Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Crusing down memory lane on a Schwinn Mag Scrambler

Go ahead and take a look at that bicycle in the photo.

I love that thing and spent most of my childhood on it. That, folks, is a genuine Schwinn Mag Scrambler that my parents bought me way on back in 1977 for my eighth birthday.

Yes, the old Schwinn was made in Chicago and I took that photo in my garage tonight. The bike is all original, except for the new tires, inner tubes and ball bearings that were put on it a couple of years ago (I'm still a bit irate that the fellow who redid it put a kickstand on the thing). It's been sitting in my parents' garage for years and I'm glad to have the old girl back with me.

When that bike was new, it was the top of the line BMX bike and cost my folks about $200 (a lot of cash back in 1977). Yes, I beat the hell out of that Schwinn and it wasn't an uncommon site to see my bike sliding down the road with me behind it when I was but a little The Hawg. Yes, I got beat up, banged up and cut up on that bike and I loved every minute of it. I've still got scars on my knees and legs from those days, in fact.

The bike was little more than a heavy, steel frame and forks that you could stand elephants on, one speed (the Mag Scrambler was made to sprint), an ultra reliable coaster brake, nylon-fiberglass composite rims, handlebars that were almost unbreakable and a bunch of solid welds and great components.

But the bike held up to all of that abuse and the nicks, scrapes and gouges on the frame tell the story. I brought that home for my son to ride for a couple of weeks until we get him a new bike to replace the cheap, Chinese Mongoose that couldn't stand up to his rough treatment. The Schwinn will hold up fine to his abuse until he figures out what kind of bike he wants next.

I am almost sick over the fact that Schwinn is now just a name -- Schwinns these days are just cheap, Chinese bikes that are absolute garbage compared to those old workhorses like my Mag Scrambler that were built in Chicago and made to last.

Watching my son tool around on that Schwinn reminds me of all the fun I had on that thing. Yes, that one is a hell of a bike. The thing came with no kickstand (I'm still a bit irate the fellow who did the work on it a couple of years ago stuck one of those on there) and one of the first things I did was pull the chain guard off and throw it in a shelf somewhere.

I've learned recently there are companies out there that make BMX bikes for adults (take a look at the photo of the Eastern Traildigger, for example). I ought to pick one of those up one of these days.

Here's the question, though -- would I be hospitalized within a week or two weeks after I got a BMX bike? I used to tear down trails on my Schwinn while flying over dirt ramps that my friends and I built and pulling off all kinds of stuff that would kill me if I tried them. Yeah, I may be pushing 40-years-old, but I know I'd try some of the stuff I did as a kid with an adult-sized BMX bike.

Oh well. I did, of course, take the Schwinn out for a very short ride today. I looked like an idiot. Adults should never, never, never get on bikes made for kids. We just look (and feel) stupid.


Here's a fun fact -- famed cyclist Lance Armstrong started out on a Schwinn Mag Scrambler. Cool, huh?


HealthNutWannabeDad said...

They just don't make bikes the way they used to, eh? A couple of years ago, we bought a bicycle from Target for our 12 year old son. It did not survive the first summer!

Dylan was riding it to the pool, jumped a ditch, and the frame bent! To the point where the front tire would nut turn. So we took it back, since it was still under warranty, and got him another bike that he really did not want. But since it was towards the end of the summer, that was all they had.

He never bothered to use it.

A few weeks ago, I bought myself a nice mountain type of bicycle. I paid over $300 for it, but got it from a locally owned shop.

Now we load up our two year-old in his baby seat, and on a regular basis, go for a family ride. One of our favorite places to ride through is the scenic Hendrix College campus.

Have a great day!


Eat Well. Live Well.
ER BurnTheFat.com

Karen said...

You be careful. It might take longer for you to heal if you tumble. Speaking from the voice of experience unfortunately.

App said...

Back in the 70's I had a Kia 10-speed (Korean made, before they got into building cars). I got it for Christmas when I was 10 years old.

Yeah, it was sturdy, rugged, heavy, and made of steel just like your Schwinn. I was still riding it 10 years later, as an adult, up until it was stolen.

It's all cheap aluminum now days. They don't make bikes like they used to, no matter where they are made. Even what should be a sturdy bike for riding on mountain trails will be destroyed with a bent frame the first spill you take.

But what I think bothers me more than bikes is roller skates. Oh, how I would kill for the return of the classic Union quad skates with the steel wheels. They were awesome.

Mr. New Dilemma said...

Wow! That bike is the awesomeness. I remember in the late 80's how badly I wanted a Mongoose, and now they are just junk that Wal-Mart sells. Hold on to that bike, you may truly never find such awesomeness like that again!!

The Natural State Hawg said...

Paul -- No. They sure as heck don't make them the way they used to. That's a shame.

I ordered myself a decent comfort bike (about $250 -- inexpensive, but it's got Shimano gears and such) just to see if I still enjoy riding a bike. I'll know after it comes in and I put it together.

If I like it, then I'll invest the big bucks into something decent.

Ah, Hendrix. Got a degree from there once. Nice campus.

Karen -- Oh? Do tell!

App -- Heh. I had a pair of those "steel wheel" skates when I was a kid. Loved them.

I just ordered an aluminum bike, but I figure I'll move up to a solid, steel one if I like this one well enough. I'm paying for it all with blogging money, anyway, so why not experiment, right?

Mr. New Dilemma -- My brother had one of those dandy Diamondback bikes in the 1980s. It was a great one.

It's a true shame that Schwinn, Diamondback and Mongoose are now just cheap, Chinese junk, isn't it? I think Schwinn bought the Mongoose and Diamondback lines and then got bought out itself. Sad thing.

Anonymous said...

My brother and i had both schwinn mag scrambler bikes, his was the black frame and red mags, mine was red with the black mags. My brother just didn't get the bmx thing so over the years i beat the crap out of mine, broke my arm jumping somehting, stole parts off his, and now i have my original hanging in the garage. I rebuilt it and regret changing the color to match the only yellow and black decals i could find. chain guard gone, grips - replaced many times, but i still have the number plate and yes, i may look stupid, but i love to air up the nobbies and ride it around!!

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Unknown said...

I remember this bike! It is one of the first ones I learned how to ride on. I aquired one through a customer of mine recently who almost threw it away. Realizing what it was I jumped on it. It has all original parts and now my son rides around on it bringing back great memories for me. The attention we get when we take it out is crazy alot of people remember it.mag6pac