Most American boys had a Schwinn StingRay in the early 1970s; now the European-influenced urban commuters are popular, and the US$650 Schwinn World Street rolls with the best.
Frame: N'Litened - stout and strong aluminium
Schwinn uses its N'Litened aluminium tubing across its product line, and although it's not all that light at this price point, the s-bend seat stays and forged rear dropouts reflect a well-engineered frameset with braze-ons galore.
As a dedicated urban commuter, the World Street requires bolt-on hardware for the task, including fittings for mudguards, racks, bottle cages and disc brake tabs. And as an all-weather tool, the World Street's alu frame and fork will withstand all the wet and grit thrown in its path on the mean streets.
Ride: quiet grab-and-go bike that behaves
No one likes a tooth-jarring ride, and the World Street, despite its semi-compact alu frame and straight fork, tracks straight and performs like a cab driver on a mission, able to predict nasty pot holes and wayward debris. The handling was quite responsive, something rare for most sit-up-and-beg commuter bikes.
Our XL test rig weighed a hair over 33lbs., not bad for a bigger bike specced to the gills with an adjustable stem, disc brakes, mudguards, and rear rack. In some ways, a heavier commuter can handle more abuse, especially if it's getting banged around on the train or is locked outside a coffee shop all day. We appreciated the World Street's abilities in traffic and in tight situations.
Equipment: low- to mid-range spec that delivers
Schwinn benefits from its position under the Pacific Cycle umbrella, nustled next to Mongoose and GT. This affords the Schwinn product managers huge buying power, which allows a bike like the World Street to offer so much component value for the price. The SRAM XGen Trigger shifters work smoothly with the SRAM SX4 rear mech. The Bio-Tuned ergo saddle and grips were a highlight, and most commuters will appreciate the extra cush at their two main contact points. The grips were especially nice, contouring with the palm of our hands naturally. The adjustable alloy stem came loose a few times initially, which seems standard on these stems. A quick turn of the spanner took care of it.
Planet Bike full mudguards and rear racks are a welcome addition; Schwinn was smart to place its fender stay mounting braze-ons away from the disc mounts, making wheel removable easy and keeping all the hardware in the appropriate places. And while I'm not a fan of heavy triple cranksets on commuters, the SR Suntour 48/38/28T triple was geared just right for our needs in Mountain View, CA. Avid ball bearing discs rounded out the stopping, and although they were a bit grabby, the Tektro brake levers were easy to modulate with two fingers. We got a bit of rotor squeal in rain, but that's expected with discs at this price point.
While the SRAM XGen Trigger shifters didn't come as naturally (there's not much of a noticeable indexing on the upshifts), we all agreed it was one of the best features on a bike chock full of braggable features. The frame welds were quite clean, and the 27-degree sweep of the bars set us up for asphalt-munching power and long-distance comfort. All told, it's nice to have a confidence-inspiring Schwinn under our butts after all these years. An ace commuter.