Things You Ought to know About Schwinn

I will be the first one to admit that I am constantly learning new things about Schwinn and other makers constantly. For instance, I recently learned of a "King Size" American built for a 6' or taller rider and a "twin straight bar" frame that Schwinn made between the late-50s and early-60s. Schwinn as a company has a lot of history. They were started by an Austrian immigrant named Ignaz Schwinn in the late-1800s and despite rolling up the rug for Chicago operations in 1982, they continued to release the Schwinn catalog for about another 10 years. It can be a colossal headache trying to figure out what the value and year is. Luckily, the serial numbers tell us a lot about the bikes themselves. Depending on the sequence they will tell you one of two things. Either you will have year, day and month of manufacture, or as is often the case, just the year. One thing to keep in mind is that Schwinn would often date the frames before the bikes got assembled, so it is possible to have a bike that you bought in 1970 with a date either a year or so prior or a year or so post purchase. It isn't exact, but the serial is the best tool we have for assessing the age. If the bike was made post-'82, plugging the serial into the database will either pull up nothing or it will be completely wrong. Why? Anything post-'82 won't be made in the Chicago factory. If it is made in Japan, it was manufactured by Panasonic. If it was made in Taiwan, it was made by Giant. The serials might have relevance to those companies, but not to Schwinn. Additionally, many bicycles were outsourced to Japan at the height of the 1970s bike boom and those serial numbers also will not line up. One of the best gauges for era of production for a particular model will be the frame decals and frame design. For example, if you have a Varsity, the early 10 speed models (1963-1967) will have frame mounted shift levers. From 1968 forward they migrate to the stem. The decals will also say a lot about the bike. Anything with a long, colorful seat tube decal will be a 1960s model with one exception. In the 1950s some models had a colorful checkered pattern on the seat tube. Any bike built 1967 or prior will say Arnold Schwinn & Co on the seat clamp bolt, decals and the nut on the stem. In 1968 it was changed to just Schwinn. Above all, it is important to do research. I have a small library of reference books on Schwinn and other makes that are a treasure trove of information. You don't have to go so in-depth, but it is important to know what you're looking at. Schwinn made dozens of Sting Ray models throughout production, for instance and some are very valuable while others aren't valuable at all. Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars put it best when he said that just because something is old doesn't mean it has value. This is especially true of bicycles. Generally speaking Schwinn is considered an entry-level collector piece because of their availability and relatively low cost, but there are exceptions and that is why it's important to look. Do not use eBay as a guide for assessing value. On the one hand it can tell you certain things about where the market is, but the values are often inflated by over zealous sellers trying to make a buck. Know that the market fluctuates and when in doubt, ask questions.

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The internet is certainly a wonderful place for just about anything you can think of and that certainly applies to bicycles. The key is to look for multiple sources just like you would anything else.

From a young age I was fascinated with cars. Muscle cars specifically. I knew the options and trim as well as year-specific details. I have actually lost knowledge in that area over time and have done