File Under: Another Bike? Schwinn Heavy Duti industrial balloon tire cruiser.

“Wait Shawn, didn’t you just sell a bike? Didn’t you make noises about culling the herd and keeping everything manageable?”

Why yes, yes to all that.

I sold the Rudge Sports on Sunday September 28 and bought a new bike on Friday October 3. On Sunday I got down to three bikes, a number that I hadn’t seen since right after the Big Tour. That lasted five days. Now I’m back at four. Is four stasis? I hope for now! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyways, while I was selling the Rudge on Craigslist, I did something I’ve stopped myself from doing for awhile: look at Craigslist. Most of the time, it’s the usual crap with a few diamonds in the rough. But since I wasn’t in any particular “need” for another bike, I thought I didn’t have to worry, thought I’d be safe. I was doing it just for fun, right?

Then, on that same Sunday night, I came across the listing to undo it all: A Schwinn Heavy Duti was for sale, and just for $80.

While I never really need another bike, there is a short list of bikes that, given the cash and opportunity, I would desire. A good ol’ American balloon tire bike was one, since I never really owned one before. You know, the classic cruiser. And while there’s shit-tons of vintage and modern cruisers on CL, rarely do they catch my eye. Lots of department store junk or overpriced “collectibles”. Or they would have extra stuff I didn’t want, like derailleurs or tanks. I just wanted a basic good ol’ balloon tire bike. But moreso, I wanted an industrial style balloon tire bike, one that had a cantilever frame but not as curved as most seen out there.

And this is the part where, if you’ve been following this blog long enough, you go, “But wait, Shawn, didn’t you already have an industrial style balloon tire bike?” And yes, it is true, as my Worksman “Cycle Truck”, aka Low Gravity fits that bill.

The Worksman Low Gravity: SOLD!The Worksman was fun for awhile. But man, was it heavy, and even with adding a three-speed wheel it was a beast going up hills. Plus, it took up a lot of space. When April and I had the apartment in Montavilla, I stored it in the laundry room, where it was okay. When we had the apartment in Hosford-Abernethy, I stored it outside the laundry room, and that’s when the Brooks saddle got stolen. At that point I considered the Worksman an albatross, too big to store securely, too heavy to ride much anywhere, and ultimately a bike I had spent too much money on. I sold it and moved on. While I’m totally into the idea of cycle-truck style bikes, if I got another one, it would be a more modern version.

And I had been interested in the Schwinn Heavy Duti for some time. It was the industrial grade cruiser in the line-up, offered off-and-on over the years. A few have come up on Craigslist over the years, but they always wanted more than I wanted to pay at the time. Eighty dollars was a reasonable sum. I slept on it a few days, and checked CL again. It was still up there, so I set up an appointment and went down to SE on Friday afternoon, test rode the bike, and handed over the cash.

Tarik Saleh's Boulder-era Heavy Duti, somewhere near Los Alamos.

Tarik Saleh’s Boulder-era Heavy Duti, somewhere near Los Alamos.

My particular Heavy Duti is from the in-between era of Schwinn history: the 1990’s. This is after the original Schwinn went bankrupt, and the Schwinn family lost control of the enterprise. It got bought by some investors and the HQ moved to Boulder. The new Schwinn put up a valiant fight through the 90’s and launched a line of covetable made-in-America MTBs. But it was too little, too late, and in the early ’00s, Schwinn got bought by Pacific. While moneywise they “turned things around”, they did this by selling cheap Chinese made bikes to the Walmarts of the world. Schwinn became a department store brand so little of its reputation remains today, though nostalgia for classic Schwinns runs strong.

Because it’s from the “Boulder” era, my Heavy Duti is less desirable/collectible than the Chicago-built versions. But that is perfectly okay. And this Taiwanese built bike has advantages over older ones:

  • It uses metric parts and more modern sizings. Note that the seatpost isn’t the skinny ones you’d see on the older models.
  • It has braze-ons for a bottle cage and rear rack.
  • Unlike the earlier Heavy Dutis, this one’s frame is more straight/angled tubes, not the curved tubing on the old ones. I like the straight tubing better.
  • And most importantly, it’s lighter! It is by no means a light bike, but it’s not as heavy as older cruisers that I’ve lifted. Most of this has to do with frame construction: the older Schwinns were electroforged and used thick wall tubing, whereas my Taiwan-built Heavy Duti is TIGย welded and uses lighter gauge tubing.

As for my particular bike, I learned from the seller that this bike came from an abandoned aluminum mill up in Longview, Washington. And it has the ID tags to prove it! So my industrial bike actually has real industrial heritage.

Bikes at the Vigor Industrial ship yard out on Swan Island. Photo by Jonathan Maus/Bikeportland.

Bikes at the Vigor Industrial ship yard out on Swan Island. Photo by Jonathan Maus/Bikeportland.

I haven’t had a chance to do much riding on this bike, but I did take it the long way home on Friday night, about 10 miles total, and put it through the paces. I even climbed up the shoulder of Mount Tabor! While hill climbing is still a chore on a beastly bike like this, it still worked. The wide bars, while a bit awkward for normal riding, are great when I have to get off the saddle on a climb. I’m still going to replace them with something a bit wider, though. The coaster brake worked well, though it took a little while to get used to it. Yeah, I know, coaster brakes ain’t the best. But they are simple, and standard for this type of bike.

Most of all, riding the bike was fun and I can see having some fun on the Heavy Duti in months to come!

The Schwinn Heavy Duti will probably fulfill the role of the fun bike, grocery getter, bar bike, occasional commuter. It’s a bike meant to take a beating, one that I don’t need to fuss over. One that won’t get a lot of fussing over. Oh sure, I’m still going to do stuff to it:

  • I’m going to give it a thorough cleaning and remove the surface rust!
  • Pedals are still good, spin smooth, but will get a good once-over.
  • I’m going to replace the bars and grips.
  • The Wald Giant Delivery Basket will be going on this bike, no doubt!
  • A different saddle, as that old mattress one is pretty shot.
  • I may replace the rear fender, as it’s some weird-ass short one. I don’t understand them using it since every other chromed fender for balloon tires is full coverage. While this fender may keep my arse dry, it wouldn’t be fun for anyone behind me!
  • I may get a bigger toothed cog on the rear.
  • And new tires!

And there you have it, another bike. A bike I hope to have some fun on in the coming year(s).

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