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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
cool

Scooper said:
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:

now I want a 99 Peloton. (that's funny about the spelling of Paramount.)
 

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ClassicSteel71 said:
Collings are better. At least the ones today. I won't compare pre war Martins to modern Bill's.. That wouldn't be right.
How 'bout some thread drift? The workmanship on Collings guitars is almost thrillingly precise & virtuosic, but they tend to feel sharp & uncomfortable on the hands and heavy on the knee. Though I've played several Collings that were otherwise, most of the Collings I've played have had a blaring, simplistic tone. Lots of projection, but not a lot of subtlety.

New Martins aren't nearly as fanatically built as a Collings, and they often don't project as well, but there's a complexity and character to the tone that can carry you straight to heaven. They manage to combine a plaintive country twang with big city weight and sophistication. While a Martin doesn't have quite the luxuriously rounded edges of say, a Goodall or a Froggy Bottom, they still feel more friendly on the arms and hands than the Collings.
 

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Richard said:
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.
While I can sympathize with folks who think the last "real Schwinns" were built before the 1993 bankruptcy, I believe there were some really great bikes built during the Scott Sports ownership. These include the Homegrown MTBs (designed and built with a lot of the technology acquired as a result of the Yeti acquisition), and the Tim Isaac and Ben Serotta built Paramounts. Those late nineties 853 and Ti Paramounts are every bit as worthy of the name as those built in the Chicago factory "cage" and at the Waterford plant. The current Dorel/Pacific owners decided to have the new 2009 70th anniversary lugged 953 Paramounts built by Waterford, and they are awesome!

 

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martinrjensen said:
now I want a 99 Peloton. (that's funny about the spelling of Paramount.)
Got my frame for $150 off ebay with a carbon fork. I took the 105 group off my felt and it is now my everyday rider. The paint is a 7 out of 10. Since the frame is nothing special, I think when it gets to a 5, I will try my hand at frame painting.
 

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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.
Well, I get your point about being real Martins (or Paramounts), but many or most times a typical Collings or Santa Cruz is better than a typical Martin (depending on taste of course). Is that true of the non-Schwinn factory paramounts?

How about a comparison between "real" Martins and some of the new-ish low end price point models, some of which, I believe, aren't even solid wood? Is that like the difference between "real" paramounts and the pretenders?
 

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Camilo said:
Well, I get your point about being real Martins (or Paramounts), but many or most times a typical Collings or Santa Cruz is better than a typical Martin (depending on taste of course). Is that true of the non-Schwinn factory paramounts?
I would say not. The "Series" Paramounts were designed to leverage the Paramount brand, offering a "Paramount" at a lower price point than the U.S. built bikes. That's not to say the Series Paramounts weren't very nice bikes, but IMHO they weren't intended to compete with the Waterford built Paramounts. The Series Paramount road bikes (Series 2, Series 3, Series 5, and Series 7) all had unicrown forks, while Waterford Paramounts had investment cast fork crowns with brazed-in fork blades.

Here's what Marc Muller had to say about the Series Paramounts:

"National/Panasonic were willing and eager partners in this project. I spent a lot of time in their plant, and they at our corporate headquarters, overseeing the smallest details to assure the bikes were worthy of the name. While some of us had reservations about the use of the name, after spending the 80's building up the Schwinn/Paramount/PDG brand, once the decision was made to use the name everyone was on board to make the finest possible bikes at their price point. Are they Waterford Paramounts? No. Are they excellent bicycles? You bet! Don't listen to the bashers, you'll drive yourself crazy!"

Since the Waterford website refers to the Series Paramounts as being imported from "Asian factories" (not specifically Panasonic in Japan), Richard Schwinn discussed the origin of the different Series Paramount models in an e-mail to Bob Hufford:

"The 'Series' Paramounts mostly came from Japan, but the Series 2, 20, 3 and 30 came from Taiwan and eventually China by 1992."

Basically, the Series 7 and Series 5 were built by Panasonic in Japan, while the Series 3 and Series 2 were initially built on Taiwan and later in mainland China.
 

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Scooper said:
While I can sympathize with folks who think the last "real Schwinns" were built before the 1993 bankruptcy, I believe there were some really great bikes built during the Scott Sports ownership. These include the Homegrown MTBs (designed and built with a lot of the technology acquired as a result of the Yeti acquisition), and the Tim Isaac and Ben Serotta built Paramounts. Those late nineties 853 and Ti Paramounts are every bit as worthy of the name as those built in the Chicago factory "cage" and at the Waterford plant. The current Dorel/Pacific owners decided to have the new 2009 70th anniversary lugged 953 Paramounts built by Waterford, and they are awesome!

Holy modern bike porn batman!!
/drool
I think I'm in love with that frame
 

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I love Schwinns, but . . . .

Peanya said:
Holy modern bike porn batman!!
/drool
I think I'm in love with that frame
I'm not a big fan of the new steel Paramounts. For example, the front end (fork and stem) looks disproportional from the rest of the bike. I hate the semi-semi sloping top tube design as well. It's like they wanted to make it a modern looking bike but didn't want to offend the Paramount "purists". The polished stainless steel lugs are cherry, though.

FWIW, I have a custom made Schwinn Wheaties Paramount (custom made for someone else) and a "Capt. America" Schwinn OS (made in Japan). Both bikes are the same size but the Wheaties has a shorter TT and a little steeper HT angle than the OS. Surprisingly both bikes are great "all day riding" bikes but the OS is a little less twitchy.

Here's a picture of a real Paramount.
 

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I'll agree the fork doesn't fit in perfectly, but the sloping top tube does appeal to me. But the detail of that frame, and the lugs.... And, it's 953 steel too!
Yes, they could have put on a carbon fork that'd look more fitting. But what I'd really change is the seatpost and stem. Chrome is way better looking on that frame than black.
 

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The 70th Anniversary Paramount is nice and it's a "custom" build so you can have a classic or sloping design. But when I saw the price - even wholesale - I about had a coronary.

For probably a lot less money, one could go directly to Waterford and have a custom 953.

And avoid the possible ignominy when somebody pulls up next to you on a Wal-Mart Schwinn and says "Hey! I have one of those too!"

It happened to my buddy with the 60th Anniversary model.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
My summation on this uestion

I'm the OP to this post and have been watching to comments. Strangely enough, this thread stayed pretty much on topic all the way through with only one attempt to derail it to a thread about guitars. (Nice try BTW)
I think have a good enough understanding now to form an opinion of what exactly makes a Paramount. It's not geometry, and it's not the name. It's more like an idea and a belief, maybe in part an engineering standard. I think it started with an idea to design a bike to certain standards regardless of material or geometry. These standards can move to different manufacturers so it's still OK to say that regardless of who makes it, it's still a Paramount.
There is a lot of argument about the Asian bikes being true Paramounts. I can't help but think that some of this feeling is due to a still lingering (and I'm sure totally incorrect) belief that Asian bikes are somehow inferior in construction to American and European built bikes. Everything I have read about Asian bikes say that their construction is the equal of anywhere in the world.
I do think that during the end of Schwinn, they probably relied a bit more on “just the name” to sell these than previously though.
So to sum up, if it says Paramount, it's a Paramount. Whether it's desirable or collectible or not, is not my focus here.
Like anything, if you want the best representation of something, pick it at it's zenith. This would be in the middle of the Paramount production and it does seem to play out that these appear to be the most collectible models. Whether or not they are technically any better than any other model depends , I guess, on your definition of better.

“So long and thanks for all the fish”
 

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I think it's fair to say that the American made Paramounts, including the 60th and 70th Anniversary models, are "collectibles." The various Asian sourced models, while in many instances very nice framesets and desireable from a "riding" standpoint, simply will never command the price a Chicago/Isaac/Waterford example will fetch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
it's what's collectable

yup, you're 100% right on that. Collecting is just about what people want, it's that simple.
Richard said:
I think it's fair to say that the American made Paramounts, including the 60th and 70th Anniversary models, are "collectibles." The various Asian sourced models, while in many instances very nice framesets and desireable from a "riding" standpoint, simply will never command the price a Chicago/Isaac/Waterford example will fetch.
 

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On P'mount's: The Japan made, series bikes are excellent and undervalued, without question. Look to the prices people pay for Schwinn Circuits and Premis's, which are built in the same factories at the same time, just lower down the line-up, for proof. I've never understood the perpetuation of the myth that these 'Japanamount's' are 'lesser' bikes when all of the other production at the time is extraordinarily well revered (Voyageur SP anyone?).

On guitars: Collings have bolt-on necks and that's why they have that quiet, weighty, muffled sound. Most new Martin's save money with this design as well. Santa Cruz T. Rice Pro's are the equal of most any Martin, prewar or newer: These ring out, shimmer with complex harmonics and hold together when played loudly. I love mine!
 

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I would think an Asian Paramount would probably be every bit as good as an American made frame, but for the same money I would certainly prefer an American Paramount. I no longer have any Martins (I've had over 20) or Santa Cruz (I've had two) but am now playing Asian made Eastmans (I have 4) which are not only sensitively made with nitro, real wood binding, and dovetails, but also use hide glue. My audiences don't seem to notice any difference unless they look at the headstock.

I just found an old steel Fuji with complete Campy on Craigslist for $400. Better go check it out.
 

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As a kid growing up in the 1960's and throughout the 1970's, I feel qualified to comment on Schwinn Bicycles. They were extremely high quality, very rugged albeit very heavy, and they had the most beautiful candy paint jobs in the world, a warm light glows in the back of my brain whenever I see an "apple-krate" red paramount, a "cool-lemon" yellow paramount, a "sky-blue" blue one, or an orange-krate-color paramount (most of these are the stingray color names). I bought my first used Schwinn Paramount (1974 model, silver-mist color) in 1980, at a low-low price of only $300. The paint on ALL schwinn bicycles was EXCELLENT.

A paramount sat at the apex of the Schwinn bicycle line, #1 in American Quality among American bike manufacturers. For a long time the gulf between the #2 bicycle (Schwinn Superior) and #1 bicycle (Paramount) was ENORMOUS because the chromoly Schwinn Superior still weighed 30 lbs vs. a Paramount at 23-26 lbs depending upon the model (P10 - P15). The #2 bike was brazed but not double-butted and still used too much tech from the electro-forged models. Schwinns sold at a price-premium over other factory-made American bicycles (Huffy, AMF) of about 20% - 30%. While not pantographed, almost every part on every Schwinn bicycle said "Schwinn Approved" and was a high-quality rebranded overseas part, whereas 90% of other American bikes used cheap stamped domestic parts of low quality.

The paramount frames had 5 things going for them, (a) They were silver soldered at low temperature, which requires much better brazing skills as the silver is much thinner and runs easily and is VERY expensive (2x+) compared to brass solder, (b) The rear bridge was completely silver-soldered with a beautiful, smooth transition, and it's practically the only road racing frameset EVER with this feature, (c) The nervex lugs and fork crown came extremely rough from France and required a lot of workmanship (shaping the shorelines, polishing the surfaces) to be chromed and they also offered an all-chrome paramount which was available ... from no other bike maker - none - nil - nada ... and (d) Schwinn had a reputation for sturdiness and durability matched by ... none, nil, nada. Now most of that reputation was from sturdy parts selection - not frame workmanship - but this built an aura around Schwinn bicycles that was not present in other brands in the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up. Schwinn sponsored an American bicycle team and a lot of racing in the USA from 1930-1980 and were in it for the long haul. A lot of national titles in track racing were won on Schwinn bicycles. Other bike brands arose - like TREK in 1978 - but they were very bland-looking and had a reputation as "Having no Soul" until they began sponsoring Lance Armstrong in the early 2000's. The Paramount had an air of understated elegance, imho, a stealth nuke (because of the contrast with the rest of the bicycle line), if you will ... And finally, (e) The colors on the Schwinn Bicycles were the very best and most beautiful available, certainly schwinn put much more money and attention into the paint tones and layered finishes of their bicycles than any other makers.

You could get a Raleigh International which was similar in many ways but they put HALF the workmanship into the lugs vs. Schwinn (ask me how I know I have restored many of them there's a reason they sell cheaply). You could buy a Peugeot PX-10 which was slapped together in france with the maker's eyes closed, some american frame builders (Brian Baylis) dedicated their lives to building the OPPOSITE of a peugeot PX-10 which they lusted after until they discovered - up-close - that the brazing and workmanship was just so bad, bad, bad. When you drop a month's take-home pay on a bicycle you want it to look as good from 10 inches as from 10 feet; a Schwinn Paramount delivered on that dream but a Raleigh International or Peugeot PX-10 certainly did not. I compare paramounts to these two other high-end models which also had Nervex lugs highlighted in chrome or in black.

One last thing that was unusual about "PARAMOUNT" is that it was almost its own brand. They offered:
  1. tourist P11
  2. road racing bike P10, P13
  3. touring bikes P15
  4. sport bikes P13
  5. tandems bikes T19, T22
  6. track bikes P12
  7. ladies version (step-through frame) of the sport bike P60, P65 10/15 speeds.
And they weren't afraid to customize or use non-campagnolo parts (Shimano Crane ; Suntour Barcons; Suntour Pro-Compe freewheels; HKK Blue Sky chains) - whatever was best, that's what you got, and except for Campagnolo, it said "Schwinn Approved" on it no matter how good the reputation of the part.
 

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Well, thank you for resurrecting a thread from back when Bush was president! You'll find that there are a lot of us from that period here (certainly Kerry Irons and Mr. Grumpy), so none of this is news to us. Schwinn was a retail colossus in the bike business back in those days, and although they sponsored a racing team, very few of the bikes they sold were in any way "raceable". A Paramount was miles better than the next best road bike in the Schwinn lineup. The comparable Peugeot and Raleigh models at least had lesser versions which were affordable and not nearly as pedestrian. Schwinn got big, then they became intractable. The market changed and they didn't, which is why today Schwinn is just a name that's slapped on cheap Chinese bikes and sold in department stores. Of course, the same is true about Raleigh and Peugeot; today Trek probably holds the same position that Schwinn used to hold, although their 'halo models' aren't really much to look at.
 

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What a well-written recollection.

I can remember the first time I saw a Schwinn Paramount, as a newb teenage cyclist in the mid-70's; my opinion of the brand wasn't very high at the time. I just didn't know the history and the effort put in to make them. For some reason I held more respect for the Raleigh Professional.

But I grew to like them, especially when they pioneered the OS tubing, and came out with the PDG series Paramounts.

I do now have a greater appreciation for the older, Chicago built, Nervex lugged frames.
 
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