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!