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The Schwinn Tornado: A Whirlwind of Fun

Charles Luiting


We interrupt your regularly scheduled browsing for this special weather bulletin: the Schwinn Tornado is back in town! That’s right, the bike from the dawn of BMX rides again. Kids everywhere can enjoy neighborhood adventures on a bike that blends retro-cool with modern comfort. But where did Tornado come from? We’re glad you asked, it’s a pretty great story. A long time ago, at a bike company not that far away…

Part I: A New Bike

You might not guess by looking at it, but the original Tornado was designed as a boys’ cruiser bike. First released in 1959, the Tornado featured a sturdy twin-bar frame in bright red that was ready for exciting rides around the neighborhood. As time went on a girls’ version and additional wheel sizes were added to the mix, as well as some other fun features like a tank and headlight.

However, even with all the extras, this original iteration of the Tornado wouldn’t last long. It was discontinued in 1961. But that was nowhere near the end of the story.

A vintage Schwinn bike

Part II: Return of the Schwinn

The late 1970’s saw the rise of a new sport: BMX. Modeled after motocross racing but done with bikes, BMX was all the rage and some of the earliest BMX bikes were home-modified Sting-Rays. This provided the perfect opportunity to bring back the Tornado in 1977 – but we didn’t just revive it, we revamped it with a new BMX-inspired style.

This second-generation Tornado featured a banana seat, Sting-Ray style frame in black and yellow, and the all-important number plate so kids could feel like a real racer. By the early 1980’s the design started to emulate more conventional BMX styles. But again, this Tornado wouldn’t last forever. It was discontinued in 1982 to make way for Schwinn’s more progressive BMX designs which further differentiated BMX bikes from the Sting-Ray style.

But if there’s one thing we know about the Tornado, it doesn’t stay down for long.

An early Schwinn Krate

Part III: The Tornado is Back

…And better than ever! The 2022 Tornado celebrates the influence of the Sting-Rays on early BMX while incorporating the modern updates of the Krate EVO line. It features the old-school Tornado colors and number plate, with the SmartStart geometry of Krate EVO which ensures a better fit for more confident riding.

Most importantly, the new Tornado embodies the same adventurous get-up-and-go-go-go BMX-inspired spirit as its 1970’s predecessor. This whirlwind of fun is ready to take the neighborhood by storm.

For more information, be sure to check out the Tornado product page. If you need help finding the right size bike for your child, we’ve got a whole sizing guide just for you. And remember, always ride with a helmet.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled browsing.

Schwinn History

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