Have You Seen These Super Shiny Vintage Schwinns Around Chicago?

Chicago Cruisers Vintage Schwinn bikes

If you ever spend any time on the near west side of Chicago around the Humboldt Park neighborhood, you’ve probably seen the mini-bike parades that cruise by in the summer with very shiny vintage Schwinn bikes  ridden by smiling riders waving Puerto Rican flags. These my friends, are the Chicago Cruisers. John Greenfield, of the blog  Grid Chicago  has written about the Chicago cruisers – this quote from his article sums up their philosophy nicely:

The club gathers every other Sunday during the summer in Humboldt Park, Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, to show off their cycles and parade around the neighborhood or take excursions to the lakefront or the Loop.  We have three goals,  says Luis Mercado, a mental health counselor who founded the club in 2000; Ride beautiful bikes, build friendships and enjoy the sights of our wonderful city.

Schwinn cruisers are a cultural thing for Puerto Ricans, explains Mercado. It goes way back to when we were kids.  He says about half the towns on the island, a U.S. territory, have bike clubs. Similar clubs have formed in mainland cities like New York and Cleveland, but Mercado says the Chicago Cruisers is the biggest.

Andrew, Little Ding, and I were riding north on California Avenue on a sunny Sunday morning earlier this summer, and as we approached Casa Puertorriquena  (near California & Crystal)  we were almost blinded by the sunlight reflecting off all the chrome on a fabulous collection of vintage Schwinn bikes. We’d seen the Chicago Cruisers around the city, but we’d never had the chance to check out some of their bikes up close, so we stopped to chat with the group and to check out their beautiful bikes.

 Schwinn Spokes

Chicago Cruisers

Maria's Bike

Maria and her bike

Maria and her bike

Most of these bikes and their accessories are old salvaged Schwinns saved from the scrap heap by the folks at the International Bike Shop at 3821 W. North Ave. That’s where most of these bikes received their fancy paint jobs and shiny chrome.

International Bike Shop

A few weeks later, we ran into some of the guys again at the Tour de Fat along with their cool bikes.

Chicago Cruisers - Tour de Fat

Chicago Cruisers - Tour de Fat

If you need more shiny Schwinn bikes in your life they’re having another ride on Sunday September 11th. Keep an eye out for them on a boulevard near you!

(John Greenfield is also a contributor to these publications as well:   Momentum Magazine, The Chicago Reader, New City, and Time Out Chicago)

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