It followed me home ... can I keep it?

As it arrived at the house - those bars and tires have gotta go!
I have jokingly said, many times, that the proper number of bicycles a person should have is one more than you currently own.

I didn't know I'd be proving that to be true ... but I did.

Recently, while preparing to make a trip to Louisville for the day, I ran across a Silver Mist 1976 Schwinn Continental on Craigslist. I've been shopping bikes on CL with an eye toward fixing a few for sale locally, and I thought this one could be a pretty easy sale.

As it turns out, it was ... for me ... but it won't be again.

One look at this bike -- scratched, faded, partially missing paint, cruddy tires, fossilized brakes and all -- told me it needed a home with my other three two-wheelers.  Even my wife seemed to like it ... ummm ... well ... OK, so she didn't say "no."

And the price sealed its fate.  I won't give away what it cost me, but it was well under what I paid for the '70 Racer last fall ... and even after ordering parts, it's come out under what I have in that one.

So what all did I do?

Here's a list:

NO MORE DROP BARS.

Drop bars be damned - I'm built for comfort, not for speed!
I hate. Hate. HATE. drop bars. Absolutely with a passion. Back in the mid-'90s, I had a mid-'70s imported Schwinn Voyageur II - also in silver - and it had these bars. They were a supreme pain, even though it was a damn nice bike. So, when I decided to spring for this one, I decided it would get tourist-style bars like my Racer. Here's what I bought:
Swapping bars is really not tough - all you have to do is take off everything that touches the handlebar. Bar tape, brake levers, end plugs (if they protrude). They've all gotta go. Shifters, in this case, were left as-is, because they're the old chromed stem-mounted friction levers that I love.

Once everything's off, you just undo the clamp bolt and slide the bar free. Installation is basically the reverse. In my case, I also removed the original 40-year-old brake cables and replaced them with some Bell cables I had on hand. Better safe than sorry when it comes to getting from "go" to "whoa."

The end result is as pictured: A very nice look, and a MUCH more comfortable riding position.

And at less than $20 before shipping, it was well worth the cost.

BETTER TIRES COST NO MORE THAN CHEAP ONES ... NO, REALLY!

Michelin's Protek tire - an outstanding value and a fine tire
Unlike on vehicles of the four-wheeled variety, it does not automatically follow that better tires cost more than cheap ones. Indeed, I have actually found that better tires cost less.

How is that possible? I don't know, but as long as it's a fact, I'll buy and recommend the best tires I can find. At this point, in this size (27x1-1/4"), those tires are Michelin Proteks. I ordered them from Worldwide Cyclery in California for the grand sum of $16.79 each. I don't think I need to tell you what a bargain that is, but I will.

These tires have reflective sidewalls, which allowed me to ditch the old plastic wheel reflectors (I kept them, with the old bars), and a puncture-resistant layer within the tread that, so far, has kept me from needing any tire repairs since I started using them ... and in my line of work (patrolling a small college campus), that's an accomplishment. And I'm now using these Michelins on everything except my Racer, and that's only because they weren't available in the size I needed. (It has Continental CityRIDE IIs, and I'll share info on those soon.)

THE LEGEND OF X-CALIPER

Lastly, having replaced all of the above parts, it was time to get rid of the hard, dried-up brake pads and put something new on.  I've been a proponent of the Dia-Compe Gray Matter pads for a while now, but at $9 for four, they're expensive (relatively speaking!). So I checked into it and am trying Jagwire's "X-Caliper" pads.

These pads cost considerably less - exactly $1.84 for four, purchased in bulk as I did - and stop every bit as well. The one complaint I have heard on the Gray Matter pads is that, due to their softness, they don't last long. X-Calipers, on the other hand, should wear a good while - and of course I'll update and let you know.

ALL DONE - NOW LET'S RIDE!

READY TO ROLL ... new fenders still to come
Once I got everything in and on, I have to say I think this bike will be a pleasant commuter and touring ride. I plan to enjoy it for a good, long while. And, since I've promised my wife this is my last purchase for myself, I'd better get my money's worth!

Stay tuned -- you'll be reading more about this one soon!

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