1945 Schwinn New World
When you have an American-made bike and name it the “World Traveler” you conjure up images of trips taken abroad. You make people think about exploring the countryside and seeing new things. The “World Traveler” was a great bicycle name to sell Americans in the latter half of the 20th century.
In the 1930′s and ’40′s, however, Schwinn wanted potential bike buyers to think American. The “New World” meant America. As in “Take this bike and see what America has to offer”. As in “Don’t buy any Old World brand, buy something American-made and ride it on your own streets”.
Before there was a Schwinn World Traveler model, Schwinn offered a bike called the New World.
Schwinn’s New World models were a great attempt to get American adults on bicycles, and to get them on something other than a British Raleigh.
The New World models featured comfortable upright riding positions and lots of user-friendly touches. You had light but robust wheels. Coaster brakes for the back wheels and drum brakes up front. There were chain guards and matching fenders. On this particular version you had two speed shifting with the New Departure rear hub and its top-tube mounted control lever.
There isn’t much chrome on this bike. A few people have asked us if the blacked-out parts on a war-era bicycle were an attempt to avoid being spotted from above during air raids. No, those parts had a dull appearance for more mundane reasons. The chrome plating process for shiny bicycle parts uses chromium, nickel, and copper. All materials that were needed in manufacturing other items for the war effort.
For American bicycle manufacturers, World War II meant streamlined model offerings and no catalogs. It meant stripped-down models that used less metal. While Schwinn wasn’t worried about sparkly bicycles being seen during air raids, they did modify their production. Some bicycle builders actually constructed items needed for the war effort. Some manufacturers like Schwinn maintained their core business but worked around rationed, scarce and restricted materials while the war was going on.