Welcome to a new feature here at the Barn Door, Old Bikes I Wish I Still Had. See I have always had this deal where I like to buy stuff then sell it and buy other stuff. Almost always I eventually wish I had the thing I sold back. Usually when its been long enough that I forgot why I sold it.
We’ll start off with the Schwinn Rocket 88. I got this bike in a weird way. There was a Schwinn distribution center in Olney IL, just an hour North of me. Around 2002/2003 Scwhinn was sold and this warehouse was cleaned out, a local guy cleaned out tons of old frames, bikes, parts, just pallets and pallets of stuff. I managed to buy this frame in 2004 for like 50 bucks without a shock, it was probably being held back as a warranty replacement frame. It was the highest spec’d “Stage one” rocket and should have came with a high dollar and highly tuneable air shock, but I got a cheap coil over shock from ebay and actually spent some money on a Deore LX 9 speed drivetrain.
So while Schwinn is pretty much dead in the water now at one time they were on the forefront of awesome mountain bike designs. In the mid 90s they hired Yeti which is kind of an elite “highdollar” mountain bike brand to build them some super high quality race frames. They called them Homegrown since they were designed and built in the USA. These bikes have a legendary following.
The Rocket 88 is not a Homegrown bike, in 2000 they eliminated all the full suspension bikes from the line keeping only the hardtail race bikes, but I feel that the Rocket 88 was least inspired by the older Homegrown suspension designs.
The Rocket 88 was a unique suspension design and still is. The rear triangle is a single piece and is suspended by top and bottom linkages from the front triangle. The bottom linkage actually pivoted around the bottom bracket. The suspension design is a mini dual link. This design is known to be one of the best for pedaling efficiency and braking, but is also rare since it’s patented and requires hefty fees to use and complicated to build. That’s why you rarely see it used.
I rode the Rocket 88 for the last half of 2004 and really enjoyed it. It was the second full suspension bike I’d owned but the first one that actually worked. It suffered from some pedal bob, but was worlds better then the old Trek 9000 that I had tried. The Fox coil shock was really plush and the bike was very light for a full suspension bike with lots of cheap parts. I the main thing I remember from this bike was that it rode like cross country bike but gave some cushion to the rear on some rough stuff so you could stay in saddle more.
It wasn’t long before the bike began making horrible noises and the bottom suspension pivot was completely trashed. The original model pivot used a sort if fiberous bushing that just wore away. I was able to get a replacement bushing set from Schwinn that used a much more sturdy Teflon bushing, but I didn’t ride it much after that. I was sure that the teflon bushing would wear out fast and replacements would dry up leaving me screwed.
In 2005 I traded the bike for a Vision R-20 Recumbent.
The recumbent will not be featured in “Bikes I Wish I Still Had” I may write about it one day in a feature called, “Bikes I Wish I Never Got.” I wish I had kept the Rocket 88 and took a risk with the bushing.