Schwinn Bonafide Review (Men's Mountain Bike) | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Schwinn Bonafide was an excellent beginner to intermediate mountain bike
  • The bike has an aluminum allow frame
  • The Bonafide is no longer offered on the Schwinn website

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As far as entry-level mountain bikes go, the Schwinn Bonafide was one of the best, which is a bold statement to make nowadays. What made the Bonafide so unique?

The Schwinn Bonafide is a beginning to intermediate hard-tail mountain bike. Built with an aluminum frame and a durable front suspension fork, the bike can handle the rocky terrains that MTB trails often produce. The bike has been among the most popular bicycles and is still sought after by riders.

Schwinn has had a reputation for building quality bikes since its inception in 1893. Over the years, Schwinn has kept up with changes. (There was a time when Schwinn was a household name). Even though Schwinn’s place has diminished over the last couple of decades, the Bonafide deserves its place in the Schwinn hall of fame. More than any other mountain bike they produced, the Bonafide introduced the joy of mountain biking to many new and beginning riders.



What Makes the Bonafide So Special?

There are many reasons to consider purchasing a Bonafide if you can find one. (The bike is not currently offered on the Schwinn website). Here are a few reasons the bike has been so popular in the past several years.

The Bonafide is a Quality Build.

There is a lot to like about this entry-level mountain bike, and most of our admiration comes from the quality of the build. Schwinn declared bankruptcy in 1992 and became a subsidiary of Pon Holdings, a Dutch company that is one of the largest producers of bikes in the world. While the bike was produced overseas (Schwinn hasn’t made a bike on American soil for years now), the quality of the bike remained excellent, and for the years it was made - it held up well.

The Frame

The entire frame was made from an aluminum alloy, designed to provide stability and durability during rides. The alloy assures a weight reduction over steel frames, which means that the bike is fast, and the tubes and joints don’t crack or buckle, making the bike easier to control. While most high-end MTBs have switched to carbon fiber frames to lower the weight ratios even further, Schwinn elected to stick with the aluminum alloy for safety reasons and to keep manufacturing costs down. (Knowing that most beginners would not have the skill to navigate rugged terrains, Schwinn prefers the reliability of the aluminum vs. the fragility of some carbon-fiber tubes. Also, carbon fiber always drives the price of the bike skyward, which Schwinn didn’t want to have to happen).

The Fork

A high-quality suspension fork on the front absorbs the rocky bumps often encountered on serious mountain trails. While the aluminum frame and fork won’t make it feel like you are gliding on air, (mountain biking is never that comfortable), it is better than most competitors. The quality of the components will keep your helmet on straight, keep you from tumbling off the edge of a narrow path, and, most of all, provide some confidence as you slay the groove down the trail.

The Gears

The Bonafide uses 24 gears to help transition between level ground and inclines. The trigger shifters and Shimano derailleurs make gear changes easy and smooth. The plethora of gears can be a bit intimidating at first, but once the beginner discovers the right gear for the various types of terrain, the ride becomes much more enjoyable.

The Tires and Rims

The 29-inch high wall wheel has 2.25-inch width, providing the grip needed to navigate most mountainous terrain. While the knobby tire doesn’t do well in sand, it can grip in mud, when the trail begins to wash from a sudden storm drifting over the top of the mountain. (A rider should always be aware of impending thunderstorms that can be a source of lightning strikes when riding in the rain).

The Brakes

Schwinn uses front and rear disc brakes, which lend themselves effective maneuvering and stoppage if needed. Since mountain trails often dart off in various directions, (even when you least expect them to), a good pair of brakes can make all the difference in the world.

The Seat Could Use Some Work

While the Bonafide is great, Schwinn missed an important part - the seat. Many websites have reviewed the bike and lamented the hardness of the saddle. Extra padding on the posterior never hurts. In addition, the pedals are plastic, and as such, they do not hold up well in a crash.

The Bonafide Was Very Athletic Looking

The only way to describe the look of this bike is that it was pretty badass, with its athletic build and black matte finish. The bike’s profile suggested it was an attacker and couldn’t wait to get down the mountain.

The Bonafide is Reasonably Priced

The Bonafide has the distinction of being one of Amazon’s choice bikes for their mountain bike category. It has earned a 4.2 rating, but remains one of the most popular bikes Amazon sells.

At just under $500, the bike is priced well under other competitors' offerings, where beginners can often shell out $1000 to $2500 for a quality MTB. (It should be noted that the Bonafide pictured on the Amazon website is the 2019 model).

The Bonafide Performs Well

The Bonafide speeds down the trail. The large suspension fork helps cushion the blows of the rocky terrain, yet the bike is strong enough to stay under control. The ride is smooth, and the tires grip well. Even if the rider goes on pavement, the bike can translate well to asphalt surfaces.

The brakes are more than adequate, particularly for emergency stops. Many mountain bikers will wear their brakes out the first time down a course, trying to get a feel for the nuances of the road.

The Bonafide Comes With a Five Year Warranty

Schwinn felt so good about the bike they were producing that they slapped a five-year warranty on it. While it is not the lifetime warranty offered by companies like Trek (Marlin 5), it is solid enough coverage to reassure any owner of being able to get their bike fixed should something happen. (Remember that most warranties do not cover any damage due to an accident. They will only cover defects in quality or failure of components during normal usage).

What Does the Future Hold for the Bonafide?

Unfortunately, Schwinn no longer offers the Bonafide on their website. In fact, most Schwinn nameplates are on bikes that have nothing to do with the company that started making bikes in 1893.

Unfortunately, current conditions don’t offer much hope for standard bicycling in general. Statistics show that the amount of recreational bike riding by youth ages 7-17 has decreased by 49% since 1997. While mountain biking remains relatively strong, it is clear that fewer people are participating in this great sport. Today, many people are more comfortable shooting zombies in VR than strapping on a helmet and exploring an off-road trail. It is a tragic observation about our society.

In addition, electric bike sales are increasing tremendously, as riders are turning more toward electric bikes than standard mountain bikes like the Bonafide. Sales for e-bikes are expected to grow from 49.7 billion in 2022 to a staggering $80 billion in less than five years. (Bicycle companies recognize this - which is why they offer a wide variety of electric mountain bikes). Even Schwinn recognizes this development, because every mountain e-bike they offer has sold out.

What Happened to Schwinn?

The problem with Schwinn is that the company is a hollow shell of the exciting American company it used to be. Even though the company became an industry icon during the forties and fifties, known for making quality, inexpensive family bicycles, it could not maintain its dominance. The company was outpaced during the 70s by independent bike companies that recognized the popularity of brands like Trek, Cannondale, and Huffy.

In early 1980, 1,400 Schwinn employees voted to strike and walked off the job. The company decided to farm out the manufacture of their bikes to companies in China, finding that they could save significant money in labor costs. Unfortunately, the company should have revised this option when the workers returned about thirteen weeks later. The company continued to be hurt by lagging sales until it declared bankruptcy in 1982. During the seventies and eighties, the company could not compete with Cannondale, Trek, or other smaller makers, putting out better-built bikes with more options. The company retained its nameplate but little else. Most current Schwinn bicycles are simply overseas-made bikes bearing the Schwinn nameplate.

Where Can I Find a Schwinn Bonafide?

The truth is that there is just no room on the mountain for a well-made but relatively old beginner mountain bike. Unfortunately, cycling enthusiasts who want a Schwinn Bonafide will have to purchase from their local bike shops or find used units on eBay and other online sites. Amazon carries the 2019 version on its website. A good source of used bikes is local pawn shops, where you can find deals if you look hard enough.


  • Good beginner mountain bike
  • Excellent suspension fork
  • 24 gears will aid in attacking inclines or descents
  • Trigger shifters make the transition between gears easier


  • Seat is uncomfortable
  • Plastic components will not hold up in a crash
  • Not made - so it might be tough to find a new one.


  • For more information and Today’s price, see Amazon