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Schwinn Racer...Is This Worth Purchasing?

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phantom

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
I think it depends on location and certainly condition, and very often marketing: Great pictures, promo etc: Here are two LW's I have sold in the last few months. Blue one $280 - Green one $250

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Axman88

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Did the 50's and early 60's Racers come in a 23" frame? They always seem to turn up in the 21" size, which does not fit me well at 6'1".
The site I linked to has digitized original sales literature. https://bikehistory.org/bikes/racer/

The information on that page seems to show that 23" frames ( as well as 19" and 21") were available on the Racer from '59 till '70. For many years it was a + $2 option. For '71, it shows the Racer came in a 17" camelback, and 20", 22", and 24" diamond frame sizes.

I suspect that, as bikes were considered to be a child's vehicle in the US in those days, not many of the larger frames were actually sold. Perhaps the increase in frame size offerings in '71 signifies the start of the uptick in interest in biking that came in the 70s, but of course, that craze meant 10 speeds and turned down "racing" handlebars.

My memory is that, in those days, a classic 3 speed was definitely considered "fuddy duddy". My dad shook his head when I repainted my black "english racer" orange, but none of my friends were impressed, and soon after, I spent a good chunk of my paper route money buying a second hand Peugot UO-8. Didn't take long for that to get "ripped off", as did the Schwinn Super Sport that followed it, despite being locked with cables, something I never really had to do with the three speeds.
 

Jimmy V

Finally riding a big boys bike
I am a big fan of the Schwinn Lightweights because they ride very well. I happen to like the way they look too. I have owned several Racers and its close cousin the Traveler over the years. And the World is another cool lightweight with the same diamond frame. The older bikes had cool graphics and peaked front fenders which gives them a nice vintage look. I prefer the tourist style look and ride to those bikes over the drop bar bikes.
I have a Black '65 Traveler small frame with a yellow band 2 speed hub and it's one of my favorte riders.
I paid $40 several years ago, rescued it from behind a barn at an antique shop. Easy cleanup and needed 1 tire. I've put many miles on it.

That said I'll agree on the value assessments expressed in previous posts. I have never paid much or gotten much money out of these at resale. All bought and resold for <$100. For me it's about refurbishing a good quality bike and having a good rider that I can hop on and not worry about.
I have 2 more Travelers and a black '53 World waiting their turn in the stand this winter. The World will be a keeper.
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
If you look back thru bicycle history, you can see the trend changes throughout the years. Schwinn has always catered to adults as well as kids. The TOC models were mainly geared towards adults, and this gradually changed over the years. In the Jan.1953 Schwinn Reporter they stated that the juvenile bikes and Lightweights were their biggest sellers. The prewar lightweights were geared mainly towards adults and then later both age groups. The skinny tired diamond framed model trend started changing again in the very early 60's. I was always interested in the geared bikes even being 10 and I purchased a 64 Varsity at the time the Sting Rays were flying out the door faster than the Dealer could assemble them.

I had an 8th grade English teacher that road an early 60's JC Higgins three speed to school every day, and on rare occasions it rained here so he drove his early 60's VW Beetle. His name was Mister Roberts, and I keep confusing him with Mister Rogers. 🤣

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SirMike1983

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
With the "common" type three speed bikes (not the rare or high-end stuff) the early Schwinn three speeds are fairly collectable. The ones made from 1938 through 1952 are usually the ones collectors want. The parts for those also have a premium (e.g., "Schwinn Built" brakes, early bars, razorback stems, Schwinn Built levers, old style shifters, etc.).

The ones made from 1953 through the mid-1960s aren't quite as strong with collectors, but still do well if you have a tall 23 inch frame model, or unusual colors, or really good and ornate graphics. They can make a good balance of affordability and classic features.

The late 1960s through the end of the run are kind of marginal with collectors, unless you have a pristine 23 inch frame bike. They're perfectly functional bikes, but don't have the draw for collectors associated with the earlier stuff. Some of these later bikes still turn up at yard sales for $20 or the like.

Throughout the run, short frame is a deduction, standard frame is middle, and there's a premium for the tall frame. Most adult males will want the standard or the tall frame if you're going to ride.

The funny thing I've noticed is that there is interestingly little cross-over with people who collect English three speeds. Some of those collectors kind of look down on the 1950s-60s Schwinn three speeds because of the welded frames, flat blade forks, vinyl saddles and the like. I collect both, and you get something a little different riding a Schwinn versus a Raleigh or something of that sort. If you're really into old three speed bikes, you should have at least one of each.
 
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DrRumack80

Finally riding a big boys bike
Great info! One advantage of the Schwinn 3-speeds is the ease of working on them. Raleighs have brake cables that cannot be easily obtained today, and the cottered cranks can be a pain. The English 3-speeds do not seem to be all that much lighter than a Schwinn with an EF frame.

I'd definitely be buying one of these to ride, so a 23" - 24" frame would be the order of the day. I think the standard 21" frame had the same dimensions as the 22" frame that came later.

I can ride a "standard" frame, but it requires an extra-long seatpost. I used a post from Porkchop BMX to get this 22" 1971 Suburban to fit. There is about 8 inches of post showing with plenty left in the frame. It's comfortable enough but my 24" frame Varsity is a much better fit.

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Axman88

'Lil Knee Scuffer
Pictures of Racers posted to this thread so far have short frames leading 6 to 2 against tall frames. The trend that jumped out at me from analyzing these 8 images, was that short frames may be for sale, tall frames may be much loved.

To even count a little, I'll post another picture of what looks to me like a tall frame, that I found on a restoration blog page.
1670217596904.png

from: http://johns-recycled-bicycle.blogspot.com/2013/07/schwinn-racer-3-speed-restoration-for.html

Blogger restored the bike for a family member. Lots of pictures of every component.
The guy does not state the year or frame size. Cork grips, ... Interesting choice!
 

GTs58

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Pictures of Racers posted to this thread so far have short frames leading 6 to 2 against tall frames. The trend that jumped out at me from analyzing these 8 images, was that short frames may be for sale, tall frames may be much loved.

To even count a little, I'll post another picture of what looks to me like a tall frame, that I found on a restoration blog page.
View attachment 1745685
from: http://johns-recycled-bicycle.blogspot.com/2013/07/schwinn-racer-3-speed-restoration-for.html

Blogger restored the bike for a family member. Lots of pictures of every component.
The guy does not state the year or frame size. Cork grips, ... Interesting choice!
That's definitely a 24" frame and approximately a 1971. And the seat post is still way up there! I bet I could't reach the pedals half way down the down stroke. 😂 That was a pretty detailed refurb with a lot of cleaning and polishing. Not sure how long that mag ring was used after that. Wasn't the Racer discontinued after 1971 and the Speedster name took over its place?
 
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