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Bike question
  • So I’m in the market for a cheap single-speed fixie. I’m buying online because it’s so much fucking cheaper to do it that way. Unfortunately, that means no test rides. (I’d have to drive to Atlanta to test-ride a fixie anyway because Athens I guess is too snobby to cater to such hipsterish trends.)

    I’m looking at two companies, both offering inexpensive, bare-bones, well-regarded single-speed/fixed gear bikes: Critical (http://www.criticalcycles.com/) & Vilano (http://www.vilanobikes.com/). Both of the bikes I’m looking at are about $200 (which is a really reall good value in either case, so if you’ve been thinking about buying a bike…)

    Some measurements: I’m 5’7” with a 30” inseam. I’m also used to mountain bikes, which have lower top tubes (and more stand-over clearance). Both of these irritating companies skip right over my ideal frame size, which is 52cm (I gather that’s a reflection of the seat tube height). Vilano offers a 50cm (w/ 29.5” stand-over) and a 54cm (30.5” s.o.). Critical offers a 49cm (29.5” s.o.) and a 53cm (31” s.o.).

    All the sizing charts I’ve consulted recommend a 53cm or 54cm frame, but I guess maybe I have extremely short legs? Surely I don’t want to order a bike which has a standover height that is greater than my inseam? I was leaning towards the Critical model — it has a couple other features I like — but 49cm seems awfully small (recommended height, according to their website? 5’2” to 5’6”), and the 53cm, though right in my sweetspot according to my height, has a stand-over height that would cut me in two.

    It looks like the best option for me is probably the Vilano 50cm, but I just don’t know. Opinions, testimonials?

  • This is not going to be helpful at all, but I don’t think that I would ever buy a bike that I couldn’t ride first.

  • I am a bit of a noob in this department, but in my experience going smaller isn’t a huge deal. I’m about 5’11” with a 32” inseam or so and went from a 55 cm to a 53 and I found both to be okay. If you’re planning on doing long rides it might matter more, but commuting and riding around town should be fine.

    Of course, I test road the 53 cm before buying it…obviously you want to avoid crowding of your legs and knees when you’re riding, and you need to be able to extend your leg down appropriately.

    I’m with Jeb, though—you should probably head over to Atlanta and try some bikes out before buying (even if you buy online).

  • I’m also in the ‘try before you buy’ camp. Although I know plenty of people who buy bikes online (it’s the only way to do it here, if you’re serious about your bikes) they know their frame size for the brands that they like, so there’s no guesswork… Have fun though!

  • yeah go somewhere to try it out if you can

    I’ve ridden a bike that’s way too small and that’s awful, but in my experience if it’s a little small that’s nbd. (and better than too big)

  • In related bike news, I’m getting used to my new road bike setup. Today’s lesson was that skinny tires aren’t too good at cornering in gravel (I was going through a roundabout that was under construction). Luckily I wasn’t going too fast, but I did manage to get a nice blood blister on the tip of my thumb.

  • today i found out that fixed-gear doesn’t just mean single-speed. i guess i should stop referring to my bike as a fixie.

    genuine question: why a fixie over a single-speed?

    EDIT: i googled it, sounds like it’s mostly bullshit

  • Holy shit, they’re really only $200 apiece?

  • adam said: EDIT: i googled it, sounds like it’s mostly bullshit


  • pollo said: Holy shit, they’re really only $200 apiece?

    Yep, $219 — check the link above. I ordered a 49” Critical yesterday. Free 1-5 day delivery on top of the low price.

    My wife has a 47” Pure Fix, and I rode hers around for a bit yesterday. Decided that going one size up and raising the seat post was my best option if I didn’t want to be castrating myself everytime I come off the saddle. So that’s exciting.

  • adam said: today i found out that fixed-gear doesn’t just mean single-speed. i guess i should stop referring to my bike as a fixie.

    genuine question: why a fixie over a single-speed?

    EDIT: i googled it, sounds like it’s mostly bullshit

    Haha, I can’t claim to understand it myself.

    Fixies aside, I’m super excited just to go single-speed after years of riding a mountain bike. That thing had, you know, 24 gears and front suspension and clipless pedals and on and on. Too much nonsense. I want simplicity.

    I’ve been thinking I’d keep my new bike on the single-speed setting, but Critical Cycles come with a flip-flop rear hub that can easily convert to fixed-gear from single-speed and vice versa. I guess I’ll experiment with fixed-gear a bit just to see what all the fuss is about, but I don’t expect it to stick.

  • So how’s the purported quality of these things? That just seems incredibly low to me.

  • Well, if you start with the optimistic-but-nevertheless-reasonable assumption that since there’s just not much TO a bare bones single-speed bicycle, it shouldn’t cost that much, it’s a little less surprising. There are actually four or five really solid brands making fixies for $300 or less, and if you search for recommendations, the names you keep seeing are Critical, Vilano, and Pure Fix (which are a little more expensive than the others). Lists like this — http://www.squidoo.com/five-best-cheap-fixie-bikes-under-300 — are all over the net, and I read a ton of them. Not one negative review of Critical Cycles (including many accolades from bike bloggers, shop owners, and other folks in the scene), and their Amazon rating is sky-high.

    I’ll report back once I get the thing put together and have a chance to ride it around a bit.

  • To better answer your question, though, the quality is purported to be … solid. That’s all: bare bones, no frills, dependable. Nothing more than that. But those are exactly the characteristics I was looking for in a single-speed bike, so that suits me. I wanted a bike I didn’t feel the need to improve with titanium accessories.

  • They’re also made the fuck in China, so there’s that.