See also: Schwinn documents

Country: USA

Arnold, Schwinn & Co was founded in Chicago in 1895, by Adolph Arnold and Ignatz Schwinn. Schwinn soon became one of the most prominent bicycle manufacturers in the US.

By the 1950’s the company, headed up by Frank W. Schwinn, dominated the middle market for bicycles in the US. Although Schwinn bikes were always regarded by Europeans as horrendously heavy and crude, they were American icons widely admired in their home country for their engineering and style, and models such as Aerocycle, Paramount, Phantom, Varsity, Sting-Ray, Krate and Homegrown are now collectors items.

In 1955 Schwinn introduced their first derailleur bicycle - the Schwinn Continental. It was not a success. However in 1960 they introduced the Schwinn Varsity model and kicked off the first in a series of booms in the sales of derailleur bicycles that reverberate to this day.

The Schwinn Varsity was often sneered at for not being a real racing bicycle, and it certainly cannot  claim to be pro quality - some people claim it was initially aimed at teenagers. But it did have dropped handlebars, derailleur gears, narrow 26 X 1 1/4 tyres and an accessible price. It introduced a generation of Americans to the pastime of cycling. More...