Schwinn Madison Pro Review - By Thien Dinh
  • Schwinn Custom Track Frame w/ N'Gauged Double Butted Cro-Moly Main Tubes & N'Gauged Track Fork w/ Brazed Crown
  • 48x18t Drivetrain w/ Flip-Flop Fixed/Freewheel Hub, Truvativ Touro Track Cranks
  • Formula Hubs & Alex Semi-Aero Rims, Schwalbe Lugano Sport 23c Tires
  • Alloy 31.8 Bar & Stem
  • MSRP - $569

Intro...

The Schwinn Madison is quite simply one of the more exciting bikes we've tested recently. Not because it introduces some sort of new nano-carbon-best of the breed technology… Not because it's an uber light race bike that guarantees race results… and definitely not because it sports a brand new groupset that makes shifting better, faster, or stronger (it doesn't shift at all!). It's the opposite of all that, and that's why it's so exciting! It's simply simple.

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Schwinn's Madison is a moderately low cost entry into the world of fixed gear and single speed fun. A complete bike that includes a track inspired geometry frame (double butted Cro-Moly), with an "N'Gauged" straight track fork complete with brazed crown. A 48 tooth chainring Truvativ Touro Track Crank paired with a 18t cog or 18t ACS freewheel keep things moving along briskly. The all steel frameset runs on a pair of semi aero rims laced to standard track fare Formula hubs. Wrapped in Schwalbe Lugano Sport tires, the setup makes for a solid ride. Braking comes via a set of Tektro 510A dual pivot calipers, standard for a bike in this price range. The rest of the components, we'll just mention are standard entry level parts, matching the rest of the bike.

The complete package comes in at a grand total weight of ~22.5 pounds according to our scale. Maybe not your first choice to go hit up the local climb to try to best your PR, but plenty of bike to roll around town in style.

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How does it ride…
To be honest, when we first received this bike, I was a little trepid about riding it fixed. So I ran it singlespeed for much of the first few weeks, which is one of the convenient features of the Madison. The inclusion of a very convenient flip flop hub, on one side, a fixed cog, on the other side an ACS maindrive freewheel. Very helpful for the timid first time fixed gear rider like myself. I figured once I got the bike dialed in fit wise, I'd give fixed a go… what would be the harm? If I didn't like fixed, I'd just go back to the tried and friendly freewheel and keep it single speed. . I used the Madison for all sorts of riding - runs to the coffee shop, heading downtown to the local bookstore, and just about anytime I wanted an excuse to go out for a spin.

The Madison's ride is quite forgiving. The steel frame albeit, budget, did very well to communicate road feel, it could even be described as a tad bit springy. The geometry of the Madison is track inspired, with a short wheelbase of only 968mm and 72.5 degree head angle, the overall feel of the bike is quick and maneuverable. The included Selle San Marco saddle was light, but like most saddles YMMV. The traditional 32 spoke wheelset was strong and stood up to the varied terrain we took the Madison out on. Once you're up to speed, the weight of the bike doesn't even enter your mind, even the simple drivetrain is near silent, just the whistling of the wind going by is all that one notices.

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Formula TH-51 Hub

Fixed on the left, Freewheel on the right

When the rear wheel was flipped to the fixed side, it took only a few rides to understand why so many have caught the fixed gear bug. There's a new dimension of riding that is introduced, a challenge even. But like many things on the bike, it just takes time to improve and eventually it becomes very natural. When riding fixed you feel an extra connection to the bike and your riding experience is definitely quite different from geared biking. Not only are you directly attached to the drivetrain, meaning going and stopping are now controlled from the drivetrain, but moderately easy hills you thought nothing of on your geared bike, become small challenges. If you don't already have good cadence and pedal stroke, you soon will! Training takes on a whole new meaning, because now you can't be tempted to drop down to an easier gear on that climb, you HAVE to grind it out. In the long run, this will definitely make you a better rider, stronger, faster, yeah, all of that.

Truvativ Touro Track crank 170mm w/ 48T chainring


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Selle San Marco Ponza

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Tektro 510A rear caliper

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Tektro 510A front caliper

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Formula TH-50 (front) (Formula TH-51 rear)

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High flanges

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Jalco DRX2000 Rims...

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Matching bar and stem...

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Cane Creek headset...

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Schwinn N'Gauged Track fork w/ brazed crown construction and 28.6mm ovalised legs

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2008 Schwinn Madison


Conclusion
The Schwinn Madison is definitely an appealing bike… the retro paint job (which we give two thumbs up to) brings us back to yesteryear, when things were "simple". The gearing and setup are "simple". The low cost of this complete turnkey fixie/SS is "simple" to justify. The inclusion of bottle mounts as well as fender mounts makes the Madsion a prime candidate to be used as a commuter. We liked the Madison, SS or fixed, and recommending it be added to any stable is simple.

Strengths
  • Simple turnkey solution to singlespeed/Fixed fun
  • All around solid bike for commuting, switching up the training, or all out fun to ride around town.
  • Low price, low upkeep, low maintenance…
  • Chrome accents - who doesn't like chrome right?
Weaknesses
  • Weight
  • Zip ties (look out of place, not an issue if you don't run a rear brake)
Value:
Four Stars


Overall:
Four Stars