Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Schwinn Admiral 700c 7 speed, fenders, rack $159

$159, the Schwinn Admiral is one of the best value commuter bikes you can get at Walmart.

The Admiral has a high tensile steel frame and fork.
It has aluminum 700c wheels, that roll fast.
7 speed gripshift and shimano derailleur.
Aluminum linear pull brakes.
Upright sweptback handle bars and a beach cruiser seat.
Steel fenders and rear rack.

 Like most walmart bikes, it only comes in one size.  The men's model fits people 5'6"- 5'10".  The women's model fits 5'2-5'-6".

Walmart does not assemble bikes very well.  The same kid that puts together the BBQ grills, puts together the bikes.  Most bike shops are pretty honest.  Bring the bike to a shop, tell them you will be riding it to work and would like it safe, and they will take care of you for under $50.

One of the best features of the Admiral, are it's good quality, aluminum 700c wheels.  It has an alloy quick release front hub, and solid axle nutted freehweel rear.  700c aluminum rims can fit a wide selection of road, touring, and commuter tires. However, the schwinn tires that come on the bike are very cheap, do not take high pressure, and are prone to flat tires.  The best thing to do to this bike to make it a more reliable commuter is better tires.  Nothing ruins your day like flat tires.

Plan to buy better tires.  Good commuter tires are Continental, Schwalbe, Michelin touring.
These Vittoria 700X32c tire are slightly skinnier than the stock 35c tires.  $30 pair.
This is a great deal on Schwalbe Marathon 700x35c tires.  They are very tough to flat, and very long lasting.
Some of best commuter tires you can get. Blue Sky has them $40 for the pair.

The beach cruiser springer seat is made for cruising, not pedaling.  The springs are heavy and squeaky.  The seat is very wide and rubs on your legs when pedaling.
The seatpost with cheapie seat guts is heavy and prone to slipping and creaking.
I would suggest a better seat for $20-30 and an aluminum seatpost for $15-20.

http://www.blueskycycling.com/product7576_46_-WTB-Freedom-Econoline-Saddle.htm $33

The Avenir Classic has real leather cover, for $30.

Singleworks city limit, leather, $20

Kalloy 2 bolt aluminum seatpost

Seatposts come in many sizes.  It is important to check the size of your post to make sure you get the right size.  Luckily, the size is stamped at the bottom of the post.  Remove your post and look for marking:
This example, not the Schwinn, is stamped 26.8.   Post sizes are diameter X length.  This example post is 26.8mm.  Common length is 350mm or 35cm.  400mm is long.  250-300mm is short.  You can always cut a long post down.  Common diameters are 25.4, 26.0, 27.2, etc.  Make sure you get the right size!
Amazon is a good place to buy a post.  Search "kalloy" and "27.2" or "25.4" or whatever the correct size is.

The admiral uses a aluminum quill stem.
It's steel handle bars are swept back. They give you an upright, comfortable position.  Good for short trips.  If you are riding longer distance, lower, less swept back bars would put you in better position to cut through the wind.  The steel bars are quite heavy, and aluminum bar saves a lot of weight.
It uses a gripshift 7 speed shifter, good quality.
Aluminum V-brake levers, also decent quality.
The brake and shift cables and housing are poor quality.  The cheap housings flex a lot, makes your brakes feel mushy and shifting vague.  Jagwire, Shimano, Sram make quality cables & housing that will drastically improve shifting and braking of the bike.
Brake cables & housing, $13
The aluminum V-brakes are functional, but not great quality.  The stock brake pads are very hard plastic-y compound.  The brakes themselves have play on the bosses and cheap plastic spring adjustment.  I would suggest upgrading to Shimano Acera brakes fore $14.  Not much more than $8 brake pads.

The drive train is basic, durable, and replacement parts are inexpensive.  The drivetrain is the crank and chainring, the chain, and the freewheel.  Drivetrains typically last around 3000 miles.  That sounds like a lot, but if you are riding 5 miles to work each way, that 10 miles a day, 300 days.  Tires, brake pads, and drivetrains are consumables.
It uses a steel one piece crank and steel sprocket.  This is heavy and crude, in comparison to three piece aluminum cranks that come on bike shop quality bikes, but it gets the job done, and is durable.  This style of crank is common on beach cruisers and kid's bikes.

The 7 speed freewheel costs $12 to replace with good quality shimano one.
Better quality SRAM chain is $8.
This bike has one of the most affordable drivetrains to replace.  The steel chainring, while heavy, is durable.
The Shimano Tourney derailleur is basic, and replacements are about $14.


  1. I plan on replacing the back wheel of my admiral completely. I’ve already installed a new front wheel, but I hear I will need something called a cassette between my new wheel and the Shimano freewheel. (I’m new to all of this)

    Can you give me a suggestions for a good cassette that will fit these part?


  2. The rear wheel on this bike is a 700c threaded freewheel wheel. They cost around $40. The bike uses a thread on 7 speed freewheel. Shimano makes a good replacement for about $15.
    Cassette type wheels are different. Sheldon Brown explains. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html
    Cassette hubs are stronger, and let you use wider range gear cluster in the back. The small cog on your freewheel is likely 14 tooth. Cassette wheels go down to 11T, much faster. A cassette wheel might be a good upgrade, if you have been having issues with bending the rear axle on your freewheel wheel, or if you want a wider gearing range. 700c shimano cassette rear wheels generally start at around $60. You would need a 7 speed cassette, around $15-20 at the same time, your current freewheel will not work. Modern cassette hubs are for 8/9/10 speed cassettes. To put a 7 speed on, you will need a 2.5mm or so cassette spacer, as well. Bike shops will have this kicking around.
    If you really wanted to get crazy, you could "upgrade" to more gears in the back. I personally, would not suggest putting that much money into this bike.
    However, a 8 speed cogset 11-34 range is about $20. You would need a new 8 speed shifter. Gripshift is maybe $12-15, shimano rapidfire $15-20. You would also need a new 8 speed chain, KMC, SRAM, shimano make good ones for around $15. The current derailleur would work. The stock freewheel has a 14-28 range, the 8 speed 11-34 would give you easier low gears, and faster top gears.

    1. http://www.niagaracycle.com/categories/shimano-acera-sl-m310-rapid-fire-shifter-right-8-speed
      $18 8 speed shifter

      $15 8 speed cassette

      http://www.niagaracycle.com/categories/kmc-x8-93-chain-w-missing-link-6-7-8-speed-each-silver-gray $10 KMC X8 chain

      $50 basic cassette wheel.

      About $95 all in for cassette wheel, new drivetrain, and 8 speed upgrade.

      If you kept it 7 speed cassette, it'd be same $50 wheel, $15 7 speed cassette, and the lil spacer. $65 all in.

      If you kept the freewheel type wheel, you're looking at $43.
      And you could just re-use your existing freewheel. Cheapest, easiest fix. If you have not had issues with bending rear axles, this would be my suggestion.
      Better quality shimano freewheel, with same 14-28 gear range is $10.
      You can alter your gearing range, with different sized freewheels. Keeping it 7 speed.
      $16 shimano with 13-28. This would give you a little faster top end gear.
      $34 DNP 11-30 freewheel. Quite a bit wider range, at both the top end and low gears.

    2. Walmart has removed the men's version of this bike and I am having a hard time finding it anywhere else. Do you have any ideas as to where I might locate one?
      You really do a good job on your review and how to best modify it for maximum rideability. You appear to really know your stuff and I'm sure you must be a dedicated biker.
      Thanks for the post.
      Chuck Cloninger

    3. Chuck, I have a brand new Admiral I cant use due to back surgery. $100 ,central NJ. Jim

  3. I think it's better get another bike, in parts will be olmost 150 dollars for upgrade this bike.

  4. Thank you so much for this article! I am new to the biking community, and this post has given me much more consolidated insight than any other resource I've found. Road Trip

  5. I ride 3.4 miles each way for work/fun. Longer ride strictly for fun.
    Really crappy tires.
    The rest is quite usable, upgrades are just an option.

  6. I ride 3.4 miles each way for work/fun. Longer ride strictly for fun.
    Really crappy tires.
    The rest is quite usable, upgrades are just an option.

  7. Great post by the way! I too have an Admiral that I think is very competent as a recreational city bike. (I don't commute with mine, yet). Just to clarify, if I wanted to keep the same wheel, and 7 speed drive, and just purchase this freewheel:
    $34 DNP 11-30 freewheel.
    I could just install it onto my bikes hub? Seems to easy.

  8. I bought the women's model Admiral from Walmart and the gears were not catching right and the rear hub, chain or shifter made strange clunking noises so I took it to a Schwinn shop and paid $25 to have it looked over. I thought the bike was OK for my recreational ride and wanted to have it be perfect - NO LUCK - the shop said they adjusted some things but it still made the same noise so I took it back to Walmart - I miss it! I know I will pay more for a similar bike and maybe the shop didn't want to see me with a bike from Walmart?