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New: Take Part in the May Giveaway for a Change to Win the Thruster 27.5 Retrograde BMX Cruiser Bike

Softcruise downhill 8sp
Confessions of a novice bicyclist.

Hi from Kentucky.
My initial experience in purchasing a bike and dealing with related shops has not been very positive. To my surprise, it is no longer acceptable/ condoned to purchase bikes outside of genre specific categories (even then you can get sucked into the budget bikes unknowingly at supposed specialty shops). So, my observations thus far are that bikes costing below $800 and purchased outside a bike shop is practically junk. I know that’s a bold statement (and likely untrue) but let me share my recent experiences with you that have shaped my opinions…

Because of gas prices and the need to exercise I began considering biking as an answer to both problems. After reading about different bikes and the needs of the rider I narrowed my choices to the suspension cruisers. My choices were the Kent/ Next (Chinese made) models found at the K-marts (for a cheap bike I actually liked the fit and handling). After reading many recommendations to invest elsewhere, I found a unique cruiser from “RUSTYSPOKES” in California (Softcruise). The base model was around $300 but after seeing the rugged looking downhill bike, I eagerly paid over $650 for the beefier 8sp version.

The bike was shipped to a pro shop in Cincinnati for assembly. I know that torque, lubrication and trueing and necessary for optimum performance so I felt a bike shop would be best to handle assembly. When the time came for pick-up, I felt ignored by the staff even though I was mentioning a front brake may be in the future if they wanted the job. “We don’t work on low end bikes” was fired back at me which stunned me a bit and squelched any further discussion. I loaded my softcruise and drove away still wondering how a $600+ bike could be “low-end”.

Some days later I made contact with a bike shop closer to my location and again mentioned my interest in a front brake and the possible components I had seen online. “Yeah, I get lots of folks in here that think the net makes them experts. If they don’t believe me the I don’t give a f***”!” Again I’m stunned (and a little raged) at the response I was given. Guessing he probably had a crappy day I thanked him anyway and ended the conversation. At this point I’ve concluded that there exists an attitude from (some, not all) pro’s concerning bikes and their support for customers with cheaper brand bikes. Are they just unwilling to allow me to throw money on a junk product? In the case of my second shop contact, is an informed customer a threat to their knowledge base?

So it’s up to me now. I’ve bought the bike and any faults/ upgrades I’m interested in will be done myself. Am I blinded by the “cool uniqueness” of my purchase so much that further investment (and possibly fabrication) of components are worth it to me? I had no idea that 1 1/8” threadless steering components/ forks are the norm. I was also surprised to see that MTB forks are well over $500 if I wanted to replace the springer currently on the bike. Regardless of the feedback gotten so far, I like my (Chinese made) cruiser. I get lots of questions from other cyclist and even a few requests to try it out. It’s not a speed machine, it’s not a high end brand name but it’s different than other bikes commonly seen. Sure it’s a tank and the hills are a struggle (even in the 1st gear of the Nexus hub) but I need the exercise anyway. Every special interest group has opinions on quality and performance and I’ve experienced that already in the fields of guitars, motorcycles etc. Cycling is no different so hopefully I can learn from others here on the possibilities for improving a “less quality” bike.

I’ve ranted enough and tried to justify by decision to buy the bike so I hope you will welcome me anyway. The standard (old school 1”) bikes are dinosaurs but hopefully others out there have dealt with similar situations and can guide me on how to upgrade (and maybe convert) what I have with modern components.
I’ve already admitted to myself that 3” handlebars will need to replace the current “drag” bars for better riding position. I’m also considering installing a lay-back seat post for more leg room / cranking stroke. The most important needed item is a front brake. The springer forks function in lessoning the bumps but limit what can added as brakes. There are kits for a disc conversion and hub brakes are available.

MTB forks would operate better but a 1” fork is obsolete (or expensive). Can springer forks tolerate braking stresses? There’s slack on the spring when weight is applied. Should I tighten the spring slack or is this normal to allow the spring to cushion during riding?

Thank you for tolerating my observations and any feedback is appreciated.

“Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”
Airplane (1980) – Rex Kramer (Robert Stack)

Woah...that's one interesting bike. And I'm in Hawaii for beach cruisers are the norm. I've never seen anything like that. I have to say that's a very cool bike! Smile

As for your question, I'm not really sure, I've never seen one of those forks close up before. Those shops treated you like junk, it might just be them. All the shops I've been to have been friendly to everyone. Good luck!
Thanks for the kind reply.

I think the brand has a potential to be a high end bike but the folks at Rusty Spokes will have to modernize/ upgrade components and perhaps construct the bike stateside (or at least insure the Chinese quality control is equal to the Japanese). The welds/ material are solid and of strong grade but continuing to use 1"/ obsolete components is just avoiding the inevitable. I still like the bike and will continue to make improvements to enhance performance and comfort where I can.

I hope in the future "if" I need any shop assistance I won't get the cold shoulder for choosing the softcruise. I will continue to be my own reliable mechanic until a special tool or service forces me to consider another shop.

“Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”
Airplane (1980) – Rex Kramer (Robert Stack)

That is an awesome looking ride. The springer front end reminds me of a Harley Davidson chopper I wanted back in the 70's. I understand about the responses you might receive about your bike because its different. I bought a Sun Tour Easy recumbent bike this year and you would think some of the regular bike people are going to hold up crosses and throw holy water at me. I think my bike is cool and so does the general public. If your bike was parked next to an $3000 custom built racing bike 99% of the people looking at them would think your bike was way cooler looking. Get out and enjoy your bike. The BicycleTutor will help you upgrade you bike.
The Journey is the Reward
Hi and thanks for the positive comments.

I checked out your bike and had the impression that it would be a great traveler. Comfort is taking all sorts of new directions in the biking world and recumbents are well established. I had seen lots of these style bikes in Europe and it's understandable that they're getting a share of the market here too.

I'm wondering if acceptance/ tolerance of "new" bikes is the real problem. The bike shops I've encountered have been almost hostile and arrogant.

I would love to see a "no-name" builder smoke a well known (product) in a competition. It would be a humbling experience to those who are close minded and die hard for the big dollar bikes.
I hope it will happen and I can see the expressions on their smug faces.

Am I just being bitter?

“Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”
Airplane (1980) – Rex Kramer (Robert Stack)

Very nice and unique looking bike.

I don't think it has anything to do with where the bike is made as Giant (Taiwan) makes bikes for almost every big name there is, including the very expensive road bikes. Some shops, especially the smaller ones, in my area don't like working on bikes unless it is a brand they carry and/or you bought the bike from them. Although I have never had the experience of this happening to me, some of the riders in my group have mentioned that they have had this problem.

Personally, I think that any bike that you like and can afford is a good bike. Not everyone can afford $6,000 and $8,000 bikes. In my opinion, the main difference in a WalMart bike and an expensive bike shop bike is whether you like it or not. I have two bikes, a $400 hybrid and a $1,300 road bike. Most of the time you will see me riding the hybrid since I get a better workout on it. I use the road bike on my long distance rides and when I ride with my bike group. I could have spent more on the road bike but it does just as good for me as the more expensive carbon bikes. At 64 years old, I'm not going to be entering any races anyway.

So, don't take what the two shops did to you as the standard for all bike shops. There are plenty of good shops out there and they will treat you right. Happy biking.
HCFR Cycling Team
Ride Safe...Ride Hard...Ride Daily
Hi John;

Sorry about your bad experiences with bike stores - I have had similar bad experiences at some also; and have to mention that I have been treated very well at Wheel Away in Campbell CA.

After reading your posts, I think that you should investigate something like this:

please note that I have no interest in any manner with this seller, and I just picked this listing at random.

The drum front brake should be adaptable to your springer fork - which I think you should keep because it adds so much to the coolness.

The Schwinn 'crate series bikes in the late '60's/early '70's had drum front brakes with springer forks, they worked fine.
(03-19-2011, 03:57 PM)2011softcruise Wrote:  .......

MTB forks would operate better but a 1" fork is obsolete (or expensive).

1" threaded forks are widely available, just not from "stuck up" places.

I appreciate the info and feedback. I may purchase some 1" suspension forks just to have them once manufacturing finally stops.

The acceptance (and take over) of 1 1/8" steerer tubes of the last 20 years has divided the bikes into new/ old categories. I only hope that someone will continue to supply parts for the vintage bikes (this has happened with collectible cars). I would have still purchased my bike knowing what I do now but I still have an interest in installing/ replacing components with better quality items.

I'll eventually install a brake hub/ rim and maybe the handlebars/ seat post mentioned earlier but I'll cover some miles till then.

I had almost purchased a Micargi Cheetah because of its suspension but would have needed to replace many more parts to personalize the bike. My first riding experiences with the softcruise indicated some areas needing improvement (riding position). The springer seat also became uncomfortable due to the flat design. I believe a similar seat incorporating a center "valley" would help. I think other guys have had the "numb crotch" effect of sitting on the "blood flow". Once ergonomics and braking are right there's no reason I can't ride for hours.

“Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”
Airplane (1980) – Rex Kramer (Robert Stack)


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