I learned to ride as a youth (10-15yo), and after learning to straightline ride, I got a brand new Schwinn 24" (circa 1975) which I still ride. I had difficulty finding a new tire a few years back, and had not ridden in quite some time because the old tire was rotted out. I found a new tire, and have started riding again. A few weeks back I even learned to freestart, something I never learned when I was younger. I am looking for fun and crosstraining out of my unicycling, and hope to possibly ride Muni (since I live adjacent to miles of trails). How important is having properly fitted (modern) equipment? My schwinn is still all original except the tires. Recently I rode 6.6 miles, and have painful saddle sores. My seat post also is probably a little bit short. I am thinking this old uni might not be worth upgrading, but maybe instead I should invest in a new one, but what type. How much easier is it to ride on a fat tire? Actually I have a lot more questions, but this is more than enough for now.
Hi Bruce and welcome!
I think the Schwinn would be fine for road use. You could change the saddle and seatpost quite cheaply if they are giving you problems - they’re only available in a few standard sizes and I don’t think Schwinn’s are any different (it will be worth finding out before investing, though).
For Muni I would definitely recommend getting a dedicated off-roader. Modern advancements like ISIS hubs and lightweight cranks, plus the wider tire, will make a world of difference, not to mention being more hardwearing.
As far as fat tires are concerned, they are harder to turn and create more rolling resistance on the road, but are absolutely essential offroad for grip and also as a means of softening the blows!
I agree entirely with what SmellyGeekBoy has told you.
If the seat post is too low you will likely experience strained muscles and joints while road riding, not chafing or saddle soreness. To minimize saddle soreness a new, modern saddle does more to benefit you than anything. To reduce chafing consider riding only with good, seamless cycling shorts and no underwear. There are also lubricating products like Butt’R but time will toughen tender areas.
For road riding, adjust the seat post as you would a bicycle: leg straight with the heel on the pedal gives you just about the right amount of knee bend with the ball of the foot on the pedal. Old Schwinns have incremental seat posts so you can never get them exactly right but always close.
Old Schwinns also have a non-standard tire size as you have already discovered. They use a 24" x 1 3/4" tire which for some reason is larger in diameter than the standard 24" x 1.75" tire…go figure. If you start to ride a lot and begin to do more and more demanding things you will begin to wear the tire probably in two spots. Rotate it in the rim slightly to to make it wear more evenly and keep from having to replace it often.
Schwinns are good, strong unicycles but they are heavy and clunky. Refuse to ride lightweight high quality unicycles if you want to avoid the bug that so many of us have caught: buying oodles of unicycles.
Of course, I forgot about those. I wonder if it would be possible to use a more modern seatpost and clamp setup on one of the old Schwinns? Not very authentic but probably better to get the seat height “just right” to save wear and tear on the knees!
It wouldn’t be possible to use a seatpost clamp on an old Schwinn. The single bolt holds the post, and also holds the frame in alignment. The frame is also very thick, and you would need a really big clamp to get around it. I have used a cheap Dimension seatpost and drilled it at the right height for an old Schwinn I had. It worked perfectly, and I think it set me back $10 for a 500mm post. As luck would have it the Schwinn saddle mount has become the defacto standard for unicycles, so most newer saddles will fit the old post.
Greg (harper) is absolutely right. Once you go with a light unicycle it is hard to go back and you start spending all sorts of money making the rest of your collection lighter. Luckily you only have one.
I really think that the wide tires and rims of modern mountain unicycles are essential to enjoy riding the rough stuff at first. I loved my 3" tire for a few years but for the past while have been riding slightly thinner (~2.4") lighter tires and just have to be more careful about what line you ride.
I would strongly recommend getting something like a Nimbus 24" MUni for getting into off-road riding. Strong, not too heavy and should not break the bank. The 3" tire will really help with both grip and comfort on the trails.
Think of your Schwinn as a Model T. An amazing and historic vehicle, but quirky and less than what’s available today. If you had a Model T, instead of trying to turn it into a Jeep you might leave it original, so you’d always have your Model T. Then you could buy the Jeep and have both!
In other words, if you attempt to upgrade a Schwinn, you’re not going to be happy. At its core (hub & frame), it’s wrong for off-roading so why bother? Enter the world of non-twisty frames, seatposts you can adjust to the millimeter, and comfortable seats that can take thousands of drops!