Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner

1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A while ago I asked on this forum for thoughts on how much difference the actual material in a steel bike frame made. Everything else being equal the only differences being one built from say Reynolds 531, one of Columbus tubing, and one of Tange steel. The general consensus was that material mattered very little, it was more a matter of geometry.
To reinforce this opinion an article was mentioned http://www.habcycles.com/m7.html about 7 different steels and making an identical bike out of them, with the only difference being the materials used. (worth reading BTW) The author (I think) kind of chickened out in his evaluations only stating that he “thought” he could tell a difference but that he wasn't sure. This was a great opportunity to be totally anal and analytical about the test and rally highlight the differences but (IMO) the author didn't do it. Regardless, it's the only article about this I have ever seen and if you read between the lines, you can get some good information.

So this gets me to my question.
I am only talking about the older steel Schwinn Paramounts here. I am not including the Aluminum or mountain bike Paramounts here.
Schwinn had several different people making Paramounts over the years for them. Schwinn of course, Panasonic, the Waterford plant, and other Asian factories also.
So....on to the question:
What makes a Paramount a Paramount. Geometry only? I am basically interested in ride feel. Every bike feels differently and I am thinking about this and how it handles.
I am leaning towards “Must be geometry”, because Paramounts were made out of Reynolds 531, Columbus tubing and Tange steel.

If it's not geometry, (meaning that the frame design was not similar), what was the binding factor aside from the name? I am really hoping that it's not just the name.

To take this a step further, assuming that the geometry is what makes a Paramount, I think it's safe to say that a same sized frame of Reynolds 531 should feel the same as one (similar) of Columbus tubing or Tange steel, regardless of build location. An Asian built Paramount “should” feel the same as a Waterford built Paramount assuming that geometry is the deciding factor. I will allow that there may be obvious differences in finish quality but I'm thinking that these would be mostly cosmetic only. All Paramounts of similar size should have a similar ride to them I would think.

I can accept that the Paramounts using OS(over sized) tubing should only be compared to another using OS tubing though.
Thoughts please;
Do you think the deciding factor in what made a Paramount "a Paramount"was the same frame geometry within any given size?
 

·
waterproof*
Joined
·
41,608 Posts
would it still be a Colnago if it was made in the same factory in Taiwan as other brands?

wait... nevermind
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
301 Posts
What would make a Paramount ride or feel any different than any other steel bike with similar geometry and a different maker or badge? I think a real Paramount is one made in a factory owned by a guy named Schwinn. I think the Panasonics are good bikes but they're not real Paramounts. Just like Santa Cruz or Collings guitars are real good guitars but they're not Martins.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
george kraushaar said:
What would make a Paramount ride or feel any different than any other steel bike with similar geometry and a different maker or badge? I think a real Paramount is one made in a factory owned by a guy named Schwinn. I think the Panasonics are good bikes but they're not real Paramounts. Just like Santa Cruz or Collings guitars are real good guitars but they're not Martins.
Looks like one vote for "name" (not to put words in your mouth)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
952 Posts
george kraushaar said:
What would make a Paramount ride or feel any different than any other steel bike with similar geometry and a different maker or badge? I think a real Paramount is one made in a factory owned by a guy named Schwinn. I think the Panasonics are good bikes but they're not real Paramounts. Just like Santa Cruz or Collings guitars are real good guitars but they're not Martins.

Collings are better. At least the ones today. I won't compare pre war Martins to modern Bill's.. That wouldn't be right.
 

·
Banned forever.....or not
Joined
·
24,420 Posts
"Real" Paramounts were made in Chicago, and Waterford Wisconsin. "Other" bikes with the Paramount name range from complete junk to pretty good bikes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
2

MR_GRUMPY said:
"Real" Paramounts were made in Chicago, and Waterford Wisconsin. "Other" bikes with the Paramount name range from complete junk to pretty good bikes.
looks like 2 votes for name. it's not looking good, but confirms what I (deep down) was thinking
 

·
Decrepit Member
Joined
·
1,811 Posts
My dad spent thirty years with Schwinn in the fifties, sixties and seventies as a regional sales manager in the southeast U.S,, and I've been a big Paramount fan all of my life. I rode Dad's early fifties P32 (model before the P14) track bike in high school, and currently have a '71 P13-9, a '72 P15-9 (both 531), an '87 Waterford built "Standard" (Columbus SL/SP mix), and a 1994 Road Paramount (Reynolds 753 OS), which was one of the last Waterford built Paramounts. I also have a 2007 Waterford RS-22 (Reynolds 953).

Schwinn made significant changes in Paramount frame geometry over the years, but I don't believe that the geometry differed significantly from that of quality designs of other high end builders at any given time. Schwinn (Paramount Design Group headed by Marc Muller) pioneered the use of OS tubesets (True Temper in 1989, then Tange for the "Series" Paramounts, and finally 753 OS in 1993) in the late eighties, and that made for stiffer, lighter bikes that ride differently than the earlier bikes with standard size tubes, but other builders saw the benefits of OS and quickly adopted it, so it wasn't a Schwinn advantage for very long.

I guess I'd have to say IMHO it's the name that makes a Paramount a Paramount. Schwinn always built them by hand to exacting tolerances, and used only very skilled and experienced brazers, but there were lots of other very talented American and foreign builders who made bikes of similar quality.

For me, the brand conjures up a time when the Paramount was the only American made bike that could compete head to head with the best bicycles in the world in international competition.

Here's Dad (crouching, far left) at the 1954 introduction of the new "middleweight" Corvette:

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
370 Posts
Scooper said:
My dad spent thirty years with Schwinn in the fifties, sixties and seventies as a regional sales manager in the southeast U.S,, and I've been a big Paramount fan all of my life. I rode Dad's early fifties P32 (model before the P14) track bike in high school, and currently have a '71 P13-9, a '72 P15-9 (both 531), an '87 Waterford built "Standard" (Columbus SL/SP mix), and a 1994 Road Paramount (Reynolds 753 OS), which was one of the last Waterford built Paramounts. I also have a 2007 Waterford RS-22 (Reynolds 953).

Schwinn made significant changes in Paramount frame geometry over the years, but I don't believe that the geometry differed significantly from that of quality designs of other high end builders at any given time. Schwinn (Paramount Design Group headed by Marc Muller) pioneered the use of OS tubesets (True Temper in 1989, then Tange for the "Series" Paramounts, and finally 753 OS in 1993) in the late eighties, and that made for stiffer, lighter bikes that ride differently than the earlier bikes with standard size tubes, but other builders saw the benefits of OS and quickly adopted it, so it wasn't a Schwinn advantage for very long.

I guess I'd have to say IMHO it's the name that makes a Paramount a Paramount. Schwinn always built them by hand to exacting tolerances, and used only very skilled and experienced brazers, but there were lots of other very talented American and foreign builders who made bikes of similar quality.

For me, the brand conjures up a time when the Paramount was the only American made bike that could compete head to head with the best bicycles in the world in international competition.

Here's Dad (crouching, far left) at the 1954 introduction of the new "middleweight" Corvette:


Classic post - thanks for sharing. Regards - Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,660 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Scooper said:
My dad spent thirty years with Schwinn in the fifties, sixties and seventies as a regional sales manager in the southeast U.S,, and I've been a big Paramount fan all of my life. I rode Dad's early fifties P32 (model before the P14) track bike in high school, and currently have a '71 P13-9, a '72 P15-9 (both 531), an '87 Waterford built "Standard" (Columbus SL/SP mix), and a 1994 Road Paramount (Reynolds 753 OS), which was one of the last Waterford built Paramounts. I also have a 2007 Waterford RS-22 (Reynolds 953).

Schwinn made significant changes in Paramount frame geometry over the years, but I don't believe that the geometry differed significantly from that of quality designs of other high end builders at any given time. Schwinn (Paramount Design Group headed by Marc Muller) pioneered the use of OS tubesets (True Temper in 1989, then Tange for the "Series" Paramounts, and finally 753 OS in 1993) in the late eighties, and that made for stiffer, lighter bikes that ride differently than the earlier bikes with standard size tubes, but other builders saw the benefits of OS and quickly adopted it, so it wasn't a Schwinn advantage for very long.

I guess I'd have to say IMHO it's the name that makes a Paramount a Paramount. Schwinn always built them by hand to exacting tolerances, and used only very skilled and experienced brazers, but there were lots of other very talented American and foreign builders who made bikes of similar quality.

For me, the brand conjures up a time when the Paramount was the only American made bike that could compete head to head with the best bicycles in the world in international competition.

Here's Dad (crouching, far left) at the 1954 introduction of the new "middleweight" Corvette:

Excellent, thanks
 

·
Adventure Seeker
Joined
·
5,115 Posts
From what I've read about steel, is if that the geometry and thickness of the tubes is the same; you won't feel a difference. Some steels are stronger and lighter, that's for sure. I'd probably say it was the craftsmanship, styling, and being innovative in the industry is what made their name.
I'd love to have a 953 framed bike, a lot for the exclusivity of it, and to tease the CF owners who are sure their bike would be lighter than mine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,017 Posts
Scooper said:
.

Here's Dad (crouching, far left) at the 1954 introduction of the new "middleweight" Corvette:

Love this photo! It is unfortunate that an introduction like this would never occur again. The money men in the same room as the designers and the sales reps. The money men are off in a corporation that owns a corportaion that owns another company. They have no concern about the product, just the bottom line at the end of the quarter. Ahhhh, the good old days when executives cared.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,430 Posts
It's not the geometry because you could have purchased a CUSTOM Paramount back then and specified a variety of geometries. Schwinn had no proprietary rights on some sort of geometry.

What makes a Paramount a Paramount is really the fact that Schwinn was/is behind it, allowing the distinctive decals and lugs, that's it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Can't speak to Paramount per se, but I am currently riding a 99 Peloton which is supposed to be built to the same geometry as Paramount. This bike is nothing special to look at, but for whatever reason, is the most comfortable bike I have ever been on. It is reynolds 853 and is super smooth and stable. If the ride translates up to the Paramount, it is no wonder they are so sought after.
 

·
Decrepit Member
Joined
·
1,811 Posts
joelh said:
Can't speak to Paramount per se, but I am currently riding a 99 Peloton which is supposed to be built to the same geometry as Paramount. This bike is nothing special to look at, but for whatever reason, is the most comfortable bike I have ever been on. It is reynolds 853 and is super smooth and stable. If the ride translates up to the Paramount, it is no wonder they are so sought after.
Yes; in 1999 (six years after the bankruptcy) the Paramount, Peloton, and Circuit models shared the same geometry. The Paramounts that year came in an 853 lugged steel version built by Match Cycles (Tim Isaac) as well as a TIG'd titanium version built by Ben Serotta. The Peloton shared the same geometry, but was TIG'd 853.

It's a shame nobody proofreading the '99 catalog could spell Paramount. :blush2:

 

·
Decrepit Member
Joined
·
1,811 Posts
lancezneighbor said:
Love this photo! It is unfortunate that an introduction like this would never occur again. The money men in the same room as the designers and the sales reps. The money men are off in a corporation that owns a corporation that owns another company. They have no concern about the product, just the bottom line at the end of the quarter. Ahhhh, the good old days when executives cared.
Truer words were never spoken.

Obviously, the "one man" operations (e.g. Richard Sachs, Sasha White, Curt Goodrich) and I think most very small multiple employee companies (e.g. Waterford) still have the money men, designers, builders and salesmen all talking to each other, but that kind of connectedness no longer exists in the big corporations. It's a shame.
 

·
Old, slow, and fat.
Joined
·
3,897 Posts
I rode some kinda re-painted green Schwinn in college when my Concorde broke. MUCH nicer ride than the Concorde. Fit? Geo? I didn't know then, and still don't to this day why my 'fancy' PDM Concorde didn't ride as nice as that Schwinn.

M
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,094 Posts
Hey Scooper! A friend of mine has a Tim Isaac built lugged 853 Paramount. Pristine condition and drop dead gorgeous. And he rides it regularly.
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top