New horse in the stable – Vintage Schwinn Deux Chavaux

I like the black tires as they match the seats and grips, but the bike should have gum walls. What do you think?

My daughter and I took the Twinn out for a Gelato run. I guess I eat faster than she does.

I picked up a pretty nice new ride off Craigslist, check it out.  Nathan had to sell it because he was heading off to law school.  The bike is a 1980 Schwinn De Luxe Twinn 5 with the Atom drum brake in the rear.  This five speed is the perfect bike for me to ride with my daughter to see a movie at either of our neighborhood cinemas (The Times and the Rosebud) or get Gelato.

Nathan wrenched in a bike shop over the summer, so he put the vintage ride in fine rolling condition.  He replaced the rear tire, greased all the bearings, adjusted the brakes and the shifting. On close inspection, the tandem is not mint, but it is very clean.  The chrome gleams and the raspberry red paint looks nice. I would rate it 8 of 10. That is fine with me because I’m not a collector; I’m a rider.  I like my bikes to look nice, but they don’t have to be perfect.

I have a few friends in my Washington Heights neighborhood who also have Schwinn Twinns, which got me thinking that it might be fun to organize a tandem date night. Couples could ride their tandems and rendezvous somewhere for a little get together. Any of you West Siders interested?

I thought it was a good buy at $250.  It rides like a dream, as you would expect from a Chicago-made icon.  For you Schwinn freaks out there, the serial number is AR8J1939, and I have included a photo of the 1980 Schwinn catalog that features this bike.


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bicycles, Bike Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to New horse in the stable – Vintage Schwinn Deux Chavaux

  1. Dave,

    I’m curious how balance-challenged a couple can be to ride this.

    I have head trauma that makes my balance bad enough to rely on a walker for mobility. Because my balance is so bad I thought it would be worth trying out a tandem with some body with good balance (and somebody THAT I TRUST).

    Would you say that keeping equal balance on tandem is an issue?

    Appleton, WI

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Hi Cullen,

      I think it is definitely worth a try. I would start with a good tandem with the seats set a bit low to begin with so it is easy to put your feet flat on the ground without getting off the saddle. Maybe try a new Schwinn cruiser style tandem (The Tango model). Another thought is to try an Electra Tandem because they have a “pedal forward” design that makes it easier to put your feet down and still get full leg extension. And I would try it with someone who you trust as a strong cyclist first. Any decent local bike shop should be able to help you with this. Good luck, and let us know how it works out.

  2. Russell says:

    I would be down for a “Schwinn Twinn Evening”.

  3. John Trester says:

    I know that the original was for gum walls, but I have always hated them. They do not weather as well as black, and they get dirty so fast and look ugly. Personal opinion here. I think of it as kinda like wearing a white suit. Looks nice, but high maintenance. Good buy, tho.

  4. Eric White says:

    I’ve got a metallic green Twinn that my wife and I take out every so often. I don’t think we’ve ever had a ride without a random person (or three) complimenting the bike. On one of our first rides a pickup slows to a crawl next to us and I’m getting ready to be told to get off the road or something similar, and instead the driver leans over, whistles,and says “that’s one sweet bike!” So be prepared for compliments. These bikes seem to bring out the best in people!

  5. d'Andre says:

    Oh, sweet! that’s a great ride. I grew up with a 60s brown Schwinn tandem, kick back two-speed and coaster brakes. It’s fun to use a kick back gear on a tandem….you have to call the shift ahead of time with your partner. It is hard to say which bike I regret more not having today….the tandem or the white girls Schwinn with pink pinstripes that my older sister had and I rode a lot after she moved on to other interests.

    I agree with John, stick with black tires or maybe a white pinstripe. Gum walls get so junky looking, particularly on a bike with brake pads. Have fun with it!

  6. Frenchfit says:

    So,’s a bike that makes people smile. Especially if you have streamers flowing from the handgrips! Campus green, yellow band..

  7. Frenchfit says:

    Oh, and much prefer the solid black tires. Leave the gumwalls for 27″ bikes.

  8. Chris says:

    I like your bike! I just bought one just like it(same color and very rusty) I’ve spent a few days taking it apart and just sanded it and painted it today. I got two new solid black tires and ll the chrome has cleaned up well . I am going to color sand and spray another coat tomorrow and hopefully put it together the next day if I can get new cables and I am pretty sure I can…I went with a little deeper red than the stock color (it’s actually almost burgandy and I added just a pinch of gold flake to it) . I am really looking forward to finishing it and riding it… Schwinn tandems seem to command a fairly high price these days but I have put lot of work into mine but have no intentions of selling it. I bought it for $125.oo & spent @ $50 for paint ,new tires & tubes ,MOTHERS CHROME POLISH and still want to buy new cables for the shifter.and the rear Atom Drum Brake & front brake. I think I will end up with just under $200.oo… I put several hours into it already but well worth it and I know I could sell the bike for 4 or 5 and maybe even $600 .. The seats owere pretty hammered andoth were torn but I took the seats all apart and repainted the frame of both seasts and replaced the thin piece of foam padding it came with/a pc. of memory and also restiched the leather seat covers by hand and conditioned both seats w? a leather conditioner and the whole bike is completely original except the new paint color and the tires….Enjoy your ride and I know you get a lot of looks riding a tandem especially when it is in good shape… too cool!!!

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