1974 Le Tour
Schwinn started offering the Le Tour in 1974, and it was a little different for the iconic Chicago based bicycle company. The Le Tour was made in Japan by Panasonic, with Schwinn approved branding. So, it’s branded by USA Schwinn, made by Japan Panasonic, and it’s got a French name. How cool is that? Everybody should want to own one of these.
Based on pricing it was 3rd in the Schwinn lineup behind the Paramount and Sports Tourer with a suggested retail price of $159.95. It was also quite a bit lighter than any of the cheaper Schwinn models.
What I love about these bikes is all the great branding. The 1974 has Le Tour branded derailleurs and seat post, plus lots of other Schwinn and Shimano branding. Its my only bike with model specific derailleurs. Later years have Le Tour branded saddles and cranks.
Here are some of the specs according to the 1974 catalog:
Lightweight, fully lugged brazes frame with butted top and bottom tubes.
Quick release aluminum alloy hubs.
Aluminum alloy crank set
Center pull alloy caliper brakes
27” x 1 ¼” gumwall tires
Only 30-32 lbs depending on the size and kickstand. (some models at the time were around 40lbs)
The derailleurs are made by Shimano and are similar in quality to their 500. These are Le Tour GT-400 for the rear and Le Tour GT-450 for the front.
Bars and stem are alloy. Rims are steel.
Came in 3 sizes:
LT1: 21” (31” standover height)
Colors: Opaque blue, Opaque red, and Kool Lemon.
1975 Le Tour
In 1975 a Le Tour for ladies was added to the catalog. Rest of the bike stays mostly unchanged. The rear derailleur changes to the GT-420 and the catalog changes from kool lemon to yellow. I prefer calling it kool lemon. Catalog notes that the saddle is Taihei racing style.
1976 Le Tour
Remains mostly unchanged from the 75 model, except the saddle changes to Matex racing style.
1976 Super Le Tour
This is the first year for the Super Le Tour. An ultra-lightweight bike at a moderate price. These had double butted chrome moly top and bottom tubes, alloy rims, downtube shifters, and Shimano 600 rear and 60 front derailleurs. They took what was good about the standard Le Tour and made it a little better. The 12.2 on the frame references the weight in kilograms. 26.5lbs.
Frame Finish: Sky blue, Flamboyant red or Silver Mist.
Same sizing as the Le Tour:
Suggested retail price: $219.95
1977 Le Tour II
Most of the changes for this year appear to be visual with new decals and colors. Catalog lists the weight as 29lbs.
Colors are Scarlet, Violet, and Pearscent Orange.
Suggested retail price is $164.95.
Le Tour II for ladies comes in the same colors and is listed as 31lbs. Sizes are now L-89 for the 19” and L-92 for the 22” frame.
1977 Super Le Tour 12.2
The 77 SLT is mostly unchanged from the previous year, but now offers a SL-9 19” frame. Colors are Sky blue, Silver Mist, and Full chrome ($50 extra)
Suggested retail price is $229.95
1978 Schwinn-Approved Le Tour III
A 27” frame is added, and the colors are changed.
Colors are pearl orange and pearl blue.
Suggested retail price is $189.95
1978 Super Le Tour
Price is the biggest change from the 77 with a suggested retail price of $264.95. Models also change slightly:
C is added to the end of the model to designate full chrome.
Colors are Full chrome($50 extra), Scarlet, Black, and Silver Mist.
1979 Le Tour IV
Big changes this year as they started making them in Chicago. They wanted to try and make an affordable road bike in the USA.
Here are some of the specs:
30lbs with kickstand
18 gauge 1020 carbon steel frame
Rear derailleur: Shimano 400
Saddle: Selle Royale suede finish
Sugine Super Maxi alloy cotterless crank
Suggested retail price $179.95
Colors: Frosty Blue and Strawberry Red
1979 Super Le Tour II
The SLT is also made in the USA and gets a little bit heavier as it no longer has a partial chrome moly frame, it’s all 1020 steel. The derailleurs are also a bit of a downgrade from previous years. It does change to a 12 speed.
Here are some specs:
Altus LT derailleurs
Suggested retail price $249.95
Colors: Black Saddle, Frosty Blue, and Strawberry Red
1980 Le Tour
This year drops the numbers and just calls it the Le Tour. Another year made in Chicago. Specs and sizes appear to be the same as 1979.
Suggested retail price $234.95
Colors: Cardinal Red, Frosty Silver, and Sky Blue.
1980 Super Le Tour
Made in Chicago with unchanged specs and sizes from 1979.
Suggested retail price $296.95
Colors: Black Sable and Summer Cloud.
1981 Le Tour
Production moves back to Japan. They also got a derailleur change:
Shimano Altus ST derailleurs
Shimano Stem Mounted LE gearshift levers
1020 carbon steel frame
Sugino Super Maxy crankset
KKT Rattrap pedals
Ariake Touring Saddle
Suggested retail price $254.95
Colors: Frosty Silver and Sky Blue
Decoding the serial numbers of the Japanese made Le Tours is covered in the imported section below. The US made models use the limited production section. It is found on the rear dropout:
This example was made in November of 1974.
I think the Le Tours are really great as they are beautiful vintage bikes that can still be gotten for a good price. Here are some of my favorites, and those I think should be most collectible:
1974 – as this is the first year, all colors.
Yellow – Kool Lemon and Yellow were only offered for the first 3 years. And it’s a great yellow.
1976 Super Le Tour – this is the first year for the super. Really great bikes for the time, and still very fun to ride.
12.2 – all the 12.2 supers are really great bikes. Chromoly top and bottom tube, downtube shifters, alloy rims…
Chrome Supers – the all chrome supers were an additional cost. I haven’t seen many of them.
1985 Super Le Tour – 25lbs with all chromoly frame and Suntour Cyclone derailleurs. Last year for the super.
Note: Many of the bikes pictured above are no longer stock, but are a good examples of what you will see out there in the market.
More info coming soon….all years will be covered.