Cue the Beach Boys' "I Get Around" and pop the bottlecap on a Dr. Pepper before proceeding. This was the bike that we turned to in the days before mountain bikes for jumping and trail riding. To see such a loving and precise recreation (and improvement) of his true American classic would make the late Al Fritz a very proud man. In a collaboration with Schwinn
, Fritz, the legendary bike builder and innovator of the Schwinn Sting-Ray, put together this last version of his beloved Sting-Ray before his death at the age 88 on May 7, 2013.
In 1962, then Schwinn designer Al Fritz
learned of a new California youth trend: retrofitting bicycles with the accoutrements of motorcycles (high-rise, ape hanger handlebars and banana seats). He built some prototypes and within a year, a wheelie bike was introduced to the public as the 1963 Schwinn Sting-Ray. By the end of 1964, Schwinn Sting-Rays accounted for 70 percent of bike sales in America. The Schwinn Sting-Ray remained in production until 1981, with nostalgic reissues in 1998, 2004, 2008, and 2011.
With the passing of Al Fritz this past May 7th 2013 and the fact that the Schwinn Sting-Ray was one of the most influential, and is the most recognizable bike in the world, Schwinn could not let the 50th anniversary go by without honoring the moment with a brand new 50th anniversary Fritz Fifty version.
Only 500 Fritz Fifty bikes will be produced. The bikes will be made available to Schwinn Signature Independent Bicycle Dealers
in early December. Schwinn has announced the bike's suggested retail of $499.99 but don't expect to find many at that price and don't even think about getting a "deal" on one. Our take is that most of the shops will want to add a Fritz Fifty to their own collection, so bikes available to the general ape-hanger-loving public will be very limited. Good luck.