2008 or '09 Schwinn Jaguar build, badly chronicled.

Dec 24, 2013
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I really didn't take a lot of pictures when I started this project, because "who really wants to see a build thread on a modern cruiser from Walmart?" (I actually bought it from craigslist, but I'm sure the previous owner got it at a big box store somewhere when it was new.)

When I FIRST got it, it looked a lot like this:



(I have some of my own "original" pictures somewhere, but apparently not on this hard drive. :( )


One of the first things I did was put a layback seatpost on it, and a Schwinn Stingray seat. Despite the fact that the saddle LOOKS like it's about to fall off the bike, it's actually most comfortable at that angle. I rode it around for a week or so with some lower, more normal apehangers and with these 25" tall bars:



After I painted it flat black (with "rattle can" spray paint), I started getting more of a feel for what I thought I wanted the finished bike to look like:



The rack didn't stay on there long, but at least I was getting back to a normal-looking seat.

I built a "suicide stick shifter" out of a Grip Shift, chronicled in this thread [ http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/stick-shift-from-grip-shift.84900/ ] and inspired by this thread by Bigcam59: http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/index....hifter-mount-and-stickshift-conversion.66386/



I left the brake cables extra long, so I could still put the super tall apehangers on there from time to time, but they're not as efficient for long rides, and they started to overshadow the rest of the things I've done to the bike.



At some point, I put a piece of wood in the frame to give it that "tank look."



I also installed a brand new Raleigh fender, but cut it down to give the bike a "bobber" look. One of the last things I did last fall was to install a suspension fork from a cheap Next brand "curb find," only because I thought it would look cool. (It's a CRUISER, and with that seatpost I estimate that at least 80% of my body weight is on the rear wheel. It doesn't NEED a suspension fork, let alone a cheap one that bounces when I stand on the pedals. With an extra long solid steel seatpost from slowriderz that probably weighs four pounds, this isn't a high performance bike and another extra pound or two can't hurt it much. :p )



Last fall and over the winter, I found a new Torker seat, stained and clearcoated a wooden shift knob, and FINALLY found some grips that were about the same "honey" shade as the shift knob and almost as dark as the seat.







I built a custom mount for the rear seatstay to hold my vintage "Hawaii" bicycle license plate, along with another one for a reflector (and a light!) on the other rear seatstay. I do ride this at night occasionally (with the addition of custom lightbar on the handlebars) and the stock reflector on the seatpost was hard to see if I didn't have the seat raised up. (I plan to take the reflector off the seatpost and keep forgetting.) I also made a "performance" modification by upgrading the bent, cheap, stock derailleur!

I really think I'm done with this build, though I'm still toying with ideas for the "tank." Buzzrocker13 gave me the idea of another thin piece of plywood stained to match the seat and grips, but I think the black tank really makes the shifter stand out. I'm also toying with the idea of using a sheet of brushed or hammered aluminum, which might look cool but also might take away from the shifter. No matter which of the three ways I go with the tank, I'm half-tempted to get some custom vinyl lettering to put on there, but don't know what I want it to say. Maybe I'll just put some RRB stickers on there instead?

I DO like having a mirror on my bikes, and like the twin mirrors for this bike, so I'm still occasionally looking at eBay for some inexpensive motorcycle mirrors. The classic rectangle bike mirrors aren't bad, but I REALLY should have roughed up the chrome-plated plastic before painting them.

Outside of those last, minor details, I'm quite happy with the way this all came together, and how much fun it is to ride it around town! It definitely gets attention -- during my last photo shoot people came up to me twice to say "cool bike!" and to ask "what kind of bike IS it?"
 
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Feb 16, 2015
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I like what you've done with it. I agree the dark tank really makes the knob stand out (nice job on the knob, by the way). Maybe just some subtle striping on the tank?

Edited: auto correct did 'know' instead of 'knob'
 
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May 10, 2015
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DUDE! Awesome start! On my blank page, I would ditch the barbs, and go with some clean bar ends, maybe just Cat's Eyes, epoxy the tank blank, and mold it to the tubes, forget all the woody stuff, unless you can float in some bamboo, that ride is killer clean, as it is, and specific to the Pacific, if you know what I mean...

righteous Dude!...
 
Feb 16, 2015
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DUDE! Awesome start! On my blank page, I would ditch the barbs, and go with some clean bar ends, maybe just Cat's Eyes, epoxy the tank blank, and mold it to the tubes, forget all the woody stuff, unless you can float in some bamboo, that ride is killer clean, as it is, and specific to the Pacific, if you know what I mean...

righteous Dude!...
Dawg,

Do you have any pics showing a molded/epoxied tank set up?

I'd be interested to see it...thanks.
 
Feb 16, 2015
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The reason I ask is because I've got this Electra cruiser I've been considering putting a tank on, and am looking for ideas for something clean like Raoul's.

Raoul, I'm not trying to hijack your thread, please don't take it that way...our bikes have a similar look and I am open to ideas/opportunities to learn. Thanks guys.
 
May 10, 2015
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no pics, but visualize it, slide a blade between the cantilevers, and secure it in place, then mold all the tubes to it, to capture it, I'm thinking a large cove on each side, kinda like we used to do on a Sportster tank back in the day, you could even do a fade in of some shadow metalics around the tank, to emphasize things, or perhaps some super clean pinstripes, the world is your oyster, dude...
 
Feb 16, 2015
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no pics, but visualize it, slide a blade between the cantilevers, and secure it in place, then mold all the tubes to it, to capture it, I'm thinking a large cove on each side, kinda like we used to do on a Sportster tank back in the day, you could even do a fade in of some shadow metalics around the tank, to emphasize things, or perhaps some super clean pinstripes, the world is your oyster, dude...
Understanding of course there are different (quality wise) products available, have you experienced any issues with stress fractures/cracking down the road on tanks like that? Just curious.
 
Dec 24, 2013
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I like what you've done with it. I agree the dark tank really makes the knob stand out (nice job on the knob, by the way). Maybe just some subtle striping on the tank?
Thanks -- I should have taken a close-up of the knob! I mentioned the wooden knob source in my "tandem" thread, but after looking high and low I finally found these almost-spherical "wooden doll heads" at one of the big national craft stores. They come in a wide range of sizes, from 1" to almost 3" in diameter, have a small flat spot on the bottom with a small pilot hole drilled 2/3 of the way through them, and they only cost a dollar or three depending on the size! I painted some for my other bike, stained this one, and am pretty happy with them!

Funny that you should mention striping on the tank -- last summer I picked up some 1/4" black reflective tape at Performance Cycle, and thought about putting a "triangle" on each side of the tank, following the curves. :) If I have any left over, I thought about putting some on the rear fender and tying that together into some sort of design with some black pinstripe tape!

DUDE! Awesome start! On my blank page, I would ditch the barbs, and go with some clean bar ends, maybe just Cat's Eyes, epoxy the tank blank, and mold it to the tubes, forget all the woody stuff, unless you can float in some bamboo, that ride is killer clean, as it is, and specific to the Pacific, if you know what I mean...

righteous Dude!...
Thanks again! I thought about bar end mirrors, and even had one of the "velcro clamp" style on the super tall apehangers -- that sort of mirror WOULD look a lot cleaner, but I seem to recall that I had to move my arm each time I wanted to use it. Sounds like it might be time to experiment with that again, though! :113:

I'm also interested in this "epoxy tank" idea -- exactly what sort of epoxy are we talking about, and what could I use to form the sides out sideways? Something like foam board, perhaps?

Raoul, I'm not trying to hijack your thread, please don't take it that way...our bikes have a similar look and I am open to ideas/opportunities to learn. Thanks guys.
No worries at all -- our bikes definitely look like cousins or siblings or something! :113: And I'm interested in learning more about this tank method as well! :)
 
Dec 24, 2013
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Well, I guess we're not going to learn any more about the "epoxy tank" idea any time soon. :(

In the meantime, I came up with a modern, do-it-yourself version of the classic fork-mounted "bullet headlight."

I love the looks of the big, classic bullet lights, but I also like to see where I'm going at night (and I like to be seen by cars as well)!

Today's modern LED bike lights are kind of amazing for what they are, especially compared to the lights of my childhood, but at the same time it often seems as if we're mostly paying for the snazzy quick-release theft-proof mount and the manufacturer throws in a cheap LED headlight for free. :p While it's technically LEGAL to ride at night with some of the inexpensive ones I've bought from my LBS over the past few years, they don't seem to put out enough light to see the road well enough.

Recently, on another non-bicycle forum I frequent, talk turned to small "tactical" sized LED lights, and I was pleasantly surprised at some of the inexpensive ones you can get from places like Walmart. Here's a little one that runs off 3AA batteries and puts out a LOT more light than any of my bicycle-specific headlights that use similar batteries and cost twice as much -- at the beginning of summer the flashlight pictured was only about $10:



I had the idea of using an "L" shaped bracket and a piece of PVC pipe, and a couple of hose clamps to mount it to the front fork, but the 1" PVC pipe I had was a little bit too small in diameter. Since I didn't (and still don't) know much about PVC pipe, I took my flashlight to my local hardware store to perhaps buy a different diameter, and/or a lot of tape to make the light fit in a piece of 1 1/4" pipe. It turns out that PVC pipe comes in different wall thicknesses, and the thinner wall 1" PVC was almost perfect!

This one was REALLY easy to build, and can be easily duplicated:

1) Buy or find an "L bracket," and bend it so what will be the horizontal arm aims a little below horizontal. Cut the PVC pipe to the right length to reach the "on/off" button on the tailcap. I painted the pipe to match the bike, but left the hardware unpainted.

2) Use a bolt to attach the bracket to the fork, then use hose clamps (I used two) to attach the pipe to the bracket. I have both clamps tightened down enough that I can't easily pull the pipe off with my bare hands, yet the flashlight EASILY slips in and out.

3) Tighten one (or both) brackets just a little more. In my case, I only have to turn ONE of the hose clamp screws about a half turn and that makes it tight enough to hold the light in place. When I get to my destination, I can unscrew the one clamp a half turn and take my light with me.





Just to keep the light from blinding oncoming cars, I experimented with different ways to put a "visor" or "shroud" on the light. I thought about cutting a semi-circle of black plastic from a coffee can lid and making a "visor" by wrapping it around the top part of the flashlight before inserting it into the pipe. (On the other hand, I might wrap it around the top half of the PVC pipe and hold it in place with the front hose clamp.) Instead, I discovered that a blue veterinary pill bottle fits PERFECTLY over the end of that light and holds itself on via friction! I grabbed a hacksaw and cut off the bottom of the bottle, then sanded off the rough edge. (People have asked, and I've been guessing that veterinary bottles are blue to help distinguish them from the white and yellow ones that most pharmacies use for "normal" or human medication, but it worked great for this purpose!)







Here's what it looks like mounted on the bike at night -- I'm kind of impressed at my phone's "low light" capability against a white wall:





Not only does that shroud tighten the beam so it doesn't blind oncoming traffic, it also makes a bright blue marker light for the sides!

On the other hand, it DOES make the small flashlight awfully long (and it makes it look like I'm a Star Wars fan with a miniature lightsaber attached to my bike!) so I may still experiment with a more normal looking "visor."

I'm also planning on bending another bracket and installing another short piece of pipe on my "tandem stretch cruiser" so I'll be able to leave the brackets and pipe sections on each bike and just move the flashlight back and forth as needed! :)
 
Dec 24, 2013
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Well, it's official: after hanging around this site for too long, I'm getting too many ideas for the number of bikes that I have -- so I bought more bikes! :21:

Before I did that, though, a little puttering in the garage (and too much time here looking at vintage bikes here) got me thinking: "I liked my idea about 'modular handlebar' design when I'd switch between normal and tall ape hanger bars. I could just swap stems while leaving the bars and brake levers attached, which only took about two minutes, so why not...?"

I experimented with this bike and some flat mountain bike bars to give it a sort-of "board track racer" look, then tried some different mountain bike riser bars. A 2" riser bar, installed backwards and rotated forward 90 degrees produced a pretty decent "clubman" style bar:





I shortened my super-long brake cables SLIGHTLY, so I can still use the 13" apehangers, but I think the low bars definitely give it a more "vintage" feel.

With the ape hanger bars, I got tired of the cheap rectangular bicycle mirrors adjusting themselves every time I hit a bump, so decided to buy some similar-looking MOTORCYCLE mirrors and handlebar clamps. The mirrors sit a little higher above the grips, and I still haven't decided if I like them or not. For these "clubman" bars, I experimented with different mirrors that I already had, and wound up buying some 3" round motorcycle bar-end mirrors. (They didn't arrive in time for the event I was going to when I took these pictures.) Once they arrived, the metal mounts seem to be much sturdier than the various plastic bicycle bar-end mirrors I've used in the past, and now I'm thinking about buying a second pair to put on the ape hangers!

I rode it (as pictured) over to a local "Vintage Bike Night" that's really for and about vintage motorcycles, but there are usually a few cruiser bicycles there as well. The bicycle crowd thought it was pretty cool, but I was a little surprised at how much some of the motorcycle owners liked it too!

I once again THINK I'm done tinkering with this one, and will just enjoy it riding it around with both distinctly different looks. Thanks to craigslist, I now have TWO "new" project cruisers with Nexus hubs, and different rat-roddin' ideas for each of them!
 
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