Bikes of Yesterday: 1963 Schwinn Fleet Cruiser Bike

Posted on June 7th, 2019 by Jeff Whitfield | Comments

Bikes


1963 Schwinn Fleet catalog picture

Let's take a trip down memory lane. What are some of the first bikes you remember riding as a kid? Honestly, I can't remember my first bike, but I can at least remember my second and third bike. Aside from the one I rode around my neighborhood (which I'll talk about in a future post), I did ride one other bike as a kid. 

I was born and raised in Houston but spent a good deal of my childhood in Dallas with my grandparents. You could say Dallas was a second hometown for me. My grandparents lived in Dallas as well as my aunt and uncle, my mother's aunt, and other family friends and relatives; all of them lived around the DFW area. Much of my time was spent at my grandparents though and I would come up and spend a good week at a time.

When I got old enough (and big enough!) to ride it, my grandparents let me ride a bike that was just taking up space in my grandfather's shed, a 1963 Schwinn Fleet cruiser bike. Now, I'm not 100% certain it was this exact model but it's darn close. Definitely was a Schwinn Fleet though, I know that much.

1963 Schwinn Fleet cruiser bike
1963 Schwinn Fleet cruiser bike

Funny thing about this bike is that I can't remember a time when we actually did any real maintenance on it. All I recall is that we pumped up the tires and ran some WD-40 on the chain, cassette, and chainring. Granted, we all know WD-40 isn't a good lubricant but, well, it worked ok for this bike. (Ah, WD-40! Magical stuff! The smell alone brings back a lot of memories of my childhood.) Speaks a lot to the longevity of this bike though. Didn't take a lot to keep it going. In this case, just spray a bit of WD-40 on to remove some rust and get things moving again and away you go! Try that on a Specialized bike!

My grandparents lived just south of Dallas in Oak Cliff. Lots of hills which meant a little huffing and puffing up some hills, especially with a one-speed! But it also meant some fun downhill rides as well! I loved just coasting down the hills on that thing!

I would go for relatively short rides, nothing crazy. Usually just little trips to a nearby store for candy and a soda or just roam around the neighborhood a bit. The freedom and fun of exploring parts of the neighborhood, streets I hadn’t been on before, was liberating. There were lots of alleyways which, back then, were fun to ride through.

Down the street was a school with a playground that had a swing. Before I was big enough to ride the bike, my grandmother would walk me down to the playground so I could swing on the swing a bit. With the bike, I could just ride down there, swing a bit, and ride back.

Fast forward to today, I think these early experiences on my grandparent’s bike were incredibly transformative. Even back then, I enjoyed the freedom and adventure of traveling on streets and roads untraveled. No doubt, my grandparent’s bike continues to influence my attitude of the bike today. That’s the beauty of those early bicycling experiences; they’re ingrained in you whether you know it or not.