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Old 04-23-10, 05:43 AM   #1
Dzrtrat
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How to Know if it's a Chicago Schwinn??..

I've been looking for info over the net and using our search function here (either I've overlooked it or the lack of information is the answer) about how to tell if a Schwinn is a Chicago Schwinn..

Let me explain to narrow an answer...

If my info is correct, at one point Schwinn was having bikes made in Japan by Panasonic and in Taiwan by Giant prier to their 1982 Chicago closing...My question is:

During the time that Schwinn's were being made both here and abroad was there a distinction in the serial numbers? Such as different location that would make this determination or in the numbering system used? Or am I just misinformed and any bike made prior to 1982 is considered a Chicago Schwinn?
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Old 04-23-10, 05:48 AM   #2
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Le Tour bikes were made in Japan at their inception, circa 1974.
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Old 04-23-10, 06:05 AM   #3
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Le Tour bikes were made in Japan at their inception, circa 1974.

Ahhh thanks for quick response, and you made a good point...specific bikes to make the distinction..
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Old 04-23-10, 06:11 AM   #4
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Another thing - if it has a headbadge, it'll usually be a giveaway. Most Chicago Schwinns have large, oval headbadges, while the foreign badges are the little round ones with the "star' in the middle.
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Old 04-23-10, 07:27 AM   #5
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Another thing - if it has a headbadge, it'll usually be a giveaway. Most Chicago Schwinns have large, oval headbadges, while the foreign badges are the little round ones with the "star' in the middle.
Schwinn Serial Numbers and Date Codes Here

1963

1965

1974

1976

1979

1980

1981

1984

1984

1986
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Old 04-23-10, 07:28 AM   #6
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1986

1986

1995

2007
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Old 04-23-10, 07:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
Le Tour bikes were made in Japan at their inception, circa 1974.
But about 1979, LeTour production was moved to Chicago where they were hand brazed. About '83 they were built in Mississippi.

The OP's original question about serial numbers is a good indicator. Japan and Taiwan serial numbers were different. Giant built Schwinns almost always have a "G" in the serial number.

Chicago built Schwinns from the '70s have their serial numbers in one of two places, under the headbadge on the steering tube, always beginning with two letters, or in the case of a Paramount, on the left rear dropout. These always begin with a letter followed by a two digit year, then a frame number, such as "E73049" which equates to May 1973 the 49th frame.

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Another thing - if it has a headbadge, it'll usually be a giveaway. Most Chicago Schwinns have large, oval headbadges, while the foreign badges are the little round ones with the "star' in the middle.
Not always an Oval badge: Paramounts, Super Sports, Sports Tourers, Le Tours, and Superiors always had round badges, regardless of the year made. Varsities and Continentals had round badges into the early '60s. Here's a picture of my '62 Continental.

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Old 04-23-10, 08:55 AM   #8
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I suppose I should have specified - usually the round badges would say "Schwinn approved" and the country of origin. I mis-spoke.
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Old 04-23-10, 08:58 AM   #9
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I believe The LeTours were made in Japan from 73.5 to 79.5 and in 1980-1988 the bicycles were made in Chicago. I know the early 80's Varisty I bought for my ex was definitely made in Chicago, but the Le Tour I sold to my friend was Pure Japanese.
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Old 04-23-10, 09:29 AM   #10
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FYI, that headbadge list is not the most inclusive thing in the world. It's missing quite a bit.

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Old 04-23-10, 09:36 AM   #11
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These might say "Chicago" on them, but the bikes they were on were made either in Greenville, MS or in Taiwan (depending on the bike)
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Old 04-23-10, 11:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I believe The LeTours were made in Japan from 73.5 to 79.5 and in 1980-1988 the bicycles were made in Chicago.
The Chicago plant closed for good in late 1983, so no Schwinn bicycles were built in Chicago after that date.

Below are the first two pages of Schwinn Bulletin 23 published in 1981, explaining the serial number schemes from 1965 through 1981 for mass produced, limited production, and imported Schwinn bicycles. The third page has some information on determining the vintage of pre-1965 Schwinns, but contains several errors, so I'm reluctant to post that page.



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Old 04-23-10, 03:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
Not always an Oval badge: Paramounts, Super Sports, Sports Tourers, Le Tours, and Superiors always had round badges, regardless of the year made.
Just to muddy the water a little more:



This is my 1971 Super Sport, probably finished on a Friday when they'd run out of round head badges.
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Old 04-23-10, 03:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by X-LinkedRider View Post
I believe The LeTours were made in Japan from 73.5 to 79.5 and in 1980-1988 the bicycles were made in Chicago. I know the early 80's Varisty I bought for my ex was definitely made in Chicago, but the Le Tour I sold to my friend was Pure Japanese.

As an aside, weren't the Japanese LeTours produced by Bridgestone? I've got a mid-70's LeTour mixte that I gave to my girlfriend that was produced in Japan, and when doing the research on that, it appeared that that was the case.
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Old 04-23-10, 04:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
Le Tour bikes were made in Japan at their inception, circa 1974.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mickey85 View Post
Another thing - if it has a headbadge, it'll usually be a giveaway. Most Chicago Schwinns have large, oval headbadges, while the foreign badges are the little round ones with the "star' in the middle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mickey85 View Post
As an aside, weren't the Japanese LeTours produced by Bridgestone? I've got a mid-70's LeTour mixte that I gave to my girlfriend that was produced in Japan, and when doing the research on that, it appeared that that was the case.
I believe they were made by Panasonic. I have a '79 Traveler that was made by Bridgestone.

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Just to muddy the water a little more:



This is my 1971 Super Sport, probably finished on a Friday when they'd run out of round head badges.
I forgot about your one of a kind Oval Badged Super Sport. But it is a rare exception of the rule.
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Old 04-23-10, 04:58 PM   #16
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Has anyone seen one of the scant built-in-Hungary Schwinns? Or built in China? (Pre-selloff)
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Old 04-23-10, 06:01 PM   #17
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FYI, that headbadge list is not the most inclusive thing in the world. It's missing quite a bit.

-Kurt
I just grabbed a few to show that the shape alone is not a good indicator.
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Old 04-23-10, 06:08 PM   #18
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Has anyone seen one of the scant built-in-Hungary Schwinns? Or built in China? (Pre-selloff)
I was under the impression that the Hungary idea was abandoned before production....And was unaware of China being involved.
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Old 04-23-10, 07:06 PM   #19
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I was under the impression that the Hungary idea was abandoned before production....And was unaware of China being involved.
When labor rates in Japan started cutting into Schwinn's profit margins, Schwinn contracted with Giant in Taiwan (Tony Lo) for production there. When the labor rates in Taiwan started cutting into profit margins, Schwinn contracted with China Bicycles Company (Jerome Sze) in Hong Kong and Shenzhen (Shenzhen is in mainland China). Schwinn actually bought a one-third equity interest in China Bicycles Company in 1987.
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Old 04-24-10, 05:47 AM   #20
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When labor rates in Japan started cutting into Schwinn's profit margins, Schwinn contracted with Giant in Taiwan (Tony Lo) for production there. When the labor rates in Taiwan started cutting into profit margins, Schwinn contracted with China Bicycles Company (Jerome Sze) in Hong Kong and Shenzhen (Shenzhen is in mainland China). Schwinn actually bought a one-third equity interest in China Bicycles Company in 1987.
I'm an Idiot...I knew about Taiwan...for some reason I didn't identify it with China..
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Old 04-25-10, 12:03 AM   #21
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I forgot about your one of a kind Oval Badged Super Sport. But it is a rare exception of the rule.
I kind of did, too. It's got some issues-rear wheel keeps sliding out of place, and I cant get the FD from overshifting and dumping the chain, but I'm gonna keep it and keep tweaking it. It's too nice a frame to waste, as you well know. And it's quite possibly unique.
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Old 04-25-10, 08:15 AM   #22
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If your SS has a quick release rear hub the axle is to long and is bottoming before tightening against the drop out. Roger
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Old 04-25-10, 10:38 AM   #23
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I've never been too much into where a Schwinn was made, but I do know if your Schwinn has a "G" followed by four numbers, it was made by Giant in Taiwan. The four numbers are a date code to disclose when the frame was made. Giant was not the only Taiwan supplier, but all Giant bikes were made in Taiwan (at that time).
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Old 11-08-15, 06:33 PM   #24
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Anybody know what year mine might be?

Got my red continental as a gift 9 years ago. Was reworked at a shop in Portland. Has 7 gears now, likely not original.
Hmm, can't figure out how to attach pics here. Anyway, it's like a Red Cross look, Schwinn vertical and horizontal, overlapped at the W. Above, says Quality, below says Chicago.
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Old 11-08-15, 06:57 PM   #25
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1972 Schwinn Continental

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Originally Posted by Metalhed76 View Post
Got my red continental as a gift 9 years ago. Was reworked at a shop in Portland. Has 7 gears now, likely not original.
Hmm, can't figure out how to attach pics here. Anyway, it's like a Red Cross look, Schwinn vertical and horizontal, overlapped at the W. Above, says Quality, below says Chicago.
UPDATE - actually just found the SN and looked it up online.
It's a 1972 (June) Continental.
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