My New, Old Bike!

**Sorry folks, I originally posted this to say Schwinn Varsity, but I didn’t even realize that its a Continental. So I’ll be updating the rest of the article to say the correct model name…**

Check it out, I just scored on a vintage bike! It’s a Schwinn Continental! I guess this color is called, “Radiant Coppertone.”
schwinn varsity

This head badge says, “Schwinn Chicago.”

schwinn Continental

I had read that the Schwinn Varsity bikes were made famous for their “electro-forged” (E/F) frames.” When I first saw this bike, I quickly looked at the lugs, I’m a big lug man. But when I didn’t see it, I felt disappointed until I learned about the E/F frame building technique. It’s rather interesting and now that I’m educated in it, I have more admiration for the bike.
schwinn varsity

The bike does have some superficial rust spots on the chrome, but that’s nothing that I can’t fix.

I totally dig the “S” on the shifters.

It truly is a handsome bike. Unfortunately, its a bit big for me. The stand over height is probably meant for someone that is around 5’10”, but as soon as I get on the bike, I can easily reach the pedals without any problems. The bike rides really smooth, thanks to the steel frame!

Everything on the bike is original, well the tires probably have gone through a few changes and is actually due for one. But other than that, its all legit! Not sure of this bike is worth any money, but it certainly great to have. I’ll be getting some new tires, install some Planet Bike fenders and a Wald rack in the back to carry some panniers…you know to mix old with the new!


  1. Anonymous
  2. Mike


    My first build was a Varsity that I found in a dumpster. I was 15 and and fixed or replaced everything, including the Varsity Green paint that I picked up in a spray can from the local Schwinn dealer. This was the bike that started everything for me.

    Just a note on the rack: I believe the Wald rack would be a mistake. A Pletscher Rack would be more of a fit for a restoration project. Rivendell has them for $20 and they reek of retroness.

  3. jt

    I owned a bright red Varsity for years and years. I started doing biathlons (they’re now called duathons) on it when they were sponsored by Coors Light way back in the early 80’s. I got razzed by the high-tech mulit-sport athletes because of my low-tech Varsity, but I always figured the kick-stand saved me some time in transition. A great bike, seeing your pictures makes me miss ol’Red.

  4. Ghost Rider

    A Wald would be made in the U.S., and would totally be period-appropriate…after all, Schwinn was one of their biggest clients!

    I don’t recall any Schwinns from the bike boom years having lugs. The electroforging process is pretty dang cool, though.

  5. Mike

    Does Wald make a rack with the springy thing? That’s what I recall the old Varsity’s having.

  6. Ghost Rider

    Hmm…I don’t know. I suppose a Wald is “period appropriate” if not “directly appropriate”. I think they made a spring rack, though.

    RL, if you want a Pletscher, just let me know. I’ve got one kicking around in my shed.

  7. Dwainedibbly

    Sorry, but….

    Back in the day the Schwinn 10-speeds (except Paramount) were generally loathed for their weight. Still, I think it’s cool that you’re saving a piece of history.

  8. Noah

    I almost bought one of those once. It was seemingly welded together from wrought iron gas pipe or something because it weighted probably upwards of 40 pounds.

  9. RL Policar

    Yah its a big heavy, but it rides like a dream.

  10. Ghost Rider

    Electroforged Schwinns were made out of mild steel strip, also known as “gaspipe”. It was a hallmark of the bike boom — cheap steel, heavy as hell but durable.

  11. cmikk

    Nice bike! Serial number says it’s a ’66, and it’ll probably last as many more years. It’s even avoided the “fixie conversion” fate of so many of its contemporaries. Good find.

    Don’t take it out in bad weather, though. Not just for rust, damage, etc. but for safety. If the wheels are original, their rims are chromed steel and will get very slippery when wet, effectively removing your brakes.

    I’m a happy varsity owner, although mine was halfway through a single speed conversion when I got it (hence missing the rear derailer, shifters, cables, and half of the original bars) so I made it into a fixie. I found myself stopping with my feet more than I wanted on a few rides this (MN) winter.

  12. Moe

    Why does it have *Continental* stickers? Are you sure it is a Varsity?

  13. RL Policar

    OH DANG! You’re right Moe! It’s a Conti! DUH!!!!

  14. Marrock

    My latest new old bike is a Peugeot UO8.

    Now I know most folks rate them just slightly above an x-mart ride but it’s the first vintage ride I’ve had since I was about 9 and I’d like to do a bit of a resto on it.

    Besides, you can’t beat the price… Free.

  15. Clancy

    I have been trying to figure out how to make some bottle openers from shifter levers like that.

  16. Jerome Hughes

    my Dad had an identical Continental when we were growing up – unsure what they called that color, always thought of it as “root beer” – however, “coppertone” was definitely the lighter gold color had on my Collegiate before getting a canary yellow Super Sport – my last electroforged ride, it was replaced by a Peugeot PX10 with lugs, recently built this back up and love it, even with the scratched-up orange/black repaint from the 70s

  17. RL Policar (Post author)


    I’ve always been partial to old bikes like the Schwinn and your Peugeot. I recently sold a vintage bike I had, a Benotto Modelo 8.

  18. Paladin

    The Color is “Sierra Brown”. I have a ’69 Varsity in that color, which I bought at a garage sale when I was 17.

    Radiant Coppertone is a much lighter gold color, I have another Varsity (’65) in that color which was my father’s from his college days.

    Compared to today’s steel bikes these are much heavier, but they ride solid and smooth, great for slower cruising or commuting. I always tell my friends, if you can handle riding a Varsity (or any old heavy road bike) you can ride any modern road bike with ease…they’re also a good workout on hilly terrain!

    Enjoy your Vintage Conti!

  19. Ray Mead

    What a sweet ride! I’m restoring one the last Varsitys that I bought for two dollars about four years ago. I bought it because it was US built and I knew that made it worth taking home. I finally found out about a week ago that it’s a Varsity and not a Continental as I was originally told. I have converted it to center pull brakes and I have a lot of NOS parts for it. I now have about $60.00 invested in it but the joy of working on it has been more than worth it. I also have a LeTour, a LeTour III and a three wheeled Town and Country. I’m 63 and having so much fun with these old bikes! I’ve become, without meaning to, a dealer in old bikes that I repair and re-sell to support my Schwinns. Again, sweet ride, keep on biking! Ray

  20. Miko Hall

    Wow! I had a 1960’s Schwinn cont. It looked just like yours except it was yellow. I rode it through my middle/high school days and yesterday my dad took it to the dump.

  21. Seamus

    That is in incredible condition!
    Even the saddle looks MINTY Fresh!

  22. Fred

    I am a collector here in San Jose Ca I own a very nice 1960 Coppertone Continental!!! bought from orig 70 year old owner Had shipped in from across the country I FOUND IT YEARS BACK wanted one as a kid the rich kids had them!!! I also own a 1971 Pristine Paramount with about 150 miles on it. it went from the orig owners living room to mine
    Peopl know the paramount when I take it to shows but when I ride my continental people look at it like wow what is that !! they do not remember love these oldies!!

  23. Rich

    i , too found one exactly like yours in someone’s trash ….. couldnt believe what i was looking at when i stopped and tossed it in my truck ….. mine’s green with the same badging and decals ( didnt know it was a 66 )……… i was amazed as some of the parts on these continentals were made in france ( rims, hubs etc ) mine say ” schwinn approved ” made in france ……… i have a peugeot PX and a mercier for vintage rides and love riding the schwinn as much as the frenchies …….. Rich

  24. Rich

    here’s a pretty cool link about schwinns and their frames ………..

  25. tallbikeman

    I have never paid much or anything for old used Varsity’s. I like them for several reasons. They were made in the U.S. with good quality mild automotive body steel. The design was very good. The bicycles don’t transmit road vibration like their lighter cousins. I get rid of all the heavy original components and upgrade everything. My bikes are lighter than the originals with 700c aluminum rims, modern aluminum derailleur systems or IGH hubs, lighter cranks. They were also made in a 26 inch seatpost length size which fits my 6 ft 5 in frame very well. I have never bent or broken a Varsity frame or fork and I’ve owned four of them. I presently own two 26 inch frame Varsity’s and set them up with 700c wheels and 40mm wide tires. Great all around gravel road, asphalt, you name it adventure bike.

  26. Eric W Jones

    Where can I find the serial number it has a parking sticker from 1976 and one underneath it but to Peel the one off Will peel the other so I’d rather not would rather find the serial number

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