In the mid 90’s or slightly earlier, Schwinn had a program called Project Underground. They were full on race ready full suspension and hardtail bikes, aluminum. It always reminded me of the Skunkworks program in aviation. This program was the predecessor to what would eventually be the Homegrown series of bikes. I think this happened after the first selling of Schwinn to an investment company. What I was told was that Schwinn didn’t really think the mountain bike thing would catch on so well and therefore didn’t put as much effort into the bikes. I don’t know if that was true, but by the look of things, I thought it may be.
I know more about the full suspension, because our rep let me borrow his for a bit. The suspension, I think, required 4 times the force to activate it standing than sitting. The theory was that you didn’t want it bouncing around uphill when you really needed traction.
Now, the hardtails (Homegrown by now) were in demand around the east coast and midwest due to tight and technical singletrack. These bikes had whiplash quick tracking. They also made awesome stock trials bikes. Most of my friends rode trials and raved about them. To the point when Schwinn stopped Homegrown production, and of course none of us had one (wishing we did), they went up on ebay and we probably tried to outbid each other to get a frame.
The last Project Underground that was made was in the latter 90’s. It was the composite hardtail frame in bassboat blue and 19″ only. Offered only to shop owners/employees. A frame I really wanted, but due to the limited size, I need a 17″ frame, I didn’t get one.
My how the time has passed!
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