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Vintage Bicycles

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Vintage Bicycles

Budget Bicycle Center has Vintage bicycles from all eras. We sell 1000's of vintage, classic, retro, reproduction, and antique bicycles for the avid collector. If you are looking for a project bike (shop this page) or parts to complete your project, check out our NOS parts for sale pages.   If you have a question about your antique bicycle or bicycle parts, we can answer almost any question! Questions?   

If you just want to check out some neat bikes in person, our visit our bicycle museum at the used bicycle store located at 930 regent Street. Budget bicycle Center is The largest used bicycle store in the world!  Learn more about used bicycles for sale

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 1973 Schwinn Continental Road Bicycle 24"

1973 Schwinn Continental Road Bicycle 24"

Fully overhauled and ready to ride American Schwinn!


Your Savings: 20%

 1976 Coast to Coast Bicentennial Ladies Bicycle 22"

1976 Coast to Coast Bicentennial Ladies Bicycle 22"

Highly collectable, patriotic vintage ladies bike!


Your Savings: 80%

 Tease Lugged Steel Road Bike

Tease Lugged Steel Road Bike

Vintage lugged steal road bike from the bike boom era with quality Shimano parts.

 Vitus VTT Dural Mountain Bicycle

Vitus VTT Dural Mountain Bicycle

This is a rare Vitus mountain bike, hand built in France, offers a great ride quality with a mixture of Suntour and Shimano Deore components.


Your Savings: 32%

1800s Antique Wooden Rim Block Chain Bicycle

1800s Antique Wooden Rim Block Chain Bicycle

Rare antique bicycle with wooden rims and cool accessories!

1890's Men's Wooden Rim Bicycle

1890's Men's Wooden Rim Bicycle

An interesting and mysterious 19th century bicycle in surprisingly good condition for its age.


Your Savings: 40%

1890s Ladies Wooden Rim Antique Bicycle 22"

1890s Ladies Wooden Rim Antique Bicycle 22"

Amazing collector's piece with numerous antique accessories!


Your Savings: 50%

1890s New Model Comet Bicycle

1890s New Model Comet Bicycle

Unique early 20th century bike with 28" wheels.


Your Savings: 34%

1900 Pope Mfg Columbia Shaft Drive Chainless Ladies Bicycle Frame 22"

1900 Pope Mfg Columbia Shaft Drive Chainless Ladies Bicycle Frame 22"

Rare chainless ladies frame for your collection or restoration project!


Your Savings: 65%

1900's Steel Men's Bcycle

1900's Steel Men's Bcycle

Antique lugged steel bicycle from the late 19th century.


Your Savings: 54%

1917-18 Harley Davidson Bicycle (M)

1917-18 Harley Davidson Bicycle (M)

1917-18 Harley Davidson Bicycle

1918 Mead Ranger Superbe Bicycle

1918 Mead Ranger Superbe Bicycle

Early 20th century lightweight bicycle from Mead.


Your Savings: 43%

1918 Mead Ranger Truss Bridge Bicycle 22"

1918 Mead Ranger Truss Bridge Bicycle 22"

Amazing rare collector's antique begging to be restored. Includes original 1918 catalog!


Your Savings: 33%

1920's Montgomery Wards Hawthorne Flyer Bicycle

1920's Montgomery Wards Hawthorne Flyer Bicycle

Antique motorbike style bicycle with unique tool tank, metal clad wood rims, and New Departure hub.


Your Savings: 33%

1920's Rambler Junior Roadster Bicycle

1920's Rambler Junior Roadster Bicycle

Antique Rambler bicycle with 28" metal clad wooden rimmed wheels and New Departure hubs.


Your Savings: 48%

1920's Rex Cycle Works Motorbike Bicycle

1920's Rex Cycle Works Motorbike Bicycle

Antique motorbike style bicycle from Rex Cycles likely built by Schwinn.


Your Savings: 57%

1920's Schwinn Excelsior Bicycle

1920's Schwinn Excelsior Bicycle

Early 20th century Schwinn in great condition!

1920's Vim Bicycle Co "New Model" Bicycle

1920's Vim Bicycle Co "New Model" Bicycle

Antique 28" wood rimmed motorbike style bicycle from Vim.


The 8 Best Bikes for Women of 2021

Final Verdict

Looking for a bike that can take you anywhere? Schwinn’s Women's GTX 3 Hybrid Bike (view at Dicks Sporting Goods) is up to the task. The versatile hybrid bike boasts a lightweight frame, a nimble 21-speed drivetrain, and a set of all-terrain tires. Put simply, it’s prepared to help you tackle all kinds of bike routes comfortably, quickly, and with ease.

What to Look for in Bikes for Women

Riding Style

There are several different kinds of bikes, and each kind is designed for a different style of riding. Road bikes are equipped to handle smoother surfaces, like sidewalks and city streets. Mountain bikes are equipped to handle more rugged terrain, like off-road trails. And hybrid bikes are designed to handle both. Consider the kind of riding you intend to do, and shop for a bike that accommodates your riding style. 

Use Case

Are you riding for fitness or recreation? Will you be taking your bike on long morning commutes, or simply riding it around the block? If you’re an avid cyclist, you may want a performance option that’s built to last. If you’re a first-time or recreational cyclist, you may prefer a budget-friendlier option that’s a little easier to use. 


Bike gears are designed to help you comfortably navigate different kinds of terrain. If you intend to bike a lot, you may want a bike with plenty of gears you can nimbly shift between. If you prefer to go on shorter, more recreational rides, you may not need as many gears to choose from.


What size bike should I get for my height?

In general, you can use the bicycle manufacturer’s sizing chart to determine the right size bike for your height. For bikes that need very specific sizing, such as road bikes, the sizing process may be more involved, so you should work with a local bike shop for the best fit.

“We measure the rider's inseam, torso, arm lengths, overall height, and flexibility to determine exactly which size would be best for the rider,” says Tyler Jones, store manager at Erik's Bike Shop in Eden Prairie, Minn.

How much does a good quality bike cost?

“A good, high-quality bike is relative to the shopper's desired cycling discipline and what their expectation of performance is,” says Jones. A decent recreational bike for adults may start in the range of $300 to $600, while high-performance bikes may start around $1000.

What are the main differences between women's bikes and men's bikes?

The main difference between women’s and men’s bikes is the size and fit. Women, on average, are shorter than men and have proportionally shorter torsos and longer legs, so women’s bike models generally have shorter stack heights and shorter reach lengths.

Some women-specific commuter and cruiser bikes are built to accommodate wearing a skirt, so the top tube is much lower than the tubes on men’s versions. The right bike for you will be the one that fits you best, regardless of which gender it’s intended for. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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Your Vintage Bicycle Could Be Worth Hundreds of Dollars – Here’s How to Sell It

We show you how to find the value of your vintage bicycle and where to sell it in this comprehensive vintage bicycle selling guide

Want to know how much your vintage bicycle is worth and where to sell it? Whether you found an old bicycle in your parents’ barn or garage, were given a grandparent’s childhood bicycle, or simply picked up an intriguing bike at a yard sale, we tapped three experts to show you how to determine its value and where to sell a vintage bike.

Our vintage bicycle selling guide includes:

We reached out to experts to answer your questions about where to sell a vintage bicycle. We do this as a service to introduce who we are: experts in finding a place to sell your phone. Use Flipsy to find your phone’s value plus get offers from more than 20 stores who compete to pay top dollar. Stores are trust verified, offer free shipping and pay within a few days of receiving your phone. Best wishes and thanks for visiting!
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The most valuable vintage bicycles

New York-based Copake Auction has held one of the largest bicycle auctions each April for the past 26 years, and features past auction examples on its website. In many cases, the final selling price exceeds the value estimate. Examples include:

Vintage bicycleCopake Auction selling price
C. 1885 Rudge “Kangaroo” high wheel$32,760
C. 1892 Telegram$26,450
c. 1890 “The Rochester”$23,000
1937 Elgin Bluebird$17,250
C. 1960 Bowden “Spacelander”$13,800
C. 1870’s child’s boneshaker$7,020

These are exceedingly rare examples, however, and certainly aren’t indicative of average values. Most vintage bicycles are worth between $100 and $400, and museum-quality vintage bikes are typically valued between $3,000 and $4,000. 

Here are some of the highest prices paid for vintage bicycles in eBay auctions:

Phone To Sell? Find Cash & Trade In Value ›

Vintage bicycleeBay sold price
Colnago Oval CX Aero Road Bike$6,000
1973 Eisentraut Bicycle$3,995
1950’s Schwinn Paramount Track Bicycle$3,600
1976 Masi Gran Criterum$2,750
1980 Gios Torino Campagnolo Super Record$2,499
1975 De Rosa Columbus Campagnolo Nuovo Record$2,499

What is the most valuable vintage bike in the world? It’s not an easy question to answer.

“People have been collecting bicycles since around the 1890s, and over those 127 years there have been an almost endless variety of collectible bikes and collectors buying them. So, it’s not easy to pin down the most valuable single bike, but it might have been Diamond Jim Brady’s gold-plated, silver-spoked, jewel-encrusted Columbia bicycle bought for Lillian Russell in the 1890s,” says Jim Langley, a longtime cycling journalist, author, blogger, and historian.

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That bike is currently owned by UC Davis, which acquired it in 2000 when it purchased the Pierce Miller bicycle collectionfor a sum of $500,000to start a museum that would become the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.

Lillian Russell golden bicycleLillian Russell on Her Golden Wheel. Source: Library of Congress, The Journal, May 19, 1986

Of course, the value of the Diamond Jim bicycle has as much – or more – to do with its decorative jewels as its historical significance.

“I just saw a horrible article about the most valuable bikes. A number of the bikes listed were inlaid with crystals and diamonds, and some had gold plating,” says Ken Wallace, former secretary of the U.S. Cycling Federation and owner of Bisbee Bicycle Brothel. “I won’t get into what nonsense this is. I guess the most valuable bike could be one covered in $100,000 Series 1934 Gold Certificates. A bicycle is a tool and as such, it can be beautiful without ridiculous embellishments.”

Still, some vintage bicycles are worth enormous sums – even without the gold and jewels.

“Another contender is the Schwinn family tandem, which sold to a Japanese collector not too long ago for over $100,000,” says Langley.

Several vintage bikes sold for large sums at the 1997 Schwinn Family auction, per Jim Langley’s website. Examples include:

Vintage bicycleSchwinn Family auction selling price
1869 Dexter boneshaker$24,150
1968 Schwinn Sting-Ray Orange Krate (millionth Schwinn bike made)$16,100
Late 1870s Shire$17,000

“Bicycles have been incredibly popular around the world since they first arrived on the scene. There are millions and millions of them out there hiding and waiting to be found,” says Langley. “I’ve seen $5 Goodwill store bikes worth thousands. And, of course, there are plenty of bikes that sell for way more than they’re worth because the buyer and seller love the bike and don’t realize that there are dozens more out there just like it for a whole lot less.”

How Much Can You Sell A Phone For? Find Out ›

What makes a vintage bicycle valuable

The value of a given vintage bicycle is what a buyer is willing to pay for it – and collector interest can vary significantly. How can you tell if your vintage bike is valuable? By understanding the attributes that contribute to value.


The manufacturer or brand of your bicycle can have a major impact on its value. Wallace, who specializes in pre-1984 hand-built lightweight road racing, touring, and track bicycles, says some of the most valuable bikes are classic French randonneur bikes from famous companies like Rene Herse and Alex Singer.

Rene Herse vintage bicycleRene Herse bicycle. Source: Jim Langley

“In the U.S., bikes built by Mario Confente, who led the U.S. Masi shop in California before going on his own, are extremely valuable,” he says. “They’re worth up to $15,000 due to his skill and the limited number he built under his own name – 135 – before his death at age 34.”

Generally-speaking, Wallace said pre-mid-80s bicycles hand-built by small builders and equipped with high-end componentry demand higher values.

Some bicycle brands/manufacturers that could be valuable include:

BowdenColsonEddy Merckx
AutomotoShelby (Donald Duck)Rollfast (Hopalong Cassidy)
HiawathaJo RoutensCamille Daudon
TerrotSomecRene Herse
ElginAlex SingerColumbia
Sears RoebuckPeugeotCineli
GitaneWestern FlyerMurray
Bianchi (only high-end models)MonarkBruce Gordon
Horace BatesJ.C. HigginsHuffy
HetchinsSchwinn (Paramounts, especially those built at Wastyn’s bike shop in Chicago and those produced prior to 1979)Bikes built by Peter Weigle, Richard Sachs, Mark DiNucci, Columbine

“In the vintage bicycle hobby, each era of collectible has its own Holy Grails, and not all collectors agree,” says Langley. “In my list of Holy Grails you would find a 1928 Shelby Lindy bicycle, which has a tiny model of the Spirit of St. Louise perched on the front fender with a propeller that spins when you pedal down the road.”

Type of bicycle

The type of bicycle you have contributes to overall value. Some vintage bicycle types include:

LightweightSchwinn KrateCity
Road racingBMXHighwheel (British slang: penny farthing)
TouringMiddleweightHighwheel safety

Frame type (gender)

Men’s bicycles tend to be more collectible and sought after, and therefore more valuable, than women’s.

“This is simply because there are more men collectors and far fewer men’s bikes since boys tended to beat up their bicycles,” says Langley.

Age, rarity, and original features

Rarity and age are major drivers of value. Bicycles with all-original parts are more valuable than those with replacement parts, as are those with unique and deluxe features.

“It must be an older bicycle, or a rare bicycle, or have many bells and whistles,” says Tammy Haley, secretary of the Hoosier Antique and Classic Bicycle Club. “The more original, the more valuable.”

Masi GC 1974 restored bicycleMasi GC 1974 restored. Source: Jim Langley

Reproductions have relatively little value, but it can be difficult to spot the difference.

“You need to know a fair bit about bicycles to recognize a real collector-level bicycle,” says Langley. “Beginners are easily fooled by a bike that looks old, and there are lots of reproduction models that have little value and are of nowhere near the quality of the original bike.”

The color of the bicycle has little impact on value, since color is a personal preference, says Wallace.

Historical significance

Bikes with historical significance, such as the Diamond Jim bicycles, can be valuable. Celebrity status can also enhance a bicycle’s value; for example, bicycles that were part of the Robin Williams collection. Bikes that were owned by well-known riders are likewise valuable.

“The value of a bicycle can be significantly increased if it was ridden by a famous rider, such as Fausto Coppi or Eddy Merckx or a top rider in the Tour de France,” says Wallace. “This can be impacted by the nationality of the purchaser. For example, a Tour-ridden bike by Greg LeMond would most likely sell for more to a U.S. buyer than a European buyer.”

Victor highwheel bicycleVictor highwheel bicycle. Source: Jim Langley

Wallace added that Japanese buyers, in general, will often pay more for vintage bicycles than American buyers, due to the hobby’s popularity in Japan.


Condition has significant impact on vintage bicycle values.

“Most collectors use a one-to-ten system, with one a ‘barn find’ and ten being a mint original,” says Haley.

That doesn’t mean a barn find can’t be valuable.

“Bicycles are vehicles and vehicles get in accidents. If a bike has been crashed and bent, it can render an otherwise valuable bike almost worthless,” says Langley. “What you hope to find is what collectors would call a ‘barn find,’ which means a complete original antique vintage bicycle that someone put away in a basement, garage, attic, or barn years ago and forgot about. It would have its original paint, plating, and decals, and all the parts would be there.”

Bruce Gordon vintage bicycle1983 Bruce Gordon (USA) with Suntour Superbe Pro components and Scott-Matthauser Superbrakes. Source: Ken Wallace

The vintage aspect of a bicycle is integral to its value, and collectors expect some imperfections.

“If a bike needs to be repainted, unless it is very rare it may well cost more for new paint and decals than it is worth,” says Wallace. “The older the bike, the more paint issues you would expect, and some collectors – I’m one – like honest patina.”

Restoration might even cause a vintage bicycle to lose value. “A perfectly restored bicycle may not be as valuable as the same bike with some scratches in original condition, unrestored,” says Haley.

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How to find the value of your vintage bicycle

“The best way for a newbie to figure it out is to take pictures and contact an expert such as myself, or find an auctioneer like the nice folks at the Copake Auction House in New York,” says Langley. “Most people need help from an expert, the same they would if they found a Steiff teddy bear in a trashcan. The expert can look at the bike and straight away see what parts are missing, what’s been changed on the bike, etc., and these things greatly affect value.”

Haley recommends asking bicycle clubs and bicycle shops if they’ll assist with identifying the value of your bike.

Horace Bates vintage bicycleEarly 1940’s Horace Bates (British) with Diadrant forks and specially drawn Reynolds 531 Cantiflex tubing; Sturmey-Archey FM 4-speed hub. Source: Ken Wallace

If you don’t have access to an expert or you’re just trying to get an idea of what your bike might be worth, you can consult online resources – just make sure to check the right ones.

“There are online resources such as the Bicycle Blue Book, but I find it to be highly inaccurate,” says Wallace, who recommends signing up for the Classic Rendezvouslistserve operated by Dale Brown. “You are not allowed on the Classic Rendezvous list to fish for value, but you can see what knowledgeable posters are asking.”

Other online resources for identifying vintage bicycle values include eBay(filter by completed sales) and the Bike Forums’ What’s It Worthsection.

Cinelli B vintage bike1964 Cinelli B with German Altenburger components. Source: Ken Wallace

Finally, you can simply search online for the bike you have to track down relevant resources.

“Just Google for the type, brand, and model of the bike that has caught your fancy, and many links will pop up,” says Langley. “Remember that this is one of the longest-collected items in the world, so there’s a ton of resources out there. You want to narrow down what you’re interested in a little, and then you’ll find the right results.”

Keep in mind, however, that it can be easy to find a similar bike and assume yours has an identical value, when in fact there are key differences.

“It helps to do some research or to get some help,” says Langley. “I answer questions about the value of old bikes all the time.”

Where to Find the Value of Vintage Bicycles
Bicycle clubsBicycle shops that deal in vintage bikes
Online vintage bicycle expertsAuction houses
eBay completed salesBike Forum
Google searchClassic Rendezvous list

Where to sell your vintage bicycle

Ready to turn your vintage bicycle into cash? Here are some online and offline selling options.


You’ll pay a selling fee (10%) plus PayPal fees, but the exposure to a mass audience of collectors coupled with the auction format makes eBay one of the best places to sell vintage bikes.

“To get the most money, you want the biggest pool of potential buyers and an auction format to hopefully drive the price up. eBay is a great way to go for that,” says Langley. “You will usually need to be willing to have the bike boxed and shipped, though.”

Classic Rendezvous

The site features a thriving community of vintage bike enthusiasts, many of whom belong to the Classic Rendezvous Google group. You can join it and offer your bicycle for sale. You will need to apply for membership – and be accepted.

Bike Forums

Bike Forums boasts a large vintage bicycle community, complete with a forum section dedicated to buying and selling bicycles. You need an upgraded membership to post your bike for sale, which costs $3 for a 30-day trial or $12 for a one-year membership.

Other bicycle forums

Many bicycle forums feature classifieds sections. Some forums are focused on vintage bicycles as a general topic; others are partial to specific types or brands. Here are some examples; to find more, search for forums by bicycle type and brand (“Schwinn bicycle forum”):


Though Craigslist has a regional scope, serious bike collectors use tools to search its listings nationwide. In addition, collectors often share Craigslist list links on vintage bicycle websites, so your ad could be viewed worldwide.

“I have had as good luck with Craigslist as with eBay,” says Langley. “The problem with Craigslist is the scammers that try to rip you off. That’s less of a problem on eBay, but it’s not unheard of. The best thing about Craigslist is that it’s free.”


Facebook Marketplace is similar to Craigslist in that your exposure is limited to a local audience; however, you can also join vintage bicycle Facebook groups and post your ads to a global community. Examples include:

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Swap meets and flea markets

Bicycle swap meets and bike shows present good opportunities to sell vintage bicycles. Check The Classic & Antique Bicycle Exchange’s (CABE) event listingsto find nearby events. You can also take your bike to swap meets and flea markets that aren’t exclusively focused on bicycles.

Bike shops

Local bicycle shops, especially those that specialize in vintage bikes, might be interested in purchasing your bike. Keep in mind they need to buy at a price that leaves room for profit upon resale.

Cinelli Monza vintage bicycle1961 Cinelli Monza (the only Monza in the Cinelli registry). Source: Ken Wallace

Pawn shops

Some pawn shops will buy vintage bikes. Like bike stores, pawn shops need to resell for profit so you won’t get market value. Find local pawn shops with the National Pawnbrokers Association member directory.

Vintage bicycle selling tips

Get the best deal for your vintage bike with these five selling tips.

    1. Know what you have
Do your research and consult with experts like Langley, Wallace, and Haley to understand exactly what bicycle you have. You can also take photos and ask in bicycle forums as well as the vintage bicycle Reddit. When you know what bike you have, you can set realistic valuations and get a fair price for your bike.

“Don’t assume a vintage bicycle is worth a fortune, because only the best bikes fetch high prices,” says Langley. “Most vintage bikes sell for between $100 and $400. Even museum-quality antiques, like highwheel bikes, typically don’t change hands for more than around $3,000 to $4,000.”

    1. Understand the terms
Before you sell to a given buyer, make sure you understand the terms and any associated fees: listing fees and selling fees, for example. Determine who will pay shipping expenses, and how much they will cost (including packaging and insurance).

Hetchins vintage bicycle1957 Hetchins with Brilliant lugs and Sturmey-Archer ASC 3-speed fixed gear hub. Source: Ken Wallace

    1. Protect yourself
Vet buyers as well as you can and always collect payment or verify escrow before shipping your vintage bicycle. Keep an eye out for scams. If you’re meeting in person, take a friend along and meet in a busy public area.

    1. Create accurate, well-detailed listings
You can save a lot of time by creating detailed listings. Describe your bike’s condition, and be upfront about any dents, scratches, and broken or missing parts.

Take photos of your bike from several different angles as well as close-up shots of features and flaws, and list as much information about part brands, models, and sizes as possible: tire size, derailers, pedals, saddles, etc. Include the size of your bike, which is typically expressed as the length of the seat tube.

According to, there are several ways a seat tube can be measured, including:

    • Center-to-Center (C-C): The distance between the center of the bottom bracket to the centerline where the seat tube intersects with the top tube
    • Center-to-Top (C-T): The distance between the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube or the top of the top tube
Measuring a bicycle frame can be confusing, particularly if you do not know the manufacturer’s measuring standards. Learn more about how to measure a bicycle frame.

    1. Seek multiple offers
Take the time to consult with multiple experts and request offers from several sources. Doing so ensures you’re getting accurate information and will help you sell it for the highest price.

Finally, remember you might have to wait for the right buyer to get the best payout for your bicycle.

Selling A Phone? Find What It’s Worth ›

“Value for all collectibles is in the eye of the beholder,” says Langley. “There needs to be some kind of connection. Maybe it’s the bike all the cool kids had but your mom and dad couldn’t afford to buy you one. Years later you find one and you just have to buy it. It’s like reliving your childhood and it can be a wonderfully satisfying process to search for and find that bike. Or maybe you stumbled upon an old bike in the back of your parents’ attic and found that it belonged to your grandmother, and you immediately connect with her – visualizing what she must have felt riding that now-rusty wreck all those years ago. You want to restore it, bring it back, and ride it as a way to connect with the past.”

Related Help

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Best Cruiser Bikes For Women In 2020 (Top 5 Picks)

Schwinn Bicycle Company

American bicycle company

The Schwinn Bicycle Company was founded by German-born mechanical engineerIgnaz Schwinn (1860–1948) in Chicago in 1895.[2][3] It became the dominant manufacturer of American bicycles through most of the 20th century. After declaring bankruptcy in 1992, Schwinn has since been a sub-brand of Pacific Cycle, owned by the multi-national conglomerate, Dorel Industries.[4]


The classic Schwinn headbadge

Founding of Schwinn[edit]

Ignaz Schwinn was born in Hardheim, Baden, Germany, in 1860 and worked on two-wheeled ancestors of the modern bicycle that appeared in 19th century Europe. Schwinn emigrated to the United States in 1891. In 1895, with the financial backing of fellow German American Adolph Frederick William Arnold (a meat packer), he founded Arnold, Schwinn & Company. Schwinn's new company coincided with a sudden bicycle craze in America. Chicago became the center of the American bicycle industry, with thirty factories turning out thousands of bikes every day. Bicycle output in the United States grew to over a million units per year by the turn of the 20th century.

The boom in bicycle sales was short-lived, saturating the market years before motor vehicles were common on American streets. By 1905, bicycle annual sales had fallen to only 25% of that reached in 1900. Many smaller companies were absorbed by larger firms or went bankrupt; in Chicago, only twelve bicycle makers remained in business. Competition became intense, both for parts suppliers and for contracts from the major department stores, which retailed the majority of bicycles produced in those days. Realizing he needed to grow the company, Ignaz Schwinn purchased several smaller bicycle firms, building a modern factory on Chicago's west side to mass-produce bicycles at lower cost. He finalized a purchase of Excelsior Company in 1912, and in 1917 added the Henderson Company to form Excelsior-Henderson. In an atmosphere of general decline elsewhere in the industry, Schwinn's new motorcycle division thrived, and by 1928 was in third place behind Indian and Harley-Davidson.[5]

Depression years[edit]

At the close of the 1920s, the stock market crash decimated the American motorcycle industry, taking Excelsior-Henderson with it. Arnold, Schwinn, & Co. (as it remained until 1967) was on the verge of bankruptcy. With no buyers, Excelsior-Henderson motorcycles were discontinued in 1931.[5] Ignaz's son, Frank W. "F. W." Schwinn, took over day-to-day operations at Schwinn. Putting all company efforts towards bicycles, he succeeded in developing a low-cost model that brought Schwinn recognition as an innovative company, as well as a product that would continue to sell during the inevitable downturns in business cycles. After traveling to Europe to get ideas, F. W. Schwinn returned to Chicago and in 1933 introduced the Schwinn B-10E Motorbike, actually a youth's bicycle designed to imitate a motorcycle. The company revised the model the next year and renamed it the Aerocycle.[6][7] For the Aerocycle, F. W. Schwinn persuaded American Rubber Co. to make 2.125-inch-wide (54.0 mm) balloon tires, while adding streamlined fenders, an imitation "gas tank", a streamlined, chrome-plated headlight, and a push-button bicycle bell.[6][8] The bicycle would eventually come to be known as a paperboy bike or cruiser.

Schwinn was soon sponsoring a bicycle racing team headed by Emil Wastyn, who designed the team bikes, and the company competed in six-day racing across the United States with riders such as Jerry Rodman and Russell Allen. In 1938, Frank W. Schwinn officially introduced the Paramount series. Developed from experiences gained in racing, Schwinn established Paramount as their answer to high-end, professional competition bicycles. The Paramount used high-strength chrome-molybdenum steel alloy tubing and expensive brass lug-brazed construction. During the next twenty years, most of the Paramount bikes would be built in limited numbers at a small frame shop headed by Wastyn, in spite of Schwinn's continued efforts to bring all frame production into the factory.

On 17 May 1941, Alfred Letourneur was able to beat the motor-paced world speed record on a bicycle, reaching 108.92 miles per hour (175.29 km/h) on a Schwinn Paramount bicycle[9] riding behind a car in Bakersfield, California.

Industry dominance[edit]

By 1950, Schwinn had decided the time was right to grow the brand. At the time, most bicycle manufacturers in the United States sold in bulk to department stores, which in turn sold them as store brand models. Schwinn decided to try something different. With the exception of B. F. Goodrich bicycles, sold in tire stores, Schwinn eliminated the practice of producing private label bicycles in 1950, insisting that the Schwinn brand and guarantee appear on all products. In exchange for ensuring the presence of the Schwinn name, distributors retained the right to distribute Schwinn bikes to any hardware store, toy store, or bicycle shop that ordered them. In 1952, F. W. Schwinn tasked a new team to plan future business strategy, consisting of marketing supervisor Ray Burch, general manager Bill Stoeffhaas, and design supervisor Al Fritz.

In the 1950s, Schwinn began to aggressively cultivate bicycle retailers, persuading them to sell Schwinns as their predominant, if not exclusive brand. During this period, bicycle sales enjoyed relatively slow growth, with the bulk of sales going to youth models. In 1900, during the height of the first bicycle boom, annual United States sales by all bicycle manufacturers had briefly topped one million. By 1960, annual sales had reached just 4.4 million.[10] Nevertheless, Schwinn's share of the market was increasing, and would reach in excess of 1 million bicycles per year by the end of the decade.

In 1946, imports of foreign-made bicycles had increased tenfold over the previous year, to 46,840 bicycles; of that total, 95 per cent were from Great Britain.[11] The postwar appearance of imported "English racers" (actually three-speed "sport" roadsters from Great Britain and West Germany) found a ready market among United States buyers seeking bicycles for exercise and recreation in the suburbs.[12] Though substantially heavier than later European-style "racer" or sport/touring bikes, Americans found them a revelation, as they were still much lighter than existing models produced by Schwinn and other American bicycle manufacturers. Imports of foreign-made "English racers", sports roadsters, and recreational bicycles steadily increased through the early 1950s. Schwinn first responded to the new challenge by producing its own middleweight version of the "English racer". The middleweight incorporated most of the features of the English racer, but had wider tires and wheels.[13]

The company also joined with other United States bicycle manufacturers in a campaign to raise import tariffs across the board on all imported bicycles.[14] In August 1955, the Eisenhower administration implemented a 22.5% tariff rate for three out of four categories of bicycles. However, the most popular adult category, lightweight or "racer" bicycles, were only raised to 11.25%.[14] The administration noted that the United States industry offered no direct competition in this category, and that lightweight bikes competed only indirectly with balloon-tire or cruiser bicycles. The share of the United States market taken by foreign-made bicycles dropped to 28.5% of the market, and remained under 30% through 1964.[15] Despite the increased tariff, the only structural change in foreign imports during this period was a temporary decline in bicycles imported from Great Britain in favor of lower-priced models from the Netherlands and Germany. In 1961, after a successful appeal by bicycle importers, the Eisenhower tariffs were declared invalid by the Court of United States Customs Appeals, and President Kennedy imposed a new tariff rate at 50% on foreign-made bicycles, a rate which remained in place until 1964.[14]

While every large bicycle manufacturer sponsored or participated in bicycle racing competition of some sort to keep up with the newest trends in technology, Schwinn had restricted its racing activities to events inside the United States, where Schwinn bicycles predominated. As a result, Schwinns became increasingly dated in both styling and technology. By 1957, the Paramount series, once a premier racing bicycle, had atrophied from a lack of attention and modernization. Aside from some new frame lug designs, the designs, methods and tooling were the same as had been used in the 1930s. After a crash-course in new frame-building techniques and derailleur technology, Schwinn introduced an updated Paramount with Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing, Nervex lugsets and bottom bracket shells, as well as Campagnolo derailleur dropouts. The Paramount continued as a limited production model, built in small numbers in a small apportioned area of the old Chicago assembly factory. The new frame and component technology incorporated in the Paramount largely failed to reach Schwinn's mass-market bicycle lines. In 1963 following the death of F. W. Schwinn, grandson Frank Valentine Schwinn took over management of the company.

Marketing and antitrust issues[edit]

By the late 1950s, Schwinn's exclusive marketing practices were well entrenched in the United States, practices that had ensured a dominant position in the United States bicycle market.[16] In order to prevent competition among its wholesalers, Schwinn assisted them by dividing up the national market.[17] Schwinn also strengthened its dealer network, shrinking the number of authorized dealers. Since Schwinn could decide who got their bikes and who didn't, the company rewarded the highest volume dealers with location exclusivity, as well as mandating service standards and layouts.[18] In response, the company was sued by the Department of Justice in 1957 for restraint of trade.[19] In a ten-year legal battle, many of Schwinn's practices were upheld by the courts: judges ruled they had the right to have their bicycles sold by retailers equipped to service the bikes as well as sell them. However, in a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967, U.S. v. Arnold, Schwinn & Co., Schwinn was found guilty of restraint of trade by preventing distributors shipping bicycles to unapproved dealers.[20] Though the Arnold decision would be essentially overturned in later rulings, the company stopped working solely through independent local distributors and constructed four regional warehouses from which bicycles would — legally — be sent to shops. While this solved the problem of unfair trade practice with the courts, the new warehouses and distribution system cost millions of dollars at a time of rising competition from foreign manufacturers.[21] It also made it more difficult for the company to stay informed of customer complaints regarding manufacturing or assembly problems.

Child and youth markets[edit]

During the 1960s, Schwinn aggressively campaigned to retain and expand its dominance of the child and youth bicycle markets. The company advertised heavily on television, and was an early sponsor (from 1958) of the children's television program Captain Kangaroo. The Captain himself was enlisted to regularly hawk Schwinn-brand bicycles to the show's audience, typically six years old and under.[14] As these children matured, it was believed they would ask for Schwinn bicycles from their parents. By 1971, United States government councils had objected to Schwinn's marketing practices. In response, Schwinn had Captain Kangaroo alter its format. The Captain no longer insisted that viewers buy a Schwinn, but instead made regular on-air consultations of a new character, "Mr. Schwinn Dealer".[14]

The Corvette[edit]

Introduction of the 1954 Corvette, middleweight bicycle.

Schwinn developed the Corvette in 1954, after their catalog, for that year, had been in use. Therefore, with the release of a single photograph, the Corvette was introduced. The picture showed company executives standing behind their new product, that would remain in production for 10 years. 1955 was the first year in which the Corvette appeared in the Schwinn catalog; it was Schwinn's top listing in their "middleweight" category.[22]

Schwinn Twinn[edit]

1973 Schwinn Deluxe Twinn in Sky Blue

From the 1950s to the 1980s, Schwinn produced a series of lightweight tandem bicycles known as the Schwinn Twinn. They came in three different models: the single speed Twinn, a two speed semi-automatic, and the five speed Deluxe Twinn.

The Sting-Ray[edit]

1968 Schwinn Sting-Ray Orange Krate 5-speed.

In 1962, Schwinn's designer Al Fritz heard about a new youth trend centered in California for retrofitting bicycles with the accoutrements of motorcycles customized in the "bobber" or "chopper" style, including high-rise, "ape-hanger" handlebars, and low-rider "banana seats".[23] Inspired, he designed a mass-production bike for the youth market known as Project J-38. The result, a wheelie bike, was introduced to the public as the Schwinn Sting-Ray in June 1963.[23][24][25][26]

The Sting-Ray had ape-hanger handlebars, Persons's Solo Polo Seat banana seat, and 20-inch (510 mm) tires. Sales were initially slow, as many parents desiring a bicycle for their children did not relate to the new, unconventional design. After a few appeared on America's streets and neighborhoods, many young riders would accept nothing else, and sales took off.[citation needed]

In the December 1963 Schwinn Reporter, Schwinn announced the arrival of the Deluxe Sting-Ray. This model included Fenders, white-wall tires, and a padded Solo polo seat.[citation needed]

In July 1964, Schwinn announced the arrival of the Super Deluxe Sting-Ray. This model included a front spring-fork, a new sleeker Sting-Ray banana seat, and a Person's Hi-loop Sissy bar. The Super Deluxe also gave the rider a choice of White wall tires or the new Yellow oval rear Slik tire paired with a front black wall Westwind tire.[citation needed]

By 1965, a host of American and foreign manufacturers were offering their own version of the Sting-Ray.[citation needed]

The Ten Speed[edit]

A growing number of teens and young adults were purchasing imported European sport racing or sport touring bicycles, many fitted with multiple derailleur-shifted gears. Schwinn decided to meet the challenge by developing two lines of sport or road 'racer' bicycles. One was already in the catalog — the limited production Paramount series. As always, the Paramount spared no expense; the bicycles were given high-quality lightweight lugged steel frames using double-butted tubes of Reynolds 531 and fitted with quality European components including Campagnolo derailleurs, hubs, and gears. The Paramount series had limited production numbers, making vintage examples quite rare today. Starting in 1960, for the rest of the market, Schwinn offered the Schwinn Varsity,Continental, and LeTour -- now equipped as multi-geared sport bikes (10-speeds), and designed to imitate the style of the new narrow-tired 'racing' and sport bikes from Europe, though not their performance.[27] The 1960 Varsity was introduced as an 8-speed bike, but in mid-1961 was upgraded to 10 speeds. Other road bikes were introduced by Schwinn in the early and mid 1960s, such as the Superior, Sierra, and Super Continental, but these were only produced for a few years. The Varsity and Continental sold in large numbers through the 1960s and early 1970s, becoming Scwhinn's leading models. The major difference between the two models was the use of a tubular front fork on the Continental -- both bikes used the same frame design, a lugless, steel unit, using Schwinn's standard Ashtabula cranksets and welded in such a way that the joints were smoothly filled (similar to the joints in 21st-century composite frames). The wheel rims were likewise robust, chromed, stamped steel with a unique profile designed to hold the tire bead securely, even if pressure were low or lost.

In the late 1960s, the Varsity and Continental pioneered the use of auxiliary brake levers, which allowed the rider to rest hands on the straight, horizontal center section of the ram's horn handlebars, yet still have braking control. To further improve control from this more-erect riding position, the levers used to move the derailleurs (shifting the chain from one sprocket to the next) were moved from the traditional position on the "down tube" to the top of the headset, on a ring which would turn with the handlebar stem. This feature, attractive to older riders, soon found its way to other Schwinn models, especially those intended for senior citizens.

By the mid-1970s, competition from lightweight and feature-rich imported bikes was making strong inroads in the budget-priced and beginners' market. While Schwinn's popular lines were far more durable than the budget bikes, they were also far heavier and more expensive, and parents were realizing that most of the budget bikes would outlast most kids' interest in bicycling. Although the Varsity and Continental series would still be produced in large numbers into the 1980s, even Schwinn recognized the growing market in young adults and environmentally-oriented purchasers, devoting the bulk of their marketing to lighter models intended to pull sales back from the imports.

The bicycle boom[edit]

Main article: bike boom

1966 Schwinn Racer Deluxe in coppertone

The Sting-Ray[28] sales boom of the 1960s accelerated in 1970, with United States bicycle sales doubling over a period of two years. However, there were clear warning signs on the horizon.

Despite a huge increase in popularity of lightweight European sport or road racing bicycles in the United States, Schwinn adhered to its existing strategy in the lightweight adult road bike market. For those unable to afford the Paramount, this meant a Schwinn 'sports' bike with a heavy steel electro-forged frame along with steel components such as wheels, stems, cranks, and handlebars from the company's established United States suppliers. Though weighing slightly less, the mid-priced Schwinn Superior or Sports Tourer was almost indistinguishable from Schwinn's other heavy, mass-produced models, such as the Varsity and Continental. While competitive in the 1960s, by 1972 these bicycles were much heavier and less responsive in comparison to the new sport and racing bicycles arriving from England, France, Italy, and increasingly, Japan.[29]

Another problem was Schwinn's failure to design and market its bicycles to specific, identifiable buyers, especially the growing number of cyclists interested in road racing or touring. Instead, most Schwinn derailleur bikes were marketed to the general leisure market, equipped with heavy "old timer" accessories such as kickstands that cycling aficionados had long since abandoned. More and more cyclists, especially younger buyers, began to insist on stronger steel alloys (which allowed for lighter frames), responsive frame geometry, aluminum components, advanced derailleur shifting, and multiple gears.[8][30] When they failed to find what they wanted at Schwinn, they went elsewhere. While the Paramount still sold in limited numbers to this market, the model's customer base began to age, changing from primarily bike racers to older, wealthier riders looking for the ultimate bicycle. Schwinn sold an impressive 1.5 million bicycles in 1974, but would pay the price for failing to keep up with new developments in bicycle technology and buying trends.

With their aging product line, Schwinn failed to dominate the huge sport bike boom of 1971–1975, which saw millions of 10-speed bicycles sold to new cyclists.[8] Schwinn did allow some dealers to sell imported road racing bikes, and by 1973 was using the Schwinn name on the Le Tour, a Japanese-made low-cost sport/touring 10-speed bicycle. Schwinn developed strong trading relationships with two Japanese bicycle manufacturers in particular, Bridgestone and National/Panasonic. Though these met initial dealer resistance as "imports" and were not included in the Schwinn consumer catalog, it was soon realized that the Panasonic and Bridgestone 'Schwinn' bicycles were fully the equal of the American-made versions in quality and performance. Schwinn soon had a range of low, mid- and upper-level bicycles all imported from Japan. Schwinn's standard road bike model from Panasonic was the World Traveler, which had a high-quality lugged steel frame and Shimano components. Schwinn also marketed a top-shelf touring model from Panasonic, the World Voyager, lugged with butted Tange chrome-molybdenum alloy tubing, Shimano derailleurs, and SunTour bar-end shifters, a serious challenge to the Paramount series at half the price.[31][32]

By 1975, bicycle customers interested in medium-priced road and touring bicycles had largely gravitated towards Japanese or European brands. Unlike Schwinn, many of these brands were perennial participants in professional bicycle racing, and their production road bicycles at least possessed the cachet and visual lineage of their racing heritage, if not always their componentry.[33] One example was Peugeot, which won several Tour de France victories using race bikes with frames occasionally constructed by small race-oriented framebuilders such as Masi, suitably repainted in Team Peugeot colors. In reality, mass-market French manufacturers such as Peugeot were not infrequently criticized for material and assembly quality — as well as stagnant technology — in their low- and mid-level product lines. Nevertheless, Peugeot proudly advertised its victorious racing heritage at every opportunity. While not as prominent at the winner's podium, Japanese brands such as Fuji and Panasonic offered consistently high quality, reasonable prices, and state-of-the-art-derailleur, crankset, and gearing design.[34] Unlike Schwinn, most Japanese bicycle manufacturers were quick to adopt the latest European road racing geometries, new steel alloys, and modern manufacturing techniques.[35] As a result, their moderately-priced bicycles, equipped with the same Japanese-made components, usually weighed less and performed better than competitive models made by Schwinn.[36] Schwinn brand loyalty began to suffer as huge numbers of buyers came to retailers asking for the latest sport and racing road bikes from European or Japanese manufacturers. By 1979, even the Paramount had been passed, technologically speaking, by a new generation of American as well as foreign custom bicycle manufacturers.

BMX bicycles[edit]

Schwinn also largely failed to capitalize on a new trend in Southern California: BMX racing.[citation needed] After first claiming it to be a dangerous sport,[citation needed] management changed their tune — too late — when they introduced the Scrambler in 1975,[37] which evolved into a BMX design in the late 1970s, but it was heavier than designs from other manufacturers.[citation needed] The Sting-Ray based Scrambler spawned the light weight, fully competition capable, chrome-molybdenum-tubed Competition Scrambler in 1977,[37]Scrambler 36/36, the Mag Scrambler in 1981,[37] and the Sting[clarification needed] with full Reynolds, double butted chrome-molybdenum frame that was made in the same assembly area as the Paramount road racing frames.[citation needed]

Schwinn followed the Scrambler line with the Predator in 1982,[38] their first competitive step into the modern BMX market.[citation needed] A latecomer, the Predator took just eight percent of the BMX market.[citation needed] Schwinn also had a very successful BMX racing team made up of some of the best riders of the day.[citation needed] They were even used for an episode of the TV show CHiPs.

Mountain bikes[edit]

By the late 1970s, a new bicycle sport begun by enthusiasts in Northern California had grown into a new type of all-terrain bicycle, the mountain bike. Mountain bikes were originally based on Schwinn balloon-tired cruiser bicycles fitted with derailleur gears and called "Klunkers". A few participants began designing and building small numbers of mountain bikes with frames made out of modern butted chrome-molybdenum alloy steel. When the sport's original inventors demonstrated their new frame design, Schwinn marketing personnel initially discounted the growing popularity of the mountain bike, concluding that it would become a short-lived fad.[39] The company briefly (1978–1979) produced a bicycle styled after the California mountain bikes, the Klunker 5. Using the standard electro-forged cantilever frame, and fitted with five-speed derailleur gears and knobby tires, the Klunker 5 was never heavily marketed, and was not even listed in the Schwinn product catalog. Unlike its progenitors, the Klunker proved incapable of withstanding hard off-road use, and after an unsuccessful attempt to reintroduce the model as the Spitfire 5, it was dropped from production.

The company's next answer to requests for a Schwinn mountain bike was the King Sting and the Sidewinder, inexpensive BMX-derived bicycles fabricated from existing electro-forged frame designs, and using off-the-shelf BMX parts. This proved to be a major miscalculation, as several new United States startup companies began producing high-quality frames designed from the ground up, and sourced from new, modern plants in Japan and Taiwan using new mass-production technologies such as TIG welding.

Schwinn fielded a mountain bike racing team in the United States where their team rider Ned Overend won two consecutive NORBA Mountain Biking National Championships for the team in 1986 and 1987.[40] Schwinn's new competitors such as Specialized and Fisher MountainBikes were soon selling hundreds of thousands of mountain bikes at competitive prices to eager customers, setting sales records in a market niche that soon grew to enormous proportions.[41]

Factory and retooling issues[edit]

By this time, Schwinn's bicycle factory was completely outmoded in comparison to modern bicycle manufacturing centers in Japan and Taiwan, who had continually invested in new and up-to-date manufacturing techniques and materials, including new joinery techniques and the latest lightweight chrome-molybdenum alloy steel, and later, aluminum.[42][43] The company considered relocating to a single facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but financing the project would have required outside investors, perhaps even foreign ones. Schwinn's board of directors rejected the new plant in 1978.[42]

Labor troubles, bankruptcy and demise[edit]

In October 1979, Edward R. Schwinn, Jr. took over the presidency of Schwinn from his uncle Frank, ensuring continuity of Schwinn family in the operations of the company.[44] However, worker dissatisfaction, seldom a problem in the early years, grew with steep increases in inflation. In late 1980, the Schwinn Chicago factory workers voted to affiliate with the United Auto Workers.[45][46] Plant assembly workers began a strike for higher pay in September 1980, and 1,400 assembly workers walked off the job for thirteen weeks.[47][48] Although the strike ended in February 1981, only about 65% of the prior workforce was recalled to work.[49] By this time, increasingly stiff competition from lower-cost competition in Asia resulted in declining market share.[50] These problems were exacerbated by the inefficiency of producing modern bicycles in the 80-year-old Chicago factory equipped with outdated equipment and ancient inventory and information systems.[51] After numerous meetings, the board of directors voted to source most Schwinn bicycle production from their established bicycle supplier in Japan, Panasonic Bicycle. As Schwinn's first outsourced bicycles, Panasonic had been the only vendor to meet Schwinn's production requirements. Later, Schwinn would sign a production supply agreement with Giant Bicycles of Taiwan. As time passed, Schwinn would import more and more Asian-made bicycles to carry the Schwinn brand, eventually becoming more a marketer than a maker of bikes.[52]

In an attempt to preserve remaining market share and avoid a unionized workforce, Schwinn later moved remaining United States bicycle production to a new plant in Greenville, Mississippi, where bicycles could be assembled at lower cost using parts sourced from Asia.[53] The Greenville plant was not a success, as it was remote from both the corporate headquarters as well as the West coast ports where the material components arrived from Taiwan and Japan.[52] Additionally, Asian manufacturers could still produce and assemble high-quality bicycles at a far lower per-unit cost than Schwinn at its plant in Mississippi, which had to import parts, then assemble them using higher-priced United States labor.[54] The Greenville manufacturing facility, which had lost money each year of its operation, finally closed in 1991, laying off 250 workers in the process.[55]

The Current Schwinn Headbadge for mass market stores

After a series of production cuts and labor force reductions, Schwinn was able to restructure its operations. The company renegotiated loans by putting up the company and the name as collateral, and increased production of the Airdyneexercise bicycle, a moneymaker even in bad times. The company took advantage of the continued demand for mountain bikes, redesigning its product line with Schwinn-designed chrome-molybdenum alloy steel frames. Supplied by manufacturers in Asia, the new arrangement enabled Schwinn to reduce costs and stay competitive with Asian bicycle companies. In Taiwan, Schwinn was able to conclude a new production agreement with Giant Bicycles, transferring Schwinn's frame design and manufacturing expertise to Giant in the process.[56] With this partnership, Schwinn increased their bicycle sales to 500,000 per year by 1985. Schwinn's annual sales soon neared the million mark, and the company turned a profit in the late 1980s. However, after unsuccessfully attempting to purchase a minority share in Giant Bicycles, Edward Schwinn Jr. negotiated a separate deal with the China Bicycle Co. (CBC) to produce bicycles to be sold under the Schwinn brand.[57] In retaliation, Giant introduced its own line of Giant-branded bikes for sale to retailers carrying Schwinn bikes. Both Giant and CBC used the dies, plans, and technological expertise from Schwinn to greatly expand the market share of bicycles made under their own proprietary brands, first in Europe, and later in the United States.[57]

By 1990, other United States bicycle companies with reputations for excellence in design such as Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale had cut further into Schwinn's market. Unable to produce bicycles in the United States at a competitive cost, by the end of 1991 Schwinn was sourcing its bicycles from overseas manufacturers. This period in Schwinn's history plays a cameo role in a novel by Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (2012).[58] Seeking to increase its brand recognition, Schwinn established additional company-operated shops, a move that alienated existing independent bike retailers in cities where the company stores had opened. This in turn led to further inroads by domestic and foreign competitors. Faced with a downward sales spiral, Schwinn went into bankruptcy in 1992.[59] The company and name were bought by the Zell/Chilmark Fund, an investment group, in 1993. Zell moved Schwinn's corporate headquarters to Boulder, Colorado.

In 1993, Richard Schwinn, great-grandson of Ignaz Schwinn, with business partner Marc Muller, purchased the Schwinn Paramount plant in Waterford, Wisconsin, where Paramounts were built since 1980. They founded Waterford Precision Cycles, which is still in operation. In 2003 they employed 18 workers building lightweight bicycles.[60]

A Schwinn Voyageur GS hybrid bicycle sold after the company was bought by Pacific Cycle

In late 1997, Questor Partners Fund, led by Jay Alix and Dan Lufkin, purchased Schwinn Bicycles. Questor/Schwinn later purchased GT Bicycles in 1998 for $8 a share in cash, roughly $80 million. The new company produced a series of well-regarded mountain bikes bearing the Schwinn name, called the Homegrown series.[61] In 2001, Schwinn/GT declared bankruptcy.

Sale to Pacific and Nautilus[edit]

In September 2001, the Schwinn Company, its assets, and the rights to the brand, together with that of the GT Bicycle, was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by Pacific Cycle, a company previously known for mass-market brands owned by Wind Point Partners.[62] In 2004, Pacific Cycle was in turn acquired by Dorel Industries. Once America's preeminent bicycle manufacturer, the Schwinn brand, as with many other bicycle manufacturers, affixed itself to fabrication in China and Taiwan, fueling most of its corporate parent's growth.[52][63] In 2010, Dorel launched a major advertising campaign to revive and contemporize the Schwinn brand by associating it with consumer childhood memories of the company, including a reintroduction of the Schwinn Sting-Ray.[63][64]

Direct Focus, Inc., a marketing company for fitness and healthy lifestyle products, acquired the assets of Schwinn/GT's fitness equipment division. Direct Focus, Inc. subsequently became Nautilus, Inc.[65]


Schwinn sells essentially two lines of bicycles. One is a line of discount bikes offered through mass-merchandisers such as Wal-Mart, Sears and Kmart. The other line known as the Signature Series, featured on the website, are higher-end models sold through specialty shops.[66] Schwinn produces the following types of bicycles:


Starting in 2005, Schwinn also marketed Motorscooters under the Schwinn Motorsports brand.[68] Production ceased in 2011 (approx).


Schwinn also produces the following gear: Helmets & Pads, Pumps, Saddles, Lights, Storage, Extras, Repair, Bike trailers, and Jogging strollers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^"President of Schwinn Bicycle Co. Edward Schwinn". Crain's Chicago Business. 2005. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  2. ^"Still a Family Business After 90 Years : Schwinn Remains a Bicycle Giant". Los Angeles Times. 1985. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  3. ^"Schwinn Ready to Sell Most Assets". New York Times. 1993. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  4. ^"Schwinn, Venerable Bike Firm, Files for Bankruptcy : Business: Company vows to remain in operation, but it seeks a merger or investor to restructure its debt". Los Angeles Times. 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  5. ^ abDzierzak, Lou, and Hackett, Jeff, Schwinn, MBI Publishing Company (2002), ISBN 1-58068-003-8, ISBN 978-1-58068-003-5
  6. ^ abCrown, Judith, and Coleman, Glenn, No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, An American Institution, New York: Henry Holt (1996), pp. 32–34, 122
  7. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book, New York: Overlook Press (2001), ISBN 1-58567-112-6, p. 20
  8. ^ abcBallantine, Richard, Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book, New York: Overlook Press (2001), ISBN 1-58567-112-6, pp. 23–24
  9. ^"Everything Bicycles - : 1941 Schwinn Bicycle Shatters World Record - Alfred Letourneur rides 108.92mph, Original: Posters". 1941-05-17. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  10. ^Ballantine, Richard. (1978) Richard's Bicycle Book, New York: Ballantine Books, rev. ed., ISBN 0-345-27621-3, p. 1
  11. ^Petty, Ross D., Pedaling Schwinn Bicycles, Babson College, MA (2007), pp. 5–6 ArticleArchived 2013-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's Bicycle Book, Ballantine Books, rev. ed. (1978), ISBN 0-345-27621-3, pp. 13–14
  13. ^Petty, Ross D., Pedaling Schwinn Bicycles, p. 6
  14. ^ abcdePetty, Ross D., Pedaling Schwinn Bicycles, Babson College, MA (2007) ArticleArchived 2013-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^Dzierzak, Lou, and Hackett, Jeff, Schwinn, MBI Publishing Company (2002), ISBN 1-58068-003-8, ISBN 978-1-58068-003-5, p. 19
  16. ^Petty, Ross D., Peddling Schwinn Bicycles: Marketing Lessons From the Leading Post-WWII Bicycle Brand, Babson College, Mass., pp. 166-167
  17. ^Petty, pp. 166–167
  18. ^Petty, p. 166
  19. ^Ladas, Stephen, Patents, Trademarks, and Related Rights, Harvard University Press (1975), ISBN 0-674-65775-6, pp. 1381–1382
  20. ^Ladas, pp. 1382–1383
  21. ^"Wilson History Part 1". 1967-06-12. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  22. ^"The Schwinn Corvette". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  23. ^ abLiz Fried (August 1997). Schwinn Sting-Ray. Motorbooks International. ISBN .
  24. ^Brain, John. "The Birth of the Factory Muscle Bike: 1963".
  25. ^Hudson, William. "Myths and Milestones in Bicycle Evolution".
  26. ^"Evolution of the High Rise Bicycle 1963". Raleigh Ron's Classics. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  27. ^"Fillet-Brazed Schwinn Bicycles 1938-1978". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  28. ^"Schwinn Sting-Ray Bicycle Information". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  29. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book, New York: Overlook Press (2001), ISBN 1-58567-112-6, p. 24
  30. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's Bicycle Book, Ballantine Books, rev. ed. (1978), ISBN 0-345-27621-3, p. 35
  31. ^"Panasonic Bicycles at Yellow Jersey". 1989-09-30. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  32. ^Dzierzak, Lou, and Hackett, Jeff, Schwinn, MBI Publishing Company (2002), ISBN 1-58068-003-8, ISBN 978-1-58068-003-5, p. 55
  33. ^Plummer, Jack, A Visit with Faliero and Alberto Masi, June 21, 1971, Article
  34. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's Bicycle Book, Ballantine Books, rev. ed. (1978), ISBN 0-345-27621-3, pp. 13–14: In 1978, Richard Ballantine, the well-known English bicycling author, noted: "The Japanese have justifiably cornered the derailleur gear market for some years."
  35. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's Bicycle Book, Ballantine Books, rev. ed. (1978), ISBN 0-345-27621-3, p. 25
  36. ^Dzierzak, Lou, and Hackett, Jeff, p. 58
  37. ^ abc"Schwinn Scrambler, Years by Model: 1975 Scrambler". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  38. ^"Schwinn Scrambler, Years by Model: 1982 Predator". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  39. ^White, Michael, A Short Course in International Marketing Blunders: Mistakes Made By Companies That Should Have Known Better, Tribun EU (2009), ISBN 978-80-7399-751-9, p. 11
  40. ^"Where Are They Now? Chasing Down Ned Overend". Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  41. ^Ballantine, Richard, Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book, New York: Overlook Press (2001), ISBN 1-58567-112-6, pp. 24–25
  42. ^ abCrown, Judith and Coleman, Glenn, The Fall of Schwinn, Crain's Chicago Business, 11 October 1993
  43. ^White, Michael, A Short Course in International Marketing Blunders: Mistakes Made By Companies That Should Have Known Better, Tribun EU (2009), ISBN 978-80-7399-751-9, p. 10
  44. ^Mullins, John, The New Business Road Test, Prentice Hall, 2nd ed. (2006), Ch. 7, p. 161–169
  45. ^La Botz, Dan, Chicago Stewart-Warner Workers Stick With U.E.; Reject UAW Raid, Labor Notes, 22 December 1980, p. 5
  46. ^Yovovich, B.G., Bits and Bytes, CIO Magazine, Vol. 2 No.3, December 1988, pp. 34–35
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External links[edit]


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