Cruiser Boom of the 1980's...


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bikemonkey

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Jun 25, 2016
750
906
66
North Carolina , Albemarle, NC, United States
#1
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
 
Last edited:

bikemonkey

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Jun 25, 2016
750
906
66
North Carolina , Albemarle, NC, United States
#4
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.
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.
 

Danny the schwinn freak

I live for the CABE
Oct 23, 2016
1,423
782
44
Az
#5
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
View attachment 731491

From the 1984 catalog - Thanks Metacortex!
View attachment 731492
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
 

Schwinn lover

Finally riding a big boys bike
Mar 5, 2016
289
238
54
Cincinnati, Ohio
#6
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
 

Rusty Klunker

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 2, 2016
66
36
58
Clementon, United States
#7
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
View attachment 731491

From the 1984 catalog - Thanks Metacortex!
View attachment 731492

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?
 

GTs58

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 2, 2012
8,486
6,082
Central Arizona
#8
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?
After Schwinn closed down Murray built the cantilever Cruisers for a couple years before they were produced in Taiwan.
 

Rusty Klunker

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 2, 2016
66
36
58
Clementon, United States
#11
After Schwinn closed down Murray built the cantilever Cruisers for a couple years before they were produced in Taiwan.
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
 
Likes: bikemonkey

SirMike1983

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 27, 2008
2,930
2,358
United States
#12
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.
 

GTs58

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 2, 2012
8,486
6,082
Central Arizona
#13
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.
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.
 

Rusty Klunker

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 2, 2016
66
36
58
Clementon, United States
#14
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.
 

Tim the Skid

I live for the CABE
Jan 3, 2013
1,338
2,246
Tacoma, United States
#15
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.
 

Oilit

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 30, 2015
517
343
Concord NC
#16
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.
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?
 

bobcycles

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 30, 2006
3,243
3,670
12
so cal beaches
#17
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
 
Likes: bikemonkey

Oilit

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 30, 2015
517
343
Concord NC
#18
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
Did you have to ship it or was it still in the neighborhood?
 

bobcycles

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Sep 30, 2006
3,243
3,670
12
so cal beaches
#19
Did you have to ship it or was it still in the neighborhood?
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!
 

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