Many years ago, we had a fellow visiting at our old bicycle warehouse. Suddenly the fellow began pointing and gasping and trying to move things over to reach something in the corner. At the time, we had no idea what had got his attention and what was causing his excitement. "Hey!" he said trying to catch his breath, "Is THAT w-w-what I think it is? I've never heard of one 'o them! It can't be!!" Well, it WAS. What was the thing that had this guy so excited? At the time, we didn't think it was all that big a deal. Something we felt was merely a 1970s bicycle of no particular distinction- except that it was a prototype sales proposal in a different color. We had put it away years earlier and never thought much about it. The bicycle? A Schwinn Grape Krate. A few days later... we get the call. Is it for sale? Nope. Why not? We didn't obtain it to sell it. We liked it. A few weeks later... we get another call. This time, yet another guy wanted to see it...only he wanted to know it he could borrow it to make a copy. Oooo! Bad idea- VERRRY bad idea, we thought. Er...when we said a polite but firm NO, it just made things worse. Seems the word had been spread at a swap meet that a Grape Krate existed. Of course, back in those days, only a few people were just beginning to collect Sting-Rays and Krates... so the rush was not too overwhelming.
Nevertheless, there were all of these nutty, weird myths becoming attached to the poor bicycle sitting in our corner. Yarn spinners at the swap meets spun bigger and bigger yarns to wider and wider audiences. One story claimed our Grape Krate supposedly was locked in a vault... another said it was hidden in a cave in the desert...another said we kept it in the trunk of an old Cadillac convertible. It was this...it was that...it was the other. The factory made them- the factory didn't make them...they did but then they gave them out on birthdays...etc. etc, etc.....yadda, yadda. All absurd, of course, but THAT never stood in the way of reason! By the time a year or two had gone by... the stories were completely out of control....At the same time, the cadre of Krate collectors was growing by leaps and bounds. It wasn't long before the inevitable happened: repro clones began to show up. We have often heard of copies being made and we even understand that decals are available (er this one is definitely NOT decals). Now, nearly twenty years later ... the stories go on... most recently the story was that we "refused to let anyone see it". One well-meaning chap graciously offered to come over to -authenticate it- for us (we can do that ourselves, thank you). In any event, this Grape Krate HAS been seen over the years by numerous people- including collectors. It certainly is no secret, nor is it hidden in the desert or locked in a vault or any other such tale. It was once displayed in front of tens of thousands of people (many of them bicycle dealers) at INTERBIKE (the largest bicycle industry trade show in North America and certainly one of the largest in the world). In fact, during 1996, over 300,000 people saw the Grape Krate in living color in a premium Japanese magazine called Men's Club. It has also been featured in shots on television and in a slide show your curator has performed for collectors over the years. Still, we continue to get many requests from people to see this bicycle, so here it is, for your enjoyment. Will these pics stop the yarns and arguments? Probably not. But then, that's probably part of the fun for some. Do we know any more details about this Krate? Yup. We'll share them with you in an upcoming book on classic bicycles.
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