Side view

1972 Schwinn Paramount P13

I picked up this 21" Campus Green 1972 P13, because it was in mint condition, it was my size, it was a good deal, and it was the same color as my first road bike. Campus Green is an odd, uniquely Schwinn color, and was the shade of my first 10-speed, a 1969 Varsity. I think the Paramount and the PeaPicker Krate Stingray were the only models the color looked good on (it's the contrast with the chrome that makes it work at all). The bike has gone basically unridden for over 30 years, which makes it a real blast to the past. My first racing bike was a '72 P13 in black that was too big for me. Perhaps this is the bike that I should have purchased back then. At least I can enjoy it now!

The Paramount was Schwinn's top model. Built with British Reynolds 531 steel tubing, fully butted, fancy French Nervex lugs and Campagnolo dropouts. Schwinn dressed up the frame with chrome-plating on the headlugs and with chrome "socks" at the dropouts. In the style of the day, the only braze-on is the rear derailleur cable stop. This is the racing model, which reportedly used geometry based on the Italian Cinelli bicycles of the early 1960s. The main angles are parallel 73 degrees and the rest of the geometry is such that these are stable but quick-handling, predictable bikes. The component group is full-Campagnolo Nuovo Record, with Weinmann centerpull brakes used to keep the cost down. Campagnolo sidepull brakes were one of the few extra cost options in 1972, but the Weinmanns work quite well.

This bike also has the unusual half-step gearing option that Schwinn made available on the racing Paramounts. This gearing was very common in the 1960s, with closely spaced spockets in the front and a wider-ratio freewheel in the rear. In this case, the chainrings are 49 and 52, and the 5-speed freewheel is a 13-26. The jumps between the available gears are quite reasonable, but the double-shifting required makes things a real pain in practice, with the non-indexed technology of this drivetrain, that was largely unchanged from when it was developed, in the 1950s.


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Page created 6/27/2004