City Bicycle Co. Type 1 Chicago Review

Discussion in 'Fixed & Singlespeed' started by Firelord777, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Firelord777

    Firelord777 New Member

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]
    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…
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Firelord777

    Firelord777 New Member

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    Part 2
    Wheels and Tires
    The stock Kendas in my opinion were an appropriate choice, and one of the things that give it its comfortable properties is the air pressure. As you can see below, on my road bike, I run a 700 X 23, with maximum rated pressure of 131 PSI. However, the more important thing to look at is its lowest recommended pressure, which hovers in the 90s. Below that and the tire becomes susceptible to pinch flats. Riders will typically lower pressure to increase traction in adverse conditions such as wet roads. So the Kendas the Type 1 comes equipped with has both a slightly safer property of being both more comfortable and giving a somewhat larger contact patch with the ground compared to 23s. In case you were wondering, the wheels come with what looks like an unbranded, nylon rim tape:
    [​IMG]
    There can be some exceptions, such as the Michelin Pro 4 which has a lower max pressure than most 23s (~115 PSI):
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The Kenda’s maximum recommended pressure is 90 PSI, so it’s safe to say it is possible to run lower pressures.
    [​IMG]
    Here are the tire profiles compared to the stock tires of the Type 1 (please excuse the bad focus, I was in a terrible position):
    Vs Vredestein (700 X 23)
    [​IMG]
    Vs Armadillo (700 X 23)
    [​IMG]
    Vs a different variant of the Kenda 700 X 25 on my commuter
    [​IMG]
    The wheel set is an aluminum double-walled set, a durable design. They feel just as light as most other double walled wheels, excluding higher end wheels with lower spoke counts being such as Mavics, Zipps and Shimanos.

    I should point out that the valves on the tubes are Presta valves, which are common for narrow tires in the 700 X 25 and smaller range. These valves have a smaller diameter, which suits it more for skinny tires and tubulars. What this would mean for you, is, unlike the Schrader valves the majority of people are familiar with (this is the valve you see when you fill up your car’s tires and on some mountain bike tires), the Presta valve could potentially require you to purchase either an adapter from your LBS (mine sells them for $1) or a pump that accepts both valves. Just something to keep in mind…
     

  3. Firelord777

    Firelord777 New Member

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    Part 3
    Conclusion
    The Type 1 is at a price point that allows most on tight budgets like me to have an opportunity to ride a simple, cheap, and fun bicycle for a wide range of applications. Understandably, the low-cost could bring a few lower end components such as the frame material as we pointed out, but in the end consumers in this market would probably be more interested in practicality than a race-oriented mindset where every gram counts. And truthfully, it’s honestly a decent bicycle, regardless of what it is made of. For those short trips to the library, quick buys at groceries stores, to longer commutes to school, the Type 1 is a modest, useful and simple bicycle that really shines in these functions. The water bottle cage mount would also allow for a nice refreshing drink.
    [​IMG]
    For longer rides, perhaps one may like to change the saddle or handlebars to their liking, and even as a more serious cyclist, I enjoy riding the Type 1 not only because it’s straightforward, but because I can practice high cadence which can benefit me in terms of efficiency. The saddle can tend to look “curvy” to typical road saddles.
    [​IMG]
    Additional options that may cost extra are different handlebar types, and a rear brake if you’re riding single speed.

    [​IMG]
    CBC claims the Type 1 weighs 24.8 pounds complete. My scale may possibly be a bit off, but I measured 25.11 pounds:
    [​IMG]
    To compare, my road bike, with aluminum frame and carbon fiber fork, weighs around 24 pounds, which is admittedly on the heavy side even for a road bike. A decent aluminum bicycle is around 20-22 pounds, and carbon bikes can drop below the twenties. The few extra pounds may require you to use a tad more energy to carry it up and down stairs compared to higher-end bikes, but at the same time the Type 1 is considerably less expensive. CBC’s higher end offering, the Type 2 is claimed to clock in at a light 21 pounds. Though like I said, the weight won’t really matter in the flats of Miami, perhaps in other regions it may be a more significant factor.
    [​IMG]
    As always, thanks to my little sister who helped me out with taking the photos, if you guys have any questions or request please comment below or send me a PM.

    -Alain

    --- Type 1 Chicago provided for review by Vincent of City Bicycle Co.---
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  4. WabiFGSS

    WabiFGSS Junior Member

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    Thanks for the review.

    For a city bike, commuter, trips to the pub bike bikes like the CityOne make sense. Not a huge loss if someone steals or decides to trash your ride. Commuter bike was a +27 lb 70's era Schwinn. Weight was not even a consideration. Durable rims, tubes and tires were. Option to run fenders and a rack were a must. It may be "cool" to do the messenger bike look, but on a warm muggy day life is soggy enough without having a pad against the back. Totally uncool literally:D. Clearance for fenders and 28mm on this frame? Fender and rack mounted or do you need to choose one or the other?

    Even in a flat area there can be windy days. Urban riding means stop and go, needing to accelerate sometimes fast. Top end is not real important. If you spin up to 30mph you usually have enough top end. Not sure why it seems most stock FGSS are 42 or 44 x16. Bit tall for most unless your riding style is very low comfort cadence. I ride a 42x18. For fixed gear urban riding I would drop the gearing to a 42x20 or lower. Also riding "fat". 700c x28mm. Wouldn't consider anything thinner than 28mm for urban, gravel grinding and touring tires.
     
  5. RollingNoMad

    RollingNoMad Junior Member Tavern Member

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    Thanks

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