It seems every bike has its own unique challenges. This Schwinn is no different.
I know the bike's a rider now, and if I just stuck to my original "get it riding as quickly and cheaply as possible" goal, I'd be done, but I just can't stop at that now. I love the whole classic klunker vibe this bike has now, but as it is, it feels like I've seen this bike before. I want to add some personal touches to make this bike my own, but the challenge for me is how to add those personal touches without overdoing it. That's kind of challenging for me, because as much as I like the simple, functional look this bike has, I still feel like it needs a few elements to help it stand out amongst the other klunkers and BMX conversions I've seen. Most old school klunkers I've seen were built purely for function, so they didn't have a ton of custom parts other than what made the bike ride harder and faster than it originally could. Custom paint jobs and decals seemed to be nonexistent on those early klunkers, and even on the klunkers I've seen built recently, the paint jobs and decals are usually minimalistic, and all for good reason: those bikes are build to be ridden hard
, so you don't want to spend a lot of time and money on paint, decals, and custom parts like tanks and fenders only for all that work to get scratched, scuffed, dented and dinged.
That said, since this is more of what I'd like to call an "entry-level" off road bike, I think I can get away with adding a few small custom touches without going overkill on the mods. I already mentioned painting the wheels to match the frame, but there are a few other small things I'd like to do on top of that. I want to add a bell to alert any pedestrians that I need room to pass, as I've had that issue on multiple occasions riding my other bikes on trails. I've got a bell that should work just fine, but I'd like to paint it to match the bike using the same paint for the wheels. I might also see about getting a seat-mounted tool bag that closely matches the seat or paint colors. I also want to take a page out of the vintage BMX playbook and make a custom number plate to mount to the handlebars.
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Here are a few sketches of some ideas I had in mind. I want to make use of the clear plexiglass I have in stock, and I think a nice transparent number plate would make a great custom touch to this bike. I'd love to try my idea on the top-right at some point, but I don't think this is the bike for that. I also had an idea for a plexiglass tank with a "floating" design in the middle, but I don't think I'm going that direction at this time. I think the only things I need on this number plate are the number, (52 for the year this bike was made,) the bike's name, and either my actual name or my username. I've never cut plexiglass before, so this could be a fun new challenge for me. Thankfully, jigsaw blades for this material aren't too pricey, and I have plenty of material to work with in case I mess up.
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So that's where I'm at with my build right now. I'm hoping I can figure out a way to paint my wheels despite the cold winter weather, but we'll see. I'll have to reach out to some of my local friends to see what they think I should do there.