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Is there a way to find out how many of a particular bike model were produced and/or sold?
For example, "how many Schwinn LeTour bikes were produced in 1979?" The Schwinn LeTour question is just an example--I'm hoping to find a website or search strategy for finding this data for any arbitrary bike model.

I often enjoy looking at used bikes (and sometimes buying them), and I speculate that knowing production numbers would a few advantages:

  • High-production bike models might be more likely to have OEM parts available for a long time.
  • High-production models may have more rants/raves/discussions on web forums, which can give indications of reliability and build quality.
  • If enough data is available, it'd be cool to sort a big database of bike models by "highest to lowest production."

Note: by "high production model," I just mean "many examples (tens of thousands?) of this bike model were manufactured."

Production numbers for cars are generally easy to find (Wikipedia has a lot of them), but this question has been much harder to answer for bicycles.

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Are "OEM Parts" a concern when buying a bike? I've replaced many bike components over the years, and none have been "OEM". –  Johnny Apr 14 '13 at 5:55
    
Yeah, perhaps access to OEM parts doesn't matter much. I'm just overwhelmed by the sheer number of bicycle models, and I'm trying to figure out "ok, are there 100 of these, or 100,000 of these?" And, "is this a go-to bike for tons of people, or is it more obscure?" –  solvingPuzzles Apr 14 '13 at 6:27
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2 Answers

I can only answer on the second bullet point of your question:

...may have more rants/raves/discussions on web forums...

Instead of infering this by the production count, you can directly find out how much discussion is happening for each particular bike model.

A simple way is to use Google. For example:

That definitely means that you'll find more written material on the internet about voyageur than letour.

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Thus can be made more fun with Googlefight. I think they use phrase search so the results are a little different. –  Kibbee Apr 14 '13 at 11:20
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Google Trends can let you compare how often different things have been searched for over time. For instance: schwinn letour vs. schwinn voyageur –  freiheit Apr 14 '13 at 19:34
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This is know as the German Tank Problem: In World War II, the Western Allies wanted to estimate the number of tanks the Germans had, and approached this in two major ways: conventional intelligence gathering, and statistical estimation.

To estimate the number of tanks produced up to a certain point, the Allies used the serial numbers on tanks. The principal numbers used were gearbox numbers, as these fell in two unbroken sequences. Chassis and engine numbers were also used, though their use were more complicated – various other components were used in the cross-checking of the analysis.

According to conventional Allied intelligence estimates the Germans were producing around 1,400 tanks a month between June 1940 and September 1942. Applying the formula below to the serial numbers of captured German tanks, (both serviceable and destroyed) the number was calculated to be 246 a month. After the war, captured German production figures from the ministry of Albert Speer showed the actual number to be 245.

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That's interesting, and but doesn't really seem to answer the question at all... –  freiheit Apr 14 '13 at 18:49
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