Gear

Technical FAQ: Di2 set-up, and more Schwinn Paramount rebuilds

When the Paramount was relaunched in 1998, the demand for the bike was so high, they were painted and shipped them as fast as they came in from Serrota.

Have a question for Lennard? Please email us veloqna@comcast.net to be included in Technical FAQ.

Dear Lennard,
I’m an old-school (70 in October) roadie, using 10-speed DA-78 STIs with 9-speed XTR M972 SGS RDs and 11-36T M980 and SRAM 1080 cassettes. This combination has made me very aware of avoiding cross-chaining, so 34T/11-15T is out, due to chain rubbing, and 50T/32-36T, is best avoided due to noise.

This has made me wonder about Di2, and whether it can be programmed to ‘lock out’ undesirable extreme combinations.

It would seem to be a good thing if it did. What do you think?
—Greg

Dear Greg,
It’s a good idea, and Di2 already comes this way. The system won’t allow you to shift to either of the smallest two cogs when the chain is on the inner chainring. The big-to-big combination works fine. Improved tooth profiles and derailleur cage shaping makes it less sensitive than your system.
―Lennard

Dear Lennard,
During this pandemic time, I had an interesting experience with my Di2. I drove to a ride, got all set up, got on my bike, and nada — no shifting at all. That was odd, as I had charged it, then left it for two weeks untouched (a ski vacation that was just under the COVID-19 wire). I checked all the plugs, but they seemed good. So, I took the bike home and it started charging just fine (I was using my Garmin as a monitor).

What surprised me was how fast it charged. I guess I should have known, since it is a lithium battery, but I had enough juice (60 percent) in under 30 min for several double-centuries — not that I would be that crazy. And I sort-of feel I got to 50 percent in 15-20 min, which even for me would be 450 miles. As it worked out, the quick charge saved my ride, and it made me realize I should really keep the charger in my car, or at a minimum check the shifting as I put the bike in the car. I just wonder how many people know how quickly any electronic shifting can be charged to rideable levels. I sure didn’t.

I think the discharge was because I inadvertently hit the chainring shifter taking the bike out of the car, which left it hung up on the chain and chainring. It’s the only way I can think that the system would have discharged.
—Steve

Dear Steve,
Storing a Di2 bike, with it leaning against a lever, will certainly discharge the battery. And it doesn’t have to be continuously pushing on the lever, either. The Di2 battery on my gravel road bike discharged once because I had bumped the lever when putting it away, so it was trying to shift to the adjacent cog day and night until I rode it again.

And yes, the charging speed is incredible. If you notice before you’re changing your clothes that your battery is dead, you can always get enough charge for your ride simply by plugging it in while you change your clothes.
―Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I was the product manager for the relaunch of Schwinn Paramounts back in 1998 and can help shed some light on Kevin’s questions.

The fork that was spec’d on the Ti Paramounts was a Time Club straight-blade fork. The rake was 43mm.

The Wound Up fork will work wonderfully for him. I had one custom-painted for my Paramount Ti, in candy apple red. That was a great match for the bike, both aesthetically and performance-wise. I wanted to spec that fork originally for the frames, but at the time, Wound Up could not do OEM pricing.

The Ti bikes were available in the candy red and blue colors, while the steel frames also had a metallic burnt orange option. The silver color was added in ’99 to the steel bikes.

A few small quibbles on your response, however. We never “warehoused” raw Ti frames and had them “languish”. When we relaunched the Paramounts in 1998, the demand was so high for the bike we painted and shipped them as fast as we got them from Ben (Serotta). In addition, the rear end on the bikes were not the same as the Legend Ti frames. The tubing spec may have been similar, but we had our own custom-bend on the seat and chainstays. And the main tubes on the Ti bikes were butted, not straight gauge.
—Mark Boufford

Dear Mark,
Thanks so much for those corrections. It’s always best to get the history from someone who actually lived it, rather than depending on 22-year-old memories from people more peripheral to it.
―Lennard

Dear Lennard,
LONG-time reader, first time writer. Your column is one of my favorite reasons to not put the phone down and roll out of bed on Tuesday mornings. I was delighted to wake up to a Paramount history lesson. That was some fascinating behind-the-scenes info.

The steel version of that Paramount was the first road bike I ever fell in love with. I was in college, and a part-time bike shop employee back when they were released, so the best I could do was drool over the one on the shop floor. Those bikes were made by Match Cycles out of Seattle (They also built some of the Rivendells). Match turned out to be an incubator for many frame builders still working to this day. Legend has it that Curt Goodrich still has the needed parts to reproduce the steel forks.

It took a few years of having 60th Anniversary Paramount saved as an eBay search, but I finally scored one from a former Schwinn employee in Colorado, about ten years ago and have used it as everything from a Sunday special to a daily bike path commuter. Maybe once a year another cyclist on the road will recognize what it is and that always leads to a good conversation.

Anyway, the reason for writing is I believe the carbon forks may have been made by Time. My steel Paramount came with a curve bladed Time fork that the former Schwinn employee said was used on the Ti Paramounts. I have seen photos of bikes with both the painted straight blade fork that Kevin mentioned in his note and the unpainted curved version that mine came with. This is just speculation on my part but maybe Schwinn used Time for both versions?

The Time fork that came with my Paramount has been hanging in the garage for about five years (Decades of reading your advice to replace critical parts before they fail got through to me). I replaced the fork with a Ritchey 1-inch threadless carbon fork with an aluminum steerer that is still available on Ritchey’s website. Going threadless and swapping to modern parts improved my fit, and stiffened up the front end (that Time fork was alarmingly flexy). I didn’t notice a difference in handling one way or another and the bike remained very stable on descents, so possibly that fork could be another option for Kevin, as both the steel and titanium Paramounts used the same geometry.

Although the fork is rated by Ritchey to fit up to 25mm tires, I recently replaced the last of my 27mm Vittoria Paves with a set of 28mm Maxxis Re-Fuse tires, and there’s a solid 5mm of clearance all the way around using the same HED Belgium C2 rims as Kevin.
—Todd

Dear Todd,
Thanks for letting us know that you can still get Ritchey carbon forks with 1-inch steering tubes. That’s a good option that could come in handy for refurbishing many old road bikes.

Thanks also for communicating some of the passion that so many Schwinn Paramount owners have experienced over many decades.
― Lennard


Lennard Zinn, our longtime technical writer, joined VeloNews in 1987. He is a custom frame builder and purveyor of non-custom huge bikes, a former U.S. national team rider, co-author of The Haywire Heart, and author of many bicycle books including Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance (DVD), as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a bachelor’s in physics from Colorado College.Follow @lennardzinn