It’s no secret that I love my Wabi Cycles Classic. If I didn’t own one, I’d still be trying to figure out how to sneak it past the CFO of the house. The ride quality of its lightweight Reynolds 725 steel frame reminds me of my old Ciocc and Basso from the early 90s, when I first got into road cycling. And with geometry more like a road racer than a track bike, it offers considerably more comfort and handles better on the street than most of the competition. But the current selling price of $695 is significantly higher than many other fixed gear bikes I’ve seen online and at Interbike, which can be attributed to the much higher quality parts specification throughout. So don’t take this as me knocking the other brands, I’m just using this as an example of getting what you pay for. The 55 cm Classic weighs in at 18.4 pounds without pedals. That’s for a steel bike. With so many members on cycling forums asking about a good choice for a first single speed / fixed gear, I figured it was time to clarify what makes Wabi Cycles stand out. Here’s how other brands stack up:
Caraci offers steel and aluminum fixed gear bikes. Their 53cm size weighs 26 pounds, and that’s the $400 aluminum model. The same size in a $340 steel bike is 29 pounds. Those deep section aero wheels are certainly trendy, but they make a huge difference in weight. If you’re cool with trying to get those bad boys up to speed, knock yourself out.
Pure Fix Cycles come in a wide array of color options for $325, and we like the fact that they also offer their Micro Series, which is a line of smaller fixed gear and single speed bikes for kids. A 54cm adult bike with has a published weight of 23 pounds, which is probably fairly respectable, given the aero wheels and hi-ten frame. I’d actually like to hear from someone who owns or has ridden one.
Sole is another brand that gives you plenty of color choices, with a $379 price tag. Their website lists a few of the components by their manufacturer, but mostly it’s just a generic description. Frame and fork are both hi-ten, and the their “Deep Dish 50mm” wheelset contributes to the 26 pound weight, although they don’t specify the size. A good balance as well, and another brand that I would appreciate some feedback on.
Republic is unique in that you can build your bike online, choosing whatever colors you wish. More of a fashion statement than a serious ride (don’t hate, one look at their press page confirms this), this $399 hi-ten bike comes in at 26-28 pounds with 43mm wheels wrapped in 23c rubber. If individuality is more important than performance, this may be the one for you. Just keep in mind that your single speed road bike will weigh more than some full suspension mountain bikes.
Big Shot Bikes is similar to Republic, in that you can custom build your bike for $429. (It should be noted that their website builder wasn’t working when I visited) For the extra $30, you get a 4130 chromoly frame and a decent weight savings, as the Big Shot weighs 23-25 pounds, depending on size and options. Definitely worth it. More than just the weight, it probably has a much nicer “road feel” than hi-ten.
That covers some of the lower to mid-range offerings, but you get the idea. BikesDirect has several cromoly bikes under $300, including the Windsor Hour, Hour Plus, Motobecane Messenger and Track, plus their Dawes SST. None of them have a published weight, but they don’t include deep aero wheels either, so expect them to be in the low 20s. Other bikes in the $300 price range include Schwinn’s Racer, as well as SE Racing’s beer-themed bikes, the Draft, Lager, and Tripel. Fuji has some bikes that can found on sale in the $400 range, such as their Classic, which weighs just over 22 pounds for a cromoly bike. Even in the $600-$700 range, I didn’t find another bike under 19 pounds. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, only that it’s hiding very well.
What’s the point of this article, besides me expressing my opinion? Well, if you want a fixed gear as a fashion accessory, don’t expect to pay that much, other than a huge performance penalty. (There are some exceptions) If you want a fixed gear or single speed that’s light and handles like your geared road bike, pay a little more. Skip the deep aero wheels, hi-ten frame, or both. It’s worth it. And if you like the idea of a bike with sealed bearings all around, that’s virtually maintenance-free, you may want to look into the Wabi. You can pay more, but you won’t necessarily get more quality, or less weight. Oh, you also get legendary customer service. The owner of Wabi Cycles will build you bike with you right over the phone. Instead of choosing colors, you get to select crank arm length, bar width, stem length, and even gearing.