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Old 11-10-09, 07:56 AM   #51
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I hope we are now done with the bickering here.
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Old 11-10-09, 08:37 AM   #52
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I was thinking about this overnight. No matter what choices were made, the fact remains that the bike industry can't support US mass produced bikes. No matter what the Schwinn family did, the bike workers were going to lose their jobs and manufacturing was going to Asia. Only a handful of US based marketing, design and quality/customer support will have jobs in the US. If the Schwinn family made the right choices, they'd be on top of the industry, due to those choices, they lost and some other corporation won. Net jobs in North America is the same.
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Old 11-10-09, 09:11 AM   #53
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I qucikly persued through the posts and here's my 1/2 cent.....

BMX: Schwinn actualy made a killer BMX bike called 'The Sting'. They were legendary and still are. IIRC Donnie Atherton, a Schwinn rider, was world champion in the early 80's. The problem with BMX is that kids didnt want a mom-n-pop (Schwinn) BMX bike they wanted niche BMX bikes like Mongoose (who didnt want a Supergoose!!), RedLine, GT, diamond Back and Hutch just to name a few. Schwinn didnt 'miss' the BMX craze, buyers just didnt want them. Think of modern day Trek...what die hard BMX'r wants a Trek?

Giant: I worked at Schwinn from '84 though about '90/1 when they yanked our supply of bikes. Customers wanted American made Schwinns. Our local competition was very quick to point out that most of the entry/mid level models were Giant/Tawainn made versus being U.S. made. Some customers didnt care but for alot of them it didnt make a difference. Customers would buy Tawainn made bikes from other companies but they didnt like Tawainn made Schwinns. Schwinns own reputation hurt themselves.!!!
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Old 11-10-09, 09:16 AM   #54
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I worked with a Schwinn shop in the late 80's. The Schwinn name was associated with an older generation & just not hip. Looking back, I think that stigma was undeserved. They had some great products but I don't think they would ever have been embraced by the younger buyers. Cannondale, GT & Trek were the up & coming brands.
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Old 11-10-09, 09:21 AM   #55
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I worked with a Schwinn shop in the late 80's. The Schwinn name was associated with an older generation & just not hip. Looking back, I think that stigma was undeserved. They had some great products but I don't think they would ever have been embraced by the younger buyers. Cannondale, GT & Trek were the up & coming brands.
Exactly. Mom and dad would want a Schwinn for the kids but the kids wanted nothing to do with them.
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Old 11-10-09, 09:55 AM   #56
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Yes, I think that Schwinn was seen as old-school, and French bikes (I'm talking early 1970's here) were seen as "sexy". I had (still have, actually) a massive Schwinn single speed bike bought in about 1966. When my best buddy's parents bought him a Peugeot U0-8 in about 1969, I had to have a 10-speed as well, but it had to be French! Surely Schwinn could have done better with the right kind of marketing campaign (surely their labor costs were competitive with France), but it just didn't happen.

BTW, my kids love the old Schwinn, and think it is wonderful. On level ground or a downhill slope, it is!
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Old 11-10-09, 10:05 AM   #57
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The frame was not made in Schwinn Company factories, or by the Schwinn Company. It has nothing to at all to do with the Schwinn Company - because the Schwinn Company is gone. Dead. Bankrupt. It has ceased to be. It does not exist.
And I promise, the Schwinn Company is not just pining for the fjords.
I believe John Cleese explains it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE
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Old 11-10-09, 10:20 AM   #58
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What Schwinn should be given credit for is the reinvention of the bike shop. My first bike came from an auto parts store and my second from a small engine repair/machine/welding shop. You needed a dad who knew how to work on bikes after those guys cobbled together a bike. It wasn't that they didn't know the principles of good assembly technique; it's just that they didn't care. Bikes weren't their thing.

The Schwinn shop was an entirely different experience. It was clean and well lit and everyone in it knew bikes. Nowadays we might find the well lit clean bike store to be a little antiseptic for our C&V tastes. We prefer the old bike shop with hopefully an old dusty inventory of ancient bike parts but that bike shop didn't exist before Schwinn. Bikes were sold a few a year from hardware stores, general stores, department stores, even blacksmith shops. Some of our old treasured LBS's started out as Schwinn dealers in the 1960's.

And 1960's Schwinn Varsities, Continentals and Collegiates were great bikes in their time. We turn up our noses at 40 lb bikes today but at the time we took those things up over hill and dale, and those hills aren't any steeper today than they were then, and they felt pretty light. I still see lots of them being ridden around the OSU campus today.

Schwinn did a pretty good job supplying the baby boom with their first bikes which is largely responsible for the lightweight bike boom of 1971 that immediately followed. It's too bad their crystal ball was not big enough or long range enough for them to foresee the changes in manufacturing they would have had to make in time to ride that next wave. Trek and Cannondale did a pretty creditable job jumping in a filling the void though.
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Old 11-10-09, 10:53 AM   #59
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I was thinking about this overnight. No matter what choices were made, the fact remains that the bike industry can't support US mass produced bikes. No matter what the Schwinn family did, the bike workers were going to lose their jobs and manufacturing was going to Asia
I respectfully disagree with this thought. The asians took the motorcycle industry by storm in the 60's and just about killed Harley Davidson but they came back and for the last 20 years the Asians have been copying Harley. Last time I checked Harley Davidson is made in the good ole USA by americans. GM and Chrysler's problem is not USA labor regardless of what they and the media report. The problem is management arrogance and incompetance. No, I have never been a union member nor have I been in one of the big 3's management.
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Old 11-10-09, 12:00 PM   #60
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"...it's a stiff! Berift of life! It has flung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!!!" - John Cleese
Thanks for that link... been a while since I have seen that Monty Python skit!

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Exactly. Mom and dad would want a Schwinn for the kids but the kids wanted nothing to do with them.
I agree with this, I was one of those silly kids... I remember them wanting me to get a regular cruiser, but all I wanted was my uncles' old racing cromo anodized blue Mongoose BMX or one just like it. Eventually my uncle who had outgrown BMX racing but had kept it for nostalgic purposes gave me the ol' goose and I was happy... until all the neighbor kids were making me look slow on the street with their cruisers... but they were all jealous of my BMX...

I do remember people knocking the Schwinn bikes in the 80's and my mom talking about how cool they were when she was a kid... which of course only made me an my friends think they were uncool. Man the 1980's were weird. Thanks for the flashback.
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Old 11-10-09, 12:19 PM   #61
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Among all the errors Schwinn made, there's a fairly small thing that always gives me a chuckle:

For example -- when looking for a Schwinn touring bike -- there were so many different model names were applied to their touring model: Super Sports, Voyageur, Passage, the Volare etc. the list goes on.

Whatever brand idenity the word "Schwinn" might have had -- many, many of the model names seemed to have no consistant marketing target.

And how many various kinds of Le Tour's could their have been over the years: twenty?
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Old 11-10-09, 12:23 PM   #62
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The Schwinn situation virtually mirrors what happened with CCM in Canada. However, both companies, with a proper plan and bit of luck would probably have survived as manufacturers. Certainly, Raleigh Canada survives as a manufacturer, as does Procycle (who manufactured Peugeot for the North American market for over 20 years and took over CCM until this year). In fact, the Canadian bicycle industry appears to be doing fairly well, with lots a small and medium size manufacturers.
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Old 11-10-09, 12:38 PM   #63
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The Schwinn situation virtually mirrors what happened with CCM in Canada. However, both companies, with a proper plan and bit of luck would probably have survived as manufacturers. Certainly, Raleigh Canada survives as a manufacturer, as does Procycle (who manufactured Peugeot for the North American market for over 20 years and took over CCM until this year). In fact, the Canadian bicycle industry appears to be doing fairly well, with lots a small and medium size manufacturers.
I do not know about right now, but Canada did have trade policies that helped keep a domestic manufacturing base alive, read duties on full bikes were much higher than components. So, it was the National government policies that helped here quite a bit.
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Old 11-10-09, 12:52 PM   #64
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You did not mention, Huffy, or Huffman Mfg. Corp. WalMart helped kill them off, Huffman made a big mistake on a deal with WalMart, they could have as many bikes as they could order, but many parts were imported, and Huffman did not have enough control over those costs, and WalMArt squeezed for every bike they ordered, knowing that they were strangling Huffman by pinching their capacity so much that the more profitable production was lost, and ultimately they lost the company due to that deal. WalMart knew what was happening, but decided to let the supplier die. That style of business is why I never go to WalMart, even if they have cheap bar tape.
+1 to that!
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Old 11-10-09, 01:56 PM   #65
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I respectfully disagree with this thought. The asians took the motorcycle industry by storm in the 60's and just about killed Harley Davidson but they came back and for the last 20 years the Asians have been copying Harley. Last time I checked Harley Davidson is made in the good ole USA by americans. GM and Chrysler's problem is not USA labor regardless of what they and the media report. The problem is management arrogance and incompetance. No, I have never been a union member nor have I been in one of the big 3's management.
Harley Davidson is a niche manufacturer. They make a specialized product, and really they don't have any serious competition. There are other V twin cruisers out there - but that's just it they're the other ones. Harley is Harley.

In the minds of Americans, the only serious competition to Harley is Indian - but they've been gone a loooooong time now.
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Old 11-10-09, 02:25 PM   #66
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Harley Davidson is a niche manufacturer. They make a specialized product, and really they don't have any serious competition. There are other V twin cruisers out there - but that's just it they're the other ones. Harley is Harley.

In the minds of Americans, the only serious competition to Harley is Indian - but they've been gone a loooooong time now.
No. Victory
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Old 11-10-09, 04:16 PM   #67
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I think Schwinn's response to changing market dynamics is typical of companies that dominated their market at one time, but that same dominance also either made them lax, or unable to adapt to the changing market conditions.

Baldwin Locomotive Works built more steam locomotives than any other company worldwide. When diesel locomotives entered the scene, Baldwin produced diesels as well; but did so using the same market strategy they used in the steam era; and custom built each offering to the buyer’s specification. The Electromotive Division of General Motors turned out carbon copy diesels that they offered to everyone, and offered great financing to boot. Baldwin became the first of the big steam locomotive builders to close shop.

IBM had a lock on the mainframe computer market, and looked down on the personal computer market; outsourcing all of the parts, and buying the operating system (PC-DOS) from Microsoft. But others quickly realized that they could buy the same parts and offer the same computer for much less; Microsoft was all too happy to sell them an operating system as well (MS-DOS.) IBM responded by developing what was supposed to be a superior, but proprietary system in house (The PS/2 computer and OS/2 operating system); the market rejected them both. IBM managed to refocus on corporate solutions with midrange and mainframe computers and software, but completely abandoned the personal computer market after these two failures.

General Motors. Need I say more….
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Old 11-10-09, 04:28 PM   #68
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OK, having worked in a Schwinn dealership for about half a decade centering around the Bike Book of the 70's, I'd like to toss in a few memories. Primarily about my #1 pet peeve:

The constant slagging of the Varsity and Continental for being overly heavy boat anchors. Yeah, they were, and the more "serious" (or at least liked to think they were) riders back in those days rode Gitane, etc. to get the lugged frames, lighter weight, more exotic materials, etc. But you guys, smug in your slagging, are missing a VERY important point.

Back in 1972 (fer instance) someone in their twenties, walking into our bike shop and looking for a road bike last owned a new bicycle about ten years earlier. It was a 50+ pound 26" wheel middleweight, or a like weight Sting Ray or clone. It was built like a tank, could be bounced off a curb, crash through deep potholes, and in general be beaten nastily without worry. Now, you take that person who hasn't been on a bicycle since they turned 16 and got their drivers license and put them on an Astra, or Roger Riviere, or Gitane.

And within two weeks they'd completely trashed that "foreign piece of ****" and we demanding their money back because the bike was weakly built. No, we know the bike was nicely built - but not for the way they were used to owning a bicycle.

Take that same person, sell them a Varsity or Continental, and they went off happy. They rode. They got a clue about how you're supposed to take care of a "lightweight" road bike. When they forgot, the bike happily took the punishment. And when they wanted better for the second bike, they'd come back and buy a Raleigh Super Course. And have a wonderful time with it.

To this day, I believe that the Schwinn Varsity was the most important road bike sold in America, if only for all the new riders it brought into the sport who stuck around over the past few decades. It was the right product for it's time (early 70's). Yeah, Schwinn didn't evolve well enough, but there were a few years when I was in the business when they were doing things right.
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Old 11-10-09, 04:34 PM   #69
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Harley Davidson is a niche manufacturer. They make a specialized product, and really they don't have any serious competition. There are other V twin cruisers out there - but that's just it they're the other ones. Harley is Harley.

In the minds of Americans, the only serious competition to Harley is Indian - but they've been gone a loooooong time now.
From a business point of view, I've got to go with Victory. I've even been on a few rides with the Outlaws M/C where a couple of the members rode Victory's (the club rules say "American made motorcycle"). However, to the old school crowd, the Victory is a nicely built metric cruiser. And Harley's only real competition was Indian (died 1953 and 2004, and please let them stay dead already) and Henderson/Excelsior (died 1930 - part of the Schwinn empire, by the way).
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Old 11-10-09, 04:45 PM   #70
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The constant slagging of the Varsity and Continental for being overly heavy boat anchors. Yeah, they were, and the more "serious" (or at least liked to think they were) riders back in those days rode Gitane, etc. to get the lugged frames, lighter weight, more exotic materials, etc. But you guys, smug in your slagging, are missing a VERY important point.

...

And within two weeks they'd completely trashed that "foreign piece of ****" and we demanding their money back because the bike was weakly built. No, we know the bike was nicely built - but not for the way they were used to owning a bicycle.

Take that same person, sell them a Varsity or Continental, and they went off happy. They rode. They got a clue about how you're supposed to take care of a "lightweight" road bike. When they forgot, the bike happily took the punishment. And when they wanted better for the second bike, they'd come back and buy a Raleigh Super Course. And have a wonderful time with it.

To this day, I believe that the Schwinn Varsity was the most important road bike sold in America, if only for all the new riders it brought into the sport who stuck around over the past few decades. It was the right product for it's time (early 70's). Yeah, Schwinn didn't evolve well enough, but there were a few years when I was in the business when they were doing things right.
My dad owned a Varsity, and loved it; he would probably own one today if he could. I too, loved my Varsity; it was stolen, trashed while joy riding, and recovered. I decided at that time I wanted something more lightweight, and bought a Viscount Aerospace GP.

I was the second owner; the first owner broke the "death fork" on curb; probably trying to ride it like a Varsity. I put a new fork on it, and still have it today.

Your point is well taken; Baldwin also built some of the best steam locomotives in the world; and even today; 6% of the locomotives remaining worldwide were built by Baldwin; even though the last one was rolled out 55 years ago. IBM also made a good product; it was their marketing strategy that did them in.
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Old 11-10-09, 04:49 PM   #71
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And Harley's only real competition was Indian (died 1953 and 2004, and please let them stay dead already) ...
According to Wikipedia, a *third* company named "Indian" was formed in 2006:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_...006-present.29
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Old 11-10-09, 04:53 PM   #72
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This thread is representative of what keeps me coming back to B.F.:

Tons of knowledge, perspective, and first-person experience
Little to no bickering (And I'll take a semantics argument over a political one any day of the week)

However, no pictures!

If anyone has pictures of Schwinn's Chicago and MS plant (interiors/exteriors) I'd like to see them. I've seen a couple from the Chicago factory but not many. I don't I think I've even ever seen pictures of the Mississippi factory. Obviously few people are interested in the history of this stuff (at least like we all are) but I'm amazed at how much stuff has been (seemingly) forgotten.

Concerning the Chicago structure, did most or all of it get torn down?

Last edited by Oregon Southpaw; 11-10-09 at 04:56 PM. Reason: zapped fluff
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Old 11-10-09, 04:58 PM   #73
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OK, having worked in a Schwinn dealership for about half a decade centering around the Bike Book of the 70's, I'd like to toss in a few memories. Primarily about my #1 pet peeve:

The constant slagging of the Varsity and Continental for being overly heavy boat anchors. Yeah, they were, and the more "serious" (or at least liked to think they were) riders back in those days rode Gitane, etc. to get the lugged frames, lighter weight, more exotic materials, etc. But you guys, smug in your slagging, are missing a VERY important point.

Back in 1972 (fer instance) someone in their twenties, walking into our bike shop and looking for a road bike last owned a new bicycle about ten years earlier. It was a 50+ pound 26" wheel middleweight, or a like weight Sting Ray or clone. It was built like a tank, could be bounced off a curb, crash through deep potholes, and in general be beaten nastily without worry. Now, you take that person who hasn't been on a bicycle since they turned 16 and got their drivers license and put them on an Astra, or Roger Riviere, or Gitane.

And within two weeks they'd completely trashed that "foreign piece of ****" and we demanding their money back because the bike was weakly built. No, we know the bike was nicely built - but not for the way they were used to owning a bicycle.

Take that same person, sell them a Varsity or Continental, and they went off happy. They rode. They got a clue about how you're supposed to take care of a "lightweight" road bike. When they forgot, the bike happily took the punishment. And when they wanted better for the second bike, they'd come back and buy a Raleigh Super Course. And have a wonderful time with it.

To this day, I believe that the Schwinn Varsity was the most important road bike sold in America, if only for all the new riders it brought into the sport who stuck around over the past few decades. It was the right product for it's time (early 70's). Yeah, Schwinn didn't evolve well enough, but there were a few years when I was in the business when they were doing things right.
Wow! You just recounted part of my childhood. All of us rode Varsities, which were incredibly strong bicycles, partly because of their weight. The kid up the street, in a "better" part of the neighborhood, was given a Raleigh race bike. It was a cool bike as I recall, but could not follow us off curbs, over potholes, off jumps, etc. He destroyed his Raleigh in a week. Since then, we all thought the bike to be a ***.
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Old 11-10-09, 05:03 PM   #74
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If anyone has pictures of Schwinn's Chicago and MS plant (interiors/exteriors).

Whoops! Sorry. Wrong defunct Chicago industry photo...
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Old 11-10-09, 05:07 PM   #75
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Bikes: Trek 7.5 Hybrid, Trek 1.1 Road, Holdsworth touring,Raleigh International,Ritchey Commando,Italvega Speciallissimo,et.al.
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Again, good points made. My Dad's store was primarily Schwinn and it was totally a bike shop - no toys, etc. USA made Schwinn's were indestructable and were probably the best thing for most new riders. Yes, the foreign made bikes were much more prone to being destroyed - ala Simplex plastic derailleurs, shifters, etc. It is still sad to see how a leading company just blew it and sank into the quicksand.
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