Review: Swobo Crosby Bicycle

Swobo now offers half a dozen variations on the urban assault bike, and with the cyclocross-inspired Crosby, it’s getting close to attaining two-wheeled nirvana.

A cyclocross frame makes a solid foundation for a student bike: It’s light, tough, easy to carry and versatile. A cross bike can fly down campus bike paths, roll over obstacles like curbs and freshmen, or take you on after-class romps through nearby mountain trails.

Swobo takes that insight and runs with it. In the Crosby, the company has built a buff-tastic, road-bikelike frame and added attachment points for water bottles, fenders, racks, cantilever or disc brakes, plus nearly any kind of cable you’d like to run. There’s also a funky rear hub attachment that has vertical dropouts for easy wheel removal plus a separate, horizontal groove for the chain-tension adjustment critical to single-speed drive trains.

As it comes from Swobo, the Crosby is set up with a Sram Torpedo hub, which can switch between freewheelin’ single-speed mode and hipster fixed-gear goodness with a few turns of a screw. Instead of pulling the whole wheel off and turning it around, as you do with flip-flop hubs, you just poke a narrow screwdriver in a hole at the axis of the hub, turn about seven times, and the hub assumes its new identity. Pretty cool! On the downside, there’s a bit more backlash in the fixed-gear mode than we’d like: The pedals have a few degrees of play before they engage the wheels. For that reason, and because we’re not pegged jeans-wearing hipsters, we rode the Crosby primarily in freewheel mode.

The Swobo-designed aluminum frame and carbon-fiber fork make the Crosby lightweight, and the flat top tube (with brake cable routing on the top, not the bottom) make it easy to carry on your shoulders. Brakes are super-grippy Avid Shorty 6 cantilevers and the included tires are 700 x 32C WTB Cross Wolfs, on 32-spoke Alex rims. Yes, you can skid very nicely on these wheels. You can also ride up and down dirt tracks, zip along bike trails or weave in and out of traffic, giving the finger to the campus police.

And, as on all Swobo bikes, there’s a bottle opener underneath the saddle. Party on!

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