Schwinn Approved Le Tour Complete Guide

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. 

1974 Schwinn Le Tour Kool Lemon

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

10 speeds

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)

LT3: 23”

LT5: 25”

Colors: Opaque blue, Opaque red, and Kool Lemon.

1974 Schwinn Le Tour Opaque Red

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.

1975 Schwinn Le Tour Opaque Blue

Ladies sizes:

L-69: 19”

L-72: 22”

1975 Schwinn Le Tour Ladies Yellow

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.

1976 Schwinn Super Le Tour Catalog Image

Frame Finish: Sky blue, Flamboyant red or Silver Mist.

1976 Schwinn Super Le Tour Sky Blue

Same sizing as the Le Tour:

SL-1: 21”

SL-3: 23”

SL-5: 25”

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. 

1977 Schwinn Le Tour II Scarlet

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.

GT-420 Le Tour Derailleur

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)

1977 Schwinn Super Le Tour Chrome

Suggested retail price is $229.95

1978 Schwinn-Approved Le Tour III

A 27” frame is added, and the colors are changed.

1978 Schwinn Le Tour III Pearl Orange

L11: 21”

L13: 23”

L15: 25”

L17: 27”

Colors are pearl orange and pearl blue.

Ladies models:

L79: 19”

L82: 22”

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:

9SL: 19”

1SL: 21”

3SL: 23”

5SL: 25”

C is added to the end of the model to designate full chrome. 

Colors are Full chrome($50 extra), Scarlet, Black, and Silver Mist.

1978 Schwinn Super Le Tour 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. 

1979 Le Tour IV Frosty Blue
Le Tour IV Decal Frosty Blue

Here are some of the specs:

10 speed 

30lbs with kickstand

18 gauge 1020 carbon steel frame

Rear derailleur: Shimano 400 

Saddle: Selle Royale suede finish

Sugine Super Maxi alloy cotterless crank

Men’s:

D11-9 21”

D13-9 23”

D15-9 25”

Ladies:

D59-9 19”

D62-9 22”

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. 

1979 Schwinn Super Le Tour Strawberry Red Catalog Image

Here are some specs:

12 Speed

28lbs

Altus LT derailleurs

Alloy wheels

D21-9 21”

D23-9 23”

D25-9 25”

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. 

1980 Schwinn Le Tour Frosty Silver

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.

1980 Schwinn Super Le Tour Catalog Image

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

1981 Schwinn Le Tour Sky Blue

29lbs

Men’s:

D11-9 21”

D13-9 23”

D15-9 25”

Ladies:

D59-9 19”

D62-9 22”

Suggested retail price $254.95

Colors: Frosty Silver and Sky Blue

Serial Numbers

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:

Serial Number Rear Dropout

This example was made in November of 1974.

Most collectable

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.

Links

Schwinn Le Tour 1974 to 1988 catalog info

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.

8 thoughts on “Schwinn Approved Le Tour Complete Guide

  1. I always thought it was interesting that Schwinn bought enough to put “Schwinn-approved” on components rather than the manufacturer’s name (Huret derailleurs on the Varsity, Weinmann brakes on most bikes). I’ll still take my 1974 Motobecane Grand Jubilee over the Le Tour. $208 and Huret Jubilee derailleurs, aluminum rims, Reynolds frame. I had a friend with a chrome Paramount of that vintage – Campy Record-equipped. The spirit of Paramount lives on at Waterford Precision Cycles, founded by Richard Schwinn.

    Liked by 1 person

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