1955 Schwinn Hornet
For most of the 1950′s, one out of every four bicycles sold in the U.S. was a Schwinn.
This was the era in which Schwinn created an authorized dealer network and broke away from department stores. To be a Schwinn dealer really meant something. Schwinn dealers received training on everything from repair and bike assembly to what parts to stock, suggested store design, service area set-up and selling techniques.
Authorized Schwinn bike shops flourished in the fifties and around 500,000 bikes were sold each year from 1950 to 1959.
The Hornet, the mid-level balloon tire bike in the line, was everywhere. The brochure said it all: “Here is a fully equipped bike at a price that’s hard to beat — and you get famous Schwinn quality and styling, too! Features include tank with horn, chrome truss rods and torpedo headlight. Sturdy luggage carrier on 26-inch models.” What more could you want?
I would have wanted a lighter bike. Mid-century Schwinns were beasts.
This bike was hefty enough to keep you safe in the event of a tornado. The 1955 Schwinn catalogue listed the boy’s Hornet at sixty and one-half pounds, so if a twister was threatening to carry you off to Oz, you simply had to hold tight to your handlebars and everything would be fine.