Saturday, February 9, 2008
60th Anniversary Schwinn Paramount
The Schwinn Paramount has had a long and storied history dating back to 1938. The originals were built in the Schwinn Factory in Chicago. Today, those Paramounts are worth a lot of money. In the 1980's, Schwinn moved the Paramount production to Richard Schwinn's Waterford plant in Wisconsin. The quality of the Waterford Paramounts was superb. For whatever reason, maybe cost and declining sales at Schwinn, the beginning of the 1990s saw the Paramount program head to Japan. The Waterford Paramounts were still built in Wisconsin but the alternative foreign bikes were made of Tange Prestige and were no longer equiped with Dura Ace components. The Japanese Paramounts used the same Tange frame but came with different components. There was an RSX (like Tiagra now), 105 and 600 (today's Ultegra) model. The frames were in different paint schemes depending on the component package. While the Tange Prestige Paramounts offered a beautiful ride, the bastardization of the Paramount line had begun. Soon, there was an aluminum Paramount. Also, Kestrel made a carbon Paramount frame for Schwinn. The complete destruction of the name came with the aluminum Paramount mountain bike... Around 1992, Waterford stopped making Paramounts and began to focus on their own line of bikes. Would the altered Paramount program end up on the slag heap of history? Thanks to Tim Isaac of Match Cycles, that didn't happen. Isaac built the 60th Anniversary Paramount in 1998 for Schwinn. The Isaac Paramounts were fantastic Reynolds 853 frames with Dura Ace back on board. The Isaac Paramount program lasted until 2000. Among the names who worked at Isaac were Steve Hampsten (Andy's brother), Kirk Pacenti (who now sells some of the finest bike lugs available to frame builders) and Curt Goodrich, who was the Master Frame Builder for Issac. Goodrich was the guy who put the flame to metal and brought Isaac's Paramounts to life. While Issac was building the 60th Anniversary bikes. Schwinn had one more card to play. They had Ben Serotta build titanium Paramounts with the smae color scheme as the 60th Anniversary bikes. Today, the Isaac Paramounts are worth much more than the Japanese bikes. The Serotta bikes are worth even more as less of them were made. Tim Isaac moved on to head Pacific Bicycle. Pacific holds the Schwinn name and imports bikes from Taiwan labeled as Schwinns. They brought back the Peloton name from the past for their carbon bikes. So far, they haven't done anything with the Paramount name. Hopefully, if they do, it will be a U.S. made steel frame like the legendary bikes of the past. As a side note, probably the most valuable Paramounts are the chrome plated track models from the 1960s and 1970s. Of course the Paramounts from the late 1930s through the 1950s are very expensive too. We are very fortunate, here in the Twin Cities, to have the Isaac Paramount Frame Builder, Curt Goodrich, in town. He's still bending steel and producing fabulous bikes. By the way, the red Paramount pictured is an Isaac bike from 1998. The blue one is a 1992 Japanese Paramount.