Last month, in anticipation of a few competitive street races and alleycat events coming up, we set out to build an ultimate urban machine.
This fixed-gear track bike is built on a scandium frame from LA-based Wabi Cycles and assembled with components picked to balance both rideability on city streets as well as pure speed.
The result is a capable urban rocket that can leap from a standstill to 25mph in a few pedal strokes, swerve past potholes in traffic, skid to a stop with back pressure on the cranks, and take in the bumps of the road. Below is a breakdown of the parts and components on our ultimate fixie’s frame. —Stephen Regenold
Crankset: SRAM Omnium. Super strong, super stiff, the Omnium Crankset offers a 5mm-thick chainring and smooth performance as you crank up to speed. We went with a 48-tooth gear for extra power (matched on back with a 16-tooth cog). Mates with 1/8” chain. $256.
Chain: The Shadow Conspiracy Interlock V2. Half-link style 1/8” chain originally developed for the BMX world. Extra tough design for responsiveness and mission-critical strength during deceleration and braking at high speed. A no-brainer upgrade, the Interlock V2 costs about $30.
Rear Cog: Surly Fixed. Chrome-plated steel gear for track hub on rear wheel. 1/8” tooth thickness. We went with the 16-tooth version (available in 13- to 22-tooth setups). The Surly Fixed cogs cost about $25.
Frame: Wabi Lightning. Made of scandium, this lightweight frame is four years old but still one of our favorites ever made. It came as a complete build from Wabi Cycles of Los Angeles, a boutique fixed-gear builder that concentrates on track-style bikes made for racing and road rides. In our hands, the Lightning frame has stood up to thousands of miles of urban riding and dozens of races. Our original build is reviewed here. Sadly, the scandium frame is now discontinued.
Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeaters Ti. Mountain biking pedals are tough and versatile. The Eggbeaters Ti are also light as a feather, weighing a miniscule 174 grams per pair. Made of titanium and stainless steel. Built to last for years (our last pair cranked for eight years of hard use) but not cheap. $425 for the pair.
Handlebar: Specialized Pista Track. No bar tape on these ultra stiff drop handles means bike gloves are a requirement with the Pista Track. Made of a burly aluminum with a deep drop position for sprints and hills. Comfortable wider hand grip on top. We mated the Pista bars to Specialized’s Pro CLP aluminum stem, a road or mountain-bike compatible part that makes for a bomber cockpit setup.
Saddle: Specialized Romin Pro. A carbon-reinforced shell with thin foam padding gives stiffness and durability (and light weight). Contoured channels on the Romin Pro, which costs $200, maximize blood flow and thus comfort and performance on long rides.
Carbon rails on the saddle connect to the seatpost, for which we picked Specialized’s Pro Road Carbon 2 Bolt. This “race-ready” post offers a carbon mast with a two-bolt head assembly with aluminum cradle. Weight is 215 grams. Seatpost is $145.
Tires: Continental SuperSport Plus. Glass and debris are realities of the urban road. As such, we bank “super heavy duty,” as the company puts it, on our tire choice. This SuperSport Plus tire has an extra-thick casing rubber and a purported “flat-proof” belt. So far, that claim has stood up after more than 100 miles of riding. Advertised for messengers, hardcore commuters and fixie riders. 700 × 25C size. $45 apiece.
Wheels: Mavic Ellipse Track. Balancing speed for races and workaday durability and performance for city streets, the Mavic Ellipse Track have low-drag aluminum rims and bladed steel spokes. Flip-flop rear hub for freewheel or fixed. 30 mm deep welded rim. Low spoke count (20 front and rear). Not the lightest at 1895 grams a pair but solid for all-around use and not a bad price either. $550 for the set.
—Stephen Regenold is the editor and founder of GearJunkie. He wrote recently on the track bike trend in the post “The Fixie is Dead, Long Live the Fixie!”