Strangers Things is one of the most popular shows of the past decade. Fusing people's nostalgic love of the 1980s with an enthralling fantasy story, it has truly become a cultural phenomenon. One thing that makes the show so cool is the cast of retro 80s bikes the gang ride. We have taken a look and have tried to work out which classic models have inspired the bikes of Hawkins.
Stranger Things Season 2
Screenshot of Mike's bike from Stranger Things Season 1
Mike’s bike is a take on the classic Schwinn Sting-ray. Launched in 1963, the Schwinn Sting-ray featured a short frame, high rise handlebars and a bucket-shaped saddle. It was marketed as ‘The bicycle with the sports car look’ and it is easy to understand why. It was vastly different from any other bike that was on the market at the time.
Schwinn Sting-rays from a 1965 catalogue
The Schwinn Sting-ray evolved over the years and laid the foundations to some of the very first BMX bikes before ceasing production in 1982. The first season of Stranger Things takes place towards the end of 1983 so by this point the Sting-ray was on the way out. The decision to put Mike on a bike that wasn’t current could have been a deliberate choice for the character, or the Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things creators) may have just liked the look of the bike and wanted to include it. Either way, it is hard to argue that it isn’t a cool looking bike.
The bike resonated with the audience so much that in 2018 Netflix and Schwinn worked together to release a limited edition version of Mike's bike. Although this isn’t marketed as a Sting-ray, opting to call it a retro cruiser instead, this bike definitely has echoes of the Sting-ray in the design. They released just 500 units which sold out in just 5 days.
Screenshot of Lucas's bike from Stranger Things Season 1
Lucas’s bike is a little trickier to pin down as it is believed that instead of recreating a design of a specific bike, the creators took a modern-day BMX and customised it with features to give it a more 80s feel. It has been given a Banana seat, similar to Mike’s Sting-ray inspired design, but nearly everything else about the bike is more 2010s than 1980s. But just like Mike’s bike, Schwinn released a limited edition version full of little nods to the character and show, including Lucas’s bandana tied to the back. The 500 limited edition bikes sold out within a matter of hours.
Season 3 saw Lucas change his bike and ride something similar to that of a Schwinn Predator BMX. The Predator launched in 1982 and is a huge step away from Schwinn’s Stingray styled design. This style of bike would have been incredibly popular in 1985 which is when Season 3 is set. As previous Schwinn/Stranger Things collaborations have been successful, they have indeed announced they are releasing a limited edition version of this bike. It features a 24” design with Lucas’s flashlight and carrying pouch thrown in.
A 1983 Schwinn Predator BMX - courtesy of bikehistory.org
Set photo of Max and her Mongoose BMX bike from Strange Things season 3
Max’s bike is a Mongoose BMX. Now like the other characters this is a bike based on elements of vintage Mongoose models. The wheels are similar to the Mongoose Motomag from the late 70s with the frame featuring elements of both the Supergoose 2 (1982) and Supergoose 3 (1983). Mongoose was founded in 1974 and sold to American Group in 1985. The majority of iconic Mongoose BMX bikes come from the late 70s and early 80s and that’s why Max’s bike fits perfectly within the show. Mongoose released a limited edition bike based on Max’s Bike in 2019 featuring the retro 5-spoke mag wheels and Mongoose classic padset.
Dustin’s bike is similar to Lucas’s in the fact that it seems to be a modern-day BMX with minor touches to make it feel more retro. This bike has caused some outrage online due to the fact that it doesn’t blend in as well as the others. Its frame design is wrong for the era, with certain elements not coming into prominence until the mid-90s. In regards to the two colours of his bike, prop Master Lynda Reiss stated in an article with Wired, “With Dustin's bike, we decided he was sort of a klutz. So we painted his bike but never finished it, and that's why his bike is two colors"
The Stranger Things cast on their bikes
Lynda Reiss also said that the bikes were the hardest props to get because everyone needed a primary bike, a backup, a stunt bike, and a backup stunt bike. It would have been very difficult and quite costly to get that many original retro bicycles in the same colour and condition. This could be the reason why cheaper, modern bikes were bought and modified based on retro designs. Either way, these bikes have captured people's imagination and brought these older models back into the mainstream. As the collaborative Schwinn bikes have shown, there is a large demand for the classic design.