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I recently bought the bike and it seems that the grease has dried up in all the bearings. Even the front fork doesn't want to turn unless some pressure is applied to the handlebars. Since it is an otherwise nice Schwinn Le Tour, it has a 25" frame (I'm 6'4") which is a major reason I snatched it for $30 at a charity store. Fork badge says "Chicago."

Schwinn Le Tour 25" frame

I've never worked on a Schwinn. I understand that they used a lot of proprietary components - most notably Schwinn tire incompatibility - that I'm a bit reluctant to start trying to take things apart without some hand-holding. :-)

To start the project, I'd like to find out a couple things first:

  1. How old is the bike? Has a # stamped on the crank carrier # SP405526
  2. Where to find a freewheel wrench to fit this old Schwinn hub?
  3. Any words of advice that you think I should know in this restoration?

I've worked on Raleigh, Miyata, Hercules and Ross but have always avoided Schwinn. Over the years, most all of my bike tools have gotten away - I don't think I even have a spoke wrench anymore so I'll be starting over on this retirement endeavor. Thanks, Dax

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  • For bicycles the serial number is not very useful for looking up information. Your best bet is taking exact measurements of the parts, and if that does not help you find the information, ask a question with measurements and photo of the part.
    – ojs
    Mar 4, 2022 at 19:03
  • Welcome back to fixing-bikes! A photo of the bike as it is now would help to approximately date it. Use edit to modify your question. Proprietary components are okay if you already have them, and you do own a complete bike now - its replacements that can be a challenge. Raleigh was also known for using a lot of special threads and parts.
    – Criggie
    Mar 4, 2022 at 21:22
  • Amen to the Raleigh oddities. I wanted to install a custom crankset on one but the thread pitch was just off enough that it'd only screw into the hanger about 2 turns before it got too tight. SAE? French? English? Italian? I never did find out.
    – Dax
    Mar 6, 2022 at 3:30

3 Answers 3

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Le Tours are Japanese bikes that exemplified the "Schwinn-approved" concept from the bike boom. They're free of proprietary Schwinn sizes. The freewheel tool will be whatever matches the particular 70s-era freewheel it has - probably either Suntour 2 or 4 prong or "old-style" Shimano (the kind that isn't the current Park FR-1 spline for Shimano & copies; looks similar but thicker, smaller diameter, and requires axle removal to access - if this is what it takes then they're only obtainable used but aren't hard to get).

You can probably get the freewheel ratcheting by dripping in penetrating oil (Tri-flow or WD-40) along the gap on the outside you have access to without removal, then once it's working chase it with something thicker. But, since you've observed all the grease isn't grease anymore, overhauling the hub properly is still a good idea.

The other thing about the freewheel/hub considerations is that the bike won't really come alive until you get rid of the steel rims/wheels anyway, so you might consider first whether you're going to do that. But that said if you wanted to transplant the freewheel you would still need the tool.

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  • The rims look to be an alloy marked, "Made in Belgium." I was very pleased to discover that the wheels are absolutely true. I think I'll keep these wheels. :-)
    – Dax
    Mar 6, 2022 at 3:33
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    Many thanks, Nathan! Taking your advice, I sprayed the freewheel hub with "Liquid Wrench" foaming lubricant through the little plastic straw and let it set overnight. Today I tried it and the assembly broke loose! It now has that satisfying 'clicking' that we all love to hear and it feels smooth as well. I believe I'll forego taking it apart (for now) and may not need the FR-? tool anyway. Thanks! :-) Dax
    – Dax
    Mar 6, 2022 at 19:04
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The specific type of freewheel wrench you'll need is a function of the freewheel manufacturer. Schwinn Le Tours typically used Shimano components (shifters and derailleurs certainly) and since Shimano started business as a freewheel manufacturer, there's a great chance it's a Shimano FW. Look at the center of the freewheel. Look at the very center where you'll note 2-4 notches or several small splines. The number and pattern of notches will determine the brand and the pattern of wrench you'll need. Additionally the ring surrounding the notched hole usually has the brand name engraved into it. This link to Park Tool's selection of freewheel removers may help determine the one you need.

To determine the year of your Le Tour, things like color ways, badge design and location as well as the specific components (and their physical position) will point the way to a precise model year. Keep in mind that components can be switched and the frame repainted, so those aspects have some ambiguity. For the positioning of components, I'm referring to the location of the shift levers as the moved from the stem area to the down tube in later models.Schwinn resource

Another possible resource for you is the Schwinn serial number lookup Entering your provided number didn't reveal any information, however, there's a link to the catalogs put out by Schwinn over the years which one can look through to find your particular model and year. It's a bit tedious to do from my experience doing this with Trek bikes, but it's neat to see the development of the brand.

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  • Thank you so much for the links to resources. You are both - a gentleman and a scholar! As I get deeper into the project, I will probably be able to provide more detailed information for clarity.
    – Dax
    Mar 6, 2022 at 3:36
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I once had to remove a vintage 80s freehub, and noone had a tool to do it.

I ended up using calipers to measure the two slots visible in the end, and then I sacrificed an old 24mm socket to make a driver-tool. It worked great, once I figured out that it was also left-hand thread.

If you could add a side-view photo of the cassette in place on the wheel, then we may be able to offer some suggestions.

enter image description here


Based on your photo, this bike has already had some modernisations. I see a Quick Release nut on the rear axle, not the standard flanged nut. The rear cassette appears to be old-school uniglide teeth profile, which suggests someone has changed the rear axle from a solid to a hollow, with the QR skewer to hold it on.
Additionally, the axle is not all the way back in the dropouts. If I ride my bike like this, I risk moving the wheel and getting frame rub at the tyre.

enter image description here

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  • 1
    Thanks for the ideas. I haven't really gotten into the work yet. I need to learn more about what I've set out to do and to buy some tools. I gave a neighbor boy my tools many years ago, not expecting to get into bicycles again. (The winding, narrow roads around Tennessee are treacherous!) You almost need a 'death-wish' to go out there!
    – Dax
    Mar 6, 2022 at 3:40
  • @dax I do not envy those cycling on American roads - your roads seem combative and not at all representative of riding elsewhere in the world. Consider looking at strava.com/heatmap#7.91/-86.57250/35.70614/hot/ride to see what roads in your area are popular for riding, though be aware its biased toward road riders. Also, consider Bicycles Chat for more un-structured discussions.
    – Criggie
    Mar 6, 2022 at 6:52
  • @dax added observations about the rear cassette, from your photo. BTW - that is one loverly bike; as a tall person I've been known to buy used bikes I don't need just because they're big. As for the tyres - can you look at the sidewalls for a number like 622 or 630 ? It might not have one if the rubber is old enough to pre-date that standard so may have something like 28x1.125 or 28x1 1/8" (which are not the same!)
    – Criggie
    Mar 6, 2022 at 6:58

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