On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.4 percent in October after rising 0.3 percent in September. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 in October, the same increase as in September.
Consumer Price Index

end-of-an-era chicago schwinn

Image by ** RCB **
Now I have two bikes, not that I ride the first one enough.

Please let me introduce you to my new Schwinn Suburban 5-speed, a rusty yard sale find and artifact from another era. I paid . Did I mention it’s painted blue, made almost entirely of steel and rusty?

This was the upright version of the Schwinn Varsity, an icon of the American mid 20th Century. It cost 4.95 in late 1979, when it sold new from an Authorized Schwinn dealer in Ukiah, California. That is just south of 0 today (CPI inflation calculator: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Like nearly all Schwinns up to that point, this one has the distinctive electro-forged frame, which has the look and feel of having been milled from a single piece of iron. The factory in Chicago turned these out by the million in the mid-Century, feeding an extensive, tightly managed dealer network.

It’s hard to imagine how dominant Schwinn was in the American bicycle business, much like General Motors, Kodak and Polaroid were at the same time in their own industries.

But less than a year after this bike was made, the whole world would come crashing down on the company, its union and the two-wheeled icon. In 1980, Schwinn would be beset by perfect storm of labor strife, explosive inflation, a tanking economy and relentless competition from Japan and Taiwan. It didn’t help that Schwinns were perceived as heavy and archaic, particularly among cycling enthusiasts. Soon thereafter, the original Schwinn Bicycle Company was a smoking crater.

The company limped along on its name and dealer network for decades, but the grand age of Chicago-made Schwinns was over.

I walked this yard sale find home on two totally flat, rotting tires. On a whim, I pumped up the tires – they held air. I took it for a spin. Shockingly, it was tight and perfect, like new. No really, everything worked like new. A rusty time capsule, sort of like the VW Bug in the Woody Allen movie, Sleeper.

I’m going to replace the tires and tubes and repack the bearings. Then I think I’ll take it to work and ride it when I need to run errands.


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