I recently purchased a six-speed Schwinn Cruiser from my favorite local bicycle shop and I must admit, I thoroughly am enjoying the advancements made in cycling since the time my other bikes were manufactured – sometime between Wars I and II. However, the bike is a bit on the heavy side - weighing in at about 46 pounds. And, since my cycling performance is improving at an astounding speed (Remember, I did participate in the bike ride out in Hempstead, Texas where I managed to do the entire 25-mile route all in one day! And I’m sure I would have completed the 30-mile course on that ride in Katy , Texas in one day – if I hadn’t have been still experimenting with that whole “sport drink in the bicycle tires” thing – but that’s a different story.) – so… where were we? Oh yeah – heavy bike. This new bike is a tank and I want to go faster. The obvious solution: modify this six-speed behemoth to lighten it up a little.
Now, many people have commented about the streamers on my handlebars – but they don’t weigh much of anything so I just left those alone and headed straight to lightening up that frame. It seemed to me that there was too much steel holding the back wheel on so I took a hacksaw and removed the lower chain stays. While I was at it, I removed the top tube completely. The latter, in effect, made it look like a traditional girl’s frame bicycle and seeing how that is unpopular I decided to put a new lighter top tube back in. Have you ever “thumped” a carbon frame bicycle? Doesn’t it make pretty much the same sound as if you’d thumped one of those cardboard tubes that are in the middle of a roll of Christmas wrapping paper? Well, yes – it does! So that’s what I put back in place. After a little shaping with some scissors and a piece or two of duct tape – who’d ever know? As for the rest of the frame, I simply drilled a couple of hundred 9/16” diameter holes all over the place. I had started out drilling ¼” holes but broke the drill bit lightening up the steel crank arms.
Not knowing what I could actually get away with on the rims, I decided that I could save weight by just removing some of the spokes. The trick here is to not take a bunch out all on one side like I did at first but rather to space them out throughout the entire wheel. I removed two spokes, skipped one, removed two, skipped one, etc. – all around the rim. I’ve noticed a lot of the “high end” bikes have wheels like this – nowhere near the 36 spokes that the cruiser came from the factory with.
The one thing I really like about my bike is the big ol’ cushy saddle nearly as wide as a tractor seat. I sure didn’t want to sacrifice that comfort for the sake of saving weight – so I just spray-painted it a lighter color. After repainting my modified frame, I was ready to hit the scales again. The new official weight: a sleek 38 pounds. I was proud!
Now, at this point, I must warn all of you loyal readers out there that these are procedures which shouldn’t be performed by amateurs. I’ve been an avid cyclist for over 45 years now and have somewhat fine-tuned my mechanical ability. I’m currently in production on a video dealing more in-depth with the technical stuff highlighted in this article and hopefully it will be on the market in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments on how you can get the most out of your bike, be sure and drop me a line. If you find that you’re somewhat squeamish about drilling holes in your bike frame, bring it on by my place and I’ll see what I can do for you!
Enjoy the ride!