Funny thing is that when I think back 20 years or so to living in San Francisco and riding single speed for years on roads with pitches that have multispeed pros riding zig-zag, I never really thought much about bikes with gears as much more than an expensive hassle.
And it never really occurred to me while I was hammering away that I was laying a foundation of bike handling and torque that still pays off to this day.
But consider my eyes back open…
A few months back, I grabbed State’s Montecore and in pretty short order remembered a whole other version of riding a bike. Fixed is a very simple but altogether more concentrated version of turning legs. There’s nothing else that makes the bike and rider a more complete unit than when you’re the gas and for all practical purposes the brakes as well.
Sure there’s a front stopper.
But you’ll very quickly find you’re regulating speed, both quicker and slower, with your legs. You don’t stop pedaling, you simply find yourself using your hip flexors to cut speed… It’s that constant positive and negative, push – pull, all the while turning circles that refines your pedal stroke in a way that just doesn’t happen with gears or a freewheel.
That said, some folks might want single speed rather than making the commitment. Frankly I just wouldn’t understand anyone that rides at the level of the typical PEZ reader wanting a freewheel, but it’s included and a wheel flip away…
The only swap done so far versus the as-is build were to replace the stock pedals. I know a few folks that actually like the clips and straps versus a set of standard road pedals that are infinitely easier to get in and out of, especially in the case you can’t coast.
As for the frame and the few other basic parts, they’re very simple pieces. There’s no frills at all about any of the kit included, from bars to posts to saddle and wheels. Absolutely nothing on this bike would take more than a couple of dollars to replace at any shop, anywhere.
It’s a parts mix that you would expect when there are hardly any parts and the price point is US$429.00 including delivery.
Upside Down Review
Usually these things start out with a bit on the company first, but this story flows a lot more from the road and ride… In fact this is all about the body bike mix. But the bike company that let me get back to my roots a little deserves the mention.
State Bicycle Co. started a few years back in Tempe Arizona and have grown quite a bit over the past few years.
And there’s no big secret to their success… It’s a few guys with fairly artistic eyes and solid work ethic. They’ve also been on the right side of a wave of fixed gear fever that’s really ramped everywhere from college towns to the celebrity circuit…
Their foundation is a solid frame in several very attractive base colors.
To that they’ve added a select group of parts options and chosen the accessory color pallet very well.
The bikes are from left column moving down: Guerilla, Bel-Aire,Montecore. Right column: Sunnyside, Sultan, and Zombie Stomper.
Some of the colors seem outlandish standing alone. I just couldn’t see myself riding a lot of it when taken out of context (and of course there are those special chat room aesthetic experts who know jack shit about anything except what’s ugly), but the guys at State seem to tie things together model to model in a way that will find you not just accepting something as much as loving one of the schemes…
As for the complexity, there isn’t what you might call a “level of” with regard to the bike. There are a lot of review builds that I wouldn’t suggest most folks try and tackle… That’s not the case here.
Sitting in the box it looks like most other builds.
Out of the box, the picture gets a little more clear…
Once you get the wrapping off, it all gets obvious…
From box to street, the process wasn’t 10 minutes… Closer to 5 in fact. By far the easiest assembly of any bike reviewed here in the last 10 years.
The assembly should be simple as there’s basically nothing to a fixed gear bike. It’s stripped of all but the most basic leaving you as both the moto AND the transmission. You’re also to some degree the brakes as you start out. And as you get stronger and more comfortable, you might find you’re virtually all of the brakes.
Just a little different
The guys at State are well in tune with a bit different crowd of cyclists than the typical road race type manufacturers you see at PEZ. In fact they are a different crowd to some degree. But I didn’t get any of that silly ass trash talk / attitude that sometimes comes from different groups of cyclists as I popped in to the HQ to build my bike. Part of that might be down to knowing the group for a while, but it’s most likely down to the crew at State just being a bunch of nice guys that like bikes and haven’t developed the ridiculous complex that effects some of our two wheeled brothers, road and fixed alike.
The thought here is that there are lots of different kinds of bikes and these guys tend to think that there’s something to be gained from all of it versus bitching about anyone that doesn’t do things the way they do.
It makes sense then that you’ll see these bikes being used any place from my traditional road use to stunt bike play and daily commuting. And you’ll still see guys on fixies doing all these forms of riding in the course of a single trip, making a living delivering packages in places like San Francisco…
The frame is solid, the geometry is to the stable side and handling is easy for the bar type. Given your feet are held hostage, I wouldn’t want twitchy… The stiffness is good as well, but the weight here for wheels and frame are likely higher than any top end carbon road frame and wheels. But then this bike is more about the workload and training for most of you roadies than it will be about quickness. It’s a pretty complete package that suites the task.
At day’s end, this is a bike with a single lever and a no “speeds”… Frankly you could geek out on a bike like this and spend 5-6-8 thousand dollars no problem. A super fly-weight custom carbon frame, ISP and a one piece bar and stem, and a single front EE brake mounted to an ENVE fork and all turning a set of Zipp ZedTech track wheels, powered by a custom fab’d crank and bang… a 7 pound missile.
The height of hypocrisy would be my suggesting anything wrong with any of that (especially if it were custom painted as a tribute to the Big Red 1 of WW2).
I had something just like that in mind, but I strangely dismissed it for a bike that cost 30% less than the handlebar set up I was planning.
I’m riding single because I like it and I can give myself a very thorough thrashing, single speed / push-pull wise on a bike that rings up for $429, and that includes shipping.
The funny thing is that this bike made more tongues wag at me last ride than a few of the $10,000 plus bikes I’ve shown up on in the past.
Funny thing cycling… You just never know what counts as fantastic and how much or how little it could cost to find out.
If you’ve been wondering about single speed, you would be just plain stupid not to give it a try at this price.
Find ‘em at State Bicycle.com.