With “ape-hanger” handlebars and banana seats, Schwinn first launched its Sting-Ray line of bikes in 1963 after a designer at the company took note of a trend where youngsters in California were retrofitting bicycles with accoutrements made for motorcycles. The result was a “wheelie bike” with a small frame, a long banana-shape saddle, and mismatched wheels (small in front, large in rear). By the end of 1964, Schwinn cites its Sting-Ray line accounted for 70 percent of bike sales in the U.S.A.
Banana-seat bikes like the Sting-Ray remain close in memory for many riders today who scooted around suburban neighborhoods and city sidewalks on the easy-to-ride bikes. This fall, Schwinn brings back the line for anyone who wants to relive those carefree moments. The company built 900 Sting-Ray bikes and started shipping them to independent bike shops late last month.
The new model Sting-Ray bikes cost $399 and come in four retro color schemes — Apple Krate, Orange Krate, Lemon Peeler, and Grey Ghost. Schwinn has individually numbered each of the 900 bikes in case the 2011 banana riders one day become a collector’s item just like the ones rusting now in your grandparents’ garage.