Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Classic & Vintage
Reload this Page >

Schwinn Importing Bicycles

Notices
Classic & Vintage This forum is to discuss the many aspects of classic and vintage bicycles, including musclebikes, lightweights, middleweights, hi-wheelers, bone-shakers, safety bikes and much more.

Schwinn Importing Bicycles

Old 07-13-21, 08:11 PM
  #1  
BikingViking793 
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 385

Bikes: 2015 Felt Z75 Disc, 2008 Fuji Cross Comp, 2010 Trek Navigator 1.0, 2010 Raleigh Talus 3.0, 1974 Raleigh Sports, 1974 Schwinn Le Tour, 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked 54 Times in 44 Posts
Schwinn Importing Bicycles

When did Schwinn start importing bicycles? Is the Le Tour the first imported model? Or were there others before it?
__________________
check out the Frugal Average Bicyclist
Frugal Average Bicyclist The goal here is to help you keep cycling on a budget.
BikingViking793 is offline  
Old 07-13-21, 08:25 PM
  #2  
Dylansbob 
2k miles from the midwest
 
Dylansbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,365

Bikes: ~'75 Colin Laing, '80s Schwinn SuperSport 650b, ex-Backroads ti project...

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 268 Post(s)
Liked 385 Times in 191 Posts
I believe the first was the fabled 1973 World Voyageur, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly.
Dylansbob is offline  
Likes For Dylansbob:
Old 07-14-21, 12:55 PM
  #3  
bikemike73
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: North of Boston
Posts: 455

Bikes: 1973 Schwinn Sports Tourer plus a " few" more :)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 107 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 83 Times in 67 Posts
Dylansbob is correct !!!!!

AWESOME BIKE !!!!!

I have one of them !!!!

Now Schwinn imported PARTS long before that, but the WV is the FIRST bike......from Japan !!!!
bikemike73 is offline  
Likes For bikemike73:
Old 07-14-21, 12:58 PM
  #4  
Mr. 66
Senior Member
 
Mr. 66's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1,788
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 554 Post(s)
Liked 444 Times in 302 Posts
Here is the World,

they ride good.
Mr. 66 is offline  
Likes For Mr. 66:
Old 07-14-21, 03:15 PM
  #5  
Dylansbob 
2k miles from the midwest
 
Dylansbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,365

Bikes: ~'75 Colin Laing, '80s Schwinn SuperSport 650b, ex-Backroads ti project...

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 268 Post(s)
Liked 385 Times in 191 Posts
That's the one I had...

Originally Posted by Mr. 66 View Post
Here is the World,

they ride good.
working at goodwill in the late 90s, I snagged one just like this. stripped off the orange paint to reveal the full chrome. One of the very few over the last 25yrs I regret selling.
Dylansbob is offline  
Old 07-14-21, 08:58 PM
  #6  
JohnDThompson 
Old fart
 
JohnDThompson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Appleton WI
Posts: 22,846

Bikes: Several, mostly not name brands.

Mentioned: 134 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2687 Post(s)
Liked 1,396 Times in 867 Posts
I recommend the book "No Hands" for a readable, engaging history of the Schwinn Bicycle Company:

https://www.amazon.com/No-Hands-Schw.../dp/0805035532
JohnDThompson is offline  
Likes For JohnDThompson:
Old 07-14-21, 09:32 PM
  #7  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 26,045
Mentioned: 209 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14409 Post(s)
Liked 2,411 Times in 1,797 Posts
Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
I believe the first was the fabled 1973 World Voyageur, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly.


I'm seeing notes that the Varsity was produced from 1951 to 1985 (plus a new design in 1986). Was that always an American made bicycle?

I find interesting their choice to import mid-range bikes while keeping the top and bottom domestic (I think).

Of course a fully brazed frame would be much more expensive to make than their electro-forged frames.
CliffordK is online now  
Old 07-15-21, 06:47 AM
  #8  
repechage
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 16,110
Mentioned: 109 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1959 Post(s)
Liked 799 Times in 619 Posts
Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I recommend the book "No Hands" for a readable, engaging history of the Schwinn Bicycle Company:

https://www.amazon.com/No-Hands-Schw.../dp/0805035532
interesting book. Worth a read, price has certainly escalated since I bought mine- $21?
repechage is offline  
Old 07-15-21, 06:57 AM
  #9  
repechage
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 16,110
Mentioned: 109 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1959 Post(s)
Liked 799 Times in 619 Posts
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post


I'm seeing notes that the Varsity was produced from 1951 to 1985 (plus a new design in 1986). Was that always an American made bicycle?

I find interesting their choice to import mid-range bikes while keeping the top and bottom domestic (I think).

Of course a fully brazed frame would be much more expensive to make than their electro-forged frames.
the equipment and design expectation for the electro forged bikes had momentum.

consumer tastes were changing rapidly in the entry level adult bike sector.
the perceived or real weight penalty for the Varsity and Continental ( competitors came without kickstand for example) hurt.

the LeTour was the answer but suffered from price/ performance comparison. Good bike, but there were equal or slightly better for similar $.
even sold at the Schwinn store, they lost the exclusive brand store battle years earlier.
they did press shops to floor a majority of Schwinn, carry the whole line. The concept store really did not last. Learn from that Specialized, Giant and Trek...
the local Specialized concept store folded, owner died unexpectedly, hard to get anyone interested in a money loser, never opened again.
repechage is offline  
Old 07-15-21, 10:39 AM
  #10  
JohnDThompson 
Old fart
 
JohnDThompson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Appleton WI
Posts: 22,846

Bikes: Several, mostly not name brands.

Mentioned: 134 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2687 Post(s)
Liked 1,396 Times in 867 Posts
Originally Posted by repechage View Post
interesting book. Worth a read, price has certainly escalated since I bought mine- $21?
I checked it out of the library to read.
JohnDThompson is offline  
Old 07-15-21, 10:54 AM
  #11  
onyerleft
Senior Member
 
onyerleft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 1,055

Bikes: Pedaling for the Lord!

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 500 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 184 Times in 131 Posts
I mark the beginning of the decline of America's influence by Schwinn's importing of bicycles.
onyerleft is offline  
Old 07-15-21, 10:59 AM
  #12  
trainman999
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 367

Bikes: 83 Schwinn Superior, 86 Paramount,86 Madison,87 Cimeron,86 Nishiki Linear

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 165 Post(s)
Liked 92 Times in 58 Posts
I believe the Schwinn World Traveler would be the first Japan import Jan 72. The Voyageur was second by a few monthes May or June 72

Last edited by cb400bill; 07-16-21 at 04:30 AM.
trainman999 is online now  
Old 07-16-21, 03:11 AM
  #13  
Vintage Schwinn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 376
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 198 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 171 Times in 113 Posts
Yeah, 1972.

Schwinn had to start importing bicycles because they were producing at full capacity and selling out of everything. Demand was off the charts.

The Japanese imports, even before they began importing Japanese bicycles in '72, simply showed a huge portion of the bicycle consumers in the United States that the Japanese had something great as far as rear derailleurs & freewheels (....as SHIMANO built rear derailleur and freewheel first appeared on 1970 COLLEGIATE and 1970 SUBURBAN five speeds....... this sorta gave Shimano a bit more recognition among some consumers, although Shimano had a strong quality product line at least since 1967 and the Lark rear derailleur) Shimano was also super-smart and incorporated some Schwinn engineering requirements into their mass-market baseline rear derailleurs such as cable saver and massive bash guards which though added significant weight, made for a nearly indestructible rear derailleur that would stay in adjustment, and it was just the ticket for millions of basic relatively inexpensive but durable Asian ten speeds that many other importers and retaillers offered. The Shimano EAGLE is one such example....massive bashguard.....durable as a Sherman tank..... basically it is a Lark with Shimano incorporating some of the qualities that Schwinn engineers liked so much, but Shimano did the Eagle bashguard with their own design.... (no joke.....go see what Sheldon Brown thought of the very basic and super heavy SHIMANO EAGLE) I mean, who really cares if you save a half pound or not if you have something bullet proof and trouble free on a mass market ten speed in 1972 or 1973. Shimano had other rear derailleurs that were lighter and more upscale, as they had a line of several in 1972, but it just goes to show that just as with the USA Stereo, High-Fi, Consumer Electronics consumer, and US Television consumer that the Japanese totally captured in just about 8 years or less (~1964 - 1971..) because of the superior quality and superior product innovation, they would do the same with bicycles just as they were already doing with TOYOTA and DATSUN automobiles at that same time in the early seventies.

While it was a very good thing initially for Schwinn, in that it gave more product to help try and fill the demand that was never ever seen before, it starkly highlighted something that everyone young and old, country-bumpkin, or smart city-slicker, realized almost instantly, and that was that the JAPANESE IMPORTS were simply better bicycles than what the Chicago plant was producing. Better is certainly a relative term, and the Chicago built bicycles were great bicycles during the 1970's but the Japanese imports were significantly lighter (something that began to convey status, even among bicycle riding consumers that heavy or light would essentially make zero difference in their overall riding..)
The buying public had their eyes opened to the actual quality and value of the Japanese offerings to a certain degree from just seeing the quality of SCHWINN's Japanese imports versus the SPORTS TOURER, SUPER-SPORT, CONTINENTAL, and VARSITY.
The arrogance of the typical independent SCHWINN DEALER also served to help cut Schwinn's throat in a short period of time after the public awoke to the value of Japanese bikes in general. Schwinn alway built quality bicycles. My opinion is dealer arrogance helped to propel the firestorm of SCHWINN bashing and boat-anchor, million pound jokes as much as anything simply because of how they (Schwinn dealers) treated consumers on pricing during the bike boom of the early Seventies. This left a very bad taste in the mouths of a great many baby-boomers just starting out beginning to earn a living, on their own for the first time, as well as with Moms and Dads with a number of children in ages ranging from about 6 to 13 years old.
Folks often attribute Schwinn's beginning of their massive decline in popularity to simply the fact that they missed the boat in realizing the popular trends happening in the 1970's and certainly that is partly responsible but my opinion is that their DEALER network which helped make them such a force in the US bicycle industry about 15 years before had become a real-turn-off to the bicycle shopper as far as retail pricing for both New and Used Schwinn bikes. Schwinn did have fine, competent, expertly trained service worker(s) in most every Schwinn dealer store. That was never a problem. Schwinn dealers were very fair and altogether reasonable with working-repairs on customers' old bikes etc, and service work and adjustments/repairs to recent purchases etc. Schwinns were built to last and they were fantastic bicycles for what each model was. Folks came to somewhat resent the attitude from the Dealers when shopping for a prospective new Schwinn. You further, must remember that the inflation was just getting started in about '71, even though you had (WIN)* buttons that some folks were sporting....it was rather mild compared to the completely unexpected latter part of 1973. From about Thanksgiving 1973 onward, folks really had a rude awakening from massive inflation, and they were forced by circumstances to be guarded on getting the most value for their money. This inflation would only get worse and the prolonged period would continue throughout the remainder of the SEVENTIES, through about 1983 and part of 1984. Yeah, it wasn't the go-go period of '62 to '69 economic prosperity anymore, and although the stock market began to climb in August 1982, everything still lagged and double digit interest rates and relatively high inflation was still the norm.......you also had a super-high unemployment rate during the early eighties that economic text books and economic theorists said could likely never occur simultaneously.
Lets just say that from the beginning of 1974 through about 1984 that consumers were forced to make choices about their spending and it made them more closely examine all of the alternatives when making such discretionary income purchases. Folks began to look lower cost alternatives to Schwinns as early as 1974 -1975 because perception was what it was at the time of Schwinn dealers.
Schwinn made good bicycles. It wasn't exactly the same for the American Auto Industry, that by and large, produced junk at that time, relative to the Japanese makes. Neither stayed competitive in the eyes of the consumer. The American auto industry produced trashmobiles which eroded consumer confidence in them.
GM had about as much as 55% of the US Market in 1974. Ford was second. Volkswagen had about 14% of the US market in 1974.
Look at the measly market share of the US Market that each of these one time giants, holds today in mid 2021.
Sure Ford has the pickup market and some relevant SUV's and GM has some SUV's that are popular but look what happened when your automobiles become synonymous with junk. There is not any appreciable difference in size or comfort of the Asian makes cars compared to the American brands. The Asian marques have a higher resale value and depreciate far less. Many of the Asian brands even sell at a premium as compared to new Ford & new GM automobiles.
Nothing stays static. What once was, is no longer and you can make a solid case that it happened because of x, y, or z , -or- whatever because there were plenty of huge mis-steps that helped them get behind the eight ball.
Schwinn missed the mark for sure by not changing faster to changing consumer demands.
The Japanese imports that they brought over, just highlighted much better value for a great product that was even better than Schwinn's own products from a strictly by the numbers analysis of overall bicycle weight comparison.
There is no way about it, the Japanese would have made serious in-roads into the American bicycle market place, no matter what, during the mid to late Seventies because of their product quality and overall value for your hard-earned dollars.
All the large players in the American bicycle industry bit the dust.
Bicycles are fairly simple, and can be easily produced most anywhere in the world where there is low cost labor and adequate modern cost effective manufacturing facilities, and cost-effective, adequate shipping/receiving unless their are some other obstacles such as the very high tariffs on imported bicycles in the USA during the Kennedy Administration. Having protective tariffs like that probably didn't incentivize the American bicycle manufacturers to think so much about improving efficiencies in the manufacturing process and modernizing the production line. For a time they could afford to be lazy and not worry so much about what the foreign competition had to offer because the tariffs served to guarantee that more buyers would buy whatever the American manufacturers served up than otherwise would be the case.
All I can say is that it was fun to be alive then riding and doing what most everyone did then and it is more fun to be alive now, thankfully in good health, still having fun today riding bicycles.
Looking back, I highly doubt anything would have been possible to change the sunami of things that wiped out the major American bicycle manufacturers including Schwinn. They (Schwinn) could have done everything theoretically perfect, with anticipating consumer demand, and very lightweight products but manufacturers in the far east would have eventually been able to make a compareable product for significantly less per unit cost in my opinion and likely would have still wiped them out by the beginning of the 21st Century. I dont believe that there was any way around that. Yes, there is a certain segment that would pay for an expensive domesticly built bike, but most families and cost conscious, non affluent individuals look at bicycles as more of a commodity than a piece of fine machinery to race in triathlon events or for the non-athletic bicycle riding person to have as a status symbol to impress your colleagues and friends.
Vintage Schwinn is offline  
Old 07-16-21, 04:38 AM
  #14  
jacksbike
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: New Haven, CT area
Posts: 1,412

Bikes: Trek 7.5 Hybrid, Trek 1.1 Road, Holdsworth touring,Raleigh International,Ritchey Commando,Italvega Speciallissimo,et.al.

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 7 Posts
My Dad was a Schwinn dealer and the World Traveler was the first imported (made in Japan by Panasonic) Schwinn, to the best of my knowledge
jacksbike is offline  
Likes For jacksbike:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.