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Back when Schwinn was American-made....

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Back when Schwinn was American-made....

Old 10-31-18, 07:30 AM
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JonBailey
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Back when Schwinn was American-made....

....they were typically about double the price over department store bikes from Japan even children's and entry-level adult bikes. American bicycle factory workers were probably union and demanded higher wages even in the'70's. A new Varsity ten-speed, bottom of the barrel for Schwinn, even a youth one, probably was double the department store prices.Those children in the 1970's who had genuine Schwinns were probably spoiled rotten. I only got department store bikes for Christmas and birthdays, never Chicago-made. My family was frugal. Schwinns were the envy then. A new Schwinn product was like Nikes, Puma and Adidas whereas dept. store bikes were Kmart Specials.

Another brand that was the sh_t among American youth was Mongoose in the 1970's. I believe Schwinn was the parent company then.

Asian competition killed Schwinn as Walmart had killed American factories and mom-and-pop retail businesses in the 1990's.

My first Schwinn brand bike was a 5-speed World Tourist 26" men's model back in 1983 for a whopping $279 even then and it was made in Japan.
Nice bike though. Much better quality still than China. Trouble free. Nice Shimano freewheeling chainwheel. Cinnamon red. I cried when some thief cut my chain lock
and stole it in late summer of 1984.

Now both the Schwinn and Mongoose brands are shamefully and woefully put on Chinese bikes under a firm called Pacific Cycles: pure trash. Poor materials, poor workmanship, poor quality control. No precision engineering.

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Old 10-31-18, 07:31 AM
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I had a Schwinn in the 70's. I was far from spoiled rotten.

Nice try.
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Old 10-31-18, 07:46 AM
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There are lots of stories on why Schwinn failed. Labor troubles and a failure to innovate as tastes changed are usually mentioned. It is obvious the owners of the company made many bad choices that resulted in bankruptcy in 1992.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwinn_Bicycle_Company

My first single and three speed bikes were Schwinn but when I got to trying out multi-speed bikes, Schwinns were too heavy and too expensive to be a good choice.

No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, An American Institution by Judith Crown and Glenn Coleman reviewed here https://www.strategy-business.com/ar...7848?gko=a3bf2

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Old 10-31-18, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
....they were typically about double the price over department store bikes from Japan even children's and entry-level adult bikes. American bicycle factory workers were probably union and demanded higher wages even in the'70's. A new Varsity ten-speed, bottom of the barrel for Schwinn, even a youth one, probably was double the department store prices.Those children in the 1970's who had genuine Schwinns were probably spoiled rotten. I only got a department store bikes for Christmas and birthdays, never Chicago-made. My family was frugal. Schwinns were the envy then. A new Schwinn product was like Nikes, Puma and Adidas whereas dept. store bikes were Kmart Specials.
My memory of the late 1960s early 1970s was that big box department stores weren't really much of a thing yet--Kmart's explosive growth was a couple years off, and that the choices were really between Huffy, Schwinn and Murray, all American made. Schwinn was the bike of choice for kids because they were sturdy (which people thought necessitated weight) and in the case of the Stingray with the stick shift, considered much cooler. Huffy and Murray made some good bikes, but most of the stuff they sold wasn't very reliable, and they were definitely considered Brand X as compared to Schwinn.
As Schwinn was always considered the high end in those days, I don't think they were killed by the cheap imports as much as Huffy and Murray were. What killed Schwinn is their high end bikes had the reputation of being heavy and clunky, and the rise of companies both foreign and domestic producing high end bikes that were comparatively light and agile was something the real Schwinn company never adapted to. Now, of course, Schwinn isn't really a company, just a name plate.
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Old 10-31-18, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
American bicycle factory workers were probably union and demanded higher wages even in the'70's.
As opposed to when? Today, when unions are at their peak of power?

Nice try.

BTW...I had at least one Free Spirit bicycle in the 70s. Sold through Sears. I believe they were made in the U.S. by Murray at the time.

Last edited by indyfabz; 10-31-18 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 10-31-18, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
I had a Schwinn in the 70's. I was far from spoiled rotten.

Nice try.
Well, my parents thought Schwinn opulent in price. How old were you when you had that Schwinn? Was that a new Schwinn as a present?
Some boys probably saved up for a genuine Schwinn by mowing lawns all summer long or running a paper route on a dept. store bike.

I did get a new Zenith 12" black and white television (no remote, had rotary dials, horizontal and vertical hold, picture tube, other tubes, and rabbit ears) for Christmas when I was nine in 1973. My friends thought I was spoiled for having that TV set.

That TV was in my room to watch The Electric Company after school. Pung-pung-pung PUNCTUATION!
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Old 10-31-18, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
. Those children in the 1970's who had genuine Schwinns were probably spoiled rotten..
Those were my customers.
A Lil' Tiger, Pixie or Stingray was easy to learn to ride on, durable enough to be passed on to several younger siblings and easily serviced w/ a full range of OEM parts and qualified mechanical support.
Good value for parents, great rides for the kids.

OP: Feeling that life gave you the short stick, or Huffy, as a child?
Get over it.

-Bandera
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Old 10-31-18, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
My memory of the late 1960s early 1970s was that big box department stores weren't really much of a thing yet--Kmart's explosive growth was a couple years off, and that the choices were really between Huffy, Schwinn and Murray, all American made. Schwinn was the bike of choice for kids because they were sturdy (which people thought necessitated weight) and in the case of the Stingray with the stick shift, considered much cooler. Huffy and Murray made some good bikes, but most of the stuff they sold wasn't very reliable, and they were definitely considered Brand X as compared to Schwinn.
As Schwinn was always considered the high end in those days, I don't think they were killed by the cheap imports as much as Huffy and Murray were. What killed Schwinn is their high end bikes had the reputation of being heavy and clunky, and the rise of companies both foreign and domestic producing high end bikes that were comparatively light and agile was something the real Schwinn company never adapted to. Now, of course, Schwinn isn't really a company, just a name plate.
In 1990, I bought a Murray Monterrey brand single-speed coaster brake bike from Montgomery Wards in Oklahoma when I was stationed with the army there. Was $99 bucks brand new. Probably was Asian-made but very reliable mechanically. Maroon color. I got a new car, a 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe, silver color, three months later when my mother gave me a fat down-payment check for Christmas and I just abandoned that bike on post by leaving it unlocked in a bike rack. Once I got that new automobile, I never wanted to see another bicycle for many years.
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Old 10-31-18, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
Those were my customers.
A Lil' Tiger, Pixie or Stingray was easy to learn to ride on, durable enough to be passed on to several younger siblings and easily serviced w/ a full range of OEM parts and qualified mechanical support.
Good value for parents, great rides for the kids.

OP: Feeling that life gave you the short stick, or Huffy, as a child?
Get over it.

-Bandera
I got some off-beat brand 3-speed called American Eagle in 1978 for my 14th birthday from a northern California mom-and-pop cycle shop called Vince's. 26". Olive green color with real chrome trim. My first adult sized bike, I liked this bike though but it was shamefully made in Japan with "American Eagle" badges on it! About 4 years latter, and after about 5,000 miles, the gears in the hub wore out and it was reduced to scrap. Went to Salvation Army. New hub would cost more than the bike did new. Was originally a $70 special in 1978. Old Vince gave us this bike at dept. store prices anyway. I rode this bike all through HS and graduated in '82. Never had a car in HS. I then had to ride the bus to college until I got my first car a year later.

This American Eagle had the right grip which twisted to shift gears. This twist shifter broke a month later and the original grips were replaced as a new more reliable 3-speed thumb shift lever was installed.

Kids at school would ask me why I did not ride a ten-speed. I liked the comfort of the straight handlebar of the three speed as well as the fenders to keep off water and mud. I did not like the complexity of derailleur gears then. In the 1970's I would see adults ride Schwinn ten speeds and often be stopped on the side of the bikeway with tools in hand to fiddle with the gear adjustments. It gave me the impression that derailleur bikes were mechanical nightmares. They still are if they are on Chinese made dept. store quality bikes. They are great on high-dollar bikes like Cannondale. I had a Cannondale later on in the army over in Germany (1993) bought at the PX for $700. M500. Lavender. aluminum. Mechanically smooth 15-speed derailleur bike like a Swiss watch. Had index shift levers, not twist grip. Was stolen a year later! Damn! The army reimbursed me because the theft happened in the barracks and the bike was properly locked. In Germany I still had my car but I had a hankering for a bicycle again because they were so popular with soldiers there. Bikes are fun to ride in the cobblestone streets of Old World Europe around those medieval castles and masonry buildings. Mountain bikes like my Cannondale with knobby tires were handy around base, the barracks and around town when auto traffic was slow and cars would sometime get stuck in the German winter snow.

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Old 10-31-18, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
....they were typically about double the price over department store bikes from Japan even children's and entry-level adult bikes. American bicycle factory workers were probably union and demanded higher wages even in the'70's. A new Varsity ten-speed, bottom of the barrel for Schwinn, even a youth one, probably was double the department store prices.Those children in the 1970's who had genuine Schwinns were probably spoiled rotten. I only got department store bikes for Christmas and birthdays, never Chicago-made. My family was frugal. Schwinns were the envy then. A new Schwinn product was like Nikes, Puma and Adidas whereas dept. store bikes were Kmart Specials.

Another brand that was the sh_t among American youth was Mongoose in the 1970's. I believe Schwinn was the parent company then.

Asian competition killed Schwinn as Walmart had killed American factories and mom-and-pop retail businesses in the 1990's.

My first Schwinn brand bike was a 5-speed World Tourist 26" men's model back in 1983 for a whopping $279 even then and it was made in Japan.
Nice bike though. Much better quality still than China. Trouble free. Nice Shimano freewheeling chainwheel. Cinnamon red. I cried when some thief cut my chain lock
and stole it in late summer of 1984.

Now both the Schwinn and Mongoose brands are shamefully and woefully put on Chinese bikes under a firm called Pacific Cycles: pure trash. Poor materials, poor workmanship, poor quality control. No precision engineering.
1- never heard of Schwinn owning Mongoose. BMX Products owned the name and its sold a few times in the last 40 years, but I cant say I remember Schwinn being an owner.
2- both Schwinn and Mongoose have separate bike lines for big box retail and for bike shops. There are still quality bikes sold from both brands.
3- Schwinn had all the opportunity in the world to adapt to globalized manufacturing and didnt do it well. They did it late and with most all their eggs in one Giant basket.
4- Schwinn's downfall was due to a lot more than just the competition being foreign. Schwinn was slow to adapt to trends and innovation. They had the opportunity to get in on mountainbikes early and effectively waited years at which point they were playing catch-up. They also continually chose to not update their domestic manufacturing to handle making mid-upper level bikes. Once they finally made that move and opened the Greenville MS facility, it was too little far too late and poorly executed too.


What is your point with these observational threads that are only partly accurate?
.
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Old 10-31-18, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
About 4 years latter, and after about 5,000 miles, the gears in the hub wore out and it was reduced to scra .
About 40 years later many thousands of 3spd Schwinns equipped OEM with Sturmey Archer hubs are still in service, some overhauled with readily available parts from dealer stock some still soldering on w/ no more than an occasional sip of oil every so often over the decades of use. The Chicago Schwinns were never designed to be disposable and "Schwinn Approved" was a badge of reliability unequaled by American bicycle manufacturing, or importing "back when".

Sour grape tinted glasses produce a distorted view of the past.


-Bandera

Last edited by Bandera; 11-04-18 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 10-31-18, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
....they were typically about double the price over department store bikes from Japan even children's and entry-level adult bikes. American bicycle factory workers were probably union and demanded higher wages even in the'70's. A new Varsity ten-speed, bottom of the barrel for Schwinn, even a youth one, probably was double the department store prices.Those children in the 1970's who had genuine Schwinns were probably spoiled rotten. I only got department store bikes for Christmas and birthdays, never Chicago-made. My family was frugal. Schwinns were the envy then. A new Schwinn product was like Nikes, Puma and Adidas whereas dept. store bikes were Kmart Specials.

Another brand that was the sh_t among American youth was Mongoose in the 1970's. I believe Schwinn was the parent company then.

Asian competition killed Schwinn as Walmart had killed American factories and mom-and-pop retail businesses in the 1990's.

My first Schwinn brand bike was a 5-speed World Tourist 26" men's model back in 1983 for a whopping $279 even then and it was made in Japan.
Nice bike though. Much better quality still than China. Trouble free. Nice Shimano freewheeling chainwheel. Cinnamon red. I cried when some thief cut my chain lock
and stole it in late summer of 1984.

Now both the Schwinn and Mongoose brands are shamefully and woefully put on Chinese bikes under a firm called Pacific Cycles: pure trash. Poor materials, poor workmanship, poor quality control. No precision engineering.
Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
In 1990, I bought a Murray Monterrey brand single-speed coaster brake bike from Montgomery Wards in Oklahoma when I was stationed with the army there. Was $99 bucks brand new. Probably was Asian-made but very reliable mechanically. Maroon color. I got a new car, a 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe, silver color, three months later when my mother gave me a fat down-payment check for Christmas and I just abandoned that bike on post by leaving it unlocked in a bike rack. Once I got that new automobile, I never wanted to see another bicycle for many years.
Perhaps before you go strolling down memory lane, you should do a bit of research first. Mongoose was not part of the Schwinn company...ever. Mongoose was an American BMX company established by Skip Hess in 1974. It was located in Simi Valley, CA and built frames in a factory there. It was sold in 1985 to American Group. I don't know when it started producing (or sourcing) bicycles from overseas but it had to be around 1985 as that was the mountain bike boom years and Mongoose was a pretty major player in the mountain bike market. Mongoose was sold to Bell Sports in 1997...about the time their quality started to decline...and was passed around until it fell under the current Dorel Industries umbrella along with the Schwinn name.

And Schwinns were expensive for bicycles of the era. They were of a higher quality (for a time) but they were expensive compared to other brands. But by the mid90s, Schwinn was just too stodgy for the market. They tried to innovate but they made a number of missteps. Part of that problem was the dealer system they developed. Dealers of Schwinn products could only sell Schwinns for a very long time...too long. And Schwinn dealers weren't out in small towns. Neither was HelMart but Sears and Montgomery Wards were along with numerous hardware stores selling Schwinn knockoffs.

Finally, as long as the Chinese made bicycles are sold by reputable bicycle companies like Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc., they are pretty good quality bikes. The Chinese bikes sold by HelMart are barely able to keep rolling down the road but they have to sell them for that same $99 you paid for that Murray...not a high quality bike of the day either...nearly 30 years ago. HelMart knows that the bikes it sells aren't going to be ridden very far...100 miles total mileage is a lot for a Big Box Store bike...so they don't have to be made all that well. HelMart bikes are a fools bargain but, then again, so was that Murray.

The Schwinn, on the other hand, is probably still rolling along.
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Old 10-31-18, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Asian competition killed Schwinn as Walmart had killed American factories and mom-and-pop retail businesses in the 1990's.
I would say, rather, that Schwinn's general inability to change, improve and grab the future by the horns sealed their fate. Other players did that better.

Same might be said about the American "Big 3" in the auto industry, which largely rested on its laurels and from the 1970s on faced competition that was much more willing to experiment, improve, do whatever it took to make a "better mousetrap."
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Old 10-31-18, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
1- never heard of Schwinn owning Mongoose. BMX Products owned the name and its sold a few times in the last 40 years, but I cant say I remember Schwinn being an owner.
2- both Schwinn and Mongoose have separate bike lines for big box retail and for bike shops. There are still quality bikes sold from both brands.
3- Schwinn had all the opportunity in the world to adapt to globalized manufacturing and didnt do it well. They did it late and with most all their eggs in one Giant basket.
4- Schwinn's downfall was due to a lot more than just the competition being foreign. Schwinn was slow to adapt to trends and innovation. They had the opportunity to get in on mountainbikes early and effectively waited years at which point they were playing catch-up. They also continually chose to not update their domestic manufacturing to handle making mid-upper level bikes. Once they finally made that move and opened the Greenville MS facility, it was too little far too late and poorly executed too.


What is your point with these observational threads that are only partly accurate?
.
The point is I'm impressed with the Schwinn of old but not impressed with the China-made thing I have now with "Schwinn Discover" badges on it I bought new last year. Nice aluminum frame but mechanicals are pure crap. This is not your grandfather's Varsity or your grandmother's Traveller or Collegiate.

Here is a woman's version of that olive so-called American Eagle three-speed I got in 1978. Mine of course was the men's version:

Considering just keeping this Flipper American Eagle 3 speed.

Last edited by JonBailey; 10-31-18 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 10-31-18, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Today, when unions are at their peak of power?
Peak of power today? Their peak of power was 1945, and after the supreme court ruling this summer banning forced membership fees they're almost finished. And Schwinn fled Chicago for Tennessee because the employees actually wanted to be paid the same as automakers. Even if they were making hundred dollar bikes.

As far as their quality today, every few years they come out with some nice bikes. Performance Bike was selling their carbon Paramounts a few years ago.
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Old 10-31-18, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Peak of power today? Their peak of power was 1945, and after the supreme court ruling this summer banning forced membership fees they're almost finished. And Schwinn fled Chicago for Tennessee because the employees actually wanted to be paid the same as automakers. Even if they were making hundred dollar bikes.

As far as their quality today, every few years they come out with some nice bikes. Performance Bike was selling their carbon Paramounts a few years ago.
But I like the touring, comfort or city bikes. I like higher-rising straight handlebars. If I were to ever have a classic Varsity ten-speed, the curve bar would be swapped for a mini-ape hanger and I would want the optional chrome fenders as well. I'm not a mountain biker but an asphalt biker. The only gripe for the old Varsity is the lack of factory water cage bolts and tapped holes on the tubes. I don't like those clamp-on or strap-on water cages and air pumps. The Paramount is far from a comfort bike by design.
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Old 10-31-18, 09:00 AM
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In 2013 Waterford made the lugged steel frames for the 75th Annivesary Schwinn Paramount.

Design
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Old 10-31-18, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
The point is I'm impressed with the Schwinn of old but not impressed with the China-made thing I have now with "Schwinn Discover" badges on it I bought new last year. Nice aluminum frame but mechanicals are pure crap. This is not your grandfather's Varsity or your grandmother's Traveller or Collegiate.
Wow, that's a shocker!

Who knew?

Oh, yeah, literally everybody.

Maybe you should actually try to learn something about the subject before you start posting long pointless lectures.
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Old 10-31-18, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Peak of power today?
Sarcasm.
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Old 10-31-18, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
The point is I'm impressed with the Schwinn of old but not impressed with the China-made thing I have now with "Schwinn Discover" badges on it I bought new last year. Nice aluminum frame but mechanicals are pure crap.
Then why did you buy it?
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Old 10-31-18, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
In 2013 Waterford made the lugged steel frames for the 75th Annivesary Schwinn Paramount.

Design

Waterford? Feh, bunch of hacks.

And the Schwinn Signature lines may not be the best bargains out there, but they are reasonably well equipped when compared to the WM Schwinns.
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Old 10-31-18, 09:59 AM
  #22  
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It's a ridiculous stretch to pretend that Schwinn bikes were only accessible to "spoiled rotten" people.

Back in the 1950s-1970s, Schwinn bikes were of good quality, and somewhat pricier than "department store" bikes. But hardly luxury items!

As to why Schwinn failed, they need only to look in a mirror (much like Sears today). They failed to adjust to the times, and their bikes became non-competitive. And I say this as one whose first "real" bike (in 1960) was a single-speed Schwinn Speedster, and who later bought a Schwinn Varsity. After that, however, as much as I was fond of the brand, their products just did not appeal.
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Old 10-31-18, 10:43 AM
  #23  
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When I was a kid we all wanted schwinns because captain kangaroo said they were the best. Our family couldn't afford them but my grandfather fixed up an old "English racer" 3 speed with 24" wheels that my siblings and I used a long with other bikes. The old 3 speed was awesome. It's why I always have a sturmey archer hub on something to this day.
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Old 10-31-18, 12:26 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
Those were my customers.
A Lil' Tiger, Pixie or Stingray was easy to learn to ride on, durable enough to be passed on to several younger siblings and easily serviced w/ a full range of OEM parts and qualified mechanical support.
Good value for parents, great rides for the kids.

OP: Feeling that life gave you the short stick, or Huffy, as a child?
Get over it.

-Bandera

Yes, I totally forgot about the hand me down aspect of them. A lot more important in those days when it was more common to have a bunch of kids.
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Old 10-31-18, 12:39 PM
  #25  
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Here's mine. The original was stolen, parked at a drugstore. Course, it wouldn't' have looked this good now.
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