Words and photos: Jeff Archer
Schwinn introduced the Sting-Ray in 1963 and it quickly became its best-selling model. As often happens in the bike industry, when a model becomes popular, there are various versions created to try and increase sales. Three years into production, the Sting-Ray was available with one, two, three or five speeds. There was also a Deluxe model with whitewalls, fenders and an optional spring fork. By 1966, it was time for a change.
Enter the Schwinn Sting-Ray Fastback. The Fastback was introduced as “All new, with the swift, clean lines of true sports car styling!’’ It used a lighter weight frame with narrower, 20 x 1 -inch tires. The rear tire was a slick and—along with a 5-speed Stik Shifter—mimicked the popular muscle cars of the day.
In 1967, another variation, the Ram’s Horn, was added. All Fastbacks received a new Mag sprocket and the Ram’s Horn wore all-metal rat-trap pedals. The most unique feature was definitely the ram’s horn bars that added a curled under section to the standard ape-hanger bars. The bars were wrapped in color-matching vinyl tape and gave the rider multiple hand positions.
This particular bike likely had an aftermarket Schwinn saddle with an offset racing stripe when it was new. The Ram’s Horn model only lasted one more year, but singlespeed and three-speed versions were later added.
The last year of the Stik Shifter was 1973 (thanks to Ralph Nader) and Fastback production ended in 1976. The regular Sting-Ray lasted until the BMX craze took over in 1981. Many of the old Sting-Rays were converted to BMX duty by adding a “10-speed” saddle, BMX grips and knobby tires.
Many of these early BMX participants became the first generation of mountain bikers and are now old enough to be regular Bicycle Times readers!
This bike can be seen at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology, which is housed at First Flight Bicycles in historic downtown Statesville, North Carolina.