Beginnings of a gravel bike

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@us56456712 that grey and black single speed camelback with the comfort bars you posted above looks excellent. Your posts have so much info and tips that I look forward to the side tracks, as I'm getting my bicycle apprenticeship by following along
The grey/black bicycle rides nice on gravel. Good for about 4 -5 miles and then the riding position becomes a little uncomfortable. There is not a lot of hand positions and you can't stretch out and then get more upright. It has a steel 3 piece cottered crank. I ground off the old large chainring and welded on a much smaller chain ring from an exercise bike with cottered cranks. I like the gearing for leisurely exploring old two track grass and gravel roads. We have un limited miles of this stuff and they are always changing as new areas are re logged. I have been living out here for a little over 3 years and have had the property for almost 30 years and have not begun to explore all the old logging trails, even with my 4 wheeler. It's unbelievable, you could actually ride over a thousand miles of gravel and old little used short paved connectors and never leave Michigan's UP. I have mapped a 300+ mile gravel route that leaves from my front door and goes through 5 of our 15 counties up here. By highway it's 350 miles, not counting the islands. I wanted to do it last year but I could find no one that wanted to do the whole thing with me. I involves taking 4 ferries to various islands in the St Mary's River and Lake Huron and riding around these Islands. It involves camping and backwoods motels. My family doesn't want me to do this in the back country by myself as there is no cell service. I still want to do this but I don't think I can find anyone who is retired in good enough shape or young enough to spend the three weeks to ride this with me. I go slow, 5 - 6 miles an hour on this kind of a ride. I have figured out how to ride around and avoid stream crossings where there aren't bridges. In one place you have to ride on a dike and over a flow control dam, either that or wade through 4 waist deep outflows. I really want to do this ride. I don't carry a gun and have never been challenged by any native wild animals. I have seen mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, bob cats and bear many times except only once for the lion. The most fearsome thing I saw was a Russian Boar that had escaped form a game farm 150 miles away. I suppose if I go agenst wishes and go solo I should get a pistol, but I don't think it would be necessary. The worst thing would be the flies and mosquitos when you stop.
 
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Awesome, sounds like an epic adventure! If I thought I could keep up with you, and if I thought my Rat would survive (and if my wife would let me out to play for that long) I'd volunteer to ride with you. For me, that kind of exploring is what mountain biking should be. Nowadays, the kids shuttle past all the good stuff.
 
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In my searching at the time( that didn't matter because I was converting to 700c anyway) I found I think three other rims besides wiemann that were alloy, and like 8 different tires. I bet you could use 27.5 wheels if the brake calipers have enough adjustment and frame clearance. I have a 27.5 wheel off some part out cruiser/hybrid... I need to compare rim sizes with a 27 and 700c.
27 is a little bigger than 700c.
 
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If I recall; a schwinn 26 is closer in size to a 650b or a or standard wheelchair wheel- real close to iso 26 but just slightly bigger. I could be wrong though, but most iso 26" tires won't fit schwinn 26s. You could throw some iso 26 wheels on it, though.
The bead diameter of the Schwann 26 is a little bigger than a 26 x 1 3/8. If it's a steel bead in the tire than soap and metal pry bars and a lot of sweat and swearing will get a standard 26 x 1 3/8 tire on but a pinch flat is the probable outcome. I don't think you could get the tire off though. This episode made me hate Schwinns and I still haven't gotten over it. I did this once before computer shopping and our town had no bike shop. I used a hardware store set of tires. Many vintage touring bikes (1940s - 60s) used 650b wheels with fat tires and were really gravel bikes in the modern sense.
 
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That looks just about the same as the gravel bikes I made in the 60s and 70s. Schwinn bikes like this were pretty easy to find at thrift stores and many had the 26 x 1 3/8 tires (I think they were called S-6). I didn't know back then that Schwinn had a different size tire until I tried to fit a tire and no one had them where I lived so I put on other wheels from other thrift store bikes. Back then there were a lot of old cheap 10 speeds with 26 x 1 3/8 wheels. My first Schwinn was probably a Collegiate or similar bike as it had the narrow 26 inch tires and drop bars and was sprayed black, over everything. I probably paid $4 for it. Most often I just made a poor mans single speed by eliminating the rear derailleur. I also had some with gears and some with a coaster brake and flat bars. I always had two and sometimes three of these bikes as loaners so that my friends could trail ride with me. I used to throw them in my boat when a bunch of us went camping and we would gravel ride when we weren't fishing. That blue Schwinn is already a gravel bike. It's got drop bars, easy to reach shifter, big rear cog and brake levers on the flat part of the bars. I would just put on a smaller front sprocket. It's almost a perfect gravel bike as it is. 26 x 1 3/8 wheels, the size from old English bicycles, would fit on there and you could get tires cheaper and easier. In the 1980s Columbia made an inexpensive heavy 10 speed with this sized wheel. Take it from one who has ridden this type of set up for years, it's a lot of fun. For what you describe as your rides it should be perfect. If you ever decide to ride 10 or 15 miles of gravel, well this bike would be just great for that distance.
Here is an old 10 speed with 26 inch cruiser wheels that I used for winter and gravel about 4 years ago. It was a loaner for people who came to visit us and wanted to ride. All we have is gravel. It's now long gone to the scrap drive.
View attachment 113520
Here is one of my original 70s gravel bikes but the only thing the same now is the frame and fork. I rebuilt it last year for the unofficial March build off. It's not the same now as this picture is about 5 years old. It now has upright bars, like it did in the 70s. I rebuilt if for the Unofficial March Build off so it is very similar to the way my gravel bikes were in the 60 and 70s. I used the frame and made it like I used to ride them for nostalgia and to have one for my collection. It's like Lincoln's hammer, everything has been replaced so much that almost nothing is the same as it was.
A few years ago:View attachment 113522Now with a Sachs coaster brake and steel 26 x 1 3/8 rims. A long time ago I rode a similar bike 20 mies of single track on a horse trail. Couldn't do that now with this bike. One of my buddies from the fishing days still rides with me and we are in our. 70s. He called these bikes "medicine bikes". He said "you remember when we were mountain biking before there were mountain bikes"? We rode hiking trails, two track and gravel. Our rides were nothing like real mountain biking. View attachment 113523
I like the bars on the 2nd picture. I love narrow drop bars.
 
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I just tossed some stuff on a 1982 Uinvega touring frame that has cantilever brakes. It's made in Japan, most likely by Miyata. 38 mm tires fit the rear triangle and original front fork but 44 fit the blue front fork I tossed on it for the photo. I could cut the triangle braces and spread the rear triangle so that 44s fit but it's easier to use 38s. I plan to use derailleurs and a 3 chainring crank from one of my old mountain bikes on it. The crank in the photo is an inexpensive 3 chainring steel job, just to eyeball clearance. A 7 speed screw on freewheel fits the rear spacing. Again, crazy sideways picture posting from my camera. When will the RRB blog guys fix this problem? I'm not changing my posting methods to accommodate a site problem.
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I get vibes from the Free Spirit.
sdasDASDS.jpg

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It has a Simplex push rod front derailleur on it which is 20 years older than the frame!
 
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View attachment 113460
Thanks rusty. I know the schwinn has a proprietary size, I was thinking of sticking some aftermarket 26” mtb wheels in there?

I was thinking the difference between schwinn 26” and modern 26” would still allow for a pretty easy swap with only some simple mods?
I have a Schwinn Varsity "gravel" bike that is from the early 80s. It is a singlespeed with only a front brake and 26 inch wheels. It is actually good for the trails around my house. There is a lot of loose dirt, some rocks, and sand where I live and the bike goes through all of it. It has even gotten muddy.
 
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View attachment 113460
Thanks rusty. I know the schwinn has a proprietary size, I was thinking of sticking some aftermarket 26” mtb wheels in there?

I was thinking the difference between schwinn 26” and modern 26” would still allow for a pretty easy swap with only some simple mods?
I have wanted a 26 inch Colligate with drop bars or especially a humpback one with drop bars.
 
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I have wanted a 26 inch Colligate with drop bars or especially a humpback one with drop bars.
Thanks Grant. -Yeah, the camel backs are sweet. I’d prefer that bike as to the one I have, but I’m a huge sucker for baby blue, so this mule will do just fine.

all the camel backs I can find start at about $200 from what I can see and I don’t really like paying more than $100 or $150 for a bike, freight included.

Just curious, the 26” wheels you put on your varsity.... do you recall what the wheels came off of or is a 26” wheel a 26” wheel?
 
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Thanks Grant. -Yeah, the camel backs are sweet. I’d prefer that bike as to the one I have, but I’m a huge sucker for baby blue, so this mule will do just fine.

all the camel backs I can find start at about $200 from what I can see and I don’t really like paying more than $100 or $150 for a bike, freight included.

Just curious, the 26” wheels you put on your varsity.... do you recall what the wheels came off of or is a 26” wheel a 26” wheel?
I pulled them off of a cheap Huffy kids 10 speed and used a long brake on the Varsity.
 
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View attachment 113460
Thanks rusty. I know the schwinn has a proprietary size, I was thinking of sticking some aftermarket 26” mtb wheels in there?

I was thinking the difference between schwinn 26” and modern 26” would still allow for a pretty easy swap with only some simple mods?
Will a Colligate fit someone who would fit a 56-60cm bike? It looks kind of small. If it is too small, I might just put a Colligate crank and chainring on a larger Varsity. I have a 54cm Varsity that has the seatpost almost all the way up.
 

RustyGold

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They made many sizes of varsitys and collegiates...but, only one of those sizes as a 26" or 27" camel back (the smallest size)...a 17".

I've seen two varsitys with 20" wheels and camel back frame, and recently a 24" wheeled camel back varsity.
 
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They made many sizes of varsitys and collegiates...but, only one of those sizes as a 26" or 27" camel back (the smallest size)...a 17".

I've seen two varsitys with 20" wheels and camel back frame, and recently a 24" wheeled camel back varsity.
I saw a Taiwanese Schwinn 10 or 12 speed from the 80s with 24 inch wheels at the pawn shop. It was black with white logos.
 
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