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Schwinn Sidewinder Serial Number - Stumped

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Schwinn Sidewinder Serial Number - Stumped

Old 10-03-22, 03:09 PM
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RCMoeur
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Schwinn Sidewinder Serial Number - Stumped

I obtained a beat-up Schwinn, which seems to be an early-1980s Sidewinder. There are no decals on the frame, and the paint color is a weathered dark blue, but the frame has all the hallmarks of a US-made Schwinn Chicago frame (forged construction, oval Schwinn head badge, rounded-top seatstays, small-diameter tubes, tubular kickstand mount, 0.833" stem, weighs several tons, etc.) It very much resembles a Varsity straight-tube diamond frame from the era, but designed for wider 26" tires and having a tubular fork instead of the solid-blade fork seen on other Chicago Schwinns.

Here's my real question. The serial number is in the expected location at the bottom of the head tube, but starts with "FU______". Plugging that serial number into the variety of Schwinn serial number lookup sites gives an error response, as it seems they only go up to T for the second letter (T=1982, like my Chicago-built cruiser). I could extrapolate from the serial number that it was built in June 1983, but online history documents (always authoritative!) declare that Chicago production ceased in late 1982, and that bikes produced elsewhere had a different serial number system.

Any comments or thoughts? I just thought it was interesting that this frame is giving a "FU" to the historical record. I'm also thinking of listing it for sale to raise money for a local bicycle nonprofit, along with a few of the salvageable parts (the 14-38 AG freewheel, original crank and front derailleur, etc.)
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Old 10-03-22, 03:32 PM
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Welcome to the forum. Pictures are always helpful in identification, new members are restricted until 10 posts though. But, we can help, another member posted good instructions:

@echoplex
"You can upload photos to an album and another member can then post them to the thread. How do I use albums?

As a member, you can create Albums of images that are linked to your public profile. Albums can be created by visiting the User Control Panel, and clicking on the 'Pictures & Albums' link, and then clicking on 'Add Album'.

Each album can have a title ('Joe's Holiday to Nepal'), a description ('A bunch of photos from my recent adventure') and can be of three different types: Public, Private or Profile.
Public albums can be viewed by anyone
Private albums can only be viewed by site staff (moderators, administrators) and your Friends and Contacts (info)
Profile albums are viewable only by you. However, you can use the images to customize your public profile (info)
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You'll have the option to give each picture a caption, and to set one image as the Album cover, which will be displayed on the public profile. To delete an album or edit the title, description or album type, click on 'Edit Album'. To delete an image, or to edit a caption or change the album cover, click on 'Edit Pictures'.

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Old 10-03-22, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SoCaled View Post
Welcome to the forum. Pictures are always helpful in identification, new members are restricted until 10 posts though. But, we can help, another member posted good instructions:

@echoplex
"You can upload photos to an album and another member can then post them to the thread. How do I use albums?

(snip)

When you have uploaded a picture, you can place it in your posts by using the BB code text that is displayed below the image when you view it at full size."
I know I'm currently under the "no pix / no links" restriction, which is why I tried to be as detailed as I could in my written descriptions. I'm not sure adding photos would help, as they'd just depict what I described.
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Old 10-03-22, 04:25 PM
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You might be amazed what this group can do with a few good pictures, I would give it a try. To quote a member's signature here: "A picture is worth a thousand words, but only if taken from the drive side"

Based on the color 1983 should be the right year
It would not be out of line for a 1983 model to have been made in 1982

Last edited by SoCaled; 10-03-22 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 10-03-22, 05:05 PM
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It looks like the Sidewinder was made up until 1984. And your dark blue bike would be a 1983 according to BikeHistory's Sidewinder webpage.

When I worked in a Schwinn dealer at the early '80's, I was not impressed with Schwinn's Sidewinder. It was the same old heavy frame and crankset with 26" wheels and BMX stem and handlebars. But what did I know.

Nowadays the Sidewinder actually is in demand. The unbreakable frame and crank end up being virtues instead of liabilities. These make great around town bikes and multispeed cruisers. They wouldn't be bad for a cross country bike as well.

I'm looking forward to pictures @RCMoeur .

Edit: I thought that the Sidewinder had a BMX stem. Nope, it has the forged Ashtabula stem.
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Old 10-03-22, 05:42 PM
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Thanks for the helpful replies.

OK, in my copious free time (ha) I'll clean up the frame and post photos.

The stem is a forged steel "standard" Schwinn-esque stem - not a pillow block.

I think the bike saw some changes in its service life - the wheels when I received it had heavy steel rims, not light Araya rims. The rear derailleur was a stamped-steel Shimano with a long hanger, not an Allvit or a Suntour AG. It still had the Suntour ratchet thumb shifters, but the plastic is sun-damaged and the left (front) shifter is a reversed right-hand shifter.

The frame is far too tall for me, so I'll be looking to move it on to another interested owner.

P. S.: I did my first century on a Varsity back in 1980, so I'm a bit familiar with old Chicago steel. Thousands of years from now, after all other vestiges of our civilization has vanished, I predict that Chicago-forged Schwinn frames will somehow survive.
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Old 10-04-22, 11:37 AM
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The Sidewinders do have a bit of a cult following amongst the the "big kid bmx" crowd, they often sell for a premium as a result
16ab9e9f29ce35cf99629334b1b3498c@sale.craigslist.org - $550 - current LA listing


Last edited by SoCaled; 10-04-22 at 11:41 AM. Reason: added listing
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Old 10-04-22, 03:16 PM
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When Schwinn Chicago plant closed, the EF production was moved to Murray Bicycle. Sometime in the 1982/1983 time frame this occurred. So the "unique" Chicago EF construction was not unique to the Chicago plant.
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Old 10-05-22, 12:13 PM
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OK, I managed to clean the frame up somewhat (but not squeaky clean) and take some pictures. They're in an album titled "1983 Schwinn Sidewinder" under my username.

And I went through the effort of copying all the BBCodes from each photo, only to get the "You are only allowed to post URLs to other sites and photos after you have made 10 posts or more" error message.

Someday, just maybe I can get a photo to appear in an actual post. But I'm not all that optimistic at the moment...
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Old 10-05-22, 12:21 PM
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OK, trying again, as I posted in another thread to get to the "magic 10" number.


1983 Schwinn Sidewinder frame in blue


"FU" doesn't register in the Schwinn serial number databases.


Head tube with color-coordinated Chicago badge and serial number


Seat cluster showing classic forged Schwinn construction and 0.833 seatpost


Unique cable stop placement


Forged Schwinn chainstays and one-piece bottom bracket shell


Heavy-duty dropouts forged to the frame


No other decals, but it still has the original dealer sticker


Weighing in at a svelte 15.0 lbs for frame, fork, headset, seat post, seat clamp, stem, and BB cups. Must be the bottom bracket cups that add all that weight.

Last edited by RCMoeur; 10-05-22 at 12:22 PM. Reason: wrong photo link
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Old 10-05-22, 12:52 PM
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Squinting to try and read headbadge number - 2093?
Should be July 28th, 1983 - first three numbers are numerical day of the year 209 = July 28th , last number is year 1983 (have to guess decade)
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Old 10-05-22, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SoCaled View Post
Squinting to try and read headbadge number - 2093?
Should be July 28th, 1983 - first three numbers are numerical day of the year 209 = July 28th , last number is year 1983 (have to guess decade)
I guess I'm never too old to learn something new. I never noticed that number until you pointed it out.

Zoomerama:
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Old 10-05-22, 01:56 PM
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Also, it would seem the previous owner saw there was a problem with the rear tire's integrity. This was their solution. It may have affected braking performance.

The rims are heavy steel, but the hubs are high-flange aluminum, and look to be Normandy / Maillard. The hub barrel stampings say "Schwinn Approved - Made in France - 83".
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Old 10-06-22, 06:41 PM
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Schwinn spec'ed a lot of models at this level with aluminum hubs + steel rims, and vice-versa. I suppose there's a method to their madness. With the eventual overall weight of this bike, plus the steel rims, Kool-Stop salmon pads would be in order.


(Once you, er, fix that tire, of course....)


(Taking bets that whoever came up with that tire fix is now working at a nearby Jiffy-Lube.)
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Old 10-07-22, 05:09 PM
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The frame looks good @RCMoeur . Whoever ends up with this frame and other parts that will come with it should be happy. I am assuming that they will get it at some reduced price rather than the crazy prices that I have seen listed online for Sidewinders.

I mean I like them, but it is a Varsity with fat tires.

They could have had Schwinn Varsity's as the link to the past in the movie "Planet of the Apes" .
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Old 10-07-22, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
They could have had Schwinn Varsity's as the link to the past in the movie "Planet of the Apes" .
The next sequel will feature multiple primate species riding Varsitys with Sting Ray handlebars; to be titled "Planet of the Ape-hangers".
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Old 10-08-22, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
The frame looks good @RCMoeur I am assuming that they will get it at some reduced price rather than the crazy prices that I have seen listed online for Sidewinders.

I mean I like them, but it is a Varsity with fat tires.
Funny, cause it's true. The bikes above the Sidewinder in the Schwinn lineup sell for less. It seems to be driven by the BMX style forks and sometimes neck. Ties them in with all the New SE "big kid" BMX 26" & 29" wheel frames.
That said, I believe the OP said he was putting the money from the sale to his local bike non-profit so I say charge fair price, but fair is allowed to include market value, especially when the profit goes to a good place.
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Old 10-08-22, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SoCaled View Post
That said, I believe the OP said he was putting the money from the sale to his local bike non-profit so I say charge fair price, but fair is allowed to include market value, especially when the profit goes to a good place.
If I sell this particular bike (or frameset), the proceeds will indeed go to a local bicycle nonprofit.

But I wear several nonprofit hairnets, and this one will benefit the local Recycle Your Bicycle for a Kid in Foster Care program.

(The sound you hear are my Rusty Spoke colleagues on Bike Forums grabbing their torches and pitchforks...)

Fear not, Rusty Spokers. You know I'll help in the future with revenue generation, but this is not your bike.

I suppose the next step would be starting a thread in the "What's It Worth" section to get an idea of the value of the frame and other components in current condition?
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