In 1968, Schwinn introduced the Sting-Ray Krate line that offered five-speed bikes that looked like customized chopper motorcycles. Young minds were blown! More than fifty years later, the bikes still rev collectors’ motors.
If you were a kid of a certain age, there was no cooler bike than a Schwinn Sting-Ray. Schwinn introduced the original Sting-Ray in 1963 after the company realized kids in California had been customizing their bikes to look like motorcycles. In 1968, Schwinn introduced the hottest Sting-Ray line of them all: The Schwinn Krate. And young minds were blown!
The original Krates consisted of three models: The Orange Krate; The Lemon Peeler; and The Apple Krate. The Krate was to the Sting-Ray what dragsters were to automobiles. In fact, the Krate name was borrowed from a popular California dragster of the time.
What really made the bike stand out was the unique five-speed “Stik-Shift” mounted on the top tube, right between the seat and the handlebars. The bike featured front and rear suspension via articulating forks in front, and a spring-loaded sissy bar for a “floating seat” out back.
A drum-style front brake was located up front, while a mechanical disc brake was set up in the rear. The bikes were dressed up with a custom banana seat, a bright front fork, ape hanger bars and chrome fenders on both ends. And with a 20-inch slick back tire and a 16-inch front wheel, they truly looked like a bicycle version of chopper motorcycles.
The starting price for a Krate was $86.95, a serious chunk of change more than fifty years ago. Even so, the bike line was wildly popular. Schwinn stopped manufacturing Krates in 1973 but the bike’s influence on the Boomer Generation’s formative years was enormous. A 1972 Schwinn Sting-Ray Orange Krate recently sold for $2,900 at Van Eaton Galleries. Depending on condition and provenance, values for earlier Krate models can be much higher.
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