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Vintage (50's/60's) Schwinn cruisers

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Vintage (50's/60's) Schwinn cruisers

Old 09-11-19, 02:16 PM
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JimR56
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Vintage (50's/60's) Schwinn cruisers

I haven't found much discussion anywhere in BF about vintage Schwinn cruisers. The C&V forum seems to have morphed from its described parameters, and is all about road bikes. The "Beach Cruisers" forum doesn't seem to attract much interest in the subject of vintage cruisers. So, I thought I would see what happens if I started a topic here.

My 1994 Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe is a descendant of the Schwinn balloon tire bikes like the B6, the Phantom, and others. I've always liked the look of Schwinn's cantilever frame bikes, but only recently began to appreciate a variety of others- including some of the "middleweights" like the American, Corvette, Heavy Duti, Jaguar, Panther, and Typhoon.

Anybody else have interest in or knowledge about these bikes? There seems to be a lot of overlap from model to model between some of the middleweight specs. I've even been seeing ebay listings where the title of the listing includes multiple middleweight model names, even though the seller is only offering one bike. Not having any past experience with these, I find this confusing. But I'm attracted to these nonetheless.
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Old 09-11-19, 02:31 PM
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FiftySix
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My only experience is with the 21st century Schwinn cruisers.

Someone around here has linked the webpage below before. Worth a look see for the old Schwinn catalog scans.

https://waterfordbikes.com/schwinn-catalog-scans/
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Old 09-11-19, 03:05 PM
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JimR56
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Terrific resource, FiftySix! Thank you. "FiftySix"... "JimR56"... hmmm, why didn't I notice this before?
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Old 09-11-19, 03:13 PM
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I own a yellow late 60’s Heavy Duti . It was my first bike purchase that lead to my renewed interests in biking . I have swapped out the wheels for lighter aluminum wheels with 1.5” street tires . I had trouble keeping the tires that came with it on the rims . I think the previous owner had tried to fit the wrong size tires on the steel rims .
I purchased it at a yard sale from the original owner .
The bike is very heavy . It spends most of the time hanging upside down in my garage .
I have plans to put some balloon tires on it and ride it occasionally.
When I have time I’ll get it down and snap a picture of it .
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Old 09-11-19, 06:03 PM
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Thanks kirby. The beautiful black Heavy-Duti in the "Show me your cruisers" thread was one of the things that put these vintage middleweight Schwinns on my radar.
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Old 09-13-19, 12:47 PM
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I came across a very clean 1960/61 ish American. I wanted it, but it was way too small to ride. I found out that there is a King-size version, and they demand a lot more money. I am very fond of old Schwinns. I recently restored a Campus Green Varsity that I picked up for $40. I flipped it after giving it a lot of love. Got $175 for it. Again, it was a small frame.
Those Schwinns are a joy to overhaul. So simple in comparison to a Raleigh.
No special tools required except for an Atom freewheel socket. No metric, no whitworth.
I still have so much SAE tools, and these bikes keep my tools useful😁
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Old 09-13-19, 08:46 PM
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There is not much difference in any of the late forties - through 1965 , COASTER BRAKE-single speed bicycles from any of the US manufacturers of that era.
Schwinn did have the world's best KICKSTAND. Schwinn did have the best, most durable PAINT quality. (not necessarily the best color choices....all manufacturers had neat colors and schemes back in the day.) Schwinn's "Northroad" typical cruiser handlebars of the late fifties through the Chicago end-circa '82 have perhaps the best, most user friendly shape...OPEN FOR DEBATE because others had nice ones too----JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION THAT THE SCHWINN northroad BAR SHAPE of late fifties to Chicago end cannot be beat! Schwinn DID HAVE what I believe was the best Chrome Plating in the industry from the late fifties through the Chicago end. You'll see this on their ASHTABULA one piece cranks, front Chainwheel, the handlebars, and the handlebar stem.
Other than the more durable paint, industry-best Chrome, and the best kick-stand, there isn't much difference between ancient single speed Schwinn coaster brake cruisers and other US makes of the forties through 1965. Schwinn did install the highest quality caged ball bearing assemblies in the Hanger set (bottom bracket) and the stem & fork. Other US makes did use good bearings, as there were no really bad bearings in that era. Schwinn insisted on higher quality material for its bearings. Other than one or two, odd crapola bikes that date from the sixties with an Ashtabula one-piece crank but no provision to lock down the front Chainwheel to its integral nub pin of the crank.........MOST ALL BIKES HAVE THREADED SCREW DOWN FOR THAT SIDE'S BEARING RACE WHICH "LOCKS" THE FRONT CRANKWHEEL in position on the integral nub......................a few crappola bikes appeared in the later sixties that are crudely assembled with a cost-cutting lack of this. Most bikes are built solidly, no matter the US manufacturer with some exceptions. Schwinn was second to nobody as far as build quality and assembly during the late fifties through the early seventies.
May I suggest that you go on the BAY and search "ALL CATEGORIES" for : GLENN'S COMPLETE BICYCLE MANUAL.
You should find at least several listings for BIN at price of between $3.50 and $4.75 including FREE SHIPPING.
(c)1973 and 339 pages softbound , by Clarence W. Coles & Harold T. Glenn.....................probably sold 3/4 of a million copies in ten or so printings between 1973 and 1976..................................THE ABSOLUTE BEST BICYCLE REPAIR MANUAL EVER WRITTEN for anyone that owns any bicycle made between 1935 and 1977.
As for the single speed coaster brake assemblies, all of them were very very good BENDIX, KOMET, N%K(japanese), and everyone else making them in the post-war era to the end of seventies and to the end of the century.
......................NOW the biggest difference that you'll find is that some single speed CRUISERS are factory geared a little different...............Surely, you do know the relationship of the GEAR TEETH on the lone rear sprocket and the GEAR TEETH on the front CrankCHAINWHEEL.
You know that you have some ability to change these.
It gets even more interesting when you get beyond single speed into the 2-speed and 3-speed cruisers and beyond.
Don't overlook the non-Schwinns because there were many good basic bicycles. They don't get any simpler than an AMERICAN STYLE CRANK( 1-piece "Ashtabula") and coaster brake, single speed cruiser.
Have fun riding them, and painting and customizing them if you like that.
Schwinn bikes from about 1966 onward do have a better-stronger, "THICKER WALLED" headtube that was the industry's best. These '66 and later have a corresponding thinner diameter STEM to fit the stronger,THICKER WALLED headtube. This did make for the industry's strongest bicycle. You'll have to look for '66 and later Schwinn bicycles for this superior strength frame. IS THIS STRENGTH NECESSARY?? Probably not unless you weigh more than 350 pounds or are just a crazy nut trying to re-create Evil's Caesars Fountain jump. Unless you will seriously abuse the bicycle, or weigh about as much as a piano or large refridgerator/freezer, than it isn't gonna matter. That is my opinion. I have no scientific tests or data to back up my opinion. Some say that Schwinn had strong, well-built wheels but so did everybody else of that era with respect to heavy single speed Coaster brake cruiser bicycles. Schwinn chrome was better but that is about all, because most everybody did use quality spokes and the wheel construction was more than adequate, if you didn't leave your bike out in the rain for it to rust.
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Old 09-18-19, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by JimR56 View Post
I've always liked the look of Schwinn's cantilever frame bikes, but only recently began to appreciate a variety of others- including some of the "middleweights" like the American, Corvette, Heavy Duti, Jaguar, Panther, and Typhoon.

Anybody else have interest in or knowledge about these bikes? There seems to be a lot of overlap from model to model between some of the middleweight specs. I've even been seeing ebay listings where the title of the listing includes multiple middleweight model names, even though the seller is only offering one bike. Not having any past experience with these, I find this confusing. But I'm attracted to these nonetheless.
Not only was there overlap between the specs as well as an evolution of specs (for each model) over time, but when I look at examples currently for sale online, the fact that so many people modded these only makes things more confusing. All-original examples seem to be scarce (most of the best examples probably have been collected up by now), but at least the ones with clean frames would probably be good candidates to be restored to original, and relatively easily in some cases.

Last edited by JimR56; 09-18-19 at 12:46 AM.
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