Schwinn Sting-Ray guide and history

The Sting-Ray is the best-selling bike that Schwinn has ever offered.  The style of bike started in California with kids modifying their bikes to look like motorcycles with 20-inch wheels, long seats, and ape hanger handlebars.  It didn’t make the 1963 catalog, but it started with a sales ad in 1963 and is referred to as a 1963 ½ model.

1963 Schwinn Sting-Ray Ad

The first Sting-Rays had a 20” steel cantilever frame with 20” wheels, banana seat, coaster brake, and butterfly style handlebars.  A really unique looking bike for most people when they saw it the first time. Schwinn called it a bike with a sports car look.  The short wheelbase and small tires gave it a quick turning radius.  Despite the small wheels, it is still a full-size bicycle.  Original colors were flamboyant lime (green), red, and Radiant Coppertone.

Model J38 suggested retail price of $49.95

Original years made: 1963-1982

The colors and speed options change throughout the years:

Colors

1963: flamboyant lime, red, and radiant coppertone

1964: flamboyant lime, red, radiant coppertone, sky blue and violet.

1964 Schwinn Sting-Ray Catalog Image

1965: flamboyant lime, radiant coppertone, sky blue and violet.

1966-67: coppertone, sky blue, and violet.

1968: campus green, coppertone and sky blue.

1969-70: campus green, red, and sky blue.

1970 Schwinn Sting-Ray Catalog Image

1971: lemon, sky blue and campus green.

1972: kool lemon, campus green and flamboyant red.

1973: kool lemon and flamboyant red.

1974-75: kool lemon and opaque red.

1976: flamboyant red, yellow, sky blue and white.

1977: flamboyant red, sky blue and sunset orange.

1978: flamboyant red and sky blue.

1978 Schwinn Sting-Ray Catalog Image

1979: golden yellow, cardinal red, sky blue and emerald green.

1980: cardinal red/golden yellow, sky blue/frosty silver, and emerald green/golden yellow.

1981-82: cardinal red and sky blue.

1982 Schwinn Sting-Ray Catalog image

Speeds

Single speed coaster brake: 1963-1982

2-speed coaster brake: 1965-1970

3-speed: 1965-1967, 1976-1980

3-speed stik-shift: 1967-1972

5-speed derailler stik-shift: 1968-1978

Other Options

Spring Fork: 1965

Chrome fenders: 1975-78

Models

J38-6 coaster brake

J38-4 3-speed

J38-1 2-speed overdrive

J38-3 3-speed stik shift

J38-9 5-speed stik shift

1982 was the last year for the original Sting-Ray.  It went out like it came in with just a coaster brake option.  The price was $127.95.

Through the years there were many other models in addition to the standard:

Sting-Ray versions

Deluxe

Made from 1964-1974.  This was the standard Sting-Ray, but with chrome fenders and whitewall tires.  Chrome fenders became standard in 1975 when they stopped making the deluxe.

Fair Lady

Made from 1964-1981.  A deluxe Sting-Ray for ladies.  Featured a step-through style frame with fenders and a flower trimmed basket.

Super Deluxe

Made briefly from 1965-1966.  This was basically a deluxe model, but with a front spring fork.

Slik Chik

Made from 1965-1971.  Another ladies version, this one featured a whitewall Slik rear tire.  Also had a step-through style frame with chrome fenders and whitewall front tire.

Junior

Made from 1965-1978.  This model was for boys ages 5 to 7.  Featured short-rise junior handlebars, chrome fenders, and built-in kickstand.

Fastback

Made from 1966-1976.  These have a lighter style frame with a curved top bar. 

Ram’s Horn Fastback

Made from 1967-1968.  A fastback with ram’s horn style handlebars.  Also had a 5-speed stik-shift, front and rear handbrakes, and chrome fenders.

Midget

Made from 1967-1972.  This version was for younger riders(ages 4 to 6) and featured smaller 16” wheels, junior saddle, and a smaller frame. 

Deluxe Midget

Made only in 1968.  A midget with chrome fenders and whitewall tires.

Krates

One of the most popular versions, these are offered from 1968-1973.  Started with the Orange Krate, Lemon Peeler, and Apple Krate.  These have a 5-speed Stik-Shift, handbrakes, 16” front tire, 20” rear tire, and a front spring fork.

Stardust

Made from 1969-1972.  Girls lightweight Sting-Ray.  Features a chrome-plated basket carrier with quick release clamp allowing the basket to be quickly removed.  Also has chrome fenders and chrome trimmed chain guard.

Sting-Ray Pixie

Made from 1969-1975 and 1979-1980.  Convertible bike, the top tube can be removed turning it into a step through style frame.  16” wheels and training wheels. 

Sting-Ray Pixie II

Made from 1977-1978.  Mixtie frame design with 16” wheels.

Sting-Ray II

Made in 1979 and 1980.  A Sting-Ray for smaller riders with medium rise handlebars and 20” wheels.

Manta-Ray

Made in 1971 and 1972.  A Sting-Ray with 24” wheels.  Also features 5-speeds with a stik shifter, medium-rise handlebars and handbrakes.

Mini Sting-Ray

Made from 1979-1980.  For younger riders with coaster brake and 16” wheels.

Replica years

Schwinn has brought back the Sting-Ray multiple times in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006,  2007, 2008, 2011, and you can currently buy a new Orange Krate Sting-Ray!

Sting-Ray Facts

Huffy was the first to come out with a Sting-Ray style bicycle.  It was called the Penguin and didn’t get very popular.

Al Fritz the director of research and development at Schwinn pushed for the Sting-Ray to be made.

More info coming soon…

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