Hello fellow TwoSpokers, With the holidays just round the corner, and a fresh new year, it could be the perfect time to start looking forward to another fun season of cycling, and perhaps even introduce another friend or family member to the cycling world. One nice way of doing so would be taking a look at some affordable single speeds/fixed geared (SS/FG) bicycles on the market today. These bikes, as many of us know, are user friendly, require less maintenance, and for the most part, they are generally cheaper – not to mention that they can be very fun not only for experienced cyclists, but also for those that show an interest in getting into cycling. The bike reviewed here is the Type 1 “Chicago” from City Bicycle Co, or CBC for short, currently offered for $259 shipped. This model is intended for college students and other people looking for an economical form of transportation. CBC has two main variants of bikes, the Type 1, and the Type 2. Initially, it may seem like the two models have only a few differences, namely in the frame and fork. But the main difference lies in the material, the Type 1 is made of steel, while the Type 2 is made from a lighter aluminum. City Bicycle Co. was established a few years ago back in 2007 by three college students from University of California – Davis. Originally, they started out as a go-to student-run repair shop for bicycles of other classmates. Soon afterwards, they formed a close relationship with a Chinese supplier that enabled them to produce bicycles with the design founders like Vincent had in mind – oversized, aero tubing with a road geometry. After a while, they began receiving more orders for bikes and accessories and now have offices in Sacramento where several of their employees are also former students of UC-Davis. The Type 1 is mainly aimed at college students like me in search of an economical but reliable bike to commute to and from school. So how good of a bike are these ambitious alumni offering for the money? Let’s first take a look at the specs: • Bottom bracket: Neco sealed cartridge with square taper, 68x103mm • Brake: Promax dual pivot alloy caliper, 22.2mm brake lever • Chain: KMC Z410 • Crank set: Lasco 170mm, 44T, alloy • Fork: High tensile steel • Frame: High tensile steel • Gear ratio: 44/16 • Handlebars: 25.4mm clamp, alloy • Headset: Neco 1-1/8" threadless • Hubs: City high flange, sealed bearings, 100mm front, 120mm rear • Pedals: Wellgo alloy pedals • Saddle: Velo performance suede saddle • Seat post: 25.4x300mm • Stem: 60mm extension with 10 degree angle • Tires & tubes: Kenda 700x25c, 48mm presta valve • Rims: 700c double walled alloy rims with 30mm profile. First Impressions The Type 1 came packaged just like most other bicycles, well-padded with some disassembled portions like the wheel and handlebars. The majority of assembly, is, again, like most other bikes, attach handlebars, wheels, seatpost, putting air in the tires, and front wheel. Most of the time I spent was actually removing all the wrapping. The whole process I would say should take around 15 minutes, probably less if you have more experience assembling bikes. Or if you have a stand… Doing the once over, I was delighted to see the chain is properly lubricated, chain correctly tensioned, and everything basically running smoothly. My sample came with the flip flop hub on the single speed side (other side is fixed gear). Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to err on the safe side and have your LBS give it a quick check in case you missed anything. When I first rode the Type 1, the ride quality was notably smooth. Gearing was suitable for speeds in the upper teens and low twenties, any higher and I could start feeling a bit under geared. The stock gearing is 44:16, which in my opinion is perfect for keeping a steady pace while enabling easy stop and go in urban environments. The pedals are made from an alloy, so they aren’t plastic. Strictly in my personal experience, they can feel a bit large for my feet, since the majority of the time I spend riding are on clipless pedals. But they’re very grippy and haven’t had any issues with them. Ride Quality As previously mentioned, the Type 1 offers a smooth ride. I attribute this to two main aspects of the bike: tires and frame material. Tires and tire pressures is perhaps one of the factors that contributes significantly to ride quality. Obviously frame material can be just as crucial, but in this case, the stock tires that the Type 1 comes with are Kenda 700 X 25. The tread is mostly smooth, with shallow indentations running on top. Compared to 700 X 23s, a 25 can generally offer the ability to run lower pressures that enables the tire to still resist pinch flats. This also means any bumps and imperfections on the road will be dampened in contrast to a rock hard 700 X 23. There may be a small penalty in rolling resistance, however, for its purpose I think a 700 X 25 is well suited to the bike, since it’s not really designed to be a purebred racing bike, and for the intended market it is a favorable compromise to add comfort. The frame and fork is made of high-tensile steel. This is the kind of steel normally used on the majority of department store bikes and lower end bicycles. There are other types of steel such as 4130 chromoly, and 531 Reynolds, which are slightly stronger than hi-tensile steel. This allows manufacturers to build lighter bicycles, but on the other hand they are also more expensive. This is not to say hi-ten steel is unfavorable, it is in fact, more than sufficiently strong. Since steel is ordinarily a bit more flexible than say, aluminum or carbon fiber, it is known to offer a springier ride, absorbing a lot of shock. Under adverse road conditions, or, to put it bluntly, in off-road conditions over gravel and grass, the bike amazingly still retains a lot of its shock absorbing characteristic, though obviously it was considerably bumpier than a paved route. Out of the saddle, the front wheel manages to behave in a stable and well-behaved manner. My sample came with riser bars, so it did feel strange compared from the drop bars of a road bike, but nonetheless, it is capable of presenting a secure anchor point for short sprints. If it were up to me though, I would go for drop bars as a personal choice, which can come in handy when charging through headwinds. It also has that same, invigorating sound that I love and crave to hear – the “whoosh whoosh” when mashing the pedals out of the saddle in harmony as the bike rocks from side to side. Gearing The 44:16 gear ratio provides around 72.5 gear inches using Sheldon Brown’s calculator (http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/) Personally, as I have said, this is a versatile gear ratio for most roads, at least here in Miami where everything is flat. It may possibly be a different story in hilly areas. One caveat to this is that I once had a similarly geared SS/FG. I imagine my experience would be similar for most others. Back then, the 44:16 was admittedly a bit hard for me to mash, particularly at stop signs, where stopping and going felt sluggish. Now I regularly ride A group rides, and perhaps my legs may have gotten used to pushing more power into the pedals, and therefore the 44:16 feels much better. My point is, that your body, if not yet adapted to cycling, will get used to it the more you ride. There are some SS/FG riders equipped with much higher gearing, and I feel 44:16 is a great start for most people.