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Traveler and Varsity

Old 04-06-21, 04:00 PM
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FelixScout
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Traveler and Varsity

A status question: In the 1970's and 1980's Schwinn lineup where do the Traveler and Varsity fall in terms of relative quality?

The period Schwinn catalogs seem to say the Varsity was lower grade than the Traveler. Is that true?

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Old 04-06-21, 05:47 PM
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The Traveler was Schwinn's most low end model in the 1970s. In the 1980s I believe the Traveler was the 3rd or 4th from the bottom. Above the World and World Sport but right below the Le Tour if I remember correctly.
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Old 04-06-21, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Realsteel95 View Post
The Traveler was Schwinn's most low end model in the 1970s. In the 1980s I believe the Traveler was the 3rd or 4th from the bottom. Above the World and World Sport but right below the Le Tour if I remember correctly.
Google “19xx Schwinn catalog” inserting year in question for the xx to see how the Varsity and Traveler fell into the line up for a given year. The Traveler came out in 1950 but wasn’t offered with drop handle bars until 1975. The 1975 catalog appears to rank the Traveler at the bottom of the “sport bike” line up with the Varsity a notch up. In 1980, the Traveler ramped up its game and moved, as stated above, to a position between the World Sport and the LeTour.
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Old 04-06-21, 08:08 PM
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What does a bike need to do to rank below varsity ?
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Old 04-06-21, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
What does a bike need to do to rank below varsity ?
Cheaper hubs, mostly. The Varsity might have been the bottom of the Schwinn ten-speeds but it was built like a tank. It could take a phenomenal amount of abuse and keep rolling. It's not unusual to find 50-year-old Varsities still rolling on their original wheels and drivetrain.

A Traveler in the '70's was similar but "Schwinn-Approved", that is, made in Japan to Schwinn's specifications. It would be lighter than the Varsity due to its lugged frame. Still a basic, heavy, ten-speed.

Interestingly, the 1976 catalog had them on adjoining pages:
Schwinn catalogs, 1971 - 1980 (242 of 579) (waterfordbikes.com)
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Old 04-06-21, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
What does a bike need to do to rank below varsity ?
Whippy frame and flexy steel sidepulls. Basically, any bottom-end Murray, Huffy, or AMF 10 speed from the 1980's. Those pieces of lawn art make Varsities look like high-precision moon landing equipment.

The biggest problem with the Varsity is that it's a balloon tire bike with dropbars, derailers, and cheap sidepulls.

-Kurt
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Old 04-07-21, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
What does a bike need to do to rank below varsity ?
Having it be sold at Western Auto BITD or at K-Mart or WalMart now would be a good (meaning "bad") start.
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Old 04-07-21, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
What does a bike need to do to rank below varsity ?
I believe that company pride may have been a factor. Since the “Schwinn-Approved Traveler” meant imported and imported was believed by many to imply lesser quality, Schwinn leadership found themselves hard pressed to list a similar (but not made by Schwinn) bike, higher on the line up.
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Old 04-07-21, 08:33 AM
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I remember my father buying me a varsity as a teen. I rode it quite a lot until I bought my Peugeot PGN10 at aged 17. I think I traded it in as part of the purchase. The varsity was heavy and much slower than my PGN10, and I hated it.
30+ years later, I almost wish I still had it.

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Old 04-07-21, 09:00 AM
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Here's an honest Schwinn Varsity:



Here's an even more honest Varsity with a dishonest name:




-Kurt
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Old 04-08-21, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by friday1970 View Post
I remember my father buying me a varsity as a teen. I rode it quite a lot until I bought my Peugeot PGN10 at aged 17. I think I traded it in as part of the purchase. The varsity was heavy and much slower than my PGN10, and I hated it.
30+ years later, I almost wish I still had it.
There's a good chance it's still rolling somewhere. After the Apocalypse, you'll probably see Keith Richards riding a Varsity while eating a Twinkie.
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Old 04-09-21, 03:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Cheaper hubs, mostly. The Varsity might have been the bottom of the Schwinn ten-speeds but it was built like a tank. It could take a phenomenal amount of abuse and keep rolling. It's not unusual to find 50-year-old Varsities still rolling on their original wheels and drivetrain.

A Traveler in the '70's was similar but "Schwinn-Approved", that is, made in Japan to Schwinn's specifications. It would be lighter than the Varsity due to its lugged frame. Still a basic, heavy, ten-speed.

Interestingly, the 1976 catalog had them on adjoining pages:
Schwinn catalogs, 1971 - 1980 (242 of 579) (waterfordbikes.com)
I rode mine to the store just the other day.

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Old 04-09-21, 04:59 AM
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Gee, I wish I had a Varsity today. i remember them in the late 60s. What a bike.. The Le Tour was the go to bike for that age. How do bikes of that era compare to today's bikes?
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Old 04-09-21, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
I rode mine to the store just the other day.



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