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Old 02-15-14, 01:42 PM   #1
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LBS Schwinn vs. Dept. Store (Target) Schwinn?

I know how most people on this forum feel about department store bikes, and I generally agree, but is there a discernible difference in the Schwinn brand in particular? Same brand, different stores. Can anyone cite evidence that a Schwinn from an LBS is appreciably better quality than one found at say Target? I realize it's a bit apples and oranges because comparable models don't seem to be offered in each type of store. Also, I'm sure it's a matter of components not being the best ones, but mostly I'm wondering about the frame, overall reliability, ridability, etc. My friend wants to get a bike, but she's on a strict budget (probably 300 bucks max) so it's hard to ignore the Target selection for hybrid/commuter/road bikes.

Any thoughts on the matter are greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-15-14, 02:23 PM   #2
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I've wondered about that too. I think it's mostly components ad maybe slightly higher quality frames. Yard sale and CL will be her best net for a good bike on a right budget. If she can find a good used Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, etc. For around the $150-$200 mark, figure on her spending $150-$200 on an complete greasing and service at her LBS. That being said, I own a target Magna bike that I've upgraded slightly and ride like it's going out of style. I do all my own service though and maintain it meticulously. I would say if that's what she can get and what she can afford, go for it. Try and find something under the 30lb weight mark and try it out. They have a good return policy and being out on any bike is better than no bike.
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Old 02-15-14, 02:23 PM   #3
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"Buy nice or buy twice."

You can argue the details of any product until you get tired. My philosophy is not to buy entry level anything.
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Old 02-15-14, 03:10 PM   #4
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The frames will probably be as reliable even if the LBS frame was "nicer".

Don't ignore the components. Better components might be more reliable/easier to use/easier to repair.

The LBS bike (for more money) will likely be lighter (maybe, not a lot).

The LBS will likely be more competent at putting the bike together (what you save at Target you might spend at the LBS fixing the Target bike or in time dealing with problems).

You really need to talk about actual specific bikes for anybody to tell whether any differences are worthwhile.
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Old 02-15-14, 03:58 PM   #5
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The frames will probably be as reliable even if the LBS frame was "nicer".

Don't ignore the components. Better components might be more reliable/easier to use/easier to repair.

The LBS bike (for more money) will likely be lighter (maybe, not a lot).

The LBS will likely be more competent at putting the bike together (what you save at Target you might spend at the LBS fixing the Target bike or in time dealing with problems).

You really need to talk about actual specific bikes for anybody to tell whether any differences are worthwhile.

Out of curiosity and boredom I made the rounds of the local box stores a few months ago comparing their Schwinn bikes so I could give a friend an informed answer about them instead of just automatically saying they were junk. Some of what I saw were comparable to the lower end LBS version but many weren't assembled correctly and none of the better box store models were really much cheaper.

Maybe it was just me but there also seemed to even be a difference in the quality of Schwinn bikes between the different box stores. The Target Schwinns seemed to be a little better quality than what I saw at W-M and KMart. They were different models and had slightly better components. That said, whoever assembled the bikes for the Target I was in should have their tools taken away from them! Kinked cables, nipples missing on the cable ends, misaligned brake pads and most of them also had flat tires. At least the bikes in the W-M and KMart gave the appearance of being correctly assembled and ride ready.
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Old 02-15-14, 04:29 PM   #6
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as you say they aren't the same bikes. so the question may well be the same as asking if an LBS Felt is comparable to a dept store Schwinn. the answer: highly unlikely.
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Old 02-15-14, 05:08 PM   #7
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For me, I'd prefer to go to CL and get a fixer-upper. I've suggested that route, but of course it's hit or miss, especially finding the best size. I'm handy enough to make sure a Target (or anywhere else) build is correct. That, or something like Roadbikeoutlet.com, Nashbar, BikesDirect.com, or Bike Island. Any comments of those places? I love the deals. Just not sure about the quality there as well.

All this bike talk makes me wish we didn't have some 16+ inches of snow on the ground right now.
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Old 02-15-14, 05:10 PM   #8
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Can anyone cite evidence that a Schwinn from an LBS is appreciably better quality than one found at say Target?
Yes. I've looked over the bikes at Target. Most are BSO's,the rest are just low end. My DBX is a real bike;105 drivetrain,BB7 discs,nice frame,Ritchie and WTB bits. They're worlds apart.
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Old 02-15-14, 07:42 PM   #9
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I would be willing to bet they come out of the same factory... the difference is going to be in quality control. The bikes going to the LBS are going to pass a more stringent inspection than the ones going to the big box stores. Bikes that go to the LBS are also likely to have better quality components, are going to be assembled properly and will come with some sort of service after the sale.

The ones sold by the big box stores are going to be built to hit the lowest price point possible and basically come with a "return it for your money back if you don't like it warranty".

I have a Huffy from WM that is a complete POS, rear hub lasted 3 days. I took it back and swapped it for another one. I bought it on purpose as a disposable bike to use while working in a manufacturing facility where the emissions are hell on steel. The welds look like a first day welding student did them, they didn't even clean the weld splatter off prior to painting. I would have prefered a used bike but all the thrift stores in that area had were Next MTB's at 95% of retail, the Huffy was a marginally better deal.

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Old 02-15-14, 08:25 PM   #10
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Huge difference between

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-Dr...White/15939400

and

http://www.performancebike.com/webap...52_1098887_-1_
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Old 02-16-14, 04:30 AM   #11
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note 'schwinn' vs 'schwinn signature' labels
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Old 02-16-14, 06:58 AM   #12
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As someone who has owned both, I can tell you that the quality of a LBS-tier Schwinn is much better, due to better quality of components (even with the lower-priced LBS models). Lots of the Target/Wally World Schwinn's use old-style bottom brackets that require a lot more attention, whereas most of the LBS Schwinn's use sealed BB's that work much more smoothly. The cups/cones on even the cheapest of LBS models are of better quality, and the wheels are a bit more durable as well. I've owned a Schwinn Tourist and Courier, both from Target stores, and even though I'd say they're of slightly better quality than the Wal-Mart Schwinn's, I'd still always recommend that folks go with the LBS-tier (see: Signature Series) bikes. I currently own two Schwinn Racers and have ridden some of the Fastback line in the past (also still want a Le Tour), and the frames and components all seem to be of higher quality...and that's saying something, considering the Racer models are merely hi-ten steel. Here's a link to where you can buy LBS-quality Schwinn's online, but please let me remind anyone interested that most bike shops will give you lifetime tune-ups (or at least set it up for free the first time, so you can enjoy the ride more):

http://www.americasbikecompany.com/Schwinn_s/34.htm
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Old 02-16-14, 08:18 AM   #13
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For me, I'd prefer to go to CL and get a fixer-upper. I've suggested that route, but of course it's hit or miss, especially finding the best size. I'm handy enough to make sure a Target (or anywhere else) build is correct. That, or something like Roadbikeoutlet.com, Nashbar, BikesDirect.com, or Bike Island. Any comments of those places? I love the deals. Just not sure about the quality there as well.

All this bike talk makes me wish we didn't have some 16+ inches of snow on the ground right now.
Nasbar should be reasonable. It's part if Performance. They've been asking bikes and accessories for years. (Any shipped bike is going to require some assembly.)

Seems the bikesdirect/bikeisland (same company) bike can be fine. If you go that route, you might want some bicycle maintenance experience. The "list prices" are just made-up numbers. They might skimp a bit on some component. From what I've read, they can be difficult to deal with if you have problems.

Last edited by njkayaker; 02-16-14 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 02-16-14, 11:14 AM   #14
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When I first got back into cycling I didn't know anything about bikes, so naturally my first inclination was to check out what Target offered. I found a hybrid that I loved the look of but luckily I waited. I got online and went to the Schwinn website looking for specs on the Target bike, but there was nothing there. Then I found out that, like a lot of other companies, Schwinn licenses out their name to these stores but doesn't accept responsibility for the product. The Target Schwinns have a badge on them that says"Schwinn Quality" whereas the bikes you find at your lbs and on the Schwinn website will have a badge that says "Schwinn Signature". The concept is similar to finding a Starbucks in a target. Your drink might be in the same cup and even have the same ingredients, but Starbucks doesn't accept necessarily guarantee the same quality, it's all in name only.

With that said your likely to find that the frame of the Target bike will be made with a much lower quality material, the components will be very cheap and considering the people who put the bikes together get paid extra per unit assembled the build up will be functional but in need of quite a few adjustments that you'll have to pay your lbs for anyway.

Another option however, being as your friend is on a budget, is to look at sporting good stores. Some of them actually have their own bike mechanics and will typically have a slightly better selection of bikes at affordable prices. Just a thought. Hope this helped.
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Old 02-16-14, 11:25 AM   #15
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It comes down to assembly attention to detail, and mechanical background in working on bicycles,

and service after the sale , where LBS has advantage.

maybe pay the Bike shop some extra money to double check the Big Box Store's assembly job ..

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Old 02-16-14, 03:25 PM   #16
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Have you checked out this one? A little over the $300 mark, but has some good features...
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...53_-1___202396
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Old 02-16-14, 04:00 PM   #17
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More about Schwinn

You can read the history of Schwinn here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwinn_Bicycle_Company. It will help you understand that all current Schwinn bikes are made in China by Pacific Cycles who owns the rights to a lot of well known brand names including Schwinn. Pacific Cycles is owned by the conglomerate Doral Industries.

Most reputable bike shops don't want to carry bikes that are a headache to assemble and maintain. The big box stores couldn't care one whit. It's OK as long as they are low-priced and look nice from a distance. There were a lot of angry long time Schwinn dealers when Pacific Cycle decided to sell the same brand name as the authorized dealers but with lower prices (and lower quality) to the mass merchandisers. Your LBS can not get the volume discount that WM, KMart and Target get. It put them at a very great disadvantage when a customer came in and scoffed at the higher price at the LBS.

I bought my last Schwinn in the late 1950s, a 3-speed Schwinn Racer costing $50. I quit riding in high school after the bike was stolen from the school bike rack and I got my drivers license. I have no nostalgia for Schwinn. My next bike, bought used in Spring 1967, was a Fiorelli 10 speed Italian bike with Campy components. The difference between the two bikes was amazing. It was brazed instead of elector-welded. The frame was a beautiful chrome with blue lacquer over about half the bike. It was probably 10 pounds lighter than the Schwinn Varsity I could have bought at that time. It was a pleasure to ride and I got many thousands of miles out of it before losing it off the bike carrier on my car a few years later. As young people like myself (young back then!) found out about the high quality European or Japanese bikes Schwinn began its long decline that ended in bankruptcy in 1992. When an adult of my generation went out to buy a bike for their kids, the brand name Schwinn came to mind as that is what they probably owned when they were kids. The next generation didn't have those same memories.

I was thinking the Schwinn Racer was my last American made bike but then I realized I have several, mostly recumbents. They include my Balance AL450 mtb, my Cannondale SM800 mtb, my Linear recumbent, my Haluzak Horizon recumbent, and my Catrike 700 trike. The Catrike company in Florida is doing very well these days as they use computerized production to keep down labor costs and make an excellent product.

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Old 02-16-14, 04:04 PM   #18
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As one person noted, note the difference between normal Schwinn bikes and Schwinn Signature bikes. The latter are comparatively higher end than normal Schwinns. But still, finding LBSes that carry Schwinn Signature bikes is probably not too easy since Schwinn as a whole doesn't exactly have a good reputation with most more knowledgeable cyclists.
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Old 02-16-14, 05:13 PM   #19
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I don't remember where on this forum someone posted the 2014 schwinn bikes line up,, and I remember seeing some 1300-1500 hundred dollar bikes in there,, I know you're not getting those at walmart or target,,,
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Old 02-16-14, 06:10 PM   #20
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I had a Schwinn single speed beach cruiser from WM that was OK. On beach cruisers, the front tube is a bigger diameter on department store bikes.
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Old 02-17-14, 06:58 AM   #21
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Have you checked out this one? A little over the $300 mark, but has some good features...
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...53_-1___202396
I've heard good things about this bike! And let's not forget the utility and ease of an internally-geared hub...also, dat price. :-D

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I don't remember where on this forum someone posted the 2014 schwinn bikes line up,, and I remember seeing some 1300-1500 hundred dollar bikes in there,, I know you're not getting those at walmart or target,,,
That was me. Here it is again, for anyone who might be interested.

http://www.americasbikecompany.com/S...h=2014+schwinn

The Signature Series is definitely a good line-up of quality bikes. I have ridden on some of the higher-priced models, and even drooled over a few of them. As stated earlier, you'd have to go and use Schwinn's shop locator on their site to find local shops who might carry their brand. I use South Lake Cycles in Lexington, SC, (Trek, Schwinn, Kestrel, etc) and they've been a wonderful shop. I would certainly not urge the OP away from checking out other brands...I've been very happy with Trek, and may even branch out some more in the future.
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Old 02-17-14, 07:37 AM   #22
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A little anecdotal information on department store Schwinns: A friend of mine who is bike savvy picked up a Target store model Schwinn, "Tourist" if I recall right on the model. It's kinda like a funky cx/touring hybrid bike with very low end components, my friend also happens to be a good sized clyde.

I can't say I'd recommend to any novice to get one of these bikes, but if you happen to have a pile of spare parts and wrench knowledge they can be easily upgraded into a fairly good bike.. probably near the performance of a 400-600 entry level bike. In the end he changed out the RD/bars/stem/seatpost/pedals/tires. All told he's sitting at less then 300 in the bike and now has some features that would have been impossible to get at that price point new. He did complain for a while the low spoke count wheels needed to go, but he's still rocking them and they're fine.
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Old 02-17-14, 09:20 AM   #23
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A little anecdotal information on department store Schwinns: A friend of mine who is bike savvy picked up a Target store model Schwinn, "Tourist" if I recall right on the model. It's kinda like a funky cx/touring hybrid bike with very low end components, my friend also happens to be a good sized clyde.

I can't say I'd recommend to any novice to get one of these bikes, but if you happen to have a pile of spare parts and wrench knowledge they can be easily upgraded into a fairly good bike.. probably near the performance of a 400-600 entry level bike. In the end he changed out the RD/bars/stem/seatpost/pedals/tires. All told he's sitting at less then 300 in the bike and now has some features that would have been impossible to get at that price point new. He did complain for a while the low spoke count wheels needed to go, but he's still rocking them and they're fine.
I also have a Target-purchased Tourist (gunmetal gray color). As far as the frame goes, it's an excellent alloy frame with a good solid fork and the components are serviceable, if not wonderful. After learning more about sizing/fit, I tried to modify the Tourist to better fit me, and even had it set up as a proper 8-speed for awhile. Alas, it still wasn't my favorite cup of tea, and so I disassembled it down to the frame for parts, and now it's decorating a wall in my shed until I decide how to get rid of it. Completely serviceable, but always risky in the size/fit department (like your friend, I am a good-sized clyde: 6'1", 220lbs). Cheers to your friend for making it work for him!
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Old 02-17-14, 09:28 AM   #24
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Buy what you can afford, If that is a bike from Target, so be it. It's far better and more fun than not riding .
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Old 02-17-14, 12:02 PM   #25
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Schwinn offers different lines. For big box stores, it's simply Schwinn branded; for LBS distribution it's Schwinn Signature. Look at details like the derailleurs; a friend bought one of the big box Schwinns and the derailleur body was plastic and the adjustment screws were self-tapping (i.e., basically wood screws) screwed into the plastic. It worked fine for a while but eventually the adjustments became problematic. A higher quality design has all metal parts with machine screw threads. Look at other details of the hardware like brakes and stuff you can probably see the difference. Schwinn tries to keep a foot in both worlds, but frankly even their Signature models are entry level (but still better than BSOs).
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