1975 Schwinn Continental

1975 Schwinn Continental
This is the bike before most of the restoration work - click to view full-size

Saturday, April 16, 2011

1975 Schwinn Continental Men's Ten-Speed 28-Inch Frame Bicycle Resto-Mod

This Schwinn bike was the one I couldn't afford to get when I was thirteen years old. Instead, I got the Varsity, due to a shortage of $30.00 in funds from my income as a newspaper delivery boy. (My first job, which I worked for four years, delivering the Beloit Daily News.)

The 1975 Continental was blue, the Varsity was green. The Continental was one of the first bikes to have quick-release wheels, which the Varsity didn't have. The Continental also had center-pull brakes, and was one of the lightest steel-frame ten-speeds in the industry at the time. It was a beautiful bike, and I missed it by 30 bucks.

Don't get me wrong, the Varsity was a great bike. I rode it for years, until it got stolen. I also added a generator light set to the bike, and steel "rat-trap" pedals. (They gave way better grip on your shoes.) My best friend bought a brown Varsity, and we rode all over town together on those bikes. I moved to Madison for high school, and rode that Varsity from one end of Madison to the other constantly.

The other great thing about those old Schwinns, they made them with an over-sized 28" frame. Since I'm 6' 6", that's a natural for me to want to go back to THE bike of my youth.

SO, a few years ago, I decided to go back to bicycling for fun and exercise. I think it was in 2003. I found a Schwinn shop in Joliet, Illinois on Craigslist that had a "1975 mens' Schwinn 10-speed 28-inch" for $50.00 in just-barely rideable condition. The cool part was, this wasn't just any Schwinn shop, it was Days Gone Bicycle, where they specialized in restoring 1950's-1960's Schwinn Stingray bikes. Of course, I took my 13-year-old son along for the field trip...and he got an education in very cool bicycle history, and I got a $50.00 1975 Schwinn Continental...

I'm still at work on the restoration, clearly. Finding parts that old is a nightmare. I'm going to have to get the paint color-matched at an auto body shop to get the right paint job on it. (The original paint job was thoroughly hacked by someone with a can of blue spray paint.) But FIRST, I have to find the decals that go on the frame.

Then there's the matter of the blue metal-flake handlebar wrap tape. They don't make it any more. I'm praying I can find an ancient Schwinn shop somewhere in a small town that has an un-opened package or five on a shelf in the back somewhere.

None of the chrome parts are made anymore, so it'll be superfine steel wool followed by Brasso or metal polish. All the small hardware has Schwinn proprietary detailing on it, from the quick-release levers to the gear shift handles.

Add to that the cold fact that very few people, if any, are restoring these old Schwinn ten-speeds. They are an overlooked restoration opportunity in a world full of aluminum and titanium or magnesium ultra-light 15, 20, and even 25-speed bicycles. Steel frames are pase' man. So they say.

The thing is though, you can't put a generator light on anything but a steel bike or there's not enough of a ground, and you blow the lamps, maybe burn up the generator prematurely. That, and that super-light (not ultra) Continental, are what's going to make me throw a thumbed nose at that attitude.

So, this is the motivation. Now for the rest of the ride...

Ride on,



  1. what would you say the value of a bike like this is. iv had mine since i was 15. now im 57 as a matter of fact and its still pristine.if anybody has any information that could help me out. It would be greatly appreciated. thank you

  2. Terry, I have no idea. I haven't priced them out because it doesn't matter to me. I'm not looking at resale, I'm planning on keeping my Connie. I'd say look at auctions on Ebay to get an idea. I would bet under $500.00 even in perfect condition. There aren't many restoring these bikes. Check in with Bicycle Times magazine, they may have a better idea. Best of luck!