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  1. #1
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    Anybody know the history of Ross bikes?

    I have a 1985 Ross road bike, given to me by a friend in California. I have been riding it 4 years, and it's a great bike. It is heavy -- 32 pounds ready to roll. Does anyone know the history of the Ross company? I understand they were headquartered in Allentown, PA. I was in Florida last week and stopped by a local LBS. I asked the owner if he could identify my bike (It carries no manufacturer logos). He asked me if it was European or American. When I said American, he immediately said "Ross." The owner said Ross was a going concern until the late 1980's, when they won a U.S. Post Office contract to provide three-wheel bikes to carriers in New York City. This dragged the whole company under, for what reason I don't know. He said he thinks the company still exists, but no longer manufactures bikes. Maybe Ross is now some kind of distributor for Asian bikes. Here's a little aside on this particular bike shop. The owner was formerly a Ferrari mechanic, who bought the shop 4 years ago in Jacksonville, FL. He said: "If I can tune a 12 cylinder Ferrari, I figured I could work on these things (bikes). He had a good point, I think.

  2. #2
    Licensed Bike Geek Davet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
    Does anyone know the history of the Ross company?
    I think the name Ross exists todays as a line of cheap kids bikes given as web premiums and incentives: http://ncp.awardselection.com/index....b_category=303

    Here's a web site regarding the founder of Ross Bicycles: http://www.expertwitness.cc/curric.html

    The latest reference I can find about Ross bikes is a recall dated 1998: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml98/98099.html It seems they were making cheap MartMart type bikes back then. The toll-free phone number listed is to Rand International which still lists Ross brand products: http://www.randinternational.com/ which seem to be cheap imports now.

    You might want to contact Tom Kellogg of Spectrum Bicycles. He worked for Ross Bicycles for a couple of years back in the early '80s. From the Spectrum web-site: "November, 1980 - June, 1982 - Tom sets up the legendary "Signature" department at Ross Bicycles and develops the Ross Signature line. After a motorcycle accident, Tom leaves Ross Bicycles and founds Spectrum Cycles. Tom hires Ross Bicycles’ Master Builder Jeff Duser away from the Signature Division of Ross in March, '85."
    Last edited by Davet; 10-12-03 at 09:59 AM.

  3. #3
    SLJ 6/8/65-5/2/07 Walter's Avatar
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    Off the top of my head: Ross was but no longer is (I believe) a made in US marque.

    During the 70s and into the 80s they were mostly dep't store or low price LBS quality bikes (I can remember seeing them in both locations). However, for awhile in the 80s they put out a good quality cro-moly frameset with Shimano 600 components. Solid but unspectacular. They probably would weigh 23-25lb which was about standard for good quality roadies back then.
    “Life is not one damned thing after another. Life is one damned thing over and over.”
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

  4. #4
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Yes, during the 1980s, Ross briefly stepped out of character with a few respectable road bikes and a couple of semi-decent mountain bikes. (My younger son rides a Rock Machine MT-1600, whose frame is far better than the original wheelset and crankset, both of which I have replaced with upgrades.) Most other Ross offerings were strictly low-end -- heavy, nonresponsive, and lacking Schwinn's craftsmanship.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  5. #5
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    Interesting stuff- my dad has a Ross bike from when I was a kid- still in really good condition, no rust, runs well. He claimed it was a nice racing bike, but I was like "huh?" because I had no idea who Ross was.

    I can tell him he was right now. I'll have to get a digital camera and get a picture and post it here so folks can see what I'm talking about.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Cool, I had a black Ross "compact" bike back in the early 80's 10spd, downtube shifters.. Probably 32lbs like mentioned here. In fact, I still sort of have it but I gave it to my sister to give to a friend of hers so I'm sure it's out there riding the roads in central NJ... I think it was like $400 at the time.

    Jay

  7. #7
    Senior Member djbowen1's Avatar
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    I had a Ross Mt. Washington. It was a pretty good bike, i dont thnk they ever made anything top end bikes though.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ollo_ollo's Avatar
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    Ross

    2 years ago a fellow was selling Ross Super Gran Tour NOS road bikes still in their shipping carton on e-bay. They were heavy HiTen frames with the early, ornate Shimano 600 component set, Araya alloy rims & so on. Apparently, top notch components on a cheap frame was not a good marketing decision as this fellow had quite a few up for auction. My winning bid was $96.00 & I stripped all the new parts & wheels off to build up a 1971 Raleigh Super Course I had just repainted. This made a great, inexpensive sport tour bike. I still haven't decided what to do with the Ross frame, maybe a single speed? Don

    edited 1/19/08: I'm adding pics & info to my OP...I never did anything with the Ross SGT frame and sold it Summer 07 to a fellow who wanted to build a single speed, pics are from my Craigs List Ad. The Hi-Ten frame was heavy, weighed over 7 pounds. I used the Shimano 600 components first on the Super Course as shown here, then pulled most of them as I added original Raleigh pantographed parts. the SR Randonneur bars & 600 brakes went onto a Bianchi Trofeo frame, the 600 Shifters, derailleurs & crank to my Motobecane Grand Jubile.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by ollo_ollo; 01-19-08 at 10:51 AM. Reason: add pics & addnl info

  9. #9
    bici accumulatori pinerider's Avatar
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    There's also a discussion on Ross bikes at oldroads.com - on vintage lightweights discussion (ollo ollo is a contributer to the discussion)
    ...!

  10. #10
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    Ross Bicycles

    Ross bicycles continued in Allentown, PA until the early to mid 80's, they had reconfigured the factory to make ammo boxes for the US Gov. and outsourced bicycle production to Asia. The ammo box move proved disasterous, and the bike business ended up being sold to Rand Bicycle who in produces department store type bikes and still carries the Ross name on til this day. The Allentown built road bikes were probably there best. They were heavy, all were in the 30 pound range or more. Teh earlier Ross bikes were also imports and have a headbadge that states "Ross Import Division" NY

  11. #11
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    IN the 1970's, Ross double plated their rims. Thus, old Ross bikes often have nice shiny rims even today - a nice way to spif up your collectible ride.
    Mike

  12. #12
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    When I was a shop mechanic back in the late '90s a Ross MTN bike came in for repair. This one was very high end: ball-burnished aluminum frame, full XT componentry, Rock Shox Judy fork and the latest Mavic rims and foldable kevler tires. I tend to believe that the frame was made for Ross by GT or somebody like that.

    I was pleasently suprised the see this but you never know what shows up at a shop. I also once saw an early '70s Murray with a complete first-generation Dura-Ace component group!

  13. #13
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    I just purchased a used Ross Mount Hood Mountain Bike on eBay for $10 local pickup for my neice. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bike. It appears to be 1990's vintage and is quite light with a CroMoly frame and very decent components. 21 speed grip shift with Shimano Biopace chainrings and sealed shimano hubs. Actually has a freehub and not a threaded freewheel. Tires show no wear but the skinwalls are dry. They are branded Ross as are the handlebars, so whoever they contracted with was putting the Ross logo onto the components as well as the frame. The frame is white with black spatter as a second color applied over the paint. Even the aluminum seatpost has a cast top and aluminum/ not steel to clamp the seat. For $10, this was a great surprise when I picked it up.

  14. #14
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    I can attest to the statement of John E. and a few others regarding very nice mid and high end Ross bicycles circa 1983-1985. There was a Shimano 600 equipped Signature Triathlon model with a Columbus SL frame. The Paragon had a Ishiwata 024 frame with SunTour Superbe derailleurs. There was a Mt. McKinley with Tange MTB tubing and deore XT. During this era, Ross also sponsored an ATB team, the Ross Indians. I believe there was also a road team, but I have no objective evidence.

    1983 ads mention that Ross has been, "building cycling machines for American cyclists for 36 years". So it would appear that the first Ross bicycles were 1947.

  15. #15
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    I just stumbled across a few more tidbits on Ross. The top line Signature series was established in 1981. As noted in an earlier post, the builder was Tom Kellog, who left in 1983 and was replaced by Jim Redcay. In 1984 there were 5 Signature series bicycles and 7 "sub-Signature" models using CrMO tubing. The top line Signature Road Criterium cost $2100.00 US - not a typo! In addition to these 12 top and mid-range models, Ross apparently produced 90+ models of low end bicycles, tricyles and wagons. No wonder their entry-level reputation was/is hard to shake off!

  16. #16
    Senior Member kerk's Avatar
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    ChainBike, Welcome to the Forum! I have a Ross bike that my daughter rides. I think it is mid 80's but I'm not sure. it is a very nice ride.
    2011 Raleigh International
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    Proud owner of all three colors made! Orange, Blue , Yellow .

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerk
    ChainBike, Welcome to the Forum! I have a Ross bike that my daughter rides. I think it is mid 80's but I'm not sure. it is a very nice ride.
    You are probably correct. Assuming those BioPace chainrings are original, the bicycle is no older than 1984. However, you can verify the year using the date codes on the Shimano components. Refer to the following website for location and decyphering of date codes
    http://www.vintage-trek.com/component_dates.htm

  18. #18
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    In defence of Davet and others, we are only relaying information we believe to be accurate and would be of interest to readers. Very few of us have first hand knowledge of such things and we are only sharing what we have read or been told. One problem with the Internet is that anyone can post information, with little repercussion for inaccuracies. That is one of the purposes of forums like this, to put forth information and dispel the myths and inaccuries. I'm sure Davet believed that the info on the site he referenced was accurate. Given the way it was layed out and the few verifiable facts, I took it at face value and assumed Sherwood B. Ross (not Sherman as you state) was founder and CEO of Ross. If you have any first hand information to enlighten us and straighten out some misinformation, please do! It's not to often we are privileged to receive information so closely related to the source.

  19. #19
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    Chainring, I can appreciate that there are some things that your family would not want publicized and those wishes should be respected. However, when you mention certain facts as not being straight, I believe there is an obligation to at least identify which facts are untrue and set things straight. I know that I have made my fair share of misleading contributions and certainly do mind being told so, provided people back it up with an argument or facts. Just saying it's wrong, is like punishing a child, without telling him what he did wrong.

    If the only questionable fact was the President/CEO, then that's fine. .

    Hopefully, we have not gotten off on the wrong foot. Sometimes I find it extremely hard to establish a proper tone in a post. I guess that I have a fair amount of bicycle knowledge, but not a lot of writing skills. You provide a unique and rare opportunity to gain insight to a fondly remembered brand. I hope you will share what you can. I know that I will look forward to your future posts. Good luck obtaining another Ross, hopefully a Signature model. If you or anybody else wants to start a Vintage-Ross website, I have lots of 1980s ads, specs and road tests that I can share, provided you can get the copyright clearance.

  20. #20
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    Yup, I have a "Signature." And she's a great commuter.


    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mar
    I just stumbled across a few more tidbits on Ross. The top line Signature series was established in 1981. As noted in an earlier post, the builder was Tom Kellog, who left in 1983 and was replaced by Jim Redcay. In 1984 there were 5 Signature series bicycles and 7 "sub-Signature" models using CrMO tubing. The top line Signature Road Criterium cost $2100.00 US - not a typo! In addition to these 12 top and mid-range models, Ross apparently produced 90+ models of low end bicycles, tricyles and wagons. No wonder their entry-level reputation was/is hard to shake off!
    Higher ground for the apocalypse!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
    The owner said Ross was a going concern until the late 1980's, when they won a U.S. Post Office contract to provide three-wheel bikes to carriers in New York City. This dragged the whole company under, for what reason I don't know.



    Now THATS funny!!!!!
    Lance Armstrong- US Postal Tour Number 7-- on Ross Tricycles!!!!!!!!!!! Last year it might have been unfair advantage in crash-ridden stage 3 on the Roubaix route.

  22. #22
    lover ....
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    Ross was certainly a going concern up until the late 90s (maybe 97) - I have a magazine (somewhere) with a Ross ad in it (bicycle courier riding between two truck on a Ross), that's the last I saw.

    AFAIK, it was an upmarket bike - Deore XT?
    Riding a bike is not a fashion show

    Super commuter, grease freak, lover ...

  23. #23
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    hi my name is kenny,

  24. #24
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    hi my name is kenny,
    i hit up a yard sale yesturday and found a ROSS bicycle in mint condition. its a signature series and is equipped with campagnolo EVERYTHING! the aluminum rims are campy with quick release. it has the ISHIWATA 024 frame (chromoly) and is a 294S. i'd be willing to bet that its one of the 5 that you were talking about on your thread. its absolutely beautiful!! it shows no signs of wear at all. still has the original campy brake shoes. hard to beleive that i only paid $150.00 for the thing. got a pretty good deal dont you think? where is the damn frame number on the thing? i've searched for it everywhere and cant find one, or is there even one? not that i'd ever want to part with it but whats the value of this rare find? any help would be the bomb!! feel free to e mail me at owise4@bellsouth.net or call if you wanna chat at (904) 422-1050. i'll post pictures of it with your reply. thanks kenny

  25. #25
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    I have specs for the 1985 Ross 294. It had the Ishiwata 024 frame and a Campagnolo Triomphe gruppo. However, the rims were spec'd as Rigida 1320. The retail price was $449 US.

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