Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Project: Suburban

1974 schwinn suburban
Memorial Day was my twin daughters' birthday. We started the day out by going to one of their favorite restauraunts, IHOP, with my folks along. After we ate we went back to my parents' house and I loaded up my Dad's old Schwinn Suburban. It's been hanging in the rafters of his garage for probably 20+ years, and he was thinking about getting rid of it. I invoked the Law of Bicycles (the number of bikes you need is equal to the number of bikes you have, plus one) to silence my wife's protests. When I got it home I took a good, hard look. It's a project, all right. But I'm looking on it as the restoration of a family heirloom. And, once it's complete I think it will be an extremely utilitarian bike that will get some use.

The drivetrain is in great shape. There's no surface rust on the chain or any of the drive components. The derailleur seems to shift smoothly, and the brakes don't even appear to be too bad.
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
I was doing a little research on the web last night. Based on the serial number, this model was manufactured in March of 1974. It still has the sticker for the Hazel Park Schwinn Cycle Center on White Bear Ave and Highway 36, a shop I remember going to even in high school. There's a Goodwill in that building now.
1974 Schwinn Suburban
The old school, non-magnetic odometer reads 688 or 677 miles, depending on how you choose to look at it.
1974 Schwinn Suburban
This model has a couple unique features. The first is that it has a handlebar mounted thumb shifter. From what I've read, this was a one-year only feature for the 5-speed version of the Suburban. All other years had a single stem-mounted shifter lever. And it may be that even some of the '74 run had the stem-mounted levers as well, due to supply issues with the thumb shifters.
1974 Schwinn Suburban
Schwinn also made a slight departure on the graphics for 1974. Most Suburbans have decals with two-tone lettering, normally black with a white border. This model has the less common all black Schwinn script with matching starbursts and pinstripes. It's a nice look, in my opinion. And dig that Lime paint.
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
The paint is starting to chip away in places, along with some surface rust not only on the frame but on nearly all of the chrome.
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
1974 Schwinn Suburban
My goal is to get it in rideable shape by the end of summer. Check back for updates on my progress.

06/15 update: Front rim cleaned and hub repacked, tire mounted


Pinchie said...

Pete-- Sweet Suburban! I had an old Brown one, about the same vintage, that was my college ride. Suicide shifters-- maybe a few years older.

But that was a great cruiser!

I like this green, and the pinstriping too.

Ah, it must be older. Before rubber tires were invented, ha ha.

hellsex on wheels

Smudgemo said...

For some reason my wife doesn't believe in the law of bicycles. I've tried to explain it, but to no avail.

My dad has got a candy-red Varsity that I think I'll be laying claim to when he no longer wants it. We won it in the Salmon-O-Rama in WI around '77 or so as a third-place finish. (Bummer that we missed the AMC Gremlin that was first place.) I think the only change was removing the drops and suicide levers for a low-rise bar some years back. I can still remember his consternation about the high-pressure tires. All of 90lbs!

Hope you didn't throw out your back lifting that thing. I like it.

rigtenzin said...

Put some tires on it and ride like the wind (a heavy wind). The karma you receive from treating this old beauty right will last forever.

That green is one of my favorite colors of all time.

Pete said...

Don't worry about weight. I think my Raleigh winter beater weighs more than this beauty. And it doesn't get nearly the style points.

Pete said...


KM said...


jim w said...

Salmon-O-Rama - Racine, WI

This is the World's largest fresh fishing event. With events including Live music, food, children's area, silent auction and exhibits, Salmon-O-Rama is a can't miss event in Southeast Wisconsin every July.

Fritz said...

*Looove* that classic bike!

THanks for the comment about Minnesota law and traffic lights.

Apertome said...

I just tried explaining this law of bicycles to my girlfriend and she rolled her eyes and said she sympathizes with Mrs. Velocipete.

Awesome bike. It looks nearly ridable now, although I guess it depends on your definition of "ridable."

It's cool that you found so much information about that bike. I am having a lot of difficulty finding information about my new/old 1960s Sears bike. Any tips for info sources would be much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

We just found one that looks just like that one on the side of the road. Needs new seat, handle grips, chain, tires and peddles. But the frame is in Great shape. Looking forward to a quick restoration :)

brick guy said...

I have a matching set his/hers for sale on Craigslist Omaha Ne & Kc Mo. Any advice as to what they are worth? The pic is on the sight and they look just like the one on your website. Thanks, Bob Meyers (402)618-4884