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Schwinn Le Tour sagging chain
#1
Have an old Schwinn Le Tour 10-speed (not sure what year, its red and made in Chicago).
When I'm coasting the chain sags badly, but when I'm peddling its tight and works fine.
When I take my feet off the pedals when coasting the chain snaps back tight. Anyone
know what's causing this?
  Reply
#2
(09-28-2022, 11:50 AM)timmyj Wrote:  Have an old Schwinn Le Tour 10-speed (not sure what year, its red and made in Chicago).
When I'm coasting the chain sags badly, but when I'm peddling its tight and works fine.
When I take my feet off the pedals when coasting the chain snaps back tight. Anyone
know what's causing this?

More than likely your rear derailleur needs servicing, and a new chain probably wouldn't hurt either since it wouldn't cost much (avg $10-$15), and it would eliminate any issues that might be chain related.
The derailleur lower pivot may be sticky or frozen; for a possible quick "fix", clean it up, add some lube at the pivot bolt areas (top knuckle= "B" pivot, lower knuckle= "P" pivot). They should both move freely without excessive side to side play. They may both be "sprung" pivots and return the body/parallelogram of the derailleur to whatever position on the bike depending on the gear selection or where the chain presently aligns to. You may have to clean and lube the jockey pulleys or replace them (about the same cost as the chain for 2), and lube the pivot areas around the parallelogram to ensure it isn't sticky or froze-up. If you use a penetrant lube to free-up the part, let it drip out and later use a good oil as the penetrant will remove any existing lubricant while only providing very little lubrication for any length of time.
I would do most of the same work to your front derailleur since it is probably in the same condition as the rear unit. You may find a complete bike overhaul is what is really in order if you want to ride the bike seriously and not be having issues every other time you get on it. If you need replacement parts just tune into craigslist for your area and I can guarantee that there is a similar bike that you could savage parts from since they mass produced those bikes under many names with each model having a few different features to differentiate it, but essentially using the same or interchangeable parts. I see them (Schwinn: World Tour, Varsity, Le Tour, et al.) all the time for $25-$75 in good shape (not rusty!) usually needing just tubes, tires to make them rideable. I think the rear derailleurs used were "Schwinn Approved" Huret units, but you may be lucky and have a Sun Tour unit which would be far superior to a Huret.
Note: you should be able to determine the year (and month) based on the serial number which I believe is located on the headtube/head badge area. You need to go online, but I've dated Schwinns from 1975 and 1980 with ease.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#3
(09-28-2022, 11:50 AM)timmyj Wrote:  Have an old Schwinn Le Tour 10-speed. When I'm coasting the chain sags badly, but when I'm peddling its tight and works fine. When I take my feet off the pedals when coasting the chain snaps back tight. Anyone know what's causing this?

Like Jesper said, its the rear derailleur. I don't know what condition it is in. If it is easy to service/fix, and you are mechanically minded, you can do that. Maybe start by putting oil in all of the moveable joints, and see if that fixes it. You could also buy a new derailleur, and replace it.

I had a similar issue recently, and I just replaced the derailleur. My concern was, i the chain is loose, it may ride up on the sprockets more, and cause faster wearing of the freewheel and chain ring.
  Reply
#4
Thanks for all the tips. Not being mechanically inclined I'm going to take it to a
bike repair place and have them replace the derailleur, if that's the problem.
Really like the bike and want to keep it running.
  Reply
#5
(10-03-2022, 08:08 PM)timmyj Wrote:  Thanks for all the tips. Not being mechanically inclined I'm going to take it to a
bike repair place and have them replace the derailleur, if that's the problem.
Really like the bike and want to keep it running.

Hey Timmy,
I would still have the bike shop check the derailleur first. It may be perfectly fine except for a servicing which should be less than a new derailleur unless they want to sell you a really cheap model ($25 or so). Those older derailleurs can definitely withstand the test of time when maintained properly, and often even when they were not maintained properly. I figure, unless the cost of the derailleur installation is included, that you will spend in the area of $75 to have the old unit removed and the new unit installed and adjusted. It could be more depending on the derailleur you select as a replacement. You are essentially spending what the overall value of the bike is ($100-$125 in good running condition) to replace what should be able to be removed, serviced (if feasible), and reinstalled for about half the price of getting a new one.
I would also make sure that the shop checks the chain for wear. If it's a little rusty (surface rust) it doesn't mean it is needing replacement. A chain can be serviced also, but often cost of a new one trumps the cost of having an older chain serviced unless cleaning it yourself.
Not saying that you don't need a new rear unit, but I would certainly ask the bike shop mechanics if the unit needs to be replaced, or can it be serviced for continued use. As I mentioned earlier, you may need an entire overhaul of the bike (all bearings cleaned and repacked with grease if no excessive wear, cables replaced, brake pads replaced, etc.); a service that usually costs around $100 or more plus parts.

Also, given that your bike is Chicago made I think that it would pre-1980 which gives it a little more value. A good Schwinn head badge is worth about $5-$10 (or more) alone depending on the year, style, and condition.

Regardless, I hope you get it back on the road for many enjoyable miles to come!
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#6
I don't know timmyj.

I recommend people learn how to do simple maintenance and repairs on bicycles. Going to a bike shop for simple things will probably be expensive. If you do something for the first time, and get it wrong, consider it to be a learning experience. You will know better next time. Over the years you can develop a good understanding of how to do a lot of things.
  Reply
#7
Update: Took the bike to a repair shop. It wasn't the derailleur but (what I call) the wheel sprocket
(had a hunch this was the problem since there was no gentle clicking coming from the rear
wheel that you get while coasting). They replaced the sprocket, problem solved. No more sagging chain.
  Reply
#8
(10-11-2022, 07:25 PM)timmyj Wrote:  Update: Took the bike to a repair shop. It wasn't the derailleur but (what I call) the wheel sprocket
(had a hunch this was the problem since there was no gentle clicking coming from the rear
wheel that you get while coasting). They replaced the sprocket, problem solved. No more sagging chain.

Thanks for the update! You didn't mention that the freewheel was silent when coasting, and I didn't ask either.
Just for reference, what was the cost for the repair? Part(s)/labor.

Mark this problem as "solved" on your thread. Thanks
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply


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