Have you ever seen something you just had to have? You didn’t really need it, but for some reason, it seemed so desirable. That’s the way it was for me back in 1995 with this bike.
I was working part-time in a Schwinn shop in North County, SD, CA The local Schwinn rep/salesman came by to do business. He was talking about doing the Roserita ride on this cool new Schwinn. Boasting about all the passing and smiling fun he had riding it, was interesting to hear. So he pulled it out of his van to show it off. Right off, the great two-tone dark blue and shiny chrome caught my eye. I was hooked. With Christmas coming up, I made a deal to have mine ordered in time for the big day.
This bike was part of Schwinn’s attempt to resurrect the days of old. Loosely based on bikes they offered in the 50’s, it has retro written all over it. That was the final year of this particular model. Due to lack of sales, they discontinued the Cruiser Deluxe that year. It has features that were only offered on this bike. The new style cobblestone tires, the flipped-up fender lips, the chrome moly front end, and the painted-to-match rear rack, are one year only items. It is also the only year that they offered this great color combo.
When I got my bike, it was new in the box. Company policy stated that it must be assembled by the shop personnel. Well, that was me, so it wasn’t a problem. On Christmas day, I put it by the tree with a ribbon. But I didn’t assemble it yet. I just hand tightened it enough to display it for the day. I wanted to give it a special one-over before the final assembly.
I know it might sound kind of weird, but I wanted to do more than just bolt it together. Four months went by before I attacked the build. I fully waxed each piece inside and out (including the underside of the fenders and the inside of the rims where the tires fit on). I was so very careful to not leave one scratch or damage one nut or bolt. I meticulously checked each bearing adjustment. I made sure this bike was as perfect as possible.
I purchased a few special accessories. The leather hub shiners have the Schwinn logo pressed into them. A couple of blue dice caps for the valve stems are a nice touch. Red, white, and blue handlebar streamers seemed to go with the style of the times. Installing a large, chrome Bermuda bell was one way to alert other riders that I was near. A blinking rear light for the seat post was my requirement, even if it looked out-of-place.
Trying to keep with the old-school look, I removed the front and rear reflectors, and the ones in the spokes. The reflectors on the pedals couldn’t be removed. Schwinn offered new pedal pads without them, but I got around spending more money, by reversing them on their holders and putting black tape over them to make them invisible. Obviously, not in the interest of safety, but for the classic look I desired.
All my efforts paid off as I took the first ride. So smooth and nice, it is like riding a dream of old. The looks and compliments come forth, every time I take it to the streets. But, it is more about the feeling I get, than the onlooker’s. It brings out the kid in me in a way few other things can.
There are a few pieces I wanted for the bike that I never got around to buying. One is a working horn that fits inside the tank, and operates from the chrome button on the side. The other, is a great looking tail light that is made to fit perfectly on the rear rack. It closely matches the look of the original bike. Also, they had a front light for the fender. It was too gaudy to add. These items are still available with a search of the net.
One other thing that I considered is a Nexus 7-speed rear hub. There were two cruisers in the shop with the hubs, and I just loved the way they rode. Shifting through the gears was very Ferrari like. One gear is just not enough for anything but level riding. I decided to keep the bike in all stock form for appearance sake.
There are a few drawbacks to my bike. One is the 51 lbs of metal and rubber. The other is that it won’t fit in my station wagon. It is a large and heavy bike. That means I have never ridden it at the beach. Which is a shame, because that is what a bike like this is made for. One day maybe.
When I bought this bike, my plan was to have some fun with it, and then sell it for a profit. I was able to buy it at half price, because I worked at the bike shop. I have yet to sell it, but 15 years of ownership have been great. It’s in near perfect condition after all that time. In my mind, it is on the market for sale every day of the week. I am constantly thinking a ride down the boardwalk in Pacific Beach with a for sale sign, would garner many potential buyers. It is just that beautiful.
Any takers? Let me know, Turbo Bob.
“The bicycle is the common man among vehicles.”—James E. Starrs, The Noiseless Tenor.
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