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July 22, 2013 / WPAdmin

The Frugal Schwinn

I am not, not have ever been, a Schwinn fan – other than the holy Paramount of the 50’s 60’s.

My aunt worked at Sears, so my first 10-speed was a Sears (actually a re-badged Puch from Austria, with Weinmann braked & Simplex deraileurs).

I never liked the Schwinn Ashtabula cranks or the horrific pie-plate chainguards on both the rear hub or worse,  on the chainrings!

But Schwinn joint work is lovely. The graceful curve form tube to tube is lyrical.


Schwinn made three basic “racing” bikes that used this curved joint design: The Varsity, The Continental and the Super Sport.

These graceful Schwinn curved joints are called “fillet-brazed.” Metal is slowly built up to create the curve and then filed smooth.

For the diehard, however, there is only one model to have – the Super Sport. The reason is very technical – only the Super Sport is true fillet-brazing. The Varsity and the Continental used fake fillet-brazing. These lower quality bikes used flash-welded (“electro-forged”) that looked like fillet-brazing, but were not,  and crappy, heavy, “stove-pipe” seamed tubing.

But the Super Sport.. these were the one! True hand-brazed filled-brazed joinery, better tubing, better components. The Super Sport (and the Superior and Sports Tourer) used higher- quality chrome molybdenum, straight-gauge, seamless tubing.


Interestingly, some of the new generation of handmade bicycle frame builders have rediscovered fillet-brazing.

Super Sports are not common, and were often abused and left outdoors to rust. But they do appear on Craigslist and eBay regularly. Examples on eBay are usually recognized for their value, but sometimes the odd bike appears on CL or at estate sales.

So the frugal cyclist says, if you are a Schwinn fanatic, the Schwinn Super Sport is a frugal success.

(For more pics of modern fillet-brazed bikes click here at Prolly is not Probably, or look at bikes by  Stinner FrameworksMark Nobilette or Dave Kirk of Kirk Frameworks (pics).)



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