Easily the most recognizable name in bicycles, Schwinn has become the standard by which all other bicycle companies are compared. For well over a century, Schwinn has produced top-quality bicycles of many different types to meet the needs of customers around the world. Founded in 1895 by Ignaz Schwinn, the company dominated the 20th century in terms of both quality and affordable pricing. In this Schwinn bikes review, we will look at the history of the company and the types of bikes that it offers to the public.
Ignaz Schwinn was born in Germany and grew up fascinated by bicycles. At the age of 31, he moved to America and set up a partnership that would become Arnold, Schwinn & Company in 1895.
Currently, Schwinn is owned by Dorel Industries which has undergone some trying times, but still keeps the basic approach of Ignaz Schwinn in their current line of bicycles. The timing was fortuitous as Americans were becoming interested in this faster form of transportation that didn’t require a horse.
The bicycle boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries fizzed out rather quickly, but thanks to an emphasis on quality and diversifying his brand by adding motorcycles, Schwinn stayed in business. It was the diversification of his brand that allowed Schwinn to not only thrive but offer lower-priced bikes to the general public. By undercutting the competition in terms of price while maintaining high quality, Schwinn managed to build his company up.
By the 1950s, Schwinn was the most dominant bicycle company in the US. By the end of the 1960s, Schwinn was selling over a million bikes a year. The dominance continued as Schwinn began offering bicycles that were specialized for different needs. In 1982, BMX bikes were created to take advantage of a new, youthful trend in the market.
By the 1990s, the mountain bike had become one of the dominant types of bicycles on the market and Schwinn moved much of its production to address this trend. By the 21st century, the diversification of bicycle types continued with new versions made from recyclable materials, a redesign of popular kids bikes, and the introduction of electric bicycles.
While Schwinn may not have been the first in any of these recent trends, they did apply their massive resources to capitalize on the growing market. This allows them to offer high quality bicycles at affordable prices for discount shoppers. While at the same time having their famed Signature Series address the needs of those seeking higher-end versions of great bikes.
Types of Bikes
Although there are many different sub-genres of bicycles that Schwinn offers, they mainly produce two types of bicycles, discount and high-end. The discount bikes are sold at major retailers such as Walmart, Sears, and K-Mart. While the Signature Series is offered through the Schwinn website and specialty bike shops.
The Signature Series includes several different types such as cruisers, hybrids, urban, electric, kids, and road.
It is the road bikes that Schwinn still garners considerable praise. This was the primary focus of the company for many years, so their expertise is on display in this regard. Exceptional entries in the more expensive types include the Fastback, Paramount, Phocus, Vantage, and Volare. For all the bikes in the road line, the high-end models are made from carbon composites which are lightweight, yet quite strong.
Plus, some versions have advanced features such as an internal wiring cable system and LCD display screen. Even the entry-level designs are robust and offer up-to-date technology that is highly desired by those who love to ride.
The mountain bikes Schwinn offers come in different models that are customized with different performance features. This includes the Bonafide, Mesa, Moab, Protocol, Traxion, and Timber. The frame is crafted from aluminum, but the differences focus on their suspension systems, size of wheels, and geometry. They are also available in different colors.
The electric versions of the bike include pedal assist systems that allow the bike to reach speeds of 20mph. As with all versions of Schwinn bikes, the high quality for the price, numerous features, and solid frame make for a solid purchase in most categories. But as you will see in this Schwinn bikes review, not everything is gold when it comes to this bike company.
The Downside of Schwinn
The issue with being on top for so long is that soon the market will start to leave you. That has been the case with Schwinn at least for the past few decades in some regards. While the company still excels at making low-end, affordable bikes, the higher end is now left mostly to specialty bike companies. This should not be surprising as dedicated bike enthusiasts will naturally gravitate towards companies that offer the highest quality with price not being an issue.
Because Schwinn focuses much of its business on the lower-end, the discount market not only serves to keep the company going, it has also affected the reputation of Schwinn at least in terms of higher-end bikes. This is due in part to the association Schwinn has with the discount markets, but also because they do not quite reach the higher end market in terms of overall quality.
This is understandable since the Schwinn philosophy is to provide bikes at affordable prices. So, they will have that in mind even with their Signature Series. This is why other companies have been able to dominate certain types even if they do not have the overall reach of Schwinn.
It is true with the rise of specialty bike companies that Schwinn no longer has the dominance it once did in the bicycle market. As this Schwinn Bikes review indicates, they are now a company that primarily produces discount market bikes at a higher quality than their competition. This means for the average consumer with a limited budget, Schwinn bikes are still one of, if not the best option. For those looking at high-end specialty bicycles, Schwinn does offer their Signature Series, but they are not considered the best in the market.