Monday, August 4, 2008

Tale of a bike: the Schwinn CrissCross



Back in the spring of 1991, Consumer Reports had an article on bikes and their "best buy" was a Schwinn CrissCross hybrid bike, which was featured on the cover. At this time I was 35 years old, pretty much past my "serious" partying years, and ready to re-new my acquaintance with bicycling. I always had a cycling jones as a kid. My older brother and sister each had one bike in their younger years. I'm not sure, but they were probably 2nd hand. The great thing about growing up in a small town in the 60's was how we stored our bikes in the summer: in the front yard! Either lying down in the grass or leaning up against a tree, that's where they were kept until winter, when dad would put them up in the single car garage. Anyhow, I was the youngest and yes, I would be the spoiled one. My first bike was a 20" red model from Coast-to-Coast Hardware, it may have been a Huffy. Next, was a 3 speed "English Racer" Columbia with a twist shift rear hub, made by some company called Shimano. It had problems after a few years, and wouldn't shift. I still remember my dad writing a letter to Columbia bicycles, explaining how his son had convinced him to buy a bicycle that no body could repair! He received all the parts and this tiny diagram of how to repair it. I barely remember, but there were little ball bearings and some springs, but, he got it fixed. Henry was pretty handy, far more then his son would ever be.

Next up was a "banana bike." This came from Sears mail order. It had a 20", 2" wide "cheater" rear slick tire and a 12" front wheel with extended fork. The front had a spring suspension, and the saddle also had spring suspension. This would be my first full suspension bike. Plus, it had a 12'' sissy bar! The bike was purple with a purple and silver glitter saddle. This would have been 1969, the summer of love, I was 13. Sears was rockin' back then. Of course, so was FWK.

Next up was my first road bike. I must have been 15. Another Sears bike. I think it cost $119 and I got it for my birthday. It had this grreat dual braking system, with levers you could squeeze from the top of the handlebars.... Of course, it was 10 speed, quite the bike in its day. I rode the hell out of that bike, all over town. Funny thing, I don't think I ever rode further then 5 miles at one time.

I truly regret not having any pictures of these bikes. I searched the web to try and find some on the collector sites, but nothing that matched.

All the bikes I had represented one thing for me: personal freedom. I could get on them and get wherever I wanted to go. I still get that rush when I get on a bike at the beginning of a ride. It's the best feeling in the world. ( well, you know, maybe not the best but pretty damn close)



Anyway, back to where I began. My wife and I decided to buy 2 of the Schwinn Criss Cross bikes. I looked in the yellow pages and found the closest dealer was in Plymouth (we lived in Robbinsdale at the time). We had money from our tax return and this was what we were going to spend it on. We went into the bike shop and met a guy named Larry. He was very professional and helpful. This was the beginning of my relationship with Larry Saylor. Those of you that know him agree that he is one of the finest people you'll ever meet. Of course, I didn't know then that some day Larry would own his own bike shop and that I would work for him part time.

The original receipt for the two Schwinn CrissCross bike purchased from Larry at Plymouth Schwinn.

Diane and I rode our CrissCross bikes together several times. And then it happened. The cycling jones took over! I was riding all over, especially around the lakes in uptown. I kept upping my trips, 8 mi, 10 mi, 12 mi, 15 mi, and even 20 miles in one shot! I put 1000 miles on the bike the first year, and 2000 the next. Diane quit riding with me the 2nd year. She told me I was going too fast and too far. She once told some friends, partly in jest, that "I lost him."


The upgraded gel saddle, 17 years later.

The CrissCross was a good drug, but I needed something stronger. I bought my first true road bike, a Trek 1000 for $449. An unheard of sum, and I didn't tell Diane about the cost for a long time. (my first HH points) After all, I already had one bike. So, now that I had a new love, the CrissCross became the forgotten steed, hanging upside down in our garage in Maple Grove. John, our neighbor across the street, expressed some interest in the bike. Asked me what I wanted for it. I said a case of Newcastle. Shortly thereafter, my garage door opener died. John, being handier then me, helped me on a cool November night install a new one for several cold hours. I then told him I'd reduce the price of the bike to a 12 pack of Newcastle. The deal was struck and the CrissCross went across the street for several years. Two weeks ago, John told me he wanted to upgrade. He came into the shop and rode several bikes. He finally settled on a Bianchi Boardwalk hybrid. I wasn't sure what was going to happen to the CrissCross, but in a couple days I found out. John sold the bike to Norm, my next door neighbor.
Norm got into cycling a few years ago, nothing crazy, but, he was pedaling nontheless. Norm retired last week, and wanted to start riding more. So, now Norm has the CrissCross!


Norm, with the 1991 Schwinn CrissCross.


Wondering what happened to Diane's CrissCross? Here it is, hanging in the garage. It hasn't moved in 3 years. I wonder if I could still get a case of Newcastle for it....

33 comments:

  1. That is one of the best bike stories I've heard in quite some time. What amazes me most is that you still had the freaking receipt. WTF?

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  2. Hey I have a Schwinn Criss Cross almost IDENTICAL to that one, even the colors!! It's a lugged steel frame, right? Awesome story. I love my CrissCross. I put a rack on it, and use grocery panniers I got from Performance Bicycle online. I also put Wald North Roads handlebars on it and switched out the shifters for stem mounted friction shifters. Awesome story about an awesome bike!!! I love my Schwinn Criss Cross.

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  3. I have a 1991 Schwinn Criss-Cross that I ride daily. It is a great bike. I have done the same thing by adding a gel seat. I have put slick tires on it and ride it mainly on the street. If I feel the need to go off-road, I use my FS mountain bike. I think it is amazing that this bike has lasted so long. At one time, I was probably logging 100-125 mile per week on it.

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  4. Hi Ken,
    I have a CrissCross as well and have been piling up the milage on it. It's rugged and durable and what's best is that it will keep up with the Specialized bikes that we ride with, no sweat. The biking industry has become bells and whistles. What happend to pure biking enjoyment and strength and endurance.

    I'm interested in the bike that is still hanging around. I'll send you a case of brew. Just let me know the location.

    Paul Donovan
    c: 508-245-0527

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  5. Great story! I had a 1990 CrissCross and it was a killer bike. It would ride anywhere, mountain trails, streams, open road, city. Curbs,,, what curbs? I also added the gel seat (LOL, too many curbs ;).

    I'm sure I would still be riding it, but someone stole it in 2001. After eight years, I'm finally going to replace it with a Diamondback Insight2, I think.

    Nice to see others enjoyed it as much as I. Good times.

    Brent

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  6. someone just stole my 1992 schwinm criss-cross... loved that bike... I didn't realize till i lost it... i m considering having one shipped from the other side of the country at ridiculous cost now...

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  7. 14MAR11 - I am still riding the heck out of mine and she rides like new - so yeah, if all you want is a six pack send it on over!!

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  8. Nice story!! I got hold of a Schwinn CC just like yours about 2 weeks ago, it was free (Freecycle.net) It's a 1993 (I think) and looked like it had lived outside ever since, so I just picked it up for parts for a bicycle/sidecar/plasma cannon combo (Steampunk fair, don't ask...) but when I got it home I felt how light it was, saw the lugged frame and the quirky Suntour derailleur...it's now got a pair of upside-down North Road bars and I'm looking at either going single-speed or single chainring. It weighs less than my Trek 7300FX and the frame is stiffer. Great bike.

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  9. my wife and I each bought a crisscross in the early 90's my biggest complaint is the tires ALWAYS lose their air. Can I replace the tubes and tires to make it more road friendly?

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  10. Hey Ken- Enjoyed your post. I have a 1992 Criss Cross purchased in 1993, and I still ride it over a 100 days a year. I too have the original manual with the receipt stapled inside. Never know when we might have to put in a warranty claim, right? Can't believe what a great bike it was and still is for the money. One of the better purchases I ever made.

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  11. Thanks for all the recent comments!

    Kenny

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  12. Are you trying to sell this bike on DFW Craigslist?

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  13. Nice story about a big old heavy piece of shit out of date bike for sale on Craigslist for $125 which is about $100 more than the going price for big old heavy piece of shit out of date bikes for sale on Craigslist

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    1. 27 pound hybrid from the 90's. Mine is still running like new. Been in other countrys, off-road and commuted in NY snow in the winter. Not heavy, and a very good bike from days gone by. Still outrides modern bikes with modern wisecrackers in lousy shape, every time.

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  14. Great bike. I have one sitting in the basement waiting to be rebuilt. I love that era of hybrid -- so many features that make them great all around riders.

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  15. Just got a Schwinn Criss Cross 1991 bike for $75.00. Was ridden maybe four times. Anyone know where I can find a manual for it? Love your story.

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  16. Hallo ,bin auch im besitz eines Criss Cross Bike wie oben auf dieser seite zu sehen ist rahmen scheint Alu oder carbon zu sein. Kann mir jemand sagen was ich dafür bekommen kann,möchte es Verkaufen habe aber leider keine ahnung was ich dafür bekommen kann. Danke

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  17. Cool read. Larry was my first boss a few years before you bought your bikes from him. Just looking him up as I'm now a lot older and ready to get something like your crisscross. Funny I recognition the signature on the old Schwinn receipt!

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  18. Hi Ken - enjoyed your story. My wife and I bought our CC's after reading the same article in CR. Her's sits in the garage 99% of the time while I get out on my every evening or so for short rides to the pool, barber shop and other errands.... never did do 10+ milers though. Still have the bikes!

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  19. Hi Ken, I´ve just bought a 1991 crisscross. I´m mexican and found it in Tijuana for $50. Just today I´ll go to pick it up to the repairshop. I liked it a lot since I saw it, and hopefully the changes I have ordered on it will let me ride it for some years.

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  20. I love my '91 'cross. It's got about 3 thousand of miles on it but has been very well maintained. I almost prefer it to my much newer (and much lighter) Fuji Absolute.

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  21. Got the purple cross from goodwill for $8. Immaculate condition albeit a little larger than I like to ride. Going to pimp it out with gold accents

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  22. My dad bought one of these new when I was a kid. I was riding bmx at the time and his crisscross was so cool back then. What I remember most about it was the micro shift triggers just being the slickest thing I'd seen on a bike. I moved on and have been racing cross country mountain bikes and off toad unicycles as an adult, but just recently moved to the beach and don't get to ride trails as often as I like so started looking for a road bike. I remember my dad's crisscross and thought I'd poke around and see if I could find one. I didn't expect to find any info on the bike and I certainly didn't expect to find a thread with so many great stories about it! Thanks for sharing everyone! Oh, and if you were wondering... I was looking on line for one because my dad will never part with his haha. He still rides it to this day; never having taken it in for service. He's still rocking the original tires! That says a lot about that bike considering I would take it out on my dirt trails as a boy and just tear it up. Long live the crisscross!!!

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  23. I just got a Schwinn CC for free from the neighbor. I haven't ridden since high school almost 22 years ago. I can't believe how well this bike was made and has held up! Original tires, gear mech. Etc. The only thing I'll replace is the hand grips. They're getting a bit powdery. Thanks for the story!

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  24. I've had my 93 CrissCross for almost 10 years now, I live in Plymouth, MN too!

    The 93 model came with trekking bars, odd, but I love em.

    Been the best bike I've owned. Though I stripped the rear freewheel off-roading and let it sit for a few years. Last week I oiled it up, got a new wheel, and it's back in the game like it never sat at all.

    Some people complain about the odd S1 derailleur, but mine hasn't even given me any trouble.

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  25. I found a Crisscross last month at a yard sale, no idea what year but it's in excellent shape. I take my 4 year old all over in her Burley trailer. I do have to say I like my Takara Deluxe Touring 12 speed better, but I'm a traditionalist.

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  26. I found my first Crisscross bike sitting along the curb after my neighbor put it there for the trash man. (He was moving out of state and couldn't take it with him). Being a cyclist I snatched it up to replace a Schwinn Super LeTour II that I had regrets about giving away years before. I installed high pressure road tires on the CrissCross and had a bike shop replace the chain and install a new cassette... That was about 15 years ago. I liked my CrissCross so much that I bought a second one that kept around as a spare for guests to ride. The Chrom-Moly frame weighs only 3 oz more than my Fuji aluminum frame bike and the light weight Chro-Moly CrissCross frame rides so much smoother than the aluminum frame. It's a great bike and a bargain when compared to other bikes.

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  27. Just Gave My Second CC to my son in NYC GREAT BIKE I'm gonna restore the first on it has the crazy 8 handle bars. Love it from day one. Light Wt 27" tires fast , stable and comfy.

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    1. I have a 93 Criss cross and would like to get it restored. Is it hard to find replacement parts. As I recall, the last time we took it to the shop we were told they couldn't get parts anymore. that was years ago.

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    2. I have a 93 Criss cross and would like to get it restored. Is it hard to find replacement parts. As I recall, the last time we took it to the shop we were told they couldn't get parts anymore. that was years ago.

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    3. I have 91 I just completed a CX conversion on. Swapped a set of shimano bar end shifters with some road racing bars I splayed in vise like the CX you see. The original suntour rear derailleur and freewheel were swapped with shimano deore xt stuff I had laying around. Index shifting works perfect. Swapped the 700c knobbies for vittoria adventure trail III(s) in 38c width. The bike ride comfortable and is pretty quick in spite of the weight. Sorta accelerates slowly but on the move no worries. Great story for those of us willing to build something old and just have fun.

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