For many, the word “Klunker” means something big, heavy, massive, and somewhat awkward. The Klunker was actually a bicycle model developed by Schwinn in the late 1970s to meet the demands of off-road cycling or “mountain biking.”
Schwein has a history of developing durable, heavy and long-lasting bicycles. Schwinn dates back to Chicago just before the turn of the twentieth century. The World Bicycle Center was located there, and more than 30 bicycle manufacturers produced approximately one million bicycles a year from 1900 to 1905. Unfortunately for them, this car became as popular as motorcycles. There was a sharp decline in bicycle sales by 1910.
Although many bicycle manufacturers went out of business, a number survived, including Schwinn. In the 1930s, Schwein designed a bicycle that deliberately resembled a popular motorcycle. It had a steel frame, steel wheels and large balloon tires. It was made strong and durable, and those features were more important at the time than being lightweight.
Schwein continued to make steel bicycles, although Europe and Japan began testing light metals in their design. In California in the 1970s, boys began modifying Schwinn Sting Ray bikes and starting off-road racing. This style of off-road cycling became known as “mountain biking” and the equipment used was called “mountain biking”. Schwein changed one of his Sting Ray bikes by adding a 5-speed gearbox and named it “Klunker”. Due to the balloon wheels and the heavy steel frame, Klunker became synonymous with heavy and awkward objects.
European and Japanese bicycle manufacturers have also changed their light bikes to meet the new rage of cycling. Schwein thought it would be a short-lived fashion and initially ignored the market. When freestyle tricks became popular, BMX called it “unsafe” and “dangerous.” Mountain bikes and BMXs were here to stay, and Schwein began to adapt to attract more bike sales during the 1970s.
Today, the Schwin bike is remembered for its Sting Ray and well-built and durable bicycles from the 1950s and 1960s. The younger generation has a different view of Schwein and does not recognize the name at all. “Cloneker” has long been unrecognized as a term associated with the bike manufacturer. It is a term that the older generation can easily identify, and it is a term that the younger generation has never used.
Schwein filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and their names and assets were acquired by other bicycle manufacturers. Unfortunately, the quality and durable features associated with that name no longer make sense in the cycling world today.