Collectors have a special spot for Schwinn bicycles. And these truly vintage-vibe rides are surely so much deserving of that special spot. However, with so many collectors drooling over the Schwinn bikes, there’s a lot going on with being unable to identify models accurately.
So to avoid falling into trap of buying an unauthentic piece, read along to find out how to identify the Schwinn models by serial numbers.
How to Identify A Schwinn Bike
“Don’t judge the book by its cover” sounds familiar, right? What I am trying to say is, how it looks is not the only factor that tells whether it is a real Schwinn bike or not. There are quite a few more important factors to check before getting one that will help you identify the real thing.
Schwinn Bikes Makers & Manufacturers
It’s important to know the makers of these gorgeous vintage Schwinn bicycles. One of the many reasons is that it is also a part of the identifying process. Its manufacturer’s information will help you find one easier.
Now, Schwinn is actually a very popular name in the bicycle industry. After cars were getting affordable, the demand for bicycles decreased. And that made Ignaz Schwinn, one of the founders, realize the importance of bicycles for children.
That’s when the market for Schwinn bicycles started to upsurge once again with his idea and perception. The development and contributions that made Schwinn a fantastic option standing out from other bicycles are what I’ll be pointing out next.
Here are some of the identifying factors that should be noticeable in Schwinn bike models:
- Cantilever frame
- Spring fork
- Back wheel brake
- Kickstands that are built-in
- Balloon tires
Identifying Vintage Schwinn Series
As you are pretty interested in getting an antique bicycle from iconic Schwinn, here are a few factors in identifying the model from a certain series.
Now, pay Attention to Price…
There are quite a few things that can impact the price of an antique bicycle from Schwinn. These are scarcity, age, condition, and model, among others. Suppose you want to get a vintage Schwinn Breeze and paying for restoration from your pocket is not a problem, then expect the price to be as little as $70.
However, if you are looking forward to a Schwinn Excelsior model in its original paint, then paying $900 is an easy estimate. Anything cheaper than these standard rates must not be genuine. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of models that are available for a very poor price, as those are most likely not original.
Schwinn Serial Numbers
The serial number records can say a lot about a particular Schwinn bike. However, it could be a bit of a curb to locate the Schwinn serial number. In most cases, it should be behind the seat. Sometimes you may also find the Schwinn serial number in the bar bracket that works for seat adjustment. There’s also a chance of finding the serial number on the upper rear frame fork or bike frames underneath.
If you find the serial number behind the seat, then it must be made from 1998 to 2001. Also, the models made from 2002 to 2007 can have serial numbers in this spot. For bikes made from 2002 to 2007, you need to identify the bar code and serial number. The first letter beneath the barcode refers to the year. N to S represents the years 2002 to 2007.
Also, once you find the numbers, focus on the serial number’s beginning letters. If the letters are AA then the particular Schwinn bike was made in 1983. Similarly, the letters BB and CC represents models made correspondingly in 1984 and 1985.
Another thing you can do to identify models made from 1986 to 1992 is to correspond to certain figures of serial numbers with different information. This can sound a bit confusing, so let me explain through an example.
Suppose the serial number is 55 030788 120. This means “55” represents the size of the frame. 030788 means the model was made on March 7, 1988. And 120 is the sequence number.
The following pattern can also be possible…
Suppose you find the serial number 6 20 0392 0625. Now here, “6” refers to rear dropout spacing while “20” is the frame size. Through “0392,” you’ll find out that the bicycle was made in March 1992. And 0625 is the sequence number. I hope you follow. 🙂
Now finally, in identifying models from the 1993 to 1999 series. Focus on the serial number plate’s upper left corner. You should find two letters here. These indicate the year and month of manufacturing. Letters E to K represents 1993 to 1999, while letters A to L represents months from January to December.
Suppose you discover EF; it simply means the model was from April 1994. For 2000 or 2001 models, these letters will be in the lower right corner of the serial number plate. “L” refers to 2000 while “M” refers to 2001.
Two of the most popular vintage treasures from Schwinn are Black Phantom and Sting Ray. There are a few notable features that help you recognize these styles.
In the case of Black Phantom, it was the first Schwinn style that came with whitewall tires and a taillight. There are wheel drum brakes with patents in the back and front wheels. Also, other notable features are a rear carrier, 2-spring padded saddle, horn included tank, cycle lock steering mechanism, streamline fender light, and bow pedals.
Now, if you are asking how to tell a real Schwinn Stingray, then look for its most unique banana seat and raised handlebars. These come in many styles, called Krate, Fastback, DeLuxe, Classic, and more.
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Looks like the whole matter of identifying the original Schwinn bicycle depends on more than just a few factors.
However, it’s really important that you pay attention to most of them and grab the best deal for this really fine vintage beauty. The nostalgic bond that many shares with this iconic bicycle genre are surely precious and rare to find these days. So, if you are a Schwinn bike fanatic, be sure that you have all these factors kept in mind.