Vintage Schwinns - How To Find Yours

What makes a vintage Schwinn a big deal? 

Here's a little of Schwinn's history. Ignaz Schwinn, with his partner Adolph Arnold, incorporated the "Arnold, Schwinn & Company" on October 22, 1895. Within a few short years of its creation, the company became an acknowledged technical and quality leader of the American bicycle industry. 
Schwinn 1930's Saddle
After the "Great Depression", Schwinn broke with tradition and debuted the Aerocycle, the first bike with balloon tires, and added a large spring-supported saddle that made the ride smoother and more comfortable. By the 1950s the company's product was called "The Cadillac of American Bicycles."

Over 40 patents were issued to Schwinn for bike improvements during their glory years. By the turn of the twenty-first century, the name "Schwinn" brings to mind classic models, like the 1949 Phantom, the 1963 Sting-ray, and the 1968 Krate. Schwinn focused on durability and safety from the beginning.  Schwinn is now an American icon, a world leader in technology and innovation. It's no wonder they remain in high demand among collectors unto this day.

Collecting Schwinn Bicycles, particularly the classic Chicago-made Schwinn, is a past-time that captures the attention of many a Schwinn enthusiast. Any genuine vintage Schwinn, in mint condition, is a beautiful sight on the street, often turning heads and coveted by all who see it. Knowing how to identify a "Genuine Vintage Chicago Schwinn" is of utmost importance to the collector. Schwinn's were made in several parts of the world at different times, and no factory ever produced a bike as renowned or well built as the "Vintage Chicago Schwinn." To identify a Vintage Schwinn, read on.

Find the serial number on the bike frame. From 1960 to 1969, Chicago Schwinn's had the serial number on the right rear axle mount. 
From 1970 to 1979 the Chicago Schwinn's had the serial number on the lower end of the head tube. 
After that, most serial numbers were stamped onto the bottom bracket shell. If the left rear axle mount is stamped with a serial number, then the bike was made in Taiwan in the 1980s. Pre-1960 Schwinn's had no real system for serial numbers, so you will have to look around and compare them to a database. Here is a link to one that also provides additional make and model designations. Schwinn Serial Numbers And Date Codes

Check the serial number to find the date of production. Up until the 1960's there was no set system to go by. After 1960 you can typically find the month and year of production located in the serial number, as well as the factory at which it was produced. The various number systems all identify when, as well as the country of origin where the bicycle was built.

To get an idea of the value of the vintage Schwinn in question, compare the date of production, the model, and the condition of the bike with one of the pricing tables at Old While these aren't all-encompassing guides, they are certainly places to get general ideas regarding prices. Generally, a Chicago Schwinn will be more valuable than any of its foreign counterparts.

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Do an image search online to get pictures of the make and model you are considering for your collection. Try doing a search on eBay for vintage schwinn bicycles. There were many look a likes, so double-checking color, original OEM parts, lugging, and other features is always a good idea before closing the deal. Following these steps will ensure that when you find that good deal on a classic Schwinn, it will be "The Real Deal." Happy collecting!

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