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Interesting letter. They were kind of brazen about the vertical price fix. It's funny to see the "inferior" notion to the "foreign" bikes - in those days probably English Hercules, Phillips, Raleigh, etc. Certainly good bikes, many the equals of the Schwinn bikes, just different in terms of construction and equipment. Interesting that they were allegedly "inferior", yet Schwinn copied English designs and used English parts on many of their own bikes. I wonder what they would have said to the truly inferior cheapo bikes we see in the big box stores from China today.
This was again a complaint in the 1950s when the bike industry in the US was pushing for tariffs on foreign bikes.
And then there's the factor that the great depression was still on-going. We certainly see more survivor Schwinns from the 1940 and later period than 1938-39.
I thought the same thing, when I read that letter.
The Schwinn lightweights at that time, we’re pretty much a complete knock off of the best British and French bicycles of that time.
The frames were made by Belgian expatriate, Emil Wastyn and most of the componentry was of British design.
To be fair, the introduction article does say, that the new Schwinn lightweights, incorporate all of the best features of the most expensive British and Continental designs.
So, they were trying to emulate the best of the European sport bikes.
In that, I’d say they accomplished what they set out to do.
They just weren’t affordable compared to what was being imported.
And you have the cultural issue side too - a British or French couple might go for a bicycle ride or be part of a bicycle touring club for fun, whereas an American couple might go out for a Sunday drive in the family car at that time. They're both fun. The car held a special place in American culture that the bicycle did not in those days. Even the kids wanted their bicycles to be more like cars, motorcycles, or airplanes. Schwinn was a couple decades ahead of the 1970s bike boom... too far ahead of its time.