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.
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:
1963: flamboyant lime, red, and radiant coppertone
1964: flamboyant lime, red, radiant coppertone, sky blue and violet.
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.
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.
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.
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
Spring Fork: 1965
Chrome fenders: 1975-78
J38-6 coaster brake
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:
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.
Made from 1964-1981. A deluxe Sting-Ray for ladies. Featured a step-through style frame with fenders and a flower trimmed basket.
Made briefly from 1965-1966. This was basically a deluxe model, but with a front spring fork.
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.
Made from 1965-1978. This model was for boys ages 5 to 7. Featured short-rise junior handlebars, chrome fenders, and built-in kickstand.
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.
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.
Made only in 1968. A midget with chrome fenders and whitewall tires.
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.
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.
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.
Made in 1979 and 1980. A Sting-Ray for smaller riders with medium rise handlebars and 20” wheels.
Made in 1971 and 1972. A Sting-Ray with 24” wheels. Also features 5-speeds with a stik shifter, medium-rise handlebars and handbrakes.
Made from 1979-1980. For younger riders with coaster brake and 16” wheels.
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!
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…