History and Stories
Romic - the Beginnings
Ray left Schwinn in 1959 and went to the AMF corporation to head up their production team through the early 70's. After deciding to forge out on his own he spent a couple years getting the logistics in order to open up a shop. During that time he consulted in Russia on a bicycle startup endeavor. His expertise in high quality building techniques and a great eye for efficient building systems made him an invaluable resource whose help many sought out over the years.
Romic - the Name
At first, Ray and Gerry wanted to name their company US Cycles – but that name was already being used. So Ray came up with ‘Romic’ – which is an affectionate nick name in Polish, loosely translated as ‘Little Roman’ – a play on Ray’s true given name
Gerry remembers all the early days of the trade shows. They were in Long Beach in the 70’s (predecessor of Interbike?). And even earlier, there was a big show, always held in February in New York, near Columbus Circle. Ray made wooden display cases which held finished frames. Behind the frames, mounted on the rear glass, he mounted the full scale drafting plans of the bikes. Gerry remembers folks taking lots of photos of those displays !
From 'Long Time Past Cat2 Racer':
My Romic track bike just out of a self paint job. I bought it in Cambridge MA 84 or so. Of all the bikes i've owned (20+) she is one of my favs - and still strong, straight & FUN to ride Born
From a Vintage Lighwight Cycling collector:
In the late 80s, I bought a red/white Romic. That was one of the first bikes I bought used and it led me down a path of over 600 used bike purchases/sales and the writing of the Used Bike Buyers Guide. It was the thrill of researching and finding information on the builder in the time prior to the internet that sent me down the path of cataloging information on all the builders I could find information about. Loved that Romic.
Love of the Sport:
In 1980-81 I lived in Austin, TX and gave an Olympic Development Team rider a place to stay during a spring training camp. Eddy Borysewicz was the coach, and was very successful in the '84 Olympics. I was at the training session when Eddy B was given a beautiful bike Romic donated and dedicated to Eddy B because Romic [Ray] had heard that Eddy didn't have a bike. Eddy had emigrated from Poland just recently, and Romic [Ray] was, I guess, Polish. I remember the bike and the headtube decal: a Polish Eagle. And I remember how proud and stern and unemotional Eddy B seemed, like an eagle, too.
Ray sponsored a team in the Houston area, and they rode Romic Team Eagles, which sported basically the coat of arms of the Polish kings, which features an eagle. The connection, of course, was that Ray was of Polish descent. The Team Eagle could be custom ordered by non-team members - my custom track bike has the Team Eagle graphics. Ray was pretty conservative about geometry - I had to argue long and hard to get him to build my track frame with toe clip overlap
Ray (and I think other builders) use the term "harp" to refer to the main rectangle of the bike comprising the head tube, down tube, seat mast and top tube before the stays are welded on. Yes, high-ten was a little heavier than CroMo or the national tubings like Reynolds, Columbus, Vitus etc. ; but it was lighter than the tubing on bikes in its price range and also had some of that unique balance of rigidity and springiness that makes for great riding.
I was racing at the time and I once brought a new Tommasini frame to work with me. Ray looked it over and told me that they had simply put road dropouts on a track frame! He was serious, telling me that the geometry was much too tight for the road. Of course, Tommasini would have looked at one of his frames and called it a "touring frame"
Romic in Hollywood:
Back in the 80’s a young Houston cyclist brought his black Romic, with red lettering and pinstriping, with him west to live for a year in the heart of Hollywood. Being a native of the flat lands, he was intrigued with the Southern California mountains. Each Sunday he made an 80 mile round trip climb all the way up Angeles Crest highway to a peak called Mt Wilson. Back in Houston and still in the cycling industry, he remembers that bike, and those rides, well.
When Ray was in the Service in Europe:
In those days we could only follow the Tour de France by sending somebody downtown to the lobby of the Rice Hotel on Sunday to pick up the New York Times. Those reports were scanty at best. It was Ray who explained to me about the different types of races and about those little tidbits like how do they take a piss during the race. Such nowaday commonplaces as referring to a time trial as the "race of truth", or that fines are levied in Swiss Francs - I first heard them all from Ray. In fact I think he was the one who explained how the various leaders were determined and what jerseys they wore.
Daniel Boone Cycles
A hallmark of Houston cycling, this shop run by a long time friend of Ray and Gerry's, and is involved in a creating a bike museaum there on the site of the shop. Go visit Joy at the shop, and check out their ROMIC specific bike builds they are working on Feb 2009 - chick HERE.
Romic - the mountain bike suspension shock company - is in no way related to Romic Cycles