Bowflex files for chapter 11

BowFlex, which includes Nautilus and Schwinn Fitness and app Jrny filed for chapter 11 and is headed for auction.

BowFlex has been around for a long time, and so have the other brands they accreted over time. It’s sad to see them go down.

The BowFlex was the first piece of workout gear I owned, and then a Nautilus stepper. Both helped me lose nearly 100 pounds, and get me to worship exercising. Odd that the Nautilus website says they are ‘moving’, when the link takes one to the announcement that Nautilus is DOA.

wow - they must have made a decent amount during pandemic and shortly thereafter. Those bowflex adjustables dumbells were like hens teeth. I wonder what caused them to file.

looks like ramp up in inventory, excess debt, rising rates. Standard.

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Only Schwinn Fitness, not the bike brand. The two divisions split many years ago.

ETA - I also posted this in the thread about the bike industry and the EC podcast series on their post-covid challenges.

Yeah, thanks. The Schwinn bicycle brand, such as it is, is likely owned by a Chinese OEM somewhere. The Spinner/Spinning Bikes were spun off too. As I remember, it was a Schwinn brand, eventually sold to Mad Dogg Athletics.

I’ll be looking for some dumbells, locally. Yeah, I was looking for them at one point, and the only way to get them at the local Dicks, was to order them, and wait… They have gotten some good reviews apparently, and save an incredible amount of space over all of the weights duplicated for each arm, and all the sizes.

Nope….they are one of the brands that PON owns. :crazy_face:

Pacific Cycle bought Schwinn ~2002, IIRC and took the brand into the mass merchant channel. Pacific was later bought by Dorel (along with Cannondale and other brands like GT, etc). Dorel split the bike biz into two groups…the mass channel based in Madison WI and the IBD group based in CT. Dorel sold to PON in 2022.

Schwinn never owned the Spinner brand….they licensed it from Johnny G, who was the guy who created the concept based off one of the Schwinn Fitness exercise bikes. Schwinn worked with him to bring the first Spinner bikes to the market, but he owned the brand. I think they lost the license in the mid-00’s. (Could be wrong as I had stopped following it) but they had such a sizable chunk of the business that they were able to forge on without using the brand “Spinning” / “Spinner”. But all that was after the bike business had split from the fitness business ( which was when Pacific bought the bike business).

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Wow, so convoluted. I knew that the Johnny G was based on a Schwinn bike, and yeah, they (Johnny G) took over like crazy/wildfire. At one point Schwinn stores did sell the Spinner bikes. The whole Schwinn story is pretty insane.

Thanks for the correction, and additional information. (I remember their Velodyne, the first ‘smart trainer’?)

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Yeah, Schwinn stores sold the Spinner bikes when they first came out…and some continued to sell Schwinn Fitness when the two divisions split.

And yeah, the Velodyne was indeed the first “smart” trainer. Measured power and had 4 preloaded courses you could ride (as a line graph :crazy_face:)….Morgul-Bismark, 84 Olympics, 86 Worlds and I think a flat 40k TT.

It was a great unit, but they licensed the design from a company in CA, which is still in business today, I believe. I rode one up until ~2014 / 15, I think? Finally gave it away to a buddy during the pandemic when his trainer died. There is a pic somewhere on here with me on it.

If you can find a copy of No Hands, it is a great read on the history of Schwinn, but it only goes up to the first bankruptcy. Would love to see second, updated edition.

As a kid, going to the Schwinn store was like going to santa’s workshop. Had a fastback with banana seat and those crazy upright handlebars and a varsity 10sp, but always wanted a vintage Paramount in chrome (and I keep an eye out for a nice to this day). Sad story.



At least it’s not the Total Gym

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When you mentioned this recently I looked into it. 80 bucks for used copies and local library couldn’t get it either. We need a pass it forward forum copy.


I’ll dig around and see if I can find my copy, but I haven’t seen it in years, so not holding out hope.


I ran across one hung on a wall in a bike store in a city I was visiting. Funny,I remember the frame, but not the shop. (stressful trip). I asked what they wanted for it, and was told ‘More than anyone could afford. It’s NOS, never used, so BIG TIME MONEY!’. Yeah, no kidding… It was beautiful, though slightly dusty.

I got the opportunity to test ride a newly assembled Paramount at the shop I worked at. I didn’t think it would be ‘anything special’, but I was totally wrong. I took off out the back of the shop, and out the road away from the main road, into a heavy residential area, and let it rip. Campy drivetrain worked so smooth, and it just kept saying ‘how fast’. Everything worked flawlessly. It was so amazing. I joked about wanting to take it, and they laughed. ‘See! How does it feel to ride a REAL BIKE?!’


EDIT: And a related really weird thing happened: I was assembling a low end Schwinn, and opened the box and pulled out a Paramount frame!! It’s been so long that I can’t remember the model that was supposed to be in the box, but what I found was definitely NOT that. The GM thought it was Christmas and ran around clapping and having a good time at what was found, but the owner’s son had a different view. It was immediately reboxed, and moved to the office. Several calls were placed to other Schwinn dealers they knew, and it was decided that they were being ‘tested’ in some kind of loyalty thing. After looking at the box, and the stickers, it was thought that there was absolutely zero chance that that frame ‘accidentally’ ended up in that box. Sure enough, a call was placed with corporate, and after being on the phone for a while, they got to someone supposedly in ‘security’, and a series of questions were asked, along the lines of how much did we do to the bike (it had none of the usual Paramount accessories). Did we try to assemble it, was the box saved, was the sticker on the box a usual looking sticker, etc…

They arranged for a pickup, and Schwinn ‘people’ arranged to show up at the shop for a ‘meeting’. From what I remember, the call was placed by the GM, and the owner was sitting there listening. The GM asked what will happen to the bike, and was told that ‘we’ could keep it, but would be invoiced for the actual bike (duh!). They, after the call, wondered how many other dealers got the ‘test’, and how many failed it. But what was it was a stupid and paranoid way to test your ‘valued dealer network’.

I told that story to a business class I was in, and discussion around it was bizarre. (I later dropped business as a major). I thought that if it was a test, it was an odd way to weed out dealers. Imagine getting $10,000 when you withdraw $50 from an ATM. How many people would return the money (assuming there wasn’t a camera around)? Imagine the bank watching you receive the money, and seeing what you do with it. shrug But the summer came to an end, and most of us quit, were fired, or laid off.

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YUCK! The wife bought one on the recommendation of her GP, and masseuse. It’s a dangerous thing, for sure. I’ve had it nearly snip a finger off several times, and the ‘foot board’ uses a reeking recycled rubber that makes eyes water. I have a Torque F-9, and it has issues, but nothing like that (sub)Total-Gym.

She used it a few times, and it sits. I folded it up to recover the incredible space it takes up. The F-9 is the closest to a ‘perfect home gym’ I’ve ever seen, except possibly the BowFlex XTL. shrug

What I remember is reading an article about the way a Schwinn grandson tried to kill the unions, or union drive, and ended up killing Schwinn, as I remember the article going. That he was so focused on screwing their workers, he lost the focus of who he was dealing with, and what it was doing to the company. It might have been in a Barrons, or something like it. Wired maybe?. It was an interesting story about the self-inflicted wound of a crazed billionaire trying to cut people off at he knees. They found themselves constantly competing against the companies they were trying to use to screw their own employees, and woke up too late to save themselves. He was dealt out at every turn by his anger and those companies maneuvers. Part of it made me laugh, but I was depressed by the callousness of the end (not knowing if that was THE end, or just one of the many cuts to the bone I’m sure they endured along the way to face planting.

Another article said that Walmart played a role at some point/level. They were (supposedly) forcing Schwinn to deal with specific Chinese and Korean OEMs in order to continue to be carried at their stores. (They did that to a whole bunch of suppliers as well. Walmart was rumored to have a department that helped suppliers they wanted to retain, helping them facilitate deals with third world manufacturers)

$680+ bucks on Amazon!! Wow…

If someone has a book, they could create a podcast and read the book, and distribute it. There is supposedly a way to avoid a lawsuit if the book were converted into a different form, ie voice. I’m sure it would make interesting study for business types at some level. Someone said, in a review, that it was ‘dull’. Maybe, but…

That would have been Ed Schwinn……classic “born on third and thought he hit a triple” asshole.

Don’t think that is accurate….Schwinn was 100% IBD until Packfic bought them, which was after their 2nd bankruptcy.

However, Schwinn was actually one of the companies leading the charge into China when the company was still family-owned and IBD focused. To the best of my knowledge, they never used Korean manufacturing, but it may have occurred after Pacific bought them.

Here is 85% of the Schwinn story for free:

The short version of the story is basically one that repeats over and over and over. Father creates business. Son grows business. Grandson destroys business. Or as Power13 said: “Born on third and though they hit a triple”.

In Schwinn’s case, they were unhappy with organized labor costs and were starting to face serious cost competition from Japan brands and others like Univega. This was all part of the bicycle business evolution and boom in the late 1970s and very early 1980s.

Japan came up as a solid manufacture of bicycles at this time. For example, Univega was initially made in Europe and then shifted to Japan. Other solid brands which are now gone and you don’t hear about like: Miyata, Bridgestone, Lotus, Nishiki and Panasonic.

Component manufacture also started shifting from Europe (Campy, Simplex, Huret, Stronglight, etc) to Japan. SunTour had very solid group sets from race oriented with Superbe to Touring and mountain bikes (which were just emerging and SunTour innovated in this space). Shimano DuraAce was decent but Shimano 600 (now roughly Ultega level) was a very good value.

Anywho… Schwinn the event(s) that hastened Schwinn’s demise was they actually taught manufacturing and distribution best practices to two China/Taiwan based companies. One was China Bicycles and the other was Giant Bicycles. Labor and currency costs in China/Taiwan were much more favorable than Japan so these two companies grew very quickly once they knew how to do things properly. Schwinn rapidly became dependent on them for manufacture and became a design house and lost their manufacturing capability. As almost always happens, at some point the actual maker cuts out the middleman. Hasta la vista - Schwinn.

Trek and Specialized are eventually going to have the exact same problem and both will disappear. I would bet on Giant ending up with the Trek logo and Merida ending up with all of Specialized. It’s the way this stuff goes.

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You must be a bit older than me. I’m 57 and the Schwinn shop was always the 3rd tier bike shop. Nobody wanted a Varsity over a Raleigh or any other road bike that didn’t weight 35 pounds. They had a single Paramont hanging in that shop which was sad, dusty, and way over priced. For a while that shop pivoted to becoming an ok BMX shop but they lost it again as mountain bikes hit the scene.

I’m actually “only” 55, but I was pretty young getting those early Schwinn’s. Once I was ~9, BMX bikes were becoming the thing and Schwinn didn’t seem to focus on that. And I didn’t get a proper road bike until I was in middle school, a peugeot that I actually had until I was in my 30’s (mostly gathering dust). But I still have fond memories of cruising around the neighborhoods on those schwinns.

The first multi-speed bike I had was the schwinn fastback. Not the one with the big shifter on the top tube that everyone seems to covet these days, but it had a thumb shifter. We used to play “bike tag” (horribly dangerous game by the way) and it was the perfect weapon for that because it was more maneuverable than a road bike, but the gearing gave it an edge over BMX bikes.

Even though I had found memories, those schwinns were crazy heavy and pretty darn ugly in my opinion. It’s hard to understand how collectable some of them have become. This is basically the bike I had -


In my neighorhood, the cool kids who didn’t like to sweat had Schwinns. Everybody else had BMX bikes. In my father’s era, everybody would have had a Schwinn bike.

My first good road bike was a Raleigh Super Course.