Schwinn, the brand from Chicago that with the Sting Ray launched a million imitators including our own dear Raleigh Chopper will now get better distribution in Britain alongside stablemates Cannondale, GT and Charge.
Now based in Madison, Wisconsin and owned by the Canadian Dorel Group that has also successfully rebooted the Cannondale name over the last few years, Schwinn is launching 20 bike models under the urban, fixie, cruiser, hybrid and road categories for the new 2012 season. Schwinn will be available through specialist bike shops, likely to be the same dealerships that sell the brands of Cycle Sports Group, the subsidiary of Dorel that also owns Cannondale, GT and Charge.
There will be a tiny amount of overlap with the existing brands, in the less expensive road racers of Cannondale and the singlespeeds of Charge but the main excitement is in the funner bikes for which Schwinn has a peerless reputation.
Three models we have highlighted which seem to capture a sense of the 1950s legend at sensible prices:
A no brainer. It's a cruiser, it's called Corvette, it costs £300. Singlespeed with a coaster - aka backpedal - brake. You want one, don't fight it. Expect they'll have to fit a front brake to make the Corvette street legal but let's face it; along Bournemouth seafront where this is going, it won't need a front brake - okay maybe given all the cycling 'prom wars' stories we've run over the years particularly from Bournemouth maybe it will, but you're certainly in no danger of falling foul of their infamous speed gun.
Coffee & Cream
So called because the men's version comes in black and the women's loop frame option has cream paint, these sensible £400 urban bikes have Shimano Nexus 3-speed gears, mudguards, and a rear rack and yet still present a certain retro frivolity which should cheer you up on the ride to work even if it's raining.
It looks like a road bike which is good and it has a black Reynolds 520 cro-mo steel frame and clearance for mudguards and bosses for a rear rack so it has the makings of a proper old-school randonneur. And yet they've put it in the Urban bikes, fitted a single 46 tooth chainring and the minimum of gears - a Shimano 105 mech indexing across nine speeds at the rear - controlled from a most excellent Microshift 'bar end shifter. Fast 25mm tyres and just enough gold bling on the cranks and brake levers means this will be the ultimate commuter for the Chiswick High Road to Sloane Square run but £600 means you don't need to feel you're paying King's Road prices.