The New Old Bike

Posted by Kyle on February 22, 2011

My new old Schwinn 10-speed road bikeA while ago, I bought an old Schwinn 10-speed road bike at a friend's garage sale for about $20. She had bought it along with a smaller bike for her and her husband to ride together, but the bikes sat in their garage for 30 years. After some powerful motivation, I replaced the last part to significantly suffer from the decay: the rear derailleur.

Now, it rides great. I put about 12 miles in the following Sunday afternoon. In total, the bike cost about $60. $20 for the bike, $20 for new tires and tubes, and about $20 for the new derailleur.

The Old DerailleurThe Problem:

The rear derailleur serves two functions. One is to guide the chain to the correct rear gear. The other is to, as the amount of slack in the chain changes due to the difference in gear sizes, pull the chain tight. The spring on the original derailleur had lost its springiness, and it no longer held the chain tight. You can see how, at the bottom of the picture, the chain is drooping a bit. 

The New Derailleur, side AThe New Derailleur, side BThe Solution:

Go down to Randy's Bike and Run, order a new derailleur, and install it!

It doesn't have the nostalgic Schwinn detailing, and it's very obviously an after-market part, but it got me up and running. I kept the original in case I ever find a spring to fit it.

Getting it Done:

Step 1: Remove the rear wheel.

The rear wheel came off pretty easily. All I had to do was loosen the bolts on either side of the wheel.

Rear derailleur with the tension sprocket removedStep 2: Remove the chain.

This was pretty troublesome. On a bike chain, there is one link that will come undone for you to remove the chain. I couldn't find it on this chain. I didn't look very hard though. Instead, I just removed the tension sprocket on the old derailleur to remove it as well as on the new one to install it.

Step 3: Remove the old derailleur

Another easy step. There's just one bolt holding it onto the frame of the bike.

The new derailleurStep 4: Bolt on the new derailleur

This one is the opposite of step 3. Check in out on the right.

Step 5: Install the chain and rear wheel

Again, the opposite of steps 2 and 1, in that order.

Step 6: Adjust the new derailleur

I noticed the new derailleur wasn't really working very well when I put it on, so I went to the trusty interwebs and googled my problems away. I discovered I needed to adjust the derailleur. It was pretty easy. You just need to adjust the adjustment screws. I found a great tutorial at

With that, I now have a pretty great little road bike. I put about 12 miles on it this weekend. I think the next project on this bike will be to get a new seat and some lights. That seat really killed me, but the ride was well worth it!

What kind of bike do you have? Do you know of any good places around San Angelo to ride? Let me know in the comments below.


Posted by larriji on
I would like to replace the front and back derailleur on the Schwinn Le Tour that I have because it is difficult to clean. The way they were designed is to have sort of a closed off bracket. I wonder if I could put the cheapest Shimano derailleur on it. I would prefer that to the original. My bike looks identical to yours. It even has the same handlebar.
Posted by Kyle on
Hi Larriji!

I don't even know what brand derailleur I used! My primary purpose for the bike is really just transportation. I went ahead and kept the original in case I wanted to completely restore the bike, but the off-brand one I bought has been working just fine now for over a year.

Thanks for your comment!

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