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Old 08-31-05, 01:06 PM
Joe McKishen
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Ross bicycles was the brand name of Chain Bike Corp. and used a round stick on alloy headbadge in the earlier years, and went to a larger rectanglular 'R' logo decal in the later years, sometime after 1980. The Ross name was eventually sold to Rand Bicycles which imports cheap department store type bikes. The demise of Ross was explained to me as that company had a contract to make ammo boxes of some sort, the majority of the plant in Allentown, PA was converted to produce these, and bicycle production was diminished and they began importing Asian bikes badged as Ross. A large quanity if not all of the ammo boxes were rejected by the government, I was told it due to poor paint finish, and this had led to the failure of the company. This was told to me by a long time dealer as well as a former Ross sales rep. Ross continued to import bicycles until the sale to Rand. I am not sure if Rand acquired Ross though a normal sale, or through bankrupcy proceedings.

If your bike is a 1985, it was probably one of the last ones to come from the Allentown plant. I currently own a 1980 Gran Tour, which I bought new. It's also quite heavy, but at the time it was much lighter than say a Schwinn Varsity. They used a straight guage lugged steel frame, steel wheels, with Shimano running gear. If they had used a lighter tubing for the frame, it would have been a great improvement. The frame weighs over 11 lbs, plus the steel wheels, which makes for a lot of extra weight. A set of alloy rims would help, but it will still never be as light as it's European counterparts.
Ross made their entire bike, the rims were made in house, as was the frame and fork. Only bolt on components were not Ross built.
Somewhere around here I have a copy of an '85 catalog, this was the latest I have seen that still said Chain Bike Corp, Allentown, PA.
The company did originate in NY, but moved to PA with the building of the new plant in the 1970's. There was a few earlier Asian built road bikes, but they were nothing special. I would venture to guess that Alentown production ran from somewhere in the early to mid 1970's to about 1985or 86?
The name Ross was the name of the family which owned chain bike, the last family member in charge, I was told, was Randy Ross, I am sure if someone knows his whereabouts, a more definite history could be had.
The eariest Ross I had seen was from the late 50's of so, sort of a middleweight cruiser, they made everything from kids bikes all the way up to high end road bikes by Kellog in the later years. It's a shame that they didn't survive, it was one of the last American bike companies. The bike boom died out in the 1980's, and cheap imports were abounding, so I am sure the bike business had already begun to suffer at that point. During the 1970's, so many bikes were being sold, there was sufficient market share to support the many competitors, but as business slowed, only the most profitable survived.
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