2006 Schwinn Varsity?
February 5, 2006 7:53 AM   Subscribe

2006 Schwinn Varsity at Wal-Mart?

Yesterday while shopping for a DVD player, I spied a road bike stuck in the middle of the Wal Mart bike rack. Thinking this was a bit odd, I walked over to check it out.
Now, WalMart has a cheap GMC Denali road bike that they sell for around $149, but this bike had Schwinn Varsity stickers on it. The old varsity road bikes were cheap and heavy - I know, because I owned one back in the eighties.
However, this bike looked pretty decent.... and felt amazingly light, compared to the other mountain bikes on the rack. So I went and got a bathroom scale, took the bike out, and set it up on the scale.... 23 and a half pounds. Not bad for the price.
Intrigued by the $199 selling price, I went home, lookat WalMart's site, did a google search, checked out Schwinn's online site, and found nothing about this bike at all ANYWHERE.
I know that the name "Schwinn" has been used by WalMart to sell some pretty crappy mountain bikes. This one seemed to be a pretty solid bike, however.... anyone know anything about this bike?
posted by bradth27 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What kind of components were there on the bike? Perhaps they skimped on those and used stuff like Alivio?
posted by rycee at 8:16 AM on February 5, 2006

There's been lots of discussion in the Usenet group rec.bicycles.misc about it, but there's not a whole lot of great data in there. The important parts seem to be that there's no more "Schwinn" other than as a brand of a Quebec-based bicycle importer, and that Varsity is made in China by the cheapest bidder.

I'd expect it to be a poorly-assembled $199 bike: relatively heavy, bottom-of-the-line parts (rocker-style shifters on the stem? I didn't know anyone still made those), and a lot heavier than competitive bikes at that price. For $199 you could pick up a decent secondhand bike that at least has cromoly tubing and something around RX100 components on it, set up and maintained by people that know bikes.
posted by mendel at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2006

Response by poster: Average ProMax brakes and Shimano gears.... toe clips with straps, quick releases on the tires and seat, and old-style handlebar shifters.
posted by bradth27 at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2006

Very biased opinion here from a "cyclist"...

From what I've heard (bike shop owners, mechanics, and people who've bought from WalMart, KMart, etc.), bikes at the big stores are 1) very cheap and poorly made, and 2) put together by people with little/no bike knowledge. Soooo... buy this bike, and you'll save money. But at a cost of not being able to upgrade anything on it, and have few options when it comes to repairs. Most bike shops do not service such bikes - parts are hard to get, and not "standard" (so I've heard by the opinionated LBS and mechanics). Also, wherever you take the bike to be fixed, they'll have a bit of a chip on their shoulder about the "big store" bike in general. My $0.02, of course.

I'm reminded of a quote from Click & Clack, "It's the cheap man that pays the most".
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:54 AM on February 5, 2006

Ditto here as far as anecdotal evidence; box store bikes suck. My parents recently thought I should have a "real" mountain bike, since I live in the mountains, and wanted to buy me one (as a Christmas present) at Wal-Mart. I said, "No thanks, but let's go to the thrift store and see what they have." I think Wal-Mart's adult bikes are typically for non-serious riders - buy 'em, ride 'em a few times, then lose interest and lose them in the garage.

Ditto too that Schwinn today is not the Schwinn that used to be. I have a 1989 Schwinn World and love it, but I would not buy a new Schwinn. (An older one again, sure.)
posted by attercoppe at 10:24 AM on February 5, 2006

I imagine that it's probably as good as you could expect for the price, but may not be assembled/adjusted very well. Or it may be. I've owned several 'good' mountain bikes, but purchased a "WalSchwinn" for my wife as it appeared pretty nice for the price. I also knew that she would not be doing anything more demanding that the backyard, bike path, or a dirt road. It's a lot nicer then my first mountain bike, and a lot lighter, but I wouldn't compare it to a good bike store ride, which will cost at least $100 more. Some bike stores will also look down at their nose at you when you take it in for repair, but others will treat you right. These are the ones you should be going to anyway.
posted by JamesMessick at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2006

Two Schwinn lines, the ones sold in bike shops and the Wal-Mart ones. As noted above, the brand name 'Schwinn' has been sold at least three times. The last Schwinn in the bike business is Richard Schwinn, at Waterford Precision Cycles.

Not to be snarky, but are you gonna weigh it or ride it? I respectfully submit that a bike shop bike that weighs 25 lbs may actually be a better value and perform better than the lighter Wal-Mart special. Avoid bike-shaped-objects from big box stores and find a nice used quality bike.
posted by fixedgear at 12:41 PM on February 5, 2006

Okay, here's the deal. Stay away... very far away. Schwinn/GT went bankrupt and the brand identity was purchased by Pacific Cycles a few years ago.

Pacific are the makers of such deathtrap department store brands as Murray and Roadmaster. When they purchased the Schwinn brand, Pacific outsourced production of "Schwinns" to their usual Asian partners, and began distributing the results into the department store channel. I used to have a Schwinn Homegrown (high-end hand-built Schwinn MTB), and shed a tear or two when the change in ownership transpired.

As an aside, there are still some decent Schwinn-branded bikes -- Moabs and the like -- that are sold as low-end models by independent bike shops. I wouldn't reccommend one of them, but they're less likely to fall apart than the department store models.

I can't say this strongly enough. Do not buy a department store bicycle. Go to your I/LBS (local bike shop) -- they will help you to find a quality, well-put-together bike that will match your riding style, fit your budget, and fit your body.
posted by killdevil at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2006

If you're willing to wait a little while, you could probably thrift a vintage schwinn varsity for between $10-20 books.

My current winter bike is a Schwinn Collegiate frame that is at least 29 years old (the bike license sticker expired in '76) and the frame is still in great condition.

Vintage Schwinn parts are even pretty easy to come by via Sheldon Brown.
posted by dial-tone at 4:25 PM on February 5, 2006

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