Are Schwinn Bikes Good? (Helpful Tips)

Schwinn bikes are one of the most iconic brands in American cycling. They are one of the oldest bike brands still operating in America and for generations of Americans, the name is synonymous with their childhood bikes.

However, the company was acquired by Pacific Cycle in 2001and bike enthusiasts were left wondering what changes this would have on the iconic brand’s products. So, the question is, are Schwinn bikes still any good?

Here’s How Good Schwinn Bikes Are:

The company has certainly undergone some changes since they changed owners. The company has been focussing more and more on bikes for department stores, rather than models to be sold in bike-specific stores. 

This change of focus has led to a change in quality. The bikes that are manufactured by Schwinn now are generally more entry-level bikes. However, the bikes do offer fantastic value to those on a budget, with the good build quality and components. 

The company has also begun releasing some higher-end “signature series” bikes which are well worth looking at.

A Brief History Of Schwinn Bikes

The Schwinn Bicycle Company was founded in Chicago by Ignaz Schwinn in 1895. Schwinn was born in Hardheim, Germany, and worked as a mechanical engineer. He originally worked on some of the prototype bikes that had started to appear in Europe before moving to Chicago in 1891.

In 1895, Schwinn collaborated with fellow German immigrant Adolph Frederick William Arnold to found Arnold, Schwinn & Company.

The timing was perfect, as this coincided with bikes growing in popularity in America, and they were ideally placed as Chicago grew to become the center of the industry, with thirty factories manufacturing thousands of bikes a day.

However, the bubble couldn’t last. By 1905, bike sales dropped to only 25% of what they were in 1900. Market saturation, as well as the introduction of the motor car, had an impact on the industry.

Companies went bankrupt or were absorbed by larger companies. The competition was fierce. Schwinn not only survived but thrived, buying up smaller companies and building a new factory to mass-produce bikes at a much lower cost.

Schwinn purchased the Henderson Company and the Excelsior Company to form Excelsior-Henderson, manufacturing motorbikes. They became the third-largest motorbike manufacturer in America by 1928 behind Indian and Harley Davidson.

However, the stock market crash at the end of the decade had a huge impact on the motorbike industry. Excelsior-Henderson went bankrupt and Arnold, Schwinn & Co was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Schwinn’s son, Frank W. Schwinn, took over operations of Schwinn. He focused the company’s efforts on bicycles and, in particular, a low-cost model that was seen as innovative and would still sell even in the economic downturn.

F. W. Schwinn came up with an idea of an imitation motorbike for children that would form the prototype for cruiser model bikes.

Schwinn began sponsoring a bike racing team and, in 1941, Alfred Letourneur beat the motor-paced world speed record on a bicycle, riding a Schwinn Paramount bicycle, reaching a speed of 108.92 miles per hour behind a car.

By 1950, the company decided to push for greater market dominance. The custom at the time was for bikes to be sold in department stores under the store’s own brand name. Schwinn pushed to sell their bikes under their own brand name, creating greater brand recognition.

Schwinn enjoyed steady growth during this time. With foreign imports starting to appear, they marketed themselves as an American brand, only competing in races in America.

1968 Schwinn Sting-Ray Orange Krate 5-speed. Photo :Nels P Olsen

However, as time went by, Schwinn failed to keep up to date with advances in cycling. They didn’t capitalize on the BMX boom and didn’t adapt their designs to keep up with cheaper Japanese imports.

By the late 70s, their factory was very outdated, but the company couldn’t afford to relocate and build a new factory. 

Eventually, with a dwindling market share, the company declared bankruptcy in 1992. 

By 1997, the company was bought by Questor Partner Funds, who later bought GT Bicycles. Schwinn/GT produced some mountain bikes that were well received but eventually declared bankruptcy in 2001. That year, Pacific Cycle purchased the company. Pacific Cycle was, in turn, purchased by Dorel Industries.

Are Schwinn Bikes Good?
Are Schwinn Bikes Good?

How Reliable Are Schwinn Bikes?

Schwinn bikes have good reliability for what they are. They are not high-end bikes – the mountain bikes could not be expected to tackle technical downhill runs and the road bikes could not be expected to take on long, challenging routes – but for the price, they are reasonably reliable. 

What Types Of Bikes Does Schwinn Make?

Schwinn manufactures two main lines of bikes. The cheaper department store bikes and the higher-end Signature Series bikes are only sold in specialty bike shops.

The Signature Series includes Electric bikes, kids’ bikes, urban bikes, hybrid bikes, road bikes, cruisers, and mountain bikes. The company also manufactures scooters.

Check out Schwinn’s website for their latest range of bikes.

How Expensive Are Schwinn Bikes?

The department store bikes are sold as cheap, entry-level bikes. The Signature Series bikes are superior bikes, but they are still not particularly expensive.

Their mountain bikes are priced between £400 and £1,000. The bikes are fairly basic hardtails with no rear suspension. 

Their cruisers are similarly priced, with the top-end bikes including a three-wheeled version and a tandem.

Their hybrid range includes normal bikes with the same kind of price range but also electric bikes priced from £1,5000 to £2,000.

Their most expensive road bike, the Fastback Carbon 105, costs £2,300 while they have other models available for less than £1,000.

How Durable Are Schwinn Bikes?

The department store bikes are generally more durable than similar bikes for the same price but are still not particularly durable or long-lasting. The Signature Series bikes last longer and offer good durability for their price, although not compared to higher-priced bikes from other manufacturers.

What About Older Schwinn Bikes?

There are still some older Schwinn bikes out there, but the quality is very variable considering the company’s volatility over the last couple of decades.

Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?

The company themselves do not still make parts for their older bikes, but it is reasonably easy to find compatible parts.

What Are Typical Problems With Schwinn Bikes?

Schwinn bikes are not known for any particular problems. As long as consumers understand that they are not buying a premium bike from a company such as Trek or Specialized then they should be happy with the product.

How Long Do Schwinn Bikes Last Compared To Similar Brands?

Schwinn bikes generally last a good amount of time compared to similar brands. They cannot be compared with higher-end brands, but for their price point, they last reasonably well.

Do Schwinn Bikes Hold Their Value?

Schwinn bikes are not that popular these days and do not hold their value very well. The company name no longer means as much as it once did which means that people do not seek them out.

Are Schwinn Bikes Good?
Are Schwinn Bikes Good?

Are Schwinn Bikes Still Being Made?

Despite the recent turmoil, Schwinn bikes are still being made and the company is looking to regain some of their market share.

Final Thoughts (Are Schwinn Bikes Good?)

If you are on a budget then a Shwinn bike could be a great option, as they make a wide range of bikes, including both electic and manual powered bikes for on and off road use. Shwinn’s has a reputaion for budget range bikes, however Shwinn do have a higher end range (Signature Series lineup) which are better quality. Remeber, if you are a serious mountain biker or road rider, then you might want to invest in differnt brands, but for the average cyclist a Shwinn bike is a perfectly good option.

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Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.