike was re-assembled with replacement front sprockets and front wheel. Took it on a test ride and was able to ride it without hands.
Irrational? Perhaps a bit. Satisfying? Very much so.
Chicago steel keeps it real.
The renovation process is complete and Apex Wellness Center is open for business, striving to make our little corner of SE Portland a bit nicer. Check us out at: http://www.apexpdx.com