This aint your daddys Schwinn Varsity!
Well, first you have the vintage 10 speed, Schwinn Varsity Road Bike of the 60s and 70s... and now you have the Wal-mart Schwinn Varsity of 2012. What do they have in common? I think the answer to that question is simply "the name".
Technically, this is a Schwinn (i.e. Pacific Cycle) bike, of course, but you won't find this bike on the Schwinn Bike site or at local bike stores (LBS) and this bike is not at all like old vintage Schwinn Varsitys (which is good in some ways, but not all good).
The old vintage Schwinn Varsitys were mostly 10 speed, steel frame bikes that were build pretty well compared to other bikes of that era.
The new Schwinn Varsitys are inexpensive (low end or entry level) aluminum frame, mass marketed bikes that are usually sold at Wal-Mart and Amazon (indirectly) so keep this in mind when reviewing this bike.
The good news is that the Schwinn Varsity is an up to date, entry level road bike.
Note: As of 3/8/2014 the Schwinn Varsity is selling for $499.99 (new) at Amazon with Free Shipping options. See Schwinn Varsity Road Bike for the latest price and customer reviews or to purchase the Schwinn Varsity.
The Schwinn Varsity Road Bike at a glance:
The Schwinn Varsity has a Lightweight Aluminum Frame, Shimano 21-speed drive train with Shimano shifters, Wrap Down Handlebars and Schwinn warranty on parts.
Although I can not give this bike (or any other department store bike) an unqualified buy recommendation, I can recommend this bike a decent entry level road bike for light to moderate use.
Road bikes are usually priced higher than other bike types so it is difficult to find a quality road bike for under $500. If you are a little more serious about getting into cycling, and can afford the upgrade, I would suggest the GT Series (for race) or Fuji Newest (for sport, trails and touring) but if you really can't afford the upgrade then the Schwinn Varsity will at get you started with the sport.
Also, Wal-mart calls this bike '700c Men's Schwinn Varsity Road Bike" but I see no good reason for this bike not to be considered gender neutral. The primary difference in most "Women's" models is the top tube (or top crossbar). Most (but not all) women's model bikes have the complete step through design but you don't see gender specific models as often in this category (road bikes).
Most of the customer reviews on the New Schwinn Varsity, at the time of this review, were at Wal-Mart and I believe that they have exclusive rights to sell this bike. Schwinn Varsity owners have given this bike 4 of 5 stars at Wal-Mart from 148 reviews.
I believe that customer satisfaction level is sometimes related to the price paid in some situations. For example, the 4 of 5 stars at wal-Mart probably reflects the satisfaction with the bike for the price paid rather than the overall quality of the bike compared to other quality road bikes.
I think that this review of the Schwinn Varsity says it all...
"Great bike for the price! Easy to put together, gears shift smooth, very quiet ride. No problems with flat tires like some others have said in their reviews, & I take it out a few times a week. I absolutely LOVE this bike! I am a 5'7'' female, 130lbs...if that helps any other girls trying to pick out a road bike....it's a perfect fit for me. Thanks!!!'
See the links above for additional customer reviews or to get this bike online at the lowest price.