Ah yes, the Heavy Duti! I haven’t really talked about the Schwinn Heavy Duti here since I purchased it in the beginning of October. That’s because it languished in the basement for most of October as I was focused on other things. But over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a number of things done to it, to make it more “mine”.
- Handlebars, etc: Found some used Wald steel bars that were a bit wider (28 inches) than the extant ones. I took the old grips off and added those black semi-cork grips. And of course a classic Chinese rotating bell!
- Basket: If my Wald Giant Delivery Basket is appropriate for any bike, it would be for a classic balloon-tire cruiser. So on it went!
- Tires: Speaking of balloon tire, while the extant tires were fine, I knew that I wanted to change it up. I was on the lookout for some whitewalls, but managed to score a set of Schwalbe Fat Franks for a really low price! At 60mm (2.35″) wide, they are definitely fat tires!
- Drivetrain: The bike came with an 18 tooth rear cog, but I wanted lower gearing, so I had it swapped with a 22 tooth cog I happened to have. A new chain went on as well.
- Saddle: That old saddle was beat, so I threw on my old Brooks B-66 saddle instead.
And that’s about it! I don’t want this bike to become too much of a project. I don’t want to get all crazy with it. So I don’t want to go down the road of new wheels or multiple speeds and all that. Though there’s a couple things I still want to do. I want to rebuild the pedals with new blocks, and get a longer seatpost, as I’m maxing out the extant one and feel like I can use a little more height.
Since getting the bike fixed up, I’ve ridden it around a bunch in the last week, and have loved it. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d like the bike this much, since the whole idea of the Heavy Duti was to have a “clunker”. But I’ve commuted to work a few times, and found it to not be as slow as I thought, though by no means is this a “fast” bike. Lowering the gearing definitely helped. With the 48/22 configuration, I have a gear inch of 57 inches, great for around town and not bad up hills. And I’ve definitely climbed a few hills with this thing! The generous width of the handlebars helps when I do have to get out of the saddle on a climb.
And there’s something beautiful about the simplicity of it all. I like the fact that I have a single-speed bike again, though this is way different than my last single-speed, the Centurion Le Mans 70’s road bike. There’s no cable clutter since the only brake is the coaster brake. I know, I know, coaster brakes aren’t the greatest, and there’s no redundant braking if I somehow snap the chain or the brake strap holding the reaction arm in place. (And yes, that’s already happened since the old strap was way rusted.) It takes a little while to get used to braking by backpedalling. But it doesn’t take long, as that’s what I grew up using!
It’s already proved its ability to haul stuff. This past week I did a pretty good store run at Fred Meyer, and then dropped off a lot of donations at the Community Cycling Center. And I’m sure I’ll find more use for it in the coming months…