About bikepunk

“Cuts, scrapes, bruises… all in a day’s riding. Then it’s off for some good german beer in a local biergarten.” Munich, Germany

31 Replies to “Never Forget 9-11.”

  1. growing up with that brand…………. i buried them many many years ago.
    the last one i bought was a road bike when i lived in Mpls. from the LBS at the time.
    a 564 i think….. wait let me go look in the garage. ;))
    yup, fire engine red.
    IMHO, that’s where a road bike belongs…. hanging in the garage.
    mind you, this coming from a guy that uses his Surly Pugsley as his main ride!!!
    Peace, Joboo

  2. Schwinn
    Levi Strauss
    Three iconic American brands, founded by European Immigrants, with little affiliation with the U.S. anymore…yet somehow the uniquely American innovation of the urban faux fixie messenger manages to bring all three of these companies together in a holy trinity of all that we stand for.
    That, my friends is what 9/11 is all about.
    Cheers, it’s my birthday today.
    Peace on Earth.

  3. …when you think about it, gianni’s right…

    …throughout the last century, the ‘schwinn bicycle company’was ‘the’ quintessential american bike company in both fact & in the minds of the general public for eons…

    ‘schwinn paramounts’ were ‘the’ quintessential american road & track bikes back in the ’60’s & ’70’s…you prob’ly lusted for a french or italian ride or eventually even hand made but a schwinn paramount, which essentially was hand made, was still a desirable & viable option…

    …so despite problems through the years with labor, out sourcing, chapter 11, blah, blah, blah, while overshadowed by other events, 9-11-’01 was a sad day in the history of american cycling & i gotta admit that i didn’t realize that was the date from whence the schwinn bicycle company changed forever…

  4. …happy birthday, kilgore trout…

    …i can only imagine what your dear sainted mother had to put up with for so many years…bwahahaha…

    …my best to ya, lad…

  5. That day was the final nail in the coffin for the old “family bike shop”. It’s taking a few more years to get it buried, but that was the day it was pronounced dead.

    I say this as someone who owned what was at the time a Schwinn dealership.

  6. I hear you, Jack. However, as a 20 year bike shop veteran, I’ve got a lot of optimism regarding the state of bike shops right now. I’ve never felt the buzz for cycling as a means of transportation and recreation as I do now. Maybe it’s the economic downturn leading to more “staycations”, or maybe more people gotta use bikes to get around as the relative cost of car-ownership rises, regardless, it adds up to the most exciting time to be in a bike shop that I can recall (given that I wasn’t party to the big 10 speed boom of the 70’s).

    Wooohooo…let’s go for a ride!

  7. …apples & oranges…at least from my pov…

    …while i’d say you’re right, senor trout, in that in these tough economic times, bicycles are again getting the fair shake they deserve, i’d suggest and jack can correct me if i’m wrong but there was a time that having a schwinn dealership allowed you to have a solid brand name to build a shop around…
    …when i was a kid growing up in canada in the ’50’s, it was raleigh, now another sad ‘brand story’…

    …cycling needs were smaller & while schwinn would be your bread n’ butter, you could include other brands, parts & accessories…

    …nowadays, the ‘biggies’ like trek would be perfectly happy to have you walk into a shop wherein everything you laid your eye on was a part of their own sales catalog…& internationally there are exclusive boutique ‘trek shops’

    …my take on “the gary fisher collection by trek” ???…while i don’t have the real numbers, essentially g-fish sold through 600 dealers & trek sold through 1200 dealers but now they have 1800 dealers where you can buy “trek brand products”…

    …while it makes perfect economic sense, personally i find it limiting…

  8. Competition replaces reason. It also replaces forethought and definitely puts a damper on fairness. The lifespan of a cassette gets shorter and shorter as they make them thinner and thinner to squeeze in more speeds, the bikes get lighter and lighter and then stems and wheels break more often, and it’s nearly impossible for an American frame builder to set up shop here in the US while companies like “Traitor” and “Surly” have set up shop from the get-go in China. Most of the ‘bicycles’ sold in the US aren’t even bicycles, really…. they are heavy, very low quality, rattletrap pieces of shit sold by Wal-mart, designed specifically to get you off a bike and back in a car as soon as you figure out that ‘bicycles’ suck. I heard that people in other countries watch Jerry Springer re-runs and think that America is like that.
    Sad thing is, they’d be right.

  9. Wait a minute Littlejar, do you want bikes heavier or lighter?
    Ever built a frame?

    I want to do it, and I’d love to hear about peoples’ experiences.
    I’ll make that fucker right here in America. Dammit.
    gawdamn. sumbitch.

  10. Mine ain’t made here. Not one piece of it.

    1976 Raleigh Supercourse Mk. II. Lugged 531. Old Maillard/Weinmann 700 wheels rotafixed. Weinmann centerpull. Shimano 600 crank. 52/21 for around 65 gear inches. Fixed gear, which I mentioned, but you never know who rides the short bus these days. Best thing I ever rode.

    I could give a flying rat’s ass what it weighs, but it’s probably upwards of 25 pounds. Did I mention I don’t care? 64 cm, dontchaknow. Takes alot of metal to haul my fat ass from here to there and back. Did I mention I’m probabably aittle drunk? Whatever.

    But I swear by all that’s right, I’d ride that bike through the gates of Hell. I know it would bring me home.

  11. Yes, I did attempt to make a frame. Foolishly, I chose to hand miter and fillet braze the joints. I should have gone with at least a BB and seat lug. The front end came out fine, and it had some unique touches, such as an offset cable guide on a bridge between the chain stays. I named it “Go ugly early” – It would have been very light because of the great tubing I chose to work with but if you’re even 1/4 of a degree off at the BB, the frame is junk. That was my mistake. “Go Ugly Early” therefore was unride-able, and I was very sad about that.
    There’s nothing wrong with a heavy bike, in case you misread my words. I earned my El Tour platinum on a 26 lb LaBan made out of TrueTemper. One of the nicest bikes I’ve ever owned. There’s a lot wrong with CHEAP bikes, and they happen to be heavy. I think that it is sad that too many people consider them to be the right choice to buy, only to save a few hundred dollars, not understanding that this is false economy of the most insidious kind, because I’ve never known anybody who was actually happy with a bottom of the line PACIFIC or NEXT.

  12. My point is: There should be another word for these monstrous pieces of shit, and we get to keep the word ‘bicycles’ for the noble machine that gets us around.

  13. “BSO”, lj. Stands for “bicycle shaped objects”. Always worked in my circle of friends.

  14. “But I swear by all that’s right, I’d ride that bike through the gates of Hell. I know it would bring me home.”

    …uhhh, joe ???…not to point out the obvious but when you ride that bike through the gates of hell, you WILL be home…

    …& i’ll hand you a cold beer (not everything in hell is hot) & a bottle of “whatever yer drinkin'” (not everything in hell is that ugly scary shit ya read about when ya were a kid) & once ya settle in, we’ll go take “littlejar’s frame building class”

    “measure twice, cut once, weld without a torch”

  15. Folks, laugh at Schwinn all you want – the reaper is gonna have a hellofa tantrum thrower on his hands when it comes time to separate me from my “Schwinny” ’67 Schwinn Varsity. Yeah its old, its heavy and a road-type bike ,but it took me through high school, college, to work for years, even on trails, in every weather, gone through many of sets of tires and its kept up with the likes of modern day carbon and aluminum road bikes on group rides. The worst of it all is that it will outlive me!

  16. …i know two people who’ve ridden across the country, east to west on what was their ‘college bike’, the trusty schwinn varsity…jean shorts, sneakers & a backpack…

    …’that’ is some hardcore shit…

  17. It really is sad what Questor did to Schwinn. I shed a tear nearly every time I look at my Paramount, or one of my Homegrowns. Schwinn was an American icon, and they killed it.

    When I got into the bike business, we sold some kids bikes. Those days are long gone. I don’t know the numbers for the industry as a whole, but I know that at the end we were selling less than 10% of the kids that we once did, and I’m under the impression that we were not alone. The demise of Schwinn was a big part of this decrease.

    There are plenty of bike shops doing well these days, but the business has changed. The day of the small town, “Mom and Pop” bike shop are over. The shops that are doing well are typically in bigger cities, and usually have multiple locations, and are selling a decidedly higher end mix of products. The smaller guys, like I was, don’t have the capital to compete. The bikes that more and more people are buying have become disposable. So not only are sales gone, but repairs have taken a hit too.

    I remember folks calling the shop after the bankruptcy was in the news asking how much longer and even how we were still open, because they heard on the news that morning that Schwinn had filed for bankruptcy. That’s a crappy feeling to have as a small business owner. Just three days ago, someone addressed me “Hey Schwinn guy”. My shop has been closed for three months, and I haven’t sold Schwinn products since 2001. That’s how strong the Schwinn brand was. That’s what Questor killed.

  18. …jack…i feel for you…

    …i dunno anything about you or how long you were in “the biz” but i get the feeling from what i read that you & your shop were a good & decent entity within your neighborhood…

    …no matter how helpful, honest & knowledgeable some new-school shops can be (& not all of them are…i’m blessed with a number of good ones in my area), you’re right, the era” of the ‘mom & pop’ shop has passed…mores the shame ‘cuz none of these young guys will ever get to experience that…

    …my cycling cap is doffed to you, sir…

  19. from that wiki, one bright spot in this epic fail story:

    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.

  20. …in a perfect world, richard schwinn would be able to at least buy the “paramount” name back & utilize that for a company name…

    …i’m sure he’s prob’ly happy w/ ‘waterford precision’ but it would be kinda nice, if only for the tradition…

    …just sayin’…

  21. Hell yeah granny, I’m riding a Gunnar, which is Richard Schwinn’s pet project brand out of the Waterford Factory. Kinda cool, when I ordered it I actually got emails from Richard about the specifics of the frame. It’s a fantastic frame, a Gunnar Sport. For my dough I have no regrets.

  22. I’ve actually had a conversation with Richard Schwinn about what has happened to the brand that bears his family’s name. He seemed a bit bitter about it all.

  23. My neighborhood bike shop was a Schwinn shop called Johnson’s Sporting goods. (Mid seventies in Wauwatosa Wi.) Anyone remember the Johnson brothers?
    A couple of grumpy cigar smoking fucks that would grumble ” hey kid you gonna buy anything? Then get out of here!”
    Trying to get a catalog out of them was one of the toughest things an 11 year old boy could do.
    Those “family” bike store dickheads pushed us right to the competition. Thanks for that.
    I still own a 1959 Schwinn 2 speed i’ve had for thirty years now, bought a Homegrown right after the bankruptcy, and loved that bike till i broke it. I even owned a second hand Canary yellow Schwinn Sportabout. Never heard of it? It was cheaper than a Varsity and actually had Suntour stem mounted shifters. But thanks to the Johnson’s i learned what real bikes were like by the age of 14. Yep, that shit is as real Americana as all my bigoted neighbors growing up in the burbs of Milwaukee. Fuck yes, i’ve always loved the bike.