1980 Schwinn LeTour

I just finished rebuilding & modifying a 1980 Schwinn Le Tour I acquired a while back. I originally came across the bike sometime between September and November 2007 while I was living on Clinton Avenue in south MPLS. The bike was obviously abandoned and neglected. Someone had stolen the wheels & handlebars, and the rest was left just sitting there chained to the bike rack. The chain was rusted solid, so I knew nobody had touched the thing in a long time. I don’t know if the owner was ever coming back for it, but if he was, he was too late. 10 minutes with a carbide blade hacksaw and the cycle was mine. I don’t have any photos of what it looked like the day I first picked it up, but it was ugly.

Originally, I did a ho-hum job restoring it back to its original build… drop bars, turkey-wing brakes.. and I bought a new set of wheels. It found it’s place as my winter commuter – especially on snow days when I didn’t feel like riding Big Red.
As the above photo demonstrates, the bike really took a beating, being subjected to a lot of conditions for which it was never designed. In addition, I did a lousy job maintaining it. I finally got around to doing something great with it, though. Behold the great commuter:
New Nitto North Road bars, new generic Shimano brake levers, new sealed cartridge bottom bracket spindle, new seat post, new seat, new cork grips, new MKS pedals. Plus a scrubbing all over, including rebuilding the Shimano 400 series shifters.

I’m extremely happy with the results. The project was almost derailed when i realized the stem size was 0.833″ instead of the more modern 1″ standard. The only thing that remains is to track down some odd-sized chainring bolts to hold on a little chainring guard deally. Don’t know if I’ll ever find them, but I’ll keep looking. In the mean time, this may become my primary commuter.

6 comments to 1980 Schwinn LeTour

  • HunWen

    I'm surprised you opted for the shape of the new handlebars over the old ones. What's the benefit/reasoning?

  • HunWen – it's for a more upright and comfortable riding position and a more classic look & feel. I'm really not that big of a fan of drop bars. Even on bikes with drop bars, I rarely use the drop position anyway. They're fine for racing, but I think they're a little impractical for casual riding or commuting. Since I don't do any racing, drops don't really offer much for me.

    I also usually find the brake lever options available for drop bars less comfortable than those available on flat-style bars.

    I'm also not really a big fan of shifter options available for drop bars. You're either looking at shifters integrated with the brake levers, which can be pretty pricey, or bar-end shifters, which I've never actually tried, but don't seem very appealing.

    That being said, my favorite & most reliable bike still has drop bars & I don't plan to change it anytime soon.

    So, do you like the new bars? or do you think drop bars would have been better?

  • HunWen

    I like the new bars. I like upright and casual. I was under the impression you (and this bike) are more about speed, but maybe it's all relative… 🙂

  • Wow that is awesome. I read your post and look at these pics and think to myself sadly, I will probably never really belong to the biking world. I am far too lazy.

  • HunWen, I ride pretty slowly. And really, I don't think the bike makes as much difference as the rider on speed – especially in urban areas with stops signs & traffic lights.

    Simplysarah – don't get down on yourself. It's not like there's an official list of cyclists you need to get your name on or anything. Just keep riding.

  • Testicular Homicide

    Cool conversion! I'm thinking about doing the same with a vintage Puch I have, for some extra comfort on my commutes.