|I spotted this very nice early 70s Super Sport on eBay. The unique|
fillet-brazed construction makes them stand out from the competition.
Less well-known, but still hand-built and noteworthy, were the mid-priced fillet-brazed models: the Superior, the Sports Tourer, and the Super Sport. These bikes were built alongside the Paramounts in a special section of the Schwinn factory, known as the "Handbuild Shop," which I have also heard was sometimes referred to as "The Cage." These models, first introduced in the late 1930s, featured frames built with straight-gauge, seamless, chrome-moly tubing, fillet-brazed and finished by hand. Their lugless, smoothly radiused joints almost gave the impression of having been carved from one piece. The look was like nothing else in their class.
|That little sticker is the sign of a higher quality hand-built frame |
-- built with straight gauge, seamless chrome-moly tubing.
|The round head badge with the 4-point star|
signifies the higher-quality,
hand-built fillet-brazed models.
|The white oval Schwinn head badge|
marks most of the company's welded models.
|The fillet-brazed models can be identified by the larger|
diameter tubes, the nicely radiused joint between
the top tube and the seat tube, and the distinctly
bullet-pointed seat stays.
Schwinn catalogs from the era, and it becomes apparent that model names and specifications changed a bit from year to year. The first of the hand-built 10-speeds was called the Superior. Then it was replaced by the Super Sport in the early 60s. The Sports Tourer was added around 1971 as a step up from the Super Sport, then that model was later changed to the Superior (again). During the mid-70s, the Super Sport was dropped in favor of the lugged-frame Japanese-built LeTour, while the Superior continued as the sole fillet-brazed bike in the lineup until being phased out after 1978. I've read that there were still some fillet-brazed bikes available in '79, but they were apparently built up from frames left over from pre-'78, and didn't appear in the catalogs.
The Superior name was briefly applied to another hand-built bike -- made of Reynolds 531 with Nervex lugs, and barely distinguishable from the Paramount except that it was equipped with lower-cost Campagnolo Gran Sport components. Otherwise the Chicago hand-built bikes were replaced by lugged Japanese models like the Super LeTour, the Voyager, and the (short-lived) Volare. It was about that time that Paramount production moved out of Chicago and relocated to Waterford, Wisconsin. The "Handbuild Shop" was no more.
|The "electro forged" frames have a big visible seam across|
the bottom bracket shell, and very noticeable butt welds
at the chain stay/bottom bracket joints.
More information on the old Schwinns:
The article Whole 'Lotta Brazing Going On, by Mike Rother, is on the late Sheldon Brown's website and has even more detail (including original pricing and specs) on the hand-built fillet-brazed Schwinns. It's a very informative article.
|From the '73 Schwinn Catalog. There's so much I love about|
this shot, I don't even know where to begin.
For a complete database of old Schwinn catalogs, check out Tom Findley's site, or the Waterford Bicycles site. Prices and specifications can be found within.