The Brat Patrol | A Long Time Ago, In a Neighborhood Far, Far Away…

Hillcrest Bike Culture

August 20th, 2008 by duane

Schwinn Stingray

Schwinn Stingray

We loved our bikes on Hillcrest (as most kids do). We could spend an entire day lapping the block over and over again. Most of the kids in the BRAT patrol had a BMX style bike, complete with pads covering all of the dangerous parts of the bike. My brother and I? We had the legendary Schwinn Stingray. The only complication? It wasn’t “cool” by the time we were aware of the concept of “being cool.” A yellow banana seat atop a metallic red frame might have cut it in the 70’s, but by the 80’s a banana seat would just get you chased by “the big kids.”

Christian (my brother) and I would try anything to make our curvy bikes more BMX-like: replacing the seat, different handle bar grips, pedals, tires… anything. Looking back though, I really loved that bike. It provided my first tastes of freedom, danger, and excitement… banana seat and all.

Eventually, most of us upgraded to multi-speed bikes. A few folks got 10-speed street bikes, but just about the time it was my turn to get a new bike, mountain bikes were becoming the new standard. They could take more abuse and looked a lot more like the BMX bikes that I longed for when I was younger, but they really never replaced the spot in my heart occupied by that old yellow and red Schwinn.

Entry Filed under: Bikes

2 Comments. Add your own...

  • 1. Tim | February 25th, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    My brother had an orange stingray and we thought it was the coolest bike on the block. Had a BMX style bike with super sucker tires. Ever hear of them? They were tubeless and looked like octopus tentacles. They were sweet. We had a little gang of 3. Me, my brother and Scott down the street. We called ourselves the orange cruisers. We used to throw rocks at a rival gang down the street who threw rocks at us. Wow.. what memories.

  • 2. Brian | May 25th, 2012 at 12:39 am

    My first bike was a Schwinn Stingray my Dad bought for me from an auction. He very-shabbily painted it fire-engine red (my favorite color at the time, and still is today – probably because of that bike). I did the same thing in trying to modify it to BMX standards: green plastic Viscount seat, black BMX handlebars. Eventually I used paperboy money and bought a “real” BMX bike (a black Mongoose) after a fat neighbor kid taco’d my rear rim doing a “kick-out”. I’ve enjoyed just about every form of biking since then, and I’m convinced it’s all because of the freedom and sense of accomplishment I got learning to ride that old ‘ray. Thanks for the memories, dude. Happy rides.

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