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Will 26 x 1.5 tires work where 26 x 1 3/8 tires being used?(11 posts)

Will 26 x 1.5 tires work where 26 x 1 3/8 tires being used?girchygirchy
Mar 15, 2003 5:25 PM
Out of a need for a bike to work on (I think I've upgraded my mt bike enough for now), I'm thinking of attempting to restore my dad's old 1970's AMF Westpoint bike. It's a comfort bike, with upswept handlebars and a spring seat. No front derailleur, and a 3-speed internal hub. It's in good shape, with a bit of rust on the rims, but other than the tires, tubes, chain, and cables, I think it shouldn't need any new parts.

Which brings me to tires. The old ones on it now are 26 x 1 3/8" size. But I have a good pair of Specialized Nimbus EX 26 x 1.5 tires sitting around right now, unused (bought for mt bike to use on road, used a few times, bought Sun Rhyno Lite rims, now it's too much of a pain to switch tires). I was reading on Sheldon Brown's website about tires, how decimal measurements and fractional measurements aren't always compatable. So, do you think the Nimbus tires, along with 26 x 1.5 tubes, will work on the thinner looking rims that the 26 x 1 3/8 tires are on now?

Any help would be appreciated, thanks. If I find the time (after getting my friend's 1980's Peugeot roadworthy) to undertake my project, I'll post some pics.

I was going to say "Ask Sheldon," but you already did...cory
Mar 15, 2003 6:10 PM
In the back of my mind, I halfway remember something about those sizes not being compatible, or maybe I'm thinking of hook-bead rims...there was SOMETHING. Didn't Schwinn have rims of its own for awhile that wouldn't work with anything else??? But it may have predated that '70s frame, too. If it were me, I think I'd mount them (you'll be able to tell if they REALLY don't fit, like putting a 700c tire on a 27-inch rim), inflate to 40 psi and ride around gently to see if I died.
well, I looked on there more, and found my answer...girchygirchy
Mar 15, 2003 6:50 PM
Crap! I poked around on Sheldon's website some more, and apparently they will not work. The English 26x1-3/8 size, or E.A.3, was used for almost all 3 speed bicycles, and is completely different. You're right about the Schwinns...they used THEIR OWN 26x1-3/8 size that's not interchangable with the E.A.3/English 26x1-3/8 size! However, for some reason the Schwinn 1-3/8 is interchangable with the English 26x1-3/8, or E.A.1, size. You sure get into some strange stuff when working on older's like a whole other world.

Thank goodness Harris Cyclery has some tires and tubes, plus a ton of other authentic-looking goodies for 3 speeds! I think this is going to turn out to be a pretty darn neat project!

By the way, if I had tried that and died, could I have legally held you responsible for my actions? ;-Þ


Schwinn fractionals versus other fractionals ...Humma Hah
Mar 16, 2003 11:50 AM
... Except for a few REALLY ancient tires, most of the Schwinn fractionals and other manufacturer's fractionals from the last half of the last century are the same size. The differences are subtle and relate to the exact shape of the bead. Schwinn tire beads are designed specifically to seat on "Schwinn Tubular" rims, i.e. double-walled rims made by crushing steel tubing to form the rim. These lack a rolled edge. Most other rims of that vintage are a single formed sheet of steel with the edge rolled to the inside, making a ledge a bead can be designed to grip.

Schwinn promoted their tires as being the right thing to put on Schwinn bikes, but most fractional-sized tires made today will work fine on any fractional rim.

The whole balloon-tire phenomenon started when Schwinn discovered fat bike tires were in use in Germany (which was suffering from a combination of WWI and the Great Depression, and their roads were abominable). Schwinn had similar tires made for a new line of tough kids bikes in the US, with other manufacturers following their lead. American fat-tired bikes thus became the norm here, and American cycling diverged from European cycling. Schwinn, always striving to set itself apart from department-store copycats, tended to market a sturdier product that was not necessarily compatible with other American bikes.

Have you torn down a BB or headset on an old American bike yet? They're pretty simple, but totally different from modern roadbike parts.
Schwinn fractionals versus other fractionals ...girchygirchy
Mar 16, 2003 5:34 PM
"Have you torn down a BB or headset on an old American bike yet? They're pretty simple, but totally different from modern roadbike parts."

Not really. The only headset experience I have is on my modern mt bike, a threadless, and I've never touched a BB. So it'll be quite the learning experience! I'm mechanically inclined, so I'm not too worried, and I could always just bother you people here :) I've also gotten the email address of a fellow member, *rt* (I think she's on here some too), who's restored an older bike.

You're right about the tires, Harris Cyclery has quite a few for around $15. Thank goodness for the Internet.

By the way, would you happen to know anything about the bike, a Westpoint with AMF stickers? It's from '73, according to my dad.

Not specifically, but it will be a generic American ...Humma Hah
Mar 16, 2003 6:17 PM
... and parts will be available for it that are pretty much interchangable with others of that vintage. The BB will almost certainly be a cup-and-cone type, single piece steel cranks, and caged ball bearings that are readily available. The young kids at the LBS may not know it, but just tell 'em you want a BMX crank bearing set and they'll hand you parts that fit. There's no rocket science involved in working on the BB, but a couple of thin wrenches are a help.

The headsets are a similar primitive cup and cone system, usually pretty interchangable with others of the vintage. The handlebars are held in by a wedge pulled against the stem by the thru bolt. Undo it by loosening the bolt and giving it a tap. Don't overtighten it as you can stretch the fork tube.

We Chicago Schwinn owners sniff politely at AMF bikes and mumble something about "department store bikes", but secretly we love seeing anyone restoring and preserving ANY old reminders of our youth. Even a Huffy. My wife's bike is a Montgomery Ward lady's 3-speed using those same tires, and of very similar construction, possibly even built by AMF. I've resorted to riding it while mine was laid up waiting for parts. With a change of handlebars, her bike could be a real "wolf in Fred's clothing" -- it is surprisingly fast and I've chased down a lot of better bikes on it.
I can't wait to get started...girchygirchy
Mar 16, 2003 7:56 PM
I'll try to make my dad take it by my apartment while we're in the city I attend college, in his truck. I should have said I've had a little experience with quill stems, from the two Huffys I had previously. But all I did there was loosen and move them around. Thanks for the tip on overtightening!

They do appear to be the single piece steel cranks. Not sure if my preferred LBS will have BMX parts, but the owner has been a cyclist for a while and should be able to help out.

I'm semi-partial to this bike, from my parents and I (we also have an identical women's model bike...same model, brown metallic colour, everything but the top tube) riding around the neighbourhood when I was younger. It was also the first 'large-person' sized bike I used, until I got my first 26" Huffy.

I was thinking of trying a dropbar after getting a feel for the bike, or perhaps replacing it with the replica on Harris' website. The one on it now has some little rust spots, as do the rims and crank. I'll replace the chain, probably with a SRAM singlespeeder. The Shimano shifter, brake levers, and brakes seem to be ok, and should be fine with new cables. So I'll find out how many I can chase down too...I just hope I don't forget and try to shift while pedaling, I remember that didn't work too well.

I've found that department store bikes, when decently well taken care of, can last for years. My first 26" Huffy is still used by one of my friends, I'm guessing it's about 10 years old. My second Huffy I sold to another friend, who rides it to class now, I think it's 6 years old. Both were ridden to death, with a slight lack of prudent maintanance. So you may sniff (I'm guilty of it sometimes too), but they work, and at least the owner's riding.

Drops may work ...Humma Hah
Mar 17, 2003 10:20 AM
... the cruiser and I got our butts whupped really soundly by a 3-speed with drop bars in the only race we've ever entered. They held a single/3-speed race, and I figured I was the fastest singlespeeder on campus (out of, I guessed, three). Well, I'd not taken an actual 3-speed racebike into account. Sumbitch LAPPED us! I finished third out of 6.

I'm personally fond of the straight bars I have on the cruiser, which are chopped down to 20" width. These may be the first straight bars to be employed on a prototype MTB. I never really liked cruiser bars, and thought the straights improved the bike enormously.
I'll keep that in mind, thanks a lot for your help! (nm)girchygirchy
Mar 17, 2003 5:33 PM
Nope, Sheldon's right, decimal won't substitute for fractionalHumma Hah
Mar 16, 2003 11:10 AM
... been there, done that. I once DID, at about age 12, get a 26 x 1.75 tire onto a 26 x 1 3/4 rim. It took all afternoon, the tire finally went on only after a lot of snapping noises in the bead, the rim was dinged to trash, and the tire rode out of round on the rim.

Its really much more cost-effective to order the right tire. My wife's old bike uses 26 x 1 3/8, so I know they're still available.
No, nein, non, nyet,nada,negatory.....Alexx
Mar 18, 2003 11:29 AM
You can't use a decimal size on a fractional rim. Even all the fractional 26" wheels don't use the same size rim, either. There are 4 or 5 common 26" rim sizes. Find out which one you have , first.