Revitalizing a Legacy: Schwinn Paramount
From issue 88
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The Schwinn brand has been around for generations—for 125 years in fact. In that time, Schwinn has become a cultural touchstone. Once the name in American bicycles, it was—and for many still is—a shorthand catchall used to refer to any bike. For some, the Schwinn name might conjure up memories of tooling around the neighborhood on the iconic Stingray. And that cultural nostalgia is currently being tapped into by a TV series, “Stranger Things,” whose adolescent characters battle supernatural forces from their Schwinns. But over the past couple of decades the brand’s once revered reputation has slipped in stature to be more synonymous with cheap big-box-store bikes than with quality ones you would find in a local bike shop. It’s that diminished reputation that Schwinn now has to overcome as it looks to reintroduce higher-end bicycles into its range. But if the new Paramount is any indication of things to come, the company is heading in the right direction.
The Paramount, of course, is not a new model name in Schwinn’s line. It was originally around from 1938 to 2009—and the Paramount was used during the late-1980s by U.S. pro teams such as Wheaties-Schwinn. So its reintroduction is more of a return from an extended hiatus, as if it went off on a solo backpacking trip and re-found itself. It returns as an endurance carbon frame equipped with SRAM Force eTap AXS, for $3,300. For anyone used to picking up a Schwinn at Wal-Mart, that price may have you saying: “$3,300! For a Schwinn!?” But you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value with this level of components.
For only about another $600 than the Force aftermarket price, you get an internally routed, disc-brake-equipped carbon-fiber bike. And rather than cut costs with lower-tier components elsewhere, Schwinn fills out the build with other quality components, such as the fi’zi:k Antares Versus saddle. It also includes the full SRAM Force group, down to the cranks and brake calipers. There is none of the skimping on components that other value brands may try to get away with.
Part of that amazing price is due to the bike following the industry trend of direct-to-consumer sales—you won’t find this Paramount in brick-and-mortar stores. But for now you also can’t order online, either. Instead, you’ll have to pick up the phone and dial 1-800-SCHWINN.
With a tame geometry (72.5-degree head-tube angle, 185mm head tube and 415mm chainstays for a size medium), clearance for up to 32C tires (comes stock with 28C Vittoria Rubino Pro IVs) and tubeless-ready Vision Trimax 30 wheels, the Paramount is ready for long days in the saddle. For the endurance-minded rider, it may just be one of the best deals available. It’s a welcomed revitalization for such a storied brand as Schwinn.