Cruiser Boom of the 1980's...

Discussion in 'All Things Schwinn' started by bikemonkey, Jan 1, 2018.

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  1. #1 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Finally riding a big boys bike

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    I saw Danny the Schwinn freak's Schwinn Cruiser in the Gallery uploads and I thought I would pass on an interesting tidbit on that particular model with tubular forks.

    I worked in a very large bicycle shop in Virginia Beach back in the early 1980's and we were selling 1500+ bikes a years, plus mopeds, skateboards, etc.

    Anyhoo...we also sold a ton of beach cruisers - all brands - couldn't keep them in stock. From MCS to Worksman it was a crazy market. We even contracted though Louisville Cycle to import containers from Taiwan with our own brand. If anybody from the area remembers the local cruiser gang, the Surf Nazis who were battling with the Surf Allies on the boardwalk, give me a shout out...crazy daze...

    So, it was during this regional cruiser boom we were experiencing that the Schwinn Cruiser became a PITA for our shop to market, as compared to KHS cruisers, and other brands we sold. The Schwinns came stock with a painted bladed fork, "Jet" regular width handlebars, a standard stem, and vinyl grips. The bikes our young customers wanted came stock with chrome tubular forks, alloy block BMX stem, and Super Jet handlebars bars completely covered in black foam. Oakley grips were de rigueur.

    As the market developed (more like exploded), almost every Schwinn Cruiser we sold was modified directly after the sale with chrome tubular forks, etc. with a nice little upcharge tacked on and we kept the hardware. The ones we didn't modify at the time of sale often came back to be modded when the kid had enough jack saved up.

    The new bladed Schwinn forks, handlebars, grips, and stems that were removed were put in a big cardboard box in the back and soon the box became overflowing.

    We bugged our Schwinn rep (Chris K.?) constantly about getting the company to catch up with the current trend and stock their cruisers like we modified them. Other Schwinn shops in the Tidewater area were experiencing the same phenomenon (and certainly other markets as well). Chicago finally figured out what was going on and when the first Cruiser finally arrived with stock tubular forks, etc., we were like, Yeah!...

    In the interim, Schwinn agreed to buy back all of the hardware we had accumulated so that was a bonus as well.

    Original version - courtesy BMX Bike Museum
    image5609e75361_blowup.jpg

    From the 1984 catalog - Thanks Metacortex!
    schwinn_bmx_84_12-jpg.jpg
     
    #1 bikemonkey, Jan 1, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  2. #2 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Never liked the tubular forks, that was for BMX. Or springers of a lesser God.
     
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  3. #3 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Funny how likes or tastes differ between generations. I always thought those forks were a mismatch to the canti frame. They look @ home on a diamond frame to me.
     
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  4. #4 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Finally riding a big boys bike

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    Oh, it was a mismatch...as usual Schwinn was trying to play catch up and burn up the old cantilever stock...tubular forks on a diamond frame came later.
     
  5. #5 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    I live for the CABE

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    Super cool story! I am a big fan of early post war ballooners, but have always had a soft spot in my heart for bmx-inspired cruisers. The reason being, when I was 10 in 1984, the neighbor’s older son, left for the army. He was the owner of a 1982 schwinn cruiser that he got for his 16th (or so) birthday. He died shortly after enlisting due to an allergic reaction from a vaccine he received. After a length of time, his dad (who was and is like a second father to me still to this day) gave me the bike. It was a blue 82 tubular forked Cruiser with a bmx stem, grips and bars. It also had blue and white checkered pads. I learned to manage that big bike and loved it and rode it for many years. So, recently as I have been building my collection, I remembered the bike and decided I’d like to have one or five (lol) in my collection. So that’s what has sparked my recent interest in these bikes. I love both spitfires and cruisers. In fact about 6 months ago, I bought a really righteous black 79 spitfire for my unborn son. I made the deal the day before he was born, but the seller graciously let me pay him the following day so I could tell my son one day that I bought it the day he was born. I am a sentimental guy at heart. That kinda stuff is really cool to me. Thank you for the cool story and info, @bikemonkey
     
  6. #6 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Finally riding a big boys bike

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    I too have a Red cruiser like that one. But I put fenders & a rack & swapped out the bmx style seat that was on it. Bought it for 50$ from a neighbor who only rode it a few times & never pursued to find Amir's comfortable seat. I'll post pics tomorrow of it
     
  7. #7 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Look Ma, No Hands!

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    That being said, would that mean any 26" canti frame 83 and back with tube forks would be either dealer/owner installed or an aftermarket? And would the 84 and up be made in Taiwan?
     
  8. #8 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe

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    After Schwinn closed down Murray built the cantilever Cruisers for a couple years before they were produced in Taiwan.
     
  9. #9 Posted Jan 1, 2018

    Look Ma, No Hands!

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    Thanks for the history info. I love hearing stories about schwinn.
     
  10. #10 Posted Jan 2, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    CharlesPixie.jpg
    I have a 1984 Murray built Pixie with that fork
     
    #10 PCHiggin, Jan 2, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  11. #11 Posted Jan 2, 2018

    Look Ma, No Hands!

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    Just trying to educate myself on whats original and whats not. I have this cruiser that I believe is an original 86. Head badge #2456 and it has the Taiwan sticker. Nice rider, not sure if I'm going to keep it or not. 00505_5zLv6wn5Apu_1200x900.jpg 00b0b_aTY8IQO0QAv_1200x900.jpg
     
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  12. #12 Posted Jan 2, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Looks like one of the Giant-made Schwinns bikes from the 1980s. Giant made (and still makes) usually decent, cost-effective bicycles. Giant eventually became a rival that out-competed Schwinn.
     
  13. #13 Posted Jan 2, 2018

    Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe

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    Looks like a nice one. The last year these came with blade forks was the actual 1982 models. Lots of things going on with Schwinn during this time like the closing down of the factory and I'd bet Chicago's overall production was way down. I've only seen a few actual 1982 Cruisers and I believe the actual production number on these was super low. If you look at Dan's bike he has for sale here you can see the serial number is a September 1982 number but the badge stamping says the bike was built in May of 1983. Just note that the serial number has nothing to do with any build date. Long gap between the serial number stamping date and the actual build date on this one.
    https://thecabe.com/forum/threads/blue-september-of-1982-26”-schwinn-“cruiser”.122815/

    One of the quickest ways to spot the Taiwan Cruisers is the chain guard's rear mounting.
     
  14. #14 Posted Jan 2, 2018

    Look Ma, No Hands!

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    I also have an 82? 81-82 with blade forks. It was in pretty rough shape but I think mostly original. Chainring was changed for some reason and the bars are padded but I think every thing else is/was correct. KS sn# & 0742 HB. Front hub is an ACS dated 81. Not gonna do my usual rat rod thing, think I'll clean this one up a bit... maybe a rest o mod.
     
  15. #15 Posted Jan 3, 2018

    I live for the CABE

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    The cruisers are good riders. It's funny how things go full circle on what the end user wants. A friend of mine bought a nearly mint one at an auto swap meet, the first thing he did was cut the foam off the handlebars, put vintage grips on, and swap the tubular forks out for a springer front end.
     
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  16. #16 Posted Jan 4, 2018

    Finally riding a big boys bike

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    I've got a Feb. 1983 (serial number) Sidewinder with the tubular forks and unmarked S-2 rims, but the head badge number also dates to May. I wonder if they were using using up all the parts left before they shut down?
     
  17. #17 Posted Jan 4, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    I just bought a 1980 Blue Schwinn Cruiser BIN on eBay cheap enough....same bike I had around
    1980 that was STOLEN from the COURTHOUSE where I rode to pay a ticket....
    yep stolen from right in front of the courthouse...
    Maybe I'll post before and afters of this bike...garage fresh
     
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  18. #18 Posted Jan 4, 2018

    Finally riding a big boys bike

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    Did you have to ship it or was it still in the neighborhood?
     
  19. #19 Posted Jan 4, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Local PU and reasonable enough BIN price on eBay 100 bux.....orig owner...very cool Windsor Hills part of LA
    I had not yet explored... some great old homes still there, not 'developed' yet.

    For the record....I would almost bet money that there were more of the late 70s early 80s Schwinn cruisers, klunkers, spitfires
    etc shipped to the beach communities of Southern California than anywhere else in the US. Those bikes were everywhere
    back then....saturation!
     
  20. #20 Posted Jan 4, 2018

    Cruisin' on my Bluebird

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    Before Pix of bladed fork Oct 1980 Schwinn Cruiser orig Gumwall tires, 100% original bike.

    Will post after pix down the road....


    don't laugh, this one will clean up ok!

    cruiser.JPG cruiser2.JPG