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Old News but Good News

By now many people following the 75th project have seen a photo or two of the bike we affectionately call Number 1.  It goes to one of our closest customers, Bob F., who will add it to his already extensive collection of Paramounts, Waterfords, and other fine bikes.

Peter DiAntoni shot the frame some weeks back and included in the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation’s Fall magazine issue which you can order from their on-line store. Peter is also editor of Milwaukee-based COG Magazine. He plans a feature on Number 1 in an upcoming issue. BFWMag-201310-Para75th


In the mean time, our friends at Schwinn spirited Number 1 to their Madison headquarters, which sports a nice photo studio with equally nice photographers. They put together some nice work showing Number 1, built up and ready to serve its owner. Click the photo below to visit our Flickr page showing lots of photos from the very start of the project:

Full side view of Number 1 - in the Schwinn Paramount 75th Anniversary  project.

Number 1 made an appearance at the Philly Bike Show as well, where champion road racer turned promoter Jack Simes III shared his story and aspirations at our continuing series of Paramount History Seminars.

Happily, Number 1 is now in the rider’s hands. The weather here in the Midwest has been a bit brisk for Bob’s taste, but I’m sure he’ll be on it as soon as he can.

Stay tuned for photos of more 75th Anniversary Paramounts as we complete them.

Ready for Prime Time

With Bob’s frame and fork complete, it’s time to put it all together with a Shimano Dura-Ace DI 2 drivetrain and Dura-Ace brakes and levers. Adam Kerr, one of our builders, also works as the stud mechankc at one of our area bike shops, Antioch Schwinn Cyclery, where be brought it in for assembly. Here’s Bob’s bike, just about built, in the workstand.
Here’s a close-up of the DI2 rear derailleur. You can see the stainless steel wiring ports coming out of the chainstays. On the dropout, you can see the distinctive Paramount compass points.
The Paramount 75th seat cluster includes the flat cap stay tip with Paramount compass points engraved on them. Below is the completed bike, show with pride in the shop.

Quiet but Busy

Yes, it’s been quiet on the web site, but very busy in the Schwinn Paramount 75th Anniversary world. The initial order has finally been painted in Pearl white. We set it off with red decals and trim. We filled the compass points on the polished seatstay caps with red – a terrific accent, not unlike those found all over this frame.

Click for more photos.

In keep with the rest of this project, we honor the Paramount tradition but build 21st century technology. Shown here are the ports for an electronic shifting system (with downtube battery mount. Internal mounting systems are also available).

The ports are reinforced and decorated with the classic stars – all of polished stainless steel.

The quiet was caused by the week we spent in Las Vegas for Interbike, the bicycle industry’s annual trade show. We commuted to the show every day by bike, but, outside of direct show activities, stayed off the strip the entire time. Peter DiAntoni, famed photographer and publisher of Cog Magazine graced our humble factory on Friday to shoot this bike. It will show up in the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation’s magazine and who knows where else. He’ll make an already beautiful bike even prettier.

Brazing Up Bike Number 1

Our torches have finally started transforming tubes, lugs and other bits into the first of 25 75th Anniversary Paramounts. The lugs had been fabricated weeks ago (each lugset is individually crafted for each order). Shown below are some of the features of this project bike:

Paramount 75th - raw brazed head lugs. Here are the headlugs brazed up and ready for polish. You can see the nice little side points plus the Paramount compass points in the rear view. On the front, you can see the Nervex flourish on the top and bottom front center of the lug. Click to see a higher res photo.
The seat cluster has side-tack stays with the classic Paramount flat caps. With few minor exceptions, the flat caps have been a Paramount standard going all the way back to 1938. This time we engraved compass points on the flat cap.
The 75th’s will sport our specially created Artisan stainless steel dropouts. They include the Paramount compass points (oriented square on the built-up frame).

Number 1 went to our polisher today. More on this later in the week.

75th Decals and Styling

So how will the styling come together? This time around, we’re borrowing heavily from the classic 60′s styling.  You will see a seat tube panel complete with world champ stripes and a modernized down tube decal with the Schwinn starburst. Sample Paramount decals

To complete the effect we re-released the original Schwinn Paramount headbadge. We proudly proclaim both Schwinn and Paramount, but without the billboard look. Click on the image above to see the styling page.

The decals finally arrived! Here they are in the bag. P75th-DecalsintheBag20130910

The 75th Headbadge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our philosophy is not just to pay homage to the past, but use the past to define advances that will hopefully make this edition as memorable as the original. On the surface, our headbadge looks like an exception to that rule. We actually went back to the original design introduced in 1938, a simple round badge with the iconic Paramount compass points. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. You can see a comparison of the old vs. the new badges here. If you look closely, you’ll be able to figure out which one is which.

We are fortunate that the company that had built those badges prior to WWII is still in business and still thriving as a family owned manufacturer in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Metallics Inc. President Doug Dale was able to dig through his old tooling to help us get going. In 1988 the Paramount headbadge tooling had been converted to making “Schwinn Quality” badges. So we started with this and transitioned it back to producing Paramount badges.

A couple of things are new about the badges. One is the crisper compass points. The second is that it is made out of stainless steel instead of plated brass.

More importantly, it’s a reminder of a mark that to this day stands the test of time. We are proud to make it a part of the Paramount once more.

Birth of the 75th Lugset

Birth of the 75th Lugset

The lugset created for the 75th Anniversary Paramount reflects the latest thinking in lug engineering. Yet the design pays homage to Paramount lugs from the 60′s and beyond. In order to provide context for our design, let’s walk through the history of lug engineering and design.

Early on in the history of bicycle design, engineers figured out that frame joints or lugs were the most structurally vulnerable part of the frame. Initial lug designs like what you see here, served primarily as reinforcements for the joints. sampleearlybikelug
samplekeyholelug While lug brazing represented a major advance over the other joining methods of the time, limitations were encountered early because of a phenomenon called a “stress riser.” This is a situation caused by very heavy lugs restricting the flex of very light tubes. Builders found that by trimming off the sides of the lugs, they could reduce the likelihood of frame failure. The result was the “keyhole” design. The hole prevented frame flex from tearing the lug in two. This is an example of a keyhole lugged pre-WWII Paramount restored by Waterford.
After WWII, lug design flourished. The French came to dominate the bicycle parts business, especially the products of Nervex, whose “Professional” lugset became the iconic design of lugged bikes throughout the 1960′s and 1970′s. You can still see the keyhole of pre-war lugs, but with the rest of the lug trimmed back into an ornate but highly efficient, lightweight design. This is an example of a classic 1960′s chrome plated Schwinn Paramount with Nervex lugs. sampleNervex
Sample 1980's lug on 50th anniv Paramount By the end of the 1970′s the Nervex design was overtaken by a movement toward clean, simple lug profiles. Cinelli lead the way in clean design in the mid-1970′s. When Marc Muller took over the Paramount Design Group in the 1980s, he brought this styling with him. At left is a mid-80′s Paramount Standard.
The 1988 50th Anniversary Paramount was built with these lugs. You can see the OS Lugset of 1989 added small points on the side of the lugs as well as larger tube diameters. Then lugs got even tinier with the low profile Waterford lugs of the 1990′s. sampleOSlug
Lugs remained pretty simple until after the turn of the millennium, starting with the Newvex Lugset by builder Richard Sachs. But this was the tip of the iceberg in a movement that made lugs more and more ornate. At left is an example of Waterford’s Nuevo Coco lugs.
In the Paramount 70th design we considered bling but felt that less is often more. This is a prototype frame after the raw brazing showing the Paramount points. It was the first time we attempted to incorporate the Paramount compass points in a lugset. Sample70th
75thAnnivLugPaperMockup With the 75th design, we went to a trimmer design with the compass points cut into the lug. There are echoes of several earlier lug sets. The side points come from the OS lugs, the compass points from the 70th and the Nervex flourish at the top and bottom front of the head tube. We’re just days away from building frame number 1.

Whence the 75th Anniversary Project?

Hat in the Ring Insignia for the 75th Welcome to the  Schwinn Paramount 75th Anniversary Website.  This project is the result of a collaboration of Waterford Precision Cycles and Pacific Cycles, producer of Schwinn Bicycles.  Waterford and Pacific put together the 70th Anniversary Paramount 5 years ago.  It set a new standard for custom lug design while providing our clients a memorable ride. Afterwards, Waterford and Schwinn went our separate ways – not a breakup, more like drifting apart.

As the 75th approached, we wondered what might happen.  Then we received a call from Terry Elsen, then Sales Manager for Schwinn.  He asked if we had time to meet the newly named Global Brand Manager for Schwinn, Joe Werwie.  We expected a motorcade to arrive at the appointed time with a crew in dark suits and sunglasses.  Instead, a rather unassuming young man arrived, dressed like bike people, not money people.  Turns out Joe owns a Waterford from many years ago, and he comes from a family that raced Paramounts at the Kenosha track.  In short , he gets Paramount, and Schwinn, at a really deep level.

Ever since, Joe and Waterford founders Marc Muller and Richard Schwinn have been bouncing around ideas for how we might approach the 75th. Marc has been a part of the Paramount scene since the late 1960′s, when he joined the racing scene in the Western Suburbs of Chicago (whose favorite son Chris Van de Velde is concluding an impressive international career just this year).  Marc joined Schwinn’s engineering department in the late 70′s and took over Paramount production in 1980.  He organized the Paramount Design Group factory the following year; not only building world-class road bikes but introducing a startling number of innovations over the subsequent dozen years.

Twenty years ago this year, Richard and Marc dedicated themselves to continuing the tradition of building the World’s Finest Bicycles by forming Waterford Precision Cycles. Waterford has earned its own well deserved reputation (including its own World Champ stripes) while pioneering a number of  innovations including compact designs, the use of stainless steel, as well as a number of groundbreaking bicycle platforms.

The 75th Anniversary Paramount is yet another statement in this long tradition, and working with Joe has made it all the more special.

Our goal is to create compelling and enduring designs without ostentation.   The bikes will unfold over the next few weeks with the production of frameset number 1 of the 25 we plan to build.

Join us on this dream journey to bring the past into the future!