I had been interested in the Schwinn Heavy Duti for some time. It was the industrial grade cruiser in the line-up, offered off-and-on over the years. A few had come up on Craigslist over the years, but they always wanted more than I wanted to pay at the time. When one came up for just $80 in the beginning of October 2014, I tested it out and bought it.
My particular Heavy Duti is from the in-between era of Schwinn history: the 1990’s. This is after the original Schwinn went bankrupt, and the Schwinn family lost control of the enterprise. It got bought by some investors and the HQ moved to Boulder. The new Schwinn put up a valiant fight through the 90’s and launched a line of covetable made-in-America MTBs. But it was too little, too late, and in the early ’00s, Schwinn got bought by Pacific. While moneywise they “turned things around”, they did this by selling cheap Chinese made bikes to the Walmarts of the world. Schwinn became a department store brand so little of its reputation remains today, though nostalgia for classic Schwinns runs strong.
Because it’s from the “Boulder” era, my Heavy Duti is less desirable/collectible than the Chicago-built versions. But that is perfectly okay. And this Taiwanese built bike has advantages over older ones:
- It uses metric parts and more modern sizings. Note that the seatpost isn’t the skinny ones you’d see on the older models.
- It has braze-ons for a bottle cage and rear rack.
- Unlike the earlier Heavy Dutis, this one’s frame is more straight/angled tubes, not the curved tubing on the old ones. I like the straight tubing better.
- And most importantly, it’s lighter! It is by no means a light bike, but it’s not as heavy as older cruisers that I’ve lifted. Most of this has to do with frame construction: the older Schwinns were electroforged and used thick wall tubing, whereas my Taiwan-built Heavy Duti is TIG welded and uses lighter gauge tubing.
As for my particular bike, I learned from the seller that this bike came from an abandoned aluminum mill up in Longview, Washington. And it has the ID tags to prove it! So my industrial bike actually has real industrial heritage.
The Schwinn Heavy Duti fulfills the role of the fun bike, grocery getter, bar bike, occasional commuter. It’s a bike meant to take a beating, one that I don’t need to fuss over. One that won’t get a lot of fussing over. It didn’t need much done to it when I bought it, but I still made some changes:
- A bit of cleaning and rust removal.
- Wide Wald steel cruiser bars with black “cork” grips
- Wald Giant Delivery Basket
- Brooks B67 saddle with Minnehaha barrel bag
- New Schwalbe Fat Frank 26″ x 2.35″ tires
- New chain and 22 tooth rear cog. With the 48/22 configuration, I have a gear inch of 57 inches, great for around town and not bad up hills.
There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of this bike. I like the fact that I have a single-speed bike again, though this is way different than my last single-speed, the Centurion Le Mans 70’s road bike. There’s no cable clutter since the only brake is the coaster brake. It takes a little while to get used to braking by backpedalling. But it doesn’t take long, as that’s what I grew up using!
For more photos of the Heavy Duti, see the flickr album below or click here.
Hey Shawn, sorry I missed the NW portland run with my heavy schwinn on the beer runs.. It was too hot and too my son’s last week of high school graduated last tuesday!.. I’d love to make runs with you when you have them. i’ve lost your last email to me and your email address… Keep in contact and send me info on future runs.. I’ve been beefing up my schwinn with more industrial gear baskets and trailer, etc. Let’s get some guys together and paint the town with our exuberance of keeping Portland weird! 😉 –
Hey John, the best way to keep up to date on my happenings is by following the blog, all the rides I lead will be here. Unfortunately, I think the Heavy Duti will be a one-off ride…for now.
So, Schwinn bicycles chronologically. (The age of the bike, not when I got them.)
Early 70s Collegiate. This one is being slowly converted to a 3-speed.
Mid-70 Continental. My first fixie. This was passed on to a local guy who still rides it, though with a single speed freewheel.
1986 World. Not a World Sport, just World. This was my first commuter/shopping/kid-towing bike. Stolen from my front porch during a moment of carelessness.
1990 High Plains. Among the last of the Georgia bikes. Not much good for MTB-ing, but it made a really nice commuter/shopping/kid-towing/S24O-ing bike. I kept it for several years before passing it on to someone else.
1995 100th Anniversary Black Phantom. It came to me beat to hell, missing the 5-speed rear wheel. I stripped the rusted sheet metal, added a coaster brake rear wheel, flat handlebar and slick tires. She’s my Klunker!
1999 Peloton. This was the Taiwan made, TIG welded, slightly less expensive sidekick to the Paramount. Same steel, same geometry. 853 goodness! Alas, it was just a hair too big, and I’m a lot too inflexible. So it moved on.
I should really write up something about these bikes, instead of clogging your blog.
The whole point of me posting that was to say how much I liked your Heavy Duti and to tell you about my 1960s Heavy Duti with the 2-speed Bendix hub, which I foolishly sold. But I totally rambled on about all the other bikes that are completely off topic, instead of getting to the point.
Scott Loveless – I too had a (Chicago) 2-speed Heavy Duti. I was 10 or 11 and had decided a paper route was a better and more reliable way to earn money than lawn mowing (in 1968, kids were still allowed and expected to have money-earning jobs….). My parents agreed and split the cost of this magnificent black beast with me, fully equipped with rear “pannier”-baskets and a big front basket and a Genuine Schwinn generator light set. It weighed a ton but in my flat Ohio farm village that didn’t mean much. It was indestructible and would carry anything I could somehow strap onto it. What an improvement over the Western Flyer 24″ bike it replaced. I had that HD for several years, and finally traded it for a 5 speed Collegiate when I was in high school. I’ve never seen another 2 speeder….three yellow bands on the rear hub instead of the one red band of the single speed! I’d buy it back if I could ever find it, just out of nostalgia – I remember a serial number that I believe belonged to that bike!