Schwinn Pea Picker

Schwinn Pea Picker

There’s many parallels that can be drawn between the financial histories of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Schwinn bicycles. They were both started by innovative and entrepreneurial citizens who sought to create an essentially American vehicle, in doing so created a legend, have both experienced vast wealth generated by their brands and the lifestyle their cycles offered. Unfortunately neither have been able to successfully move their brands into the 21st century — providing their current market with new, authentic models or generating a fresh market. Sometimes it’s better to enjoy specimens from their heyday, like this Schwinn Pea Picker.

The Pea Picker was one of numerous models Schwinn released during the 60s, in the midst of the muscle car and bike era. In California, kids were emulating bobber style motorbikes by customising their bicycles with ape hanger bars, a dragster style wheel configuration, sissy bars and low-rider saddles. In 1962, Schwinn sent engineer Al Fritz west on a reconnaissance mission and by 1963, the Sting-Ray entered the market and the legend was born.

There’s another interesting correlation residing within this bike. It’s in the private collection of Milwaukee Bicycle Co, the product arm of Ben’s Cycle and Fitness, a local bike store located, coincidentally, in Milwaukee. The fine frames they purvey are manufactured by Waterford Precision Cycles who is owned by Richard Schwinn, whose family founded the Schwinn Bicycle Company. What do they put in the beer in Milwaukee?

Check out the rest of the MKE Bicycle Co archive on their flickr set, after being in the bicycle retail business for 80 years, you can expect that they’ve amassed quite a collection.

Schwinn Pea Picker
Schwinn Pea Picker
Schwinn Pea Picker
Schwinn Pea Picker
Schwinn Pea Picker
Schwinn Pea Picker
Schwinn Pea Picker

  • That’s the real deal right there! I love these old bikes. My second bike was a sting ray that was this same color. The bike I learned to wheelie on!

  • I remember that bike, but I don’t remember it having shocks in the rear! That looks like it has more suspension travel the latest crop of Sportsters (Iron, Super Low, et. al.)

    Never had a Sting Ray — I had the imitation version from Sears.

  • TeeBee

    My mom wouldn’t let me have one of these – claimed the shifter would hit me right in the, er, “shifter” if I crashed. I do remember it as being the height of bicycle bad-ass back in the day.

  • Nate

    Full suspension, 5 speed, banana seat. Yes please.

  • Hornickdn

    I had the Yellow version …….I think it as called the Banana Peeler. It was the first bike I bought with my paper money. It was considered the bad ass bikes for that time period.

    • Harry Farquhar

      Your choices are: Apple Krate, Grey Ghost, Orange Krate, Lemon Peeler, Cotton Picker or Pea Picker

  • Dontcoast

    wasnt al gore involved in getting that shifter made illegal?

    • No, I outlawed the darn shifter personally.

      I “racked” myself so much on it that I traded in my Pea-Picker (pretty much identical to the one shown here) in 1972 or 3 for a Continental. Any guy who owned a “Krate” as a kid could tell you similar tales of sore…pride.

      I recall the Schwinn dealer giving me something like $50 credit toward a new bike…even then, this type of Stingray was in some demand. Mine was in great shape, too.

      Funny how it’s the bike I least miss. I wish you guys luck in getting one.

      I am fixing up my old Schwinn Cruiser, purchased used about the same time as the Picker, as a pleasure ride. It languished in a friend’s shed for nearly 40 years. It’s badass black, like my current ride, a Specialized Hard Rock I use for fun and commuting.

  • Fond memories of those bikes although never had one, but always wanted one. A friend up the street had the Orange Krate. I had a Columbia that I eventually turned into one of the coolest choppers in the neighborhood. I wish I had photos of it.

  • truth & beauty

    lovely. too bad schwinn is now chinese.

  • The 1963 Schwinn StingRay had specifications that were virtually identical to an earlier bicycle called the Huffy Penguin. The Schwinn StingRay brought nothing new to the market place – either design wise or stylistically – that the Penguin bike did not already exhibit. Schwinn marketed the already pre-exsiting bike style in the form of its Sting-Ray – through its national dealership network. The Sting-Ray was the first commercially made banana seat bike to be sold on a nationwide basis, but it was not the first “high-rise” style bike sold commercially in America. This distinction goes to the Huffy Penguin, brainchild of Pete Mole of California, who set down the specifications by which all other banana seat bikes were built to. The Schwinn Sting-Ray was still in its prototype stage when the Huffy Penguin was being sold in California bike stores. This is the true history of the high rise bikes introduction to the American market place. 

  • Wow, thanks John. Awesome insight.

  • Guest

    Pea Picker green was also called Campus Green, when used on bikes like the Varsity…and the Collegiate. This is my newest finished project…a 1971 Collegiate step-through I turned into a single speed freewheel urban bike. Yes, that’s original paint.