This is my 1963 Schwinn DeLuxe American. Never one to shy away from a new bike project, this one took me awhile to get started on. The bike has been in my family for quite some time, but I personally inherited it a little over a year ago. A family members passing brought this bike to me, and there happens to be a lot of sentiment attached to it. The truth of the matter, is that I just couldn't bring myself to even ride the bike until recently.
Earlier this year however, as I sat in my garage after finishing some projects, I began gazing upon the bike with great admiration. After a few moments, I came to the realization that I was doing this bike a gross injustice by letting it hang from the garage rafters only to gather dust and spider webs. I took the bike down, dusted her off, and gave the electric horn button a push in hopes that it still worked. It did not. I grabbed a screwdriver and opened up the frame tank to find that the battery had simply become dislodged from its holder. A quick adjustment made it snug again, and the horn was functioning once more. I'm not sure what to liken the sound of the horn to. Maybe my old 73' Volkswagen Beetle? Check out what it sounds like for yourself..
At one point I had big plans for a complete overhaul on this bike. Now.. I've greatly changed my tune. The nicks, scratches, and dings make it all the more endearing to me. It definitely looks like a bike that's had an incredible life.. its wear and tear offering up inevitable proof of this. To me, it's every bit as beautiful as one that's been completely restored to its original condition. I look at the bike and can only imagine what stories it could tell.
With exception of the saddle, rear reflector, and tires, all parts on this bike are 100% original as you'll see below. A true testament to how things used to be built so much better back in the day.
50 year old "Schwinn approved" grips
I thought about cleaning them up, but they just looked too darn cool.
50 year old pedals
Original Chrome Rear Rack
I took the bike out last Thursday for a modest six mile ride. While it functioned nicely, I can definitely feel differences between this bike and my 2010 Schwinn Cruiser. The old school handlebars force a forward riding posture that I'm not accustomed to on my other cruiser. The combination of 26 x 2 x 1/34 tires and thick heavy steel frame make for some noticeable drag during the ride, but it was by no means unbearable.
It's simply a pleasure to ride, and I look forward to rolling her into my rotation of morning and afternoon rides. I will do some minor maintenance such as changing out bearings, etc. As for the total restoration, I'll get around to it someday, but for now.. I'm going to enjoy her in all of her rough, scratched, oxidized, and beat up glory.