Chrome and Schwinn: Love is Blind or Worlds Collide?

Chrome makes great bags for bike fashionistas–and makes them in America, mostly.

Chrome Fashionista

Schwinn used to make high-quality bikes in America, but now bikes bearing that name are made in China.

So what is one to make of a cross promotion in the form of a Chrome contest to give away a Schwinn tandem?

Chrome Win a Schwinn Contest

It occurs to me that my snarking about Chrome and Schwinn reveals my age. Get off my lawn, fashionistas!

And does anyone born after a certain date really lament the fate of Schwinn the way cyclists of a certain age still do? I reckon the target market for Chrome bags remembers the former status of the Schwinn brand about as well as they remember 8-track tapes.

A couple of months ago I saw a rusty old Schwinn tandem at a second-hand store. I thought, Those suckers don’t know what they’ve got. I’ll get it for $75. I was wrong.

They did know, and they sold it, no haggling, for $400. They sold it about an hour after rolling it out in front of the store, flat tires, rust and all. Probably to someone about my age.

What the hell. I entered the contest. But if I was determined to win, I wouldn’t have told you about it.

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6 thoughts on “Chrome and Schwinn: Love is Blind or Worlds Collide?”

  1. Joe says:

    Oh Ted, you are so wrong. As Chrome was started in Boulder,CO when Schwinn was going through their second chance hq’d in Boulder as well. Tons of the Chrome and Schwinn guys rode together.

    In fact a little googling will show you a 15 year old Bass Boat chrome bag:

    That said, it does suck that Schwinn’s have lost their former glory.


    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Thanks, Joe, for that bit if history. It may be a testament to Chrome’s youthful marketing that I think of them as a much younger company–although 15 years really isn’t that old.

      It’s kind of cinematic to imagine Chrome guys, all youthful and optimistic, riding with Schwinn guys, all anxious about the legacy and the future. The morning sun lights up the Boulder Flatirons. The Schwinn guys lag behind, panting to keep pace. Where’s that movie?

  2. AK Hunter says:

    I don’t think I qualify as a “fashionista” cuz not only do I remember 8-tracks, I’m old enough to have owned one of those Panasonic TNT players (c’mon, show me an iPod built to look like a detonation device…sheesh, kids these days). And while I just can’t bring myself to fork over $160 for a hoodie, I have to give credit where it’s due. My Chrome bag has been an absolute workhorse for my daily commutes. Comfortable, stable, keeps everything dry, and after three years it’s holding up almost as good as new. In terms of biking and related products, it’s easily the best money I’ve ever spent.

    Since I’m the first to complain when I get hosed by a product that doesn’t live up to the hype (or the price), I figure I owe to my karmic balance to be almost as vociferous in my praise for the companies that do it right.

  3. Pat says:

    I prefer “hipsters” to “fashionistas”; or occasionally “hipsters who stole their sister’s pants”. Cycling is not about fashion for me.

  4. kit says:

    Regardless of the manufacturing location of either company (seems a silly argument against Schwinn, what bike have you bought in the last 5-10 years that was made in America?), I find this to be a clash of brands. Chrome is edge and grit. Schwinn is vintage and relaxed. Imagine anyone you’ve ever seen with a Chrome bag, and then imagine them wearing it on that bike.

    I’m all for cross pollination and us being one big happy family but brands should be more conscious of stuff like this. Or maybe I’m clueless.

  5. matt says:

    keep in mind that the reason Schwinn went to Giant as its manufacturing partner was a 1980 strike shortly after Schwinn’s employees joined the UAW.

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