November 25, 2013 – 14:08 in Design | Calum
Something that had eluded me, mostly due to it being of the utmost geekery (read – Old and Sad) to have actually been aware, is that this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Schwinn Sting-Ray. Now I realise this may mean nothing what-so-ever to anyone under thirty and I apologise now, for nothing! Get your schooling on!
For the rest of us it’s impossible to forget the bike that was created in true chopper style with high-rise, ape-hanger handlebars; banana seat; and a smaller 16-inch front wheel. I have fading but fond memories of my pea-green coloured Sting-Ray and learning very quickly how to ride a wheelie all the way down my street like a real fucking gangster.
Legend has it that whilst visiting Southern California, the Schwinn VP of Engineering Al Fritz saw that the kids were modifying their bikes to look more like motorcycles. On his return he decided to make life easier for the kids and created a prototype of the Sting-Ray, which later went on to make up almost 70% of all bike sales in the USA within a year. Whether or not those LA kids wanted an easier option or preferred to create the custom bikes for themselves is not public knowledge, but Fritz and Fred F. Schwinn definitely made life easier and a shit ton of fun for the rest of us across the country.
Having looked over the Schwinn website archives I would have liked to see some photographic evidence of the bikes that inspired Fritz, and compare them to the beautiful machine he created. It’s a shame he didn’t have an iPhone and Instagram at the time (I’m being facetious). I’m happy to say in my brief search that I did uncover many forums and groups dedicated to lovers of the bike (re-read the comment about geekery and add self induced solitude) and there are many. At the time of Fritz’s passing earlier this year, the LA Times reported that some two million bikes were sold during the first five years of the model’s fifteen year run. That doesn’t really give enough detail for me but goes some small way in showing the popularity of the bike.
As is fitting of the creator of this historic bike Fritz did have an active role in planning this ever-so-slightly re-vamped version in 2013. It is a real shame he wasn’t able to see it released. The limited run of 500 “Fritz Fifty” chrome-plated bikes will be available in early December, one of which can be won via their Facebook page.
Sadly (only in this instance) I no longer waste my life on that shit hole of a site so cannot enter, but you definitely should. Then I can find out where you live and borrow it, permanently. In what looks to be not the least bit of a co-incidence the remaining 499 can be purchased for the reasonable cost of $499.99. Sure it’s quite the increase from the original cost of just $49.95 back in the early sixties but admit it, you’ve probably spent more that five hundred bucks on socks this year alone, because sock-game is a real thing and important.
With the cost comes the fact that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Fritz, who suffered from the disease. Take that back to your sock drawers and reflect yeah.
by Robert Boswell