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  1. #1
    Junior Member jps6882's Avatar
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    Giant vs. Schwinn

    I am planning on getting the wife a new hybrid today. The local shop has Giants for around $350-420. Another shop further away, but still reasonable has Schwinns on a huge sale $150-250 off, putting them $100 cheaper than the Giants. I am new to cycling as well (just picked up a Cypress DX). She will be mainly using it to go on short around town rides with the kids, or occasional trail/path rides with me. So the question is: Is there a significant difference between the two that the untrained user will notice? Base MSRP for both are similar. And unfortunately the shops are in the opposite direction, and about 200 miles apart, so no easy comparison shopping.

  2. #2
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    At the Scooby214 house, we have both a Giant hybrid and an "LBS" Schwinn hybrid. The main difference I saw between the two bikes at the time of purchase was the quality of the components. The two bikes were similarly priced, but the Giant came with slightly better derailleurs and a different style of suspension fork. There are also Giant bikes that have the same derailleurs as my Schwinn, and my Schwinn's Sram X-3 derailleurs have worked flawlessly for thousands of miles. (My Wife's Giant has Shimano Altus derailleurs, which are also fairly low end.) They are both good quality bikes.

    If you consider the Schwinn, make sure the shop is an authorized Schwinn dealer, as they will be selling "LBS" Schwinns and not "Wal-Mart" Schwinns which tend to be much lower quality. Bike shop Schwinns are actually good bikes, and can be comparable to similarly priced Giant bikes.
    Last edited by Scooby214; 06-23-11 at 12:49 PM. Reason: Clarification

  3. #3
    Member djulian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooby214 View Post
    If you consider the Schwinn, make sure the shop is an authorized Schwinn dealer, as they will be selling "LBS" Schwinns and not "Wal-Mart" Schwinns which tend to be much lower quality. Bike shop Schwinns are actually good bikes, and can be comparable to similarly priced Giant bikes.
    Did not realize this! I had a Wal-Mart Schwinn about 7 years ago, and the pedal fell off while I was riding it--I wasn't riding it hard, it just popped off when I stood up. Needless to say, I returned it and Wal-Mart gave me my money back.

    I was interested in some LBS Schwinn single-speeds--I may have to consider them again. The price was great.
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  4. #4
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djulian View Post
    Did not realize this! I had a Wal-Mart Schwinn about 7 years ago, and the pedal fell off while I was riding it--I wasn't riding it hard, it just popped off when I stood up. Needless to say, I returned it and Wal-Mart gave me my money back.

    I was interested in some LBS Schwinn single-speeds--I may have to consider them again. The price was great.
    The Schwinn LBS bicycles are made at a different factory than the Wal-Mart Schwinns. There are a couple of dept. store Schwinns that can actually be good bikes: The Avenue, found at Wal-Mart, and the Trailway, found at Target. The main issue with these bikes tends to be that store employees do not know how to properly set up the bikes, meaning the brakes can be unsafe unless a knowledgeable person properly adjusts them. My son was given a Schwinn Ranger 24" mountain bike from Target, and it is heavier than any of my adult sized bikes. With a lot of adjustments, and a set of Continental TourRide tires, he is able to keep up with me on shorter 10-mile rides. He is growing so quickly that the bike won't fit him in a year anyway.

    I would easily buy another LBS Schwinn, as my current one has been a good bike and the shop has been great with any minor problems I've come across. They can be a good value for the money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooby214 View Post
    The Schwinn LBS bicycles are made at a different factory than the Wal-Mart Schwinns.
    What is your source for this little tidbit ..... ? And if accurate, is this practice uncommon regarding different models in any manufacturer's lineip ? And what significance does a "different" factory supposedly imply ? Couldn't they just make an inferior quality bike using the same factory ? Inquisitive minds want to know.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra

  6. #6
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talldog View Post
    What is your source for this little tidbit ..... ? And if accurate, is this practice uncommon regarding different models in any manufacturer's lineip ? And what significance does a "different" factory supposedly imply ? Couldn't they just make an inferior quality bike using the same factory ? Inquisitive minds want to know.
    My only source is my LBS, an authorized Schwinn dealer. Shane, the shop guy sharing the info with me, stated that the main significance is in the quality of the frames. He said that the "LBS Schwinn" bikes have frames made in Giant's frame factory, while the dept. store Schwinns are not made in Giant's frame factory. He told me that the way to identify an LBS Schwinn is to look for the "Schwinn Select Series" sticker on the frame. A dept. store Schwinn won't have the sticker, and the Schwinn emblem on the head tube will be different as well. He has been selling Schwinns since they were made in Chicago, and said that the company that currently owns the Schwinn brand doesn't do enough to differentiate between the two Schwinns, making his job in selling the "Schwinn Select Series" LBS bikes quite difficult. He says he sells far more Giant bikes than Schwinns because the name has been so tarnished over the last few years.

    I am no expert on this, but I've worked with Shane long enough to believe that he is being honest with his representation of the changes Schwinn has gone through over last few years. He seemed quite frustrated with it, as he felt like the Schwinn dealers were the ones who got the short end of the stick in the end.

    I've never heard of this practice happening with any other bicycle manufacturer. If you call Schwinn through their website's contact information, as I have done, you will find that they only will work with dept. store bike customers. When I tried, the rep said that the bike store Schwinns are a different beast entirely and that one must go through an authorized dealer to get service, parts, etc. The telephone support is for the dept. store bikes only, as there is no "authorized dealer" for the dept. store Schwinns. You don't run into this with other bike brands, as Trek, Giant, Specialized, etc. have not sold out their good names to dept. store bike sales.

  7. #7
    No Money and No Sense sillygolem's Avatar
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    In the 70's and 80's Schwinn started farming out some of their manufacturing to keep up with demand. Many of their 80's "Schwinn Approved" bikes were built by Giant. At the end of the decade, Schwinn decided they were going to partner with a Chinese manufacturer to produce BSOs alongside their LBS bikes, and they'd also open their own company stores to compete with LBSs. This angered both Giant and the LBSs, so Giant decided to sell their bikes under their own name to the bike shops - basically the same thing as the Schwinns they were selling earlier. Giant still makes frames for lots of brands in secret (their security is notoriously tight) and together with their own bikes, they're the largest "quality" bike manufacturer in the world.

    Schwinn had trouble finding another quality bike partner and folded. Today the company is part of Pacific Cycles, who make pretty much any bike you see in a department store. Pacific was bought by Doral, which split the bike manufacturing between them and the LBS-centered Cycling Sports Group, who also make high-quality versions of the GT and Cannondale lines. In other words, LBS and BSO Schwinns are designed and built by entirely different people within the same conglomerate.

    As for Giant vs. Schwinn, I personally like Giants, but you really need to get her to ride a few - most of the difference for her will be which bike fits her better. If it's a Schwinn, go for it. If she likes a Giant better, rest assured that extra $100 is worth it if it means she'll ride it.

  8. #8
    Member djulian's Avatar
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    Their own website bears this out a bit--certain bikes fill out the "Where to Buy" page with standard dep't stores (K-Mart, etc), and others say, "Independent Dealers." When I wikichecked it, I found something similar to what you are saying.

    I noticed the stickers on those at Wally World read: "Schwinn Quality."
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  9. #9
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sillygolem View Post
    In the 70's and 80's Schwinn started farming out some of their manufacturing to keep up with demand. Many of their 80's "Schwinn Approved" bikes were built by Giant. At the end of the decade, Schwinn decided they were going to partner with a Chinese manufacturer to produce BSOs alongside their LBS bikes, and they'd also open their own company stores to compete with LBSs. This angered both Giant and the LBSs, so Giant decided to sell their bikes under their own name to the bike shops - basically the same thing as the Schwinns they were selling earlier. Giant still makes frames for lots of brands in secret (their security is notoriously tight) and together with their own bikes, they're the largest "quality" bike manufacturer in the world.

    Schwinn had trouble finding another quality bike partner and folded. Today the company is part of Pacific Cycles, who make pretty much any bike you see in a department store. Pacific was bought by Doral, which split the bike manufacturing between them and the LBS-centered Cycling Sports Group, who also make high-quality versions of the GT and Cannondale lines. In other words, LBS and BSO Schwinns are designed and built by entirely different people within the same conglomerate.

    As for Giant vs. Schwinn, I personally like Giants, but you really need to get her to ride a few - most of the difference for her will be which bike fits her better. If it's a Schwinn, go for it. If she likes a Giant better, rest assured that extra $100 is worth it if it means she'll ride it.
    Thanks for your informed answer. You said it much better than I could.

    +1 on the suggestion to get her to ride a few bikes. I went through this recently with my wife, and she went for the Giant. She likes her bike, and I like my Schwinn, so we both have the right bike.

  10. #10
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    He said that the "LBS Schwinn" bikes have frames made in Giant's frame factory,
    As mentioned by another poster, Schwinn's and other high end named bikes are made by Giant. My LBS also is a Schwinn and Giant dealer. When I was looking at road bikes and found out that the bike I was looking at was made by Giant with the same drive components, I went with Giant as it was a bit cheaper. BTW, I have a Cypress and I really love it. I haven't ridden it much lately, but I really want to pick it back up since it actually gives me a better cardio workout than my road bike does.

    But back to your question, I think the woman's Cypress is a bit better as far as a more relaxed ride than the Schwinn. I have to agree that she needs to try both bikes and decide which one is more comfortable for her. However, since the shops are so far away from each other, any of the two will be a great bike once its properly fit and she starts riding it. The secret here is the proper fit, both frame and components.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooby214 View Post
    He has been selling Schwinns since they were made in Chicago, and said that the company that currently owns the Schwinn brand doesn't do enough to differentiate between the two Schwinns, making his job in selling the "Schwinn Select Series" LBS bikes quite difficult.
    I agree w/your bike shop guy. The same is true of the Mongoose brand. To try and use the same brand for cheap stuff and good stuff is a mistake that dilutes the meaning of the brand and creates doubt and confusion in the minds of potential customers.

    Easton does it right with their Bell brand. Bell = value brand that you see in Walmart and Target. Easton = high-end brand that you see in bike shops.

  12. #12
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Add Raleigh and Diamondback to the list of re-branded BSOs (bike-shaped objects). If you buy your bike at a big box store or sporting goods chain, you can pretty much guarantee that it's a knock-off.

    That said, my BBS Schwinn has evolved into a capable performer:



    Since the pic I've swapped out the cheapo suspension seatpost for a rigid one. Future plans include a rigid fork and upgraded wheelset.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  13. #13
    No Money and No Sense sillygolem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    Easton does it right with their Bell brand. Bell = value brand that you see in Walmart and Target. Easton = high-end brand that you see in bike shops.
    Sort of. The Bell name is still used on their whole range of helmets, although their department store models are still high quality, even including their True Fit system on low-end models. They also sell Cheng Shin tires and tubes under their name, which is nice because you can pick up a quality tube just about anywhere.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
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  14. #14
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sillygolem View Post
    Sort of. The Bell name is still used on their whole range of helmets, although their department store models are still high quality, even including their True Fit system on low-end models. They also sell Cheng Shin tires and tubes under their name, which is nice because you can pick up a quality tube just about anywhere.
    I didn't know those things. To be honest, and call me a snob, but I ignore anything having the Bell brand. Hey, such is the power of branding. I was actually shocked when I learned last year that Easton owned Bell, and that was enough to engender second thoughts about buying Easton.

    Branding is a powerful weapon that needs to be wielded with some care.

    Interestingly, Cheng Shin is a brand I've known about for a long time. I first encountered that brand back in the early 80s in connection with a very small motorcycle that I ran at the time. To this day I still have a good opinion of the brand.

  15. #15
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    I really don't know that brand names really mean anything anymore. The companies that made everything in the USA have all moved their manufacturing to China or buy directly from China and put their name on it. Giro is also owned by Easton and some of their products are made in China, most likely in the same plant that makes the cheaper products that we stay away from. I think what it all boils down to now-a-days is how these companies market their product and not so much the quality of the product. If we think that one product is superior to the other because of brand name, then that is what we buy because marketing does a great job of making us think that way. Of course this does not hold true to all products, but I'm just saying.

    I have to wonder, if a company buys a frame set from someone like Giant and puts the bike together in their plant in the US, is that considered "Made in the USA"? It's sort of like buying American Made Automobiles whose transmissions are made in Canada, engines from Mexico and so on. Just kinda makes me wonder.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    I know that just slapping a brand name on a product doesn't change the nature of the product. Branding is important though. I think anyone involved in marketing would agree w/that viewpoint. People in general do not have time to thoroughly research and test every facet of a product that they buy. Branding is one thing we look at in order to short-cut the research and decision-making process. When a brand delivers consistent results over time, we come to depend upon those results and make decisions based upon our past experience. Consider how many people go to McDonalds because they know exactly what to expect. Of course, brands can disappoint.

    Schwinn is a good example of a schizophrenic brand. Is it solid quality? Or is it bottom of the barrel? The brand is inconsistent, and that to me is a bad place to be.

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    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    Schwinn is a good example of a schizophrenic brand. Is it solid quality? Or is it bottom of the barrel? The brand is inconsistent, and that to me is a bad place to be.
    +1 Well said. I think it hurts their LBS sales. Their bottom line for their department store bike division is probably doing okay by selling cheap BSOs for cheap at Wal-Mart and Target.

  18. #18
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    There used to be a factory here in Tampa many years ago that manufactured blue-jeans. A good friend of mine knew one of the managers that worked there and he said that the factory made jeans with no labels and sent them to various clothing designers as well as chain stores like K-Mart and the labels were added by the clients. So, Levi and Wrangler advertise these jeans with a million dollar campaign and charge you $65.00+ for a pair and K-Marts, under their store brand, charges you $14.00. Same jeans from the same factory yet a big difference in price.

    I have to agree that branding is a good thing sometimes, but the bottom line is "are you getting what you pay for?" If K-Mart can sell me a pair of jeans for $14.00, is buying the same identical pair of jeans with a designer or brand name on it worth the extra money. And here is where your example of Schwinn comes in. Why go to a bike shop and pay over $300.00 for a Schwinn when I can go to Wal-Mart or Target and get one for under $100.00. Yes, this hurts the company and is not, in my opinion, the best selling or marketing strategy to have. It definitely puts a hurt on their dealers as my LSB is a Schwinn and Giant dealer and he sells three times more Giants than Schwinns, mainly because of this.

    I don't know.... I think we need to start bringing manufacturing back to the US, put our people back to work and start making the type of quality products that we did years ago. Then, I think branding would mean more than it does today, at least for me, anyway. But I don't see that happening anytime soon.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    I don't know.... I think we need to start bringing manufacturing back to the US, put our people back to work and start making the type of quality products that we did years ago. Then, I think branding would mean more than it does today, at least for me, anyway. But I don't see that happening anytime soon.
    Yep, and then your $100 Schwinn would now cost $950. And they might sell 100 units. That is one of the reasons the original Schwinn went out of business. Not going to happen. There is a global economic realignment currently underway and high priced unskilled labor is not part of the equation. Nor should it be.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra

  20. #20
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Yep, and then your $100 Schwinn would now cost $950. And they might sell 100 units. That is one of the reasons the original Schwinn went out of business. Not going to happen. There is a global economic realignment currently underway and high priced unskilled labor is not part of the equation. Nor should it be.
    I fully agree and that is why I said that I don't see that happening anytime soon and for the reason I have bolded out in your post. In order to accomplish bringing back manufacturing to the US, as a society, we need to go back to the values we had back then and try to keep the greed out of everything we do. And that's another reason why it will not happen anything soon.
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  21. #21
    Member djulian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    I fully agree and that is why I said that I don't see that happening anytime soon and for the reason I have bolded out in your post. In order to accomplish bringing back manufacturing to the US, as a society, we need to go back to the values we had back then and try to keep the greed out of everything we do. And that's another reason why it will not happen anything soon.
    Not sure when the "back then" was where Americans were miraculously selfless, or when it was that we were not driven by greed. It certainly wasn't anytime in the last 250 years.
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