RIP Al Fritz, inventor of the Schwinn Sting-Ray.
For much of the 1960s and the early 1970s, no suburban streetscape would have been complete without them: A squadron of kids clutching sky-high handlebars on low-slung bikes in eye-popping, hot-rod colors.
Equipped with a curved banana seat, the Schwinn Sting-Ray was America's most popular bicycle. Its godfather, Schwinn executive Al Fritz, became known as an industry visionary for transforming a Southern California street fad into a national phenomenon.
"It looked incredibly sporty," said his son Mike Fritz, a bicycle industry consultant who lives in Newbury Park. "It gave kids too young to have a driver's license the opportunity to have the Corvette of bicycles."
Fritz, the Chicago-based Schwinn manager who heeded a salesman's tip that "something goofy is happening in California," died Tuesday in Barrington, Ill., of complications caused by a stroke, family members said. He was 88.
Al Fritz dies at 88; Schwinn exec developed the Sting-Ray bike (Thanks, Bob!)
This engineer, active in Kidderminster, England in the 1930s, appears to be the artistic ancestor of San Francisco’s Cyclecide bike rodeo. (British Pathé via Weird Universe)
For his project Velocipedia, artist/designer Gianluca Gimini asked friends and strangers to draw a men’s bicycle from memory. Then he digitally mocked up the designs.
My artist/serial entrepreneur friend Julian Bleecker’s new labor of love is OMATA. The company and gadget that he and co-founder Rhys Newman have been working on intensely for the last year or so today officially launched on Kickstarter.
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