Whenever I rode my old Schwinn Cruiser as a kid, I always thought it was like
sailing along on a cloud. Directional control was somewhat marginal as
it had loose spokes, probably low tire pressure and worn bearings I am
sure, but it was smooth! Now that was many long years and half a
continent away from where I live now, but the memory is as strong as if
it were yesterday. Tooling down Illinois street, racing around the
sidewalks of a deserted and never built developement which, for what
ever reason, had installed the sidewalks first. We rode the maze of
concrete through the waist high prarie grass like it was a trail ride,
swooping and swooshing around turns as though the bikes rode upon air
instead of rubber and concrete. Well that is very much the same feeling
I get when I take out my Old Royce Union for a casual spin.
A what? Yeah, an old steel frame Royce Union 10 Speed. How old, you
ask? Well I used to ride my thirty-three year old daughter around in
the child seat when she was three! Helmets? Who had even heard of them
back then? We just strapped the kids into the molded plastic seat with
a skinny nylon strap and off we went, and ya know, we survived. OK so
now you wouldn't catch me riding myself around without a brain bucket,
but that's another review, so let's get down to it!
So why'd I start this review with a story about a bike I owned 48 years
ago? Because after I got my nifty Cannondale R700SI, and after I
finally understood what they meant by "aluminum rides harsher than
steel," that that is precisely what my Old Royce Union reminds me of.
Comfort and a youth gone by. The truth is that I probably still have
more saddle time in on the old Royce every year than I do on the
Cannondale, If it's crummy weather, if there's sand left on the streets
from winter storms, I take my Royce. Although it qualifies, I refuse to
call it my beater, so it makes the short hops to the store, afterall,
who'd steal it? It is my winter indoor ride bolted into my Nashbar Fluid
trainer. And every now and again the loyal BBC members have seen me
ride out on a particularly pleasant morn with Old Royce even now!
That being said, what's it like? Well you can ride it no hands without
needing a death wish, it takes bumps in it's stride, you can hop curbs
and not mash your chuckles on the landing even if you stay in the seat!
But you do have to lean into and anticipate turns as she can take a
while to come around. When you're doing 55 miles an hour down hill it
is most definately thrilling and as I started out by alluding to, the
directional stability and control is fluid at best. But, you can make
it! Alright, climbing hills can be challanging and, usually, you run
out of gears long before you runout of hill, but you know what, it's
great training. It's you and the pavement. There's none of the "High
Tech" add ons that turn average roadies into road rockets. You pedal
you go, you pedal faster, you might just even go a little faster. It
stops reliablyand for the most part it gets you where you're going. Old
Royce got lubed with whatever oil was laying around and until last year,
it never had it's bottom bracket even looked at much less relubed. But
it still works. I wonder if my Cannondale will match it's record and
still be going strong 30 years from now?