Jimmy Raggett’s Croll

croll

Croll Road Bike, circa mid-1990s.

 

 

 

croll

Head Badge with a sprinkling of road spray. Note the Chris King Headset. This alone will last well into the next millennium I'm sure.

Walter Croll
Walter Croll, framemaker from Minneapolis in the 90s, is a bit of an enigma in the bike building world. He’s well respected, his bikes are beloved, he mentored others to become fine bike builders. But do a Google search on the guy and you get a few anecdotes off a forum or two, the knowledge that he wasn’t in business long, an understanding that he helped launch others into the bike building field (think Erik Noren and Peacock Groove Bikes for one), and the surprise that he left the bike world to teach guitar (on which I can find no other info, so I can’t really verify that). You’d think, considering the respect this guy garnered, that there’d at least be a short Wikipedia article. Nada, zilch, zip.

Anyway, Jimmy Raggett, a mechanic at Two Wheel Tango, likes his Croll. He bought it used from Lew Kidder, an Ann Arbor sporting icon. Lew bought it new sometime in the mid-90s from Cycle Cellar, where Dennis Pontius (a Two-Wheel Tango owner since its inception) worked at the time. Who said the world didn’t go in circles? This is a Croll road bike. It doesn’t have any other name, like Dancing Fawn, or
Speedy Guy, or Pont-du-Gard. It is what it is.

reynolds 853This Croll is a beautiful example of a handmade road bicycle. It’s TIG welded 853 Reynolds steel. I know nothing more about welding than this: In college I took a class in it and set my jeans on fire. Otherwise, I learned little (my fault), and escaped with my leg and dignity slightly singed.  But, here’s what they say at gowelding.org: “[This method] uses a gas to shield the weld metal. The gas keeps the metal being welded from being effected from natural elements in the environment, such as oxygen. This allows the welder to operate at a continuous rate, making the process fairly quick.” There you have it in a slightly butchered syntax. I do know that 853 is known for its durability. I also know that it doesn’t burn you.

tire

Armadillo Elite

Jimmy uses a heavy duty 28mm Armadillo Elite tire for both road and dirt. It has a road tread pattern, but this is one tough tire and handles both road and dirt well.

The Croll seatstays and fork are wide enough to accept large tires, much larger than 28mm, which makes the bike quite versatile for all seasons.

primato

The Dream Bike...Nice Red One. Photo courtesy velospace.org/node/23543

DREAM BIKE
Jimmy’s dreaming mind is always bouncing from one bike to the next, but it always bounces in the realm of steel, particularly hand-made. Press him and he’ll get specific, a DeRosa Neo Primato. It’s a hand-made Italian steel bike…of course.  Consider, here’s a guy who works on bikes daily. He has an eye for nice stuff.

downtube

Note the classic downtube friction levers.

 

Specs
Frame: Reynolds 853 Steel
Fork: Reynolds Steel
Bike Weight: 20lbs.
Gruppo: Shimano Dura Ace (brakes) and 105 (nearly everything else)
Shifters: Shimano 105 downtube friction levers
Brake Levers: Tektro
Cassette: 10 speed
Chain Rings: 53/42
Pedals: Shimano 105 Road
Wheels: Bontrager
Tires: Armadillo Elite 700 x 28mm
Standard 1-1/8″ headtube
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Octalink
Bottom bracket shell: English 68mm
Saddle: Specialized ?
Color: Vibrant Blue

derailleur

Ten speed cassette with a 105 derailleur.

 

tektro

Sleek, functional, inexpensive Tektro levers. The shifting happens on the downtube.

7 thoughts on “Jimmy Raggett’s Croll

  1. Great post. I bought a used Croll bike very similar to this last summer and have been searching for info about the guy. My Croll came decked out in dura ace 7700 though 🙂

  2. I worked for Croll at the time this frame was built. Croll was the very first US frame builder to receive an 853 tubeset, due to his almost exclusive use of Reynolds tubing. That is probably one of the first 853 US frames made. The straight bladed fork crown was probably the same one I had ordered in to build a prototype straight bladed fork. We had done only raked lugged forks to that point. I can say with near 100% certainty that the frame was welded by Erik Noren, and brazed by myself. Finish work was done by any one of us who were left at the end (me, Erik, Robert Y, Chris S.) Chris was the painter on that frame.

  3. Also, if I recall, that bike has an 853 seat tube. We knew that the new tubeset air-hardened after welding, but did not anticipate the degree to which it hardened. Reaming and honing the seat tube for the seatpost was a bear! I believe that bike has a lugged fitting brazed on top of the seatpost. After this bike, and maybe one more, all seat tubes were back to good ol 531.

  4. I used to race for Cycle Cellar when Dennis was there. At that time, I bought a red Croll MTB bike made of Reynold’s 531. I love it and I still riding it.

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