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Exhibitions > 1933


The Schwinn Cruiser

In 1933, Schwinn first presented the balloon tire, which would later influence the design of mountain bikes. This was a wide tire with an inner tube, rather than a single tube filled with air. Two years after it was first marketed, it became a standard for the bicycle industry. Arnold, Schwinn & Co. was established in Chicago in 1895 by the engineer Ignaz Schwinn and the investor Adolph Frederick William Arnold, both immigrants from Germany. At that time, Chicago was at the center of the American "bicycle boom," with dozens of manufacturers producing thousands of bicycles a day.

This period of staggering success was extremely short, since the rise of the car and motorcycle industries led to a steep drop in bicycle sales, and to the closing down of numerous companies. In 1905, bicycle sales dropped to 25% of what they had been in 1900. In order to survive, Schwinn realized that he needed to expand and reduce production costs. He purchased a large number of bicycle companies and built a modern factory with facilities for mass production, thus reducing prices. He also opened a highly successful motorcycle division, which was the third-largest producer of motorcycles after Harley-Davidson and Indian. His Cruiser bicycle was designed to resemble a motorcycle, with wide tires and a large light and bumper, and was popular among adolescents. It was also used by newspaper delivery boys and messengers, and became an industry standard that was imitated by numerous other companies.


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