sells sturdy, affordable, steel frame fixies that are ideal for riding around town. With numerous color combinations to choose from, you get the look of a customized bike without the customized price. The company recently sent me one of their fixies to test out around the streets of Mill Valley.
The bike arrives almost completely put together in a big box -all you need to do is install the handlebars, front wheel, pedals, and seat. Anyone with common sense can assemble the bike, as the hardest part about building a fixie is the rear wheel and that arrives already attached. The fixie comes complete with all the tools you need for assembly, including three sizes of Allen wrench and a Cone wrench.
Critical Cycles points you to the build video on YouTube that shows you step by step instructions on how to build your bike. One tip- I would recommend using some Park Tool Anti-Seize Compound on the seat post as you are sliding metal into metal.
The Critical Cycles bike includes a flip-flop hub so that you can ride it as fixed-gear or easily switch cogs and cruise on your freewheel like a standard single-speed. I chose to ride mine as a single-speed so I can coast down all the hills around my house.
Speaking of hills, one of the first things I did was change out the front chain ring (46T) for a smaller one (39T) to make easier work of riding up steep hills. The front chain ring has a BMX size Bolt Circle Diameter (BCD), not a road bike one, making it slightly more challenging to find a smaller chain ring to use.
Even with the smaller ring, I have to work hard to get back up the hill to my house when I am wearing a backpack full of groceries. The smaller ring also means I can't go too fast on the flats, but I consider that an acceptable compromise. All you flatlanders will be just fine with the standard setup.
The nice thing about the Critical Cycles fixie is that it comes with a rear brake. While the brake is removable, it is always good to have a backup plan at all times, especially with hills. The front fork is drilled for a brake if you want to add on a front brake as well.
In order to keep the price down, the Critical Cycles fixie uses a generic, no-frills frame made of heavy weight steel, with no cable bosses or water bottle bosses, meaning you need to use zip ties to manage your cables. A more relaxed geometry makes it easier to ride in urban environments than a fixie with traditional track geometry. The wheels are also heavy but bombproof, great for riding through hazardous city streets. The low price point means you won't be as heartbroken if your fixie gets stolen while you are enjoying your PBR or filter coffee.
Bottom Line: Critical Cycles could be called the Uniqlo of fixies, offering good looking urban transport at an affordable price.
The Critical Cycles Fixies
are available in frame sizes 49cm, 53cm, 57cm, and in more than 10 color combinations. The fixies retail for $220 (excluding tax) and can be ordered either from Amazon or the company website.