1961 Schwinn Corvette 5-speed
Restored to unrestored condition







 



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Schwinn built the Corvette 5-speed in 1961 and 1962. It was an attempt to add extra performance to a high-performance bike. The 5-speed components were made by Huret in France. They were the same types used on the lightweight Varsity, Collegiate, and Continental models.

The shifter did not have set stops for the gear selection. Shifting was done by feel and sound. When the chain was correctly aligned, there was little noise. When not correctly aligned, there would be rattling and vibration, and the chain could jump to another sprocket.
With little or no instruction, the shifting was unpredictable for a typical 11-year old. Having the chain come off while riding was no fun. So the sales were low due to the bike requiring an experienced cyclist's skill to operate. The 5-speed option was dropped on the Corvette for 1963, and Schwinn put the Huret equipment on bikes meant to be sold to older cyclists with better shifting skills.

This bike appeared on ebay in October, 2001. I looked at the pictures, and saw that it was in original condition, with the 5-speed decals intact. The bike looked like it had about 4 years of wear and tear on it, and didn't really need to be repainted. I was able to tap out the fender dents with a wooden ball and hammer. Several parts were missing: Headlight, front carrier, grips, tires, and rear reflector. Since those parts didn't have to be NOS for a full restoration, I bought used parts which had some flaws, but still looked presentable. I did not use a new headlight or carrier I have because they would look too good on the bike. The only parts that look new are the grey brake cable housings, cables, and Weinmann pads. Dirty housings mean rusty cables inside, and brakes are nothing to leave in detoriorated condition. So I ended up with a bike that was complete and functional, but not in new ($$$$) condition.

The bike is a real joy to ride, and rolls almost as fast as my 1971 Sports Tourer.
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