Urban Velo

Schwinn Madison – On Test


madisoncrown.jpgThe Schwinn Madison has arrived for test and with its emergence from the box come some first impressions. With a $569 price tag, this bike is placed squarely in a crowded and competitive marketplace of complete fixed gears.

- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’d say Schwinn has the look of the bike dialed – the color, logos, chrome stays and fork crown all share a cohesive look with a nod to yesteryear.
- Fender mounts and a pair of bottle bosses are appreciated, as is the lack of brake braze-ons and the double-butted steel tubeset.
- Industry standard Formula hubs look as good as ever, as do their real track nuts so lacking on certain complete bicycle competitors.
- 170mm crank arms make sense given the L size, and the chainring and cog prove round giving consistent chain tension out of the box.
- While the crown is a really nice touch at this price level, the steerer is cut far too short leaving not even a single spacer under the stem and no room for height adjustment. Schwinn assures me this is a pre-production oversight, and that bikes on dealer floors have a longer steerer and a few spacers.
- I thought the stem looked especially cheap, and I was right. I stripped out one of the stem clamp bolts upon installation.
- 23.7 lbs with two brakes, fixed cog/freewheel and included pedals.


  1. TakewrningFebruary 4, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I love the paint job. Think the “Madison” sticker could easily be removed from the top tube?

  2. icon o'classtFebruary 4, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Hm, the one shown here has a few spacers under the stem (and is a different color), so maybe something has changed already, ha.

  3. bradFebruary 4, 2008 at 10:12 amAuthor

    On the decals – I doubt they can be easily removed as they are under the clearcoat.

    The blue one is the 2008 model, the one linked above in white is from 2007.

  4. BrendanFebruary 4, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I’m a sucker for a good looking Schwinn. My LBS is supposed to get a few of those in stock soon. If I didn’t already love my Il Pompino I’d be all over one of those.

  5. justinFebruary 27, 2008 at 2:45 am

    i ride the 2007 and i love it. that blue is really nice though…

  6. Schwinn Madison Impressions, Part 2 - Urban VeloMarch 24, 2008 at 12:02 am

    [...] on the Schwinn Madison that came in a few weeks ago. Firstly the mechanical – as mentioned in the initial impressions, the OEM stem stripped out upon installation and required a replacement from my personal stash, [...]

  7. MohagonyMarch 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I ordered one back in January and it still isn’t here. Does anybody have one or know when they are sending them out?

  8. MichaelMarch 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    I just purchased a 2008 Madison today (March 28) at my Portland, Oregon Performance bike shop. On sale at $450. I belong to their Team Performance club which gives back 10% store credit, only this weekend they’re running a special for 20% back. So that gives me an additional $90 off the sale price towards a better wheelset later on. That looked like a hot deal to me. I couldn’t find one of these anywhere locally last year, and was all set to put in a special order at full MSRP. I just about fell over when the guy told me they had several come in and pointed out one on the floor in my size with that sale price. Needless to say, I bought it on the spot. I really like the blue over last years white, I’m happy.

  9. MichaelMarch 30, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Well, I picked up my new Madison today and at first glance am quite satisfied with it. The blue along with the chrome looks really nice, Schwinn definitely got it right, I’ve already gotten compliments on it. The one thing I didn’t like were the 2 black tie wraps around the top tube holding the rear brake cable guides. This looks totally cheap and tacky. At least they could have used some color coordinated tie wraps. I would have gladly paid a few bucks more for some bosses underneath the top tube to screw in some cable guides. In fact, I may just have it drilled and tapped for some small mounting screws. Of course, Schwinn fiqured a lot of buyers would be riding this fixed and would pull the rear brake and its cable anyway. Oh well, at least it came with some bottle bosses this year.
    Now, for starters, the bike is fine as is (except for the pedals). For a better ride, I will soon be switching out a few parts. The pedals are total crap, cheap and heavy. Go with clipless or a nicer lighter set of MKS tracks. The stem also looks low quality and heavy, its going. Unlike the reviewers early sample, my Madison did have a longer steerer with spacers on it. Seatpost is ok but a Thomson would work nice here.
    The brakeset and levers are adequate, but I’ll be looking on eBay for a quality replacement set of the older 7403 Dura Ace. These look really nice and would instantly add some class to the bike. The Jalco rims I’ll have to hold my opinion on until I get some miles on them. Actually, buildwise, these look virtually identical to the older Mavic Open 4CDs I have on my Waterford built 1988 Schwinn Paramount. Those have held up exceptionally well over the years, rarely needing to be trued. The Jalcos appear to be anodized so eventually I would expect wear scoring on the braking area. Fine for now, but a better wheelset in a few years. Formula flip flop hub, no problem there. Up on the repair stand, the freewheel seemed slightly rough in rotation to me. However. it pedaled just fine, smoothly. I’ll eventually replace it with a quality White Industries unit. The Truvativ crank is fine for this price range.
    Without pedals, my bike weighed in at just around 22 pounds. Remember, we’re talking a steel frame and fork here. With a lighter stem, seatpost and rear brakes removed, you could easily get it under 21.
    Bottom line, except for those tie wraps (not an issue if you are riding fixed and removing the rear brakes anyway), and low quality pedals and stem – inexpensively replaced – this bike is well worth the MSRP. Overall, the components are commensurate with the price range and the blue color and chrome scheme on the classic steel frame look super. Yes, I did manage to get in a first 10 mile ride, it handled beautifully, no complaints. Again, for the money spent, I’m very satisfied with my 2008 Schwinn Madison.

  10. MichaelMarch 30, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Also, while pulling stickers, one said “Made in Taiwan”, so hopefully this frameset has a bit more quality than the mainland Chinese stuff.

  11. ToddJune 9, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I have an ’07 that I got from Performance on sale. I trained on it a lot last fall (managed to get going a respectable 38mph going downhill fixed by the end of the year), and had a blast it. I bought it after taking a DX-4000 (Tange Champion #2 tubing) and making it a fixed gear. It was a little heavier, but it handled just as well and was very solid.

    Some bits were swapped out. I opted for some Nashbar track bars and a Nashbar stem (the stem was especially nice for the money)- and I put in a Thomson setback seatpost with a nice red Fizik Gobi saddle that matched the red on the frame nicely. One thing to note: the stock cog and lockring are junk, so if you want to avoid trashing the hub (which is pretty nice) – get yourself a Surly or Dura Ace cog and a Surly, Dura Ace or Dimension Lock Ring. This has been about the most fun bike I’ve ever had, and a complete steal for under $400!

  12. jivin ivanJuly 25, 2008 at 11:51 am

    hello all.

    i picked up my ’08 madison a couple of weeks ago. it looks like it is one of “those” that are affected by a short steerer syndrome. too low and un-com-for-table. i have contacted my local dealer about the issue and just waiting to hear back from them. even the official picture on schwinn’s website shows the bike with a longer steerer. so, here is my question: will the schwinn be sending a new fork with a longer steerer tube to replace my current fork? i sure hope so…

    second question: i have seen a few of the newer madisons with a stripped fork. looked neet to me and would like to do the same to mine. any idea what to use to strip the paint off the fork w/o damaging the chrome underneath?

    thank you ahead of time,

    jivin ivan

  13. GpattyOctober 1, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I think the idea behind the zipties for the brake cable is people are gonna be running this thing fixed, with no rear brake. At least thats how i have it. Great bike, dont listen to the haters!!

  14. joeyJanuary 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    are these a good idea to paint yourself???

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