Over the past few weeks, I have been working toward returning a 1954 Schwinn Traveler bicycle to the road. Earlier, I discussed a slight bend in the frame's down tube.
After taking the bicycle to a local bike shop specializing in vintage bicycles, and consulting a number of vintage bike enthusiasts, I concluded that the bend is very minor (less than 1/8 inch). The bicycle tracks reasonably straight.
A More Extroverted Bicycle
By the 1950s, American bicycle manufacturers, and especially Schwinn, were marketing their 'lightweight' or light roadster bicycles toward younger people, though the 21 and 23 inch frame light roadsters certainly were practical for adult riders still. The 1950s were a classic era for American automobiles, and it was the automobile that captured the attention of American adults. Schwinn capitalized on the love of automobiles in that era by coping many design trends.
In the late 1940s, Schwinn went more heavily into stainless steel and plated parts on lightweights like the Continental. By the 1950s, candy, metallic colors copying cars of the era were common. This bicycle is "Opalescent Green", a color very close to a shade that GM (particularly Chevy) was using in the early 1950s.
A comparison with this 1947 Schwinn New World shows just how much more "extroverted" the Traveler was compared to its 1940s-era ancestor.
"Under the Hood"The performance of both bicycles, however, was similar. Both bicycles employed the Sturmey Archer AW three speed hub, or a similar copy by any number of brands (Brampton, Steyr, etc).
Both bicycles are very enjoyable rides. However, the stem and handlebars on the Traveler are a little more "upright". The New World of the 1940s often appears with flat "sporting" type bars, though any number of configurations existed.
I really like these bicycles. They're a little more relaxed in frame geometry than the Raleigh Sports bikes, but still reasonably agile and lively on the road. The early and mid 1950s Schwinns offer a number of nice touches, like "torpedo tube" fork with darts, and "winged globe" graphics on the frame. They're certainly more extroverted bikes from an era known for big cars, bright colors, white wall tires, and American steel.