Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Al Fritz, who created the Sting-Ray...

...for Schwinn, died at age 88. From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

The model, instantly recognizable by its banana seat and handlebars as high and curved as longhorns, found its initial market in young baby boomers at a time when motorcycles and souped-up vehicles of all kinds were the postwar rage.

Mr. Fritz was Schwinn’s vice president for engineering, research and development in 1962 when he flew to Southern California to investigate a new fad: children were buying used 20-inch bicycle frames and refitting them with long handlebars and banana seats. Recognizing the design’s mass-market potential, he built a prototype and came up with the name Sting-Ray because the curved handlebars reminded him of the upswept pectoral fins of a swimming stingray.

Many Schwinn employees were skeptical, but Mr. Fritz prevailed, and the first run of Sting-Rays was produced in 1963. Schwinn eventually sold more than two million Sting-Rays before the model was discontinued in the late 1970s. Vintage models now sell for thousands of dollars.

I had a Sting-Ray in "Radiant Coppertone" just like the one above.

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