Friday, July 15, 2011

All Original / What That Really Means

Hello and Welcome,
Before I start, Let me make this clear. I am not talking about pre war "Tank Bikes" or Exotic "Road Racers". I am talking about typical "Bike Boom Era" bicycles that appear every day on Craig`s list and other free selling sites on the web. The following comment (via e-mail) inspired me to finally offer my thoughts on this over-used and often abused term, "ALL ORIGINAL". I am in no way implying the writer of this comment is one of the "type of people" I describe in this post. I do thank Anonymous for inspiring me to do this post.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Schwinn Traveler Restoration / Conversion":I have a Schwinn traveler, all original, just curious how much it is worth?

The following is my original reaction to the question.

If by "all original" you mean a bike with original 20 to 30 year old tires. Which by now are "unsafe at any speed" (regardless of how they may look). Original cables and housings? Original cables that if not lubed over the years, one or more are probably sticking or froze -up . And the cable housings, which by now are starting to crack at some of the cable ends.(where they meet the braze ons or cable guides) Original brake shoes, which by now would be "Rock Hard" & squeaking. And the original grease in the head-set and crank (bracket). Which over the years has virtually disappeared and hardened to the cups and bearings. And if the bike has been ridden in this state, It has affected the bearings and cups in a negative way. If the inner-tubes are original 20-30 years old, one of them probably leaks.(if not both) If the wheel-set is original, and has not been maintained They are ready for "the works". Which would be truing, polishing / rust-removal, hubs / bearings cleaned and re-greased. And new rim strips or tape for both wheels.
GEEZE Louise! You don`t think this question got me excited do you? Wait it gets better.

If this is what you mean by "all original" I typically purchase these bikes for 20 to 30 dollars. Or about 10.00 at a garage sale.
ABOVE: The bike shown would be typical of the "All Original" bikes I see on the free-selling sites all the time. Although this one has not even been cleaned-up at all. I like to clean the frame "after" stripping the bike.
Back to my original reaction.(:

"All Original" is probably the most "Misunderstood and Abused" term in the cycling world. There are countless people who drag these bikes out of long term storage. Then pump-up the tires and give them a quick cleaning. After which they post them on Craig`s list and advertise them as "All Original".

Above: Cleaning and polishing the calipers is great. But I don`t care how clean you get these, the brake shoes need to be replaced. Period!
Back to my rant again!

Eventually some poor college kid snatches it up thinking He or She has just found a real prize. When in fact what they have actually purchased is a bike that should have been described as "Needs Everything" I try to tell anyone who is in the market to buy a good vintage bike to ride. Listen, Unless you are opening a #%$&&#@ bicycle museum, All original is not what you are looking for. Look for adds that say "well-maintained" and "serviced regularly" or totally re-built. And watch for the word NEW. As in New tires, New cables etc. etc. Or better yet, watch for the absence of the word New in adds. Anybody who refurbishes or restores bikes "wants to tell you" about all the New or Newer stuff. So read the words carefully. And read the missing words even more carefully.(to be continued)
Above: This derailleur is not as bad as most I run-across. But none the less, It should be removed and cleaned and lubed and re-installed with a new cable.

Above: The bearings in this head-set should be inspected and lubed on a regular basis.How frequently would depend on how often you ride and in what conditions. I think once a year would be enough for most people who are not avid cyclists.

Above: Again, not as bad as most I see. But this crank due to age alone needs to be broke-down and serviced.

My original reaction continues.
Some of the things you can expect to happen if you get stuck with one of these gems would be. Poor breaking, not only loud, but the bike is taking way too long to stop. Also you will most likely snap a cable while shifting or breaking at some point. (that can actually get you seriously hurt or worse). You may notice a grinding in the crank (pedaling) or head-set (steering). This will do serious damage to your bike, and possibly to you as well. You may have trouble with your bike not staying in the gear you select. You may have a tire blow-out for no apparent reason (this can also get you hurt or worse) So there you go. Those are just "some" of the problems you can expect.
And cost, Forget About It! You will either spend lots of money getting all this needed work done. Or "Risk Your Life" riding a bike that you can`t begin to afford to fix. That`s a cost you can "Live Without"
Above: Having said all that, Here is my "All Original" 1995 100th Anniversary Edition Schwinn "Clear-Creek. Oh wait, I did replace the saddle with a different model of the same brand. Oh Yeah, and I replaced one of the inner-tubes. Did I mention I trued and polished and serviced both wheels? I also adjusted the steering. The stem was a little out of line with the front wheel. And the brakes I almost forgot the brakes! I adjusted those while I was going over everything else. I did forget to clean and lube the chain, I will be doing that tomorrow. OK not a total restoration. But this bike is 16 years old and has been very well maintained. I plan to sell it on Craig`s list.
Above: My current project a GIANT "Attraction" I have just started to take it apart and clean it up. It will be totally rebuilt when finished. After all, I don`t want it to be someones "Fatal Attraction" I don`t believe I actually wrote that. Oh well to late now.
Till Next Time, Ride Safe and Remember to Always, RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE

A Quick Tip: Before I go. It is hard to judge the condition of gum-walls from a photograph. Especially if there is no close-up. So take note of the color. Gum-walls tend to darken as they age. Even if no cracking is visible, the darkening will tip you off to the approximate age of the gum-walls.


  1. Hmm, my main commute bike was all-original when I bought it. All I changed were the tires. Of course it was also a 2009 model purchased used in 2009. Now, most every thing you list has been changed, along with the chain. Come to think of it, it is probably nearly time to change the brake pads - again. I do still have the original tires that have less than 100 miles on them; most of that mileage is off-road.

  2. I've got a whole litany for my friends when they ask me to find them a bike; this is one of them. I'll be referring people to this blog post for a long time to come. Thanks for posting this.

  3. thanks for the tip on Gum-walls I had not heard that before I usually just look for cracking. This tip makes me think you should have a link under your archive to "quick tips" You had one on cleaning out rusty allen bolt heads that I had also never run across and I am sure there are others I am forgetting. Sorry not trying to make more work for you just thinking aloud about how to make it easy for your readers to get to all those great little nuggets. Thanks for the post, my first reaction when I read all original in a CL ad is "yeah right" ;-)


  4. Hey Steve,
    I can`t imagine the bike I am "picturing in my mind" from your posts was ever ridden off road.
    Although that might explain why the original owner sold it with only 100 miles on it. Maybe not the best choice for off-road.

  5. Hey Ryan,
    Actually that sounds like an excellent idea. It might be a good project for this up-coming winter. I`ll speak to my son about what might work best. A link to a page where all the "Quick - Tips" could be viewed in one place makes sense to me.
    About the gum-walls. I love the adds that state or mention something like this about a vintage model. "The original tires still have all the tread and the little nubs" They tend to forget to mention the "dry as a bone" gum-walls. Don`t squeeze um they will break!
    Actually that sounds like the makings of another Quick-Tip. When in doubt "SQUEEZE
    UM". More than once I have seen little pieces of the gum-wall break right off using this method. You "might" want to do this test when the seller is looking the other way.
    Thanks for the excellent suggestion.

  6. Thanks Everett,
    I really do appreciate that. Hey, Did you ever get a chance to try the Teflon-Tape on the threads of the bottom-bracket assembly? (on the vintage road bike restoration) I am curious to hear if it eliminated the creaking sound you mentioned. Let me know when you do. I did it on the Parliament "just for good measure".
    Thanks again for the kind words.

  7. Actually, I think I did most of the offroading, as shown at

    We may not ride off road far, but a few yards of the mud pit SEEM like a real long way!

  8. Hey Steve,
    The detachable mud-guard that I put on the Hurricane would be "just the ticket" for such an event. I don`t think I could do that event on a bike as nice as yours. That aside, It sounds (reads) like everyone had a good time.
    Except maybe the rider who`s chain snapped.

  9. @Hugh, I never did put the teflon tape on that bike, but it is on my commuter BB just because it's a great idea that makes a lot of sense for something that is going to get wet.

    The squeaking ended up being the handlebar binder bolt on the stem. I unwrapped the bars to retape them, checked for wear/cracking and they looked okay, so I torqued down on the bolt pretty good and voila! All I hear now are the happy pawls in the freewheel and the wind racing past.

  10. Hey Everett,
    That is good to hear. Thanks for the up-date.
    I hope You and Yours else are being careful in this heat-wave. One of our a.c. units went out the first real hot day. The replacement showed-up in three days "damaged". I think the "replacement unit for the replacement unit" is coming today. This one is gonna get hooked-up! and I don`t give a rip what it looks

  11. I purchased a 1985 Univega mixte (this frame, but with "all original" seat, drop bars, tires, etc. - and no fancy fenders: that had been in a garage for 20+ years. I paid $150 and took it directly to my local bike shop for a once-over and new tube, about $10. However, neither my brakes nor my gears have ever functioned properly, and I lack the skills I'd need to address these issues myself :( I commuted 10 miles round-trip to university for several years, rain or shine, with the bike in this condition, during which time I merely oiled the chain once every couple of months. After reading your post, I'm afraid to ride it again :( Just let me know if you need either a) a new project, b) a new apprentice :) Thanks for the bike blog


Cycling Blog Directory