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Schwinn Rocket 88 Stage 1 £1799

While this a bike for the few, rather than the many, it shares its frame with even the base model £849 Rocket 88 Stage 4 – something for everyone.

Components and build

Attention to detail is one of the Schwinn’s real strengths: there’s extra tidy gussetry under the neat ICBM headset / downtube join and substantial bolstering of the seat tube for heavy of riding; no component speccing short cuts; a decent front hub, hydraulic hose guides, proper disc mounts front and rear, etc. The only exception are the purely ornamental kinks in the seat stays on this disc equipped bike.

The 2001 Stage 1’s fully hydraulic Hayes disc brakes are light years ahead of the somewhat wanting 2000, and we use the term in the loosest sense, brakes. Even in the super tight, and often steep single track we tested the bike on we only ever used one finger, the brake never faded and the modulation was tangible.


The custom butted N’Lightened proprietary aluminium (made specifically for Schwinn) tubed frame has been substantially re-thought after last years’ small number of warranty claims. The lowest suspension pivot on last years’ frames was mounted around the bottom bracket shell. Trouble was a few riders found this wore the frame and the rear end became baggy. The bottom pivot has been moved to the top front of the bottom bracket shell. Additionally all pivot bearings have been changed to standard, albeit sealed, skateboard bearings. And while some will no doubt raise questions regarding the wisdom of using spinning, rather than thrust, bearings the suspension movement is clean and the tracking tidy. Our only grumble is that the pedal grounded a couple of times when the front wheel had been lofted over an uphill obstacle. No doubt this niggle could be sorted with judicious tweaking of the Fox Float RC Lock Out shock – something we were admittedly lax about.

The super-plush Judy SL’s upfront tracked like a fork twice their slender build and matched the dependable rear end often leaving us forgetting that we were riding full suspension.

So would we have one?

Yes. The price puts the Rocket Stage 1 firmly into the dream bike price category but there’s no shortcomings in the performance department. Also worth considering that there’s a lot to be said for having a bike that stands out from the crowd.

So what do you get on the almost top dog?

88mm vertical rear travel tamed by a Fox Float RC Lock out shock

80mm squish upfront courtesy of Judy SL forks

Hayes Hydraulic disc brakes

WTB Speed Disc hubs and rims

Ritchey clipless pedals

Shimano LX cranks, front mech and shifters, sealed bb and XT rear mech/ 9 speed cluster.

Oh go on then, take me higher, take me to


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