1973 Schwinn Collegiate

During my 1970s kidhood, Schwinn was the ultimate bike. Especially the 20-inch Sting-Ray: banana seat, chopper-style handlebars, chrome fenders, bright colors. All the boys in my neighborhood wanted one, especially if it came with the 5-speed Stik-Shift on the crossbar or the “slik” treadless rear tire. My first bike was an old, battered 20-inch Schwinn with a slik. Since its previous owner had removed its model-identifying chain guard, I never knew whether it was a Sting-Ray. I always imagined it was so I could feel cool.

As we kids outgrew our small bikes, brand loyalty drew us toward the bigger Schwinns. I saved my allowance for years, a five-speed 26-inch Schwinn in my sights. I hadn’t saved enough when my old 20-inch bike in no way fit me anymore. Desperate, I bought what I could afford: a maroon 3-speed made by, horrors, AMF. Yet I rode that bike more than any other I’ve ever owned. I figure I put 10,000 miles on it. I wish I still had it. But childhood dreams can eventually come true: a friend recently gave me the 5-speed Schwinn of his teen years, in Sierra Brown. I had it mechanically restored, and from time to time I take it out for a cruise.

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Captured: 1973 Schwinn Collegiate

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14 thoughts on “Captured: 1973 Schwinn Collegiate

  1. Me too. I really wanted a Schwinn Sting Ray as a kid, but my ever-practical immigrant parents couldn’t see the need for such a fancy (and expensive) bicycle for a kid. I got a boy’s 20″ AMF Javelin in sky blue, no less, which in retrospect is pretty cool. I was happy with it until I saw some other kids in the neighborhood with Sting Rays and suddenly the Javelin wasn’t quite as cool. Oddly, it wasn’t unlike the situation with the cars of the same name. If you had an AMC Javelin it was pretty cool, until some dude in a Sting Ray came by and blew your doors off…

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    • My ever-practical working-class parents were much the same way, which is why my dad bought my first bike for me for ten bucks used and the rest of the bikes I’ve owned I’ve paid for

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  2. I need to get a bike. :) Last time I was on one I was in my mid-30s. My knees gave out in about three minutes. Could barely walk for a couple of days. Did I really routinely bike around till I was 13??

    Something old and used and cheap… now that I live in a flat neighbourhood where the roads are built into the incline of a river valley. :)

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      • Yes, used bikes are great! Plus, they have upwards of 24 speeds on even the cheap ones from Wal Mart & etc. You can get some really good deals from folks looking to move up to more expensive bikes. I bought a road bike on CL for 1/2 of what it would have cost new. I lucked out and my 29″ mountain bike was on special at Costco, but that was the last new bike I’ve purchased.

        I became friendly with the staff at my local bike shop (LBS) and they’ve treated me well. The bikes I’ve had serviced there have all run great and I believe it’s a good idea to develop a relationship with them so they can help you maintain your bikes. I think a lot of them end up scrapped because folks don’t know how to fix them, but if you have one that fits you take care of it. Even the cheap ones can be pretty serviceable if you pay attention to them.

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        • Especially for a casual rider like me I don’t see the point in buying a new bike! And I do have a particular shop always work on my bikes.

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    • That’s for sure. I am about to give one of my bikes to my brother, who lives downtown and would like to ride to work and such. That will help. Right now my bikes take up an awful lot of my garage.

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  3. Awesome shot on this vintage Schwinn! My first bike was also a Schwinn, not nearly as classic as this one, but this brings back memories. Thanks for sharing this!

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