Inducted in 1999 for Special Recognition
In 1891 Ignaz Schwinn emigrated to America, and in 1895 at age 31 he began producing his bicycles in Chicago. He worked at the company he founded, Arnold Schwinn, until his death in 1948. For over 50 years, a new American “safety bicycle” was pioneered and engineered by the company. Schwinn-built bicycle models such as the Varsity road bike and Sting Ray “banana seat” bikes became very popular.
Early in the 1930’s Schwinn modernized the American bike. They reduced the wheel diameter from 28″ to 26″ and fattened the tire to 2-1/8″. They also introduced the balloon tire in their 1933 bike line. The balloon tire popularized by Schwinn had the same basic design found on today’s mountain bikes.
In 1945 they underwrote the National Cycling Championships that put the governing body (ABL of A) on sound financial footing. Schwinn provided bicycles for the U.S. Olympic Team riders from 1956 to 1972.