Have now only finished to chapters of 24...
1. (Chicago) By 1897, an estimated one in seven city residents owned a bike...
2. (USA) By 1899, and estimated ten million cyclists were on the road nation-wide.
3. By the mid 1890s, when avg per capita income was $1000, the building of bicycles had become a $60 Million dollar
industry...... by 1896 Colonel Pope's East Coast operation was sending a cycle a minute out the factor door....
My "Favorite" factoid so far:
4. Schwinn bought up 2 motorcycle companies around 1911 - first Excelsior then Henderson 3 years later. (Excelsior was the fastest motorcycle of its time - ridden by Charles Linberg). The Excelsior-Henderson motorcycles became one of the "big three" with Indian and that other motorcycle company - ahh - Harley something.
Here's a link to a nice shot of an old 1910 Henderson:
What I've picked up so far - in my own words: The Real Rise of Schwinn seems most to do with not accepting a role in the big "trust" / "conglomerate" system that claimed to control about 75% percent of the USA bicycle industry going into the 30's ... There were long years of declining adult interest, and shrinking margins. The USA major retailers like Sears were squeezing / maximizing profits and no real interest (or expectations) for innovationsr. Models had little variety and little quality. Sales for children had grown to 95% of the market. Models were only expected to last a few years, "chinzy frames" / spindly tires. Frank Schwinn (son of founder / German immigrant) wrote:
"All bicycles were alike in appearance except perhaps some were worse than others" .
US Rubber was selling essentially one type of single-tube tire to American bike manufacturers...
Schwinn introduced the "Super Ballon Tire Bicycle" in 1933 - these tires were a big success and Schwinn saw a 150percent increase in sales.
...This was the first of a series of Industry leading innovations that Schwinn introduced to include suspended seats on more.
Sure enjoying this book.... thanks for the recommendation here!
....all this and I'm just finishing chapter 2 of 24.
Chapter 14 is "Land of the Giant" and seems to be where the devil was hiding for the Schwinn family.
XCELSIOR MOTOR MANUFACTURING & SUPPLY COMPANY OF CHICAGO in 1911
THEN , 3 years later, pourchased HENDERSON