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SlimRider 10-16-11 11:28 PM

The Good Name of Schwinn
 
I remember a time when the name Schwinn used to be synonymous with bicycle quality. Sure, there were other brand named bicycles around. However, if it wasn't a Schwinn, your bike was somehow looked upon as being somewhat less than a Schwinn. It really didn't matter too much what the actual, mechanical merits that your bicycle possessed, it was the name.

Everyone knew, that if the Schwinn name was on it, it stood for, longevity, durability, and reliability. To everyone back in the 50's and 60's, Schwinn bicycles were the most popular bicycles for the youth. Captain Kangaroo used to always remind us kids about how Schwinn bikes were the best bikes made in America. Subsequently, practically every kid in America wanted a shiny new bicycle endorsed by their favorite TV star. At that time, Schwinn bikes were durable and reliable. All were made of hi-tensile steel, and most lasted for over a decade. There were so many Schwinn tricycles and bicycles being handed down to younger siblings across the nation. Everyone just had to know, that Schwinn made bicycles were just as good as the Captain had promised us, they all were. For almost two decades, this is what America believed.

Schwinn also experienced modest success with its most exclusive road bike called the paramount. Its frame was made of 531 steel and its tubes were completely lugged. It had a Campagnolo drive train and fine leather seats. The paramount appealed to the upper middle, upper class of cyclists, and of course the professional racer.

Schwinn also tried to appeal to the common everyday cyclist who might try to emulate the more elite and well-to-do cyclists, by providing road bikes called, the Varsity and the Continental. Many of these bikes sold throughout the 1960's. However, their sales began to plummet in the late 70's due to a heavy influx of European and Japanese 10 speed bikes of much lighter mass. Schwinn failed to upgrade its product line and continued to attempt to sell the heavy Hi-Tensile steel-frame of the Varsity and Continental.

Schwinn experienced records sales of youth oriented bicycles back in the 50' and 60's, with the introduction of the Sting Ray with its high-riser handlebars and its banana seat. It didn't take long for that style to take off at all. All the kids in my neighborhood, thought the Sting Ray was just a blast!

It would appear that as long as Schwinn kept youth-oriented, it did well. However, once it lost its focus upon the youth, it began to downwardly spiral. It always trailed the crest of the BMX wave back in the 1970's, by always producing bikes that were slightly less competitive than the rest. By the time Schwinn caught on to the proper type of BMX racing bike to produce, in the form of the Predator, back in 1982, the BMX craze had leveled. Schwinn did practically that same thing when it came to Mountain Bikes (MTN bikes). At first, they claimed that MTN bikes were just a fad. They refused to acknowledge the obvious popularity of the mountain bike (MTB) and missed out on miilions of dollars in sales revenue. Schwinn has had a history of producing inferior MTN bikes ever since the first one they've ever made, back in 1978 called the Klunker5.

They've been floundering ever since with one mediocre MTB, after another. The Spitfire, the King Sting, and the Sidewinder, have all been MTN bikes of mediocre qualilty and have not done much to uplift the name of Schwinn. Their hybrid and road bikes were once wracked with cheap componentry.

However, when it comes to hybrid and road bikes, Schwinn has definitely improved, here lately. The improvements may not have been monumental, but they indeed have not been incremental, either. The top of the line Schwinn road bike, would be the Fastback Comp. It is featured in a triple butted 6061 aluminum frame, a carbon fork, and a carbon wrapped seat post, with a 105 drivetrain. It also comes in five different sizes. At the top of the hybrid heap, we have the Sporterra Comp. It also comes with a triple butted aluminum frame, a carbon fork, an alivio rear derailleur and an altus for the front. That's pretty good for Schwinn of 2012.

Schwinn is obviously trying to make a comeback. Let's all pray that the new Schwinn has at least half the quality of the days of Captain Kangaroo. Perhaps Dorel Industries can restore the good name of Schwinn, for old times sake.

- Slim :)

Nermal 10-17-11 01:48 AM

Tripple butted aluminum?

SlimRider 10-17-11 02:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nermal (Post 13374460)
Tripple butted aluminum?

Yes, Nermal!

Triple-butted means that the tube has three different measured thicknesses. For example, the two ends of the downtube may be of different thicknesses, as well as the middle of the downtube. That means that it's triple-butted.

- Slim :)

FastRod 10-17-11 02:45 AM

Hmmm, I wasn't even born back then so I have no idea how good they were. I did a wiki on them and it's not the original company anymore? it's bought over? Not to sure but I think so.

BlazingPedals 10-17-11 05:53 AM

Schwinn rode the Sting-Ray craze for all it was worth, but when lightweight '10-speed' road bikes started becoming more popular in the early- to mid-70s, they didn't get the message. Their competition was producing bikes that weighed in the high 20s and low 30s; but they stubbornly clung to the notion that heavier meant more durable, and continued to produce 40+ pound behemoths. The other thing they clung to was their prices, which could be double what a much more desirable bike would cost. So when the mountain bike craze hit, they were already on the ropes, trying to play catch-up to everyone else.

eofelis 10-17-11 08:16 AM

No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company: An American Institution by Judith Crown.

You can probably find it at your library.

himespau 10-17-11 09:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BlazingPedals (Post 13374723)
Schwinn rode the Sting-Ray craze for all it was worth, but when lightweight '10-speed' road bikes started becoming more popular in the early- to mid-70s, they didn't get the message. Their competition was producing bikes that weighed in the high 20s and low 30s; but they stubbornly clung to the notion that heavier meant more durable, and continued to produce 40+ pound behemoths. The other thing they clung to was their prices, which could be double what a much more desirable bike would cost. So when the mountain bike craze hit, they were already on the ropes, trying to play catch-up to everyone else.

My first bike with speeds was a Scwhinn Woodlands moutain bike (what we used to call a 10 speed) from the local Scwhinn dealer (I believe it was just called the Scwhinn Cyclery) in 1989 at my 10th birthday. It was a decent enough bike that I rode it all the way throughout college though it had gotten pretty beaten up by the end.

fietsbob 10-17-11 09:13 AM

Brand names are a commodity to be sold, now basically Waterford is the Schwinn Paramount.
Richard Schwinn founded it with partners, when the family brand name went on the marketplace,
[ I believe, .. (not a partner in the transaction) .. ]

HokuLoa 10-17-11 02:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fietsbob (Post 13375422)
Brand names are a commodity to be sold, now basically Waterford is the Schwinn Paramount.
Richard Schwinn founded it with partners, when the family brand name went on the marketplace,
[ I believe, .. (not a partner in the transaction) .. ]

Yeah, sadly names mean little in this modern, globalized economy. I always find it amusing and a little sad when people dogmatically defend a corporate brand that is no longer even a shade of its former self do to changed hands and completely different standards.

Elvo 10-17-11 02:58 PM

Top of the line Schwinn is and always will be the Paramount:

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...LAID=859294148

Jimi77 10-17-11 03:07 PM

http://www.gifflix.com/media/809/Lame_Thread/

ThermionicScott 10-17-11 03:10 PM

Could it be that you were a sucker for good marketing when you were a kid, Slim? :p

SlimRider 10-17-11 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThermionicScott (Post 13377244)
Could it be that you were a sucker for good marketing when you were a kid, Slim? :p


Then I was in a huge crowd of suckers all across the nation. Be careful, some of your closest relatives could have been in the crowd. Ask your parents about Schwinn...They'll tell ya!

- Slim :)

no motor? 10-17-11 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlimRider (Post 13377277)
Then I was in a huge crowd of suckers all across the nation. Be careful, some of your closest relatives could have been in the crowd. Ask your parents about Schwinn?...They'll tell ya!

- Slim :)

That was a big crowd, I was a kid in the 60's and 70's, and Schwinn was the cool bike then. Especially the Stingray.

RaleighSport 10-17-11 05:45 PM

I dunno I think Schwinn had marketing cornered, not bike quality.. I love my 67 racer deluxe and all but it's a "Light weight" it outweighs my all steel 72 raleigh sport.. by enough to matter. I also love my le tour.. but again the frameset comes in at close to 8 lbs! My path beater is also a schwinn, much newer though I think it's on 06 timberline or high timber.. one of the two, the components level definitely went down on the newer stuff... and again other then compared to box store bikes.. it's HEAVY! I love schwinn, but I don't think I'd say it was ever more then a good name in hype. (With the notable exceptions of anything that came out of Waterford.)

Flying Merkel 10-17-11 06:44 PM

Schwinn came out with the Varsity and sparked the bike boom of the 70s. The Stingray started the BMX craze, which played a big part in inspiring the mountain bike movement. Schwinn then got complacent and blew the biggest opportunities in bicycle history. I loved my EF Schwinns, but they were obsolete a long time ago.

The things that carry the Schwinn name in Wallymart are horrors. I'm riding a '64 Varsity framed cruiser. What BSO will be around in 47 years?

Nermal 10-17-11 06:52 PM

If it's thicker at both ends, and lighter in the middle, that's double butted. It just happens to have three sections with differing thickness of tubing.

mawtangent 10-17-11 07:34 PM

Well as a kid (in the 70's) I remember hearing the name "Schwinn" on "The Price is Right" TV game show. I didn't know Schwinns were "the" bike to own (I guess I didn't even contemplate the concept of brands and competition among brands). I doubt anyone living within 20 miles of me owned a Schwinn. I lived up a "holler" 10 miles from a small town in extreme southwest Virginia USA and didn't even know that bikes existed that cost over $100.

My first bike was a single speed with a banana seat and 20 inch wheels/tires from Western Auto (I think it had "Western Flyer" written on the chain guard) and it seemed like a good bike, I think I rode it for like 8 years until I out- grew it. (could it had been a rebranded Schwinn? Did they do that kind of thing?I think it cost around $60).

A few years ago at 40 years of age (after infrequently riding an ill-fitting Huffy for 20 years) I got back into cycling. My first first "real" adult bike was a Bikesdirect Windford Stratford flatbar road bike with an aluminum frame.

In time I wanted to try a chromoly-framed roadbike with dropbars. I found an '86 (Chicago) Schwinn Traveler for $150 (including shipping) on ebay (I found an old Schwinn catalog online and I think the original list price for the bike was around $150 also). I think its a very decent bike. It's got Shamano parts (I don't know what level they would compare to today), stem shifters which I like (I would rather though have the shifter for the rear derailer be indexed like another BD bike with stem-shifters that I have). The bike weighs around 28 lbs which is okay by me (my mid-80's Huffy weighs around 35 lbs in comparison). Its got a two-ring chainring upfront and 6 gears in the back. I like the simplistic but very functional dual brake levers that allow braking while the hands are in the top position. I know its not technologically up-to-date and is considered quite heavy for a road bike today but with a little tweaking (I need to get the handle bars higher/closer for a perfect fit and I'd like indexing on the rear derailer) I would be quite satified if this '86 Schwinn Traveler was my only bike.

JanMM 10-17-11 07:51 PM

Schwinn's electroforged beasts were made of 1010 steel, not 1020/Hi-Ten steel. http://sheldonbrown.com/varsity.html
Why no mention of the made-in-Japan LeTour and related Schwinn bikes? I took up cycling with a Continental but got totally hooked on a LeTour which was pretty nice once I equipped it with aluminum wheels.
Sting-Rays? Kids toys that didn't exist when I was a kid.

SlimRider 10-17-11 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JanMM (Post 13378593)
Schwinn's electroforged beasts were made of 1010 steel, not 1020/Hi-Ten steel. http://sheldonbrown.com/varsity.html
Why no mention of the made-in-Japan LeTour and related Schwinn bikes? I took up cycling with a Continental but got totally hooked on a LeTour which was pretty nice once I equipped it with aluminum wheels.
Sting-Rays? Kids toys that didn't exist when I was a kid.

Hi there JanMM!

1010 steel is still a type of hi-tensile steel. The middle number simply indicates the relative amount of carbon added to the iron alloy, steel. Evidently, the more carbon added, the harder the alloy, steel becomes. Therefore, while 1010 steel is harder than iron, it still maintains its heavy mass, and does not increase in the actual strength of the alloy steel. Had molybdenum and chromiun been added in addition to carbon, then a much superior type of steel would have made called, chromoly steel. One of the strongest types of steel ever to make bicycles. A material so strong, that the walls of bicycle tubing can be made thin enough, to make the bike as light as some of its aluminum, counterparts.

1010, 1020, and 1030, are all types of hi-tensile steel.

I thank you for your contribution.

- Slim :)

PS.

The narrative was already too long, JanMM. I thought about the Le Tour, but opted out. Sorry..

Dan Smith 10-17-11 08:23 PM

When I was a kid (the 1950s) it was either a Schwinn or an "English bike." An "English bike" meant a Raleigh or a a Rudge, with the 3-speed Sturmey-Archer hub. I think I knew one kid with a FOUR-speed Sturmey-Archer hub; it seemed unbelievable.

Mobile 155 10-17-11 08:26 PM

The problem is only Waterford makes a bike like the old Paramount. The new Schwinn Paramount is just another bike. Between it and a Fuji, or any number of other bikes sold at Performance I am not sure I would give Schwinn another shot. I might but the name garners a sneer from other cyclists today. Schwinn can be used in the same paragraph with Bikes direct and no one will notice.

I got my hands on an old Schwinn twinsport not long ago and have received advice not to put much money into restoring it. And I never saw the Varsity or Continental as a real road bike.

billyymc 10-17-11 08:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dan Smith (Post 13378723)
When I was a kid (the 1950s) it was either a Schwinn or an "English bike." An "English bike" meant a Raleigh or a a Rudge, with the 3-speed Sturmey-Archer hub. I think I knew one kid with a FOUR-speed Sturmey-Archer hub; it seemed unbelievable.

Who would ever need four speeds? That's ludicrous.

JanMM 10-17-11 08:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SlimRider (Post 13378722)
1010 steel is still a type of hi-tensile steel
1010, 1020, and 1030, are all types of hi-tensile steel.

1010 is lower tensile strength that 1020.

This from Sheldon: "Hi-Ten - A fancy-sounding name for the ordinary tubing used to build cheap bicycle frames"

Siu Blue Wind 10-17-11 09:02 PM

Slim I suggest that you look into how Schwinn buckled to the pressure by WalMart. And why there are currently two different divisions of Schwinn.


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