ORBO Step-Thru Klunker

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Nov 24, 2019
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Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
I always say that my username, "Bike from the Dead," is a reference to how I like to "bring bikes back from the dead," and I don't think any other bike I've built so far demonstrates my mission statement better than this 1950 Schwinn step-thru klunker. When I got this old girl, it was nothing more than a bare frame someone tossed in the free (a.k.a., junk) pile at the Haysville, Kansas bicycle swap meet last year. Odds are that if I didn't grab this Schwinn out of that pile, it could've gone to the scrapyard after the swap meet ended. It was literally left for dead, dumped in an open grave like it was nothing. Even I didn't see much value in it beyond the tubing bends at first, but after thinking it over, I decided to see if I could build it into a bike I liked by using parts I had no use for otherwise. In the end, I successfully built something out of a whole lot of nothing, and what better bike to build out of a whole lot of nothing than a good old-fashioned klunker!

Admittedly, this old klunker was more about Form over Function, as my first goal was to turn this step-thru Schwinn into a good-looking bike using whatever parts I had on hand. That included using handlebars, grips and a fork that closely matched the original paint and patina on the frame, as well as fabricating a custom set of truss rods from scrap to run through the handlebars down to the front axle (my favorite part of the whole build.) Throw in a chrome chain guard to tie in with the wheels and bottom bracket assembly, and the look was all set!

My second goal of course was to make a decent entry-level off-road bike. Now, I didn't need anything crazy, just something that I could casually cruise on relatively flat dirt and gravel trails to help me learn how to ride on loose, rough terrain. I figured that this old step-thru Schwinn would be strong enough to handle the sort of riding I had planned, but just in case, I stuffed a scrap seat post deep down inside the seat tube to stiffen the frame where the top tube and seat tube join. I also threw on a pair of mountain bike tires I pulled off some curb-side freebies to give me a little extra grip on the gravel and dirt, and a portable tire pump I got in a Wal-Mart bike kit years ago, just in case.

I threw a bell on there last-minute in case I need to warn any pedestrians that I'm about ready to pass them.

This Mesinger seat I picked up for free a while back was the right choice for this bike, as it does a great job soaking up the bumps that the fork doesn't. It makes for a nice, comfortable ride!

As with every other one of these bike builds, I couldn't have gotten this bike done with out some much-needed help. I'd like to give a big thanks to my friend @billn for working out the kinks on the tail-end of this build Saturday, and to my family, especially my brother Evan, for giving me the extra motivation I needed to push through the last few steps needed to bring this old Schwinn back to life. And of course, I'd like to thank the folks of Rat Rod Bikes for keeping this forum going and for providing such an awesome community for us bike nuts!

I have a GoPro video of this bike's shakedown run that I need to edit before I can post it to YouTube, but I should have that ready before the Build Off ends.

The original build thread for this bike can be found here.
Bike turned out fantastic. I love using up old “unwanted” parts . Oh and great photos too. 👍🏼
Thank you! Yeah, most of the parts I threw on this bike wouldn't have really worked on any of my other builds, so it was nice to find a home for them! Thanks!
Love the bar clamping trick, original patina, tire choice, front braces, grippy vintage pedals!

Fun build!
Thanks OddJob! It was a lot of fun throwing this bike together!
Love it! Nice job!
Thank you!
The klunker turned out great! Just the ticket for a dirt road cruise yet still would be capable if you found some fun whoops and jumps to thrash over. Great job!!