For whatever reason I recently decided that I needed to build myself a new lightweight tourer, day-tripper, ultralight overnight bivy, commuter, go-fishing, take a picnic, audax, tracks & trails, just riding around in a t-shirt sort of a bike… so of course I did.
Naturally in this context ‘needed’ nearly always means ‘wanted’ but you know.. bikes. It also had to be a fixed wheel, having been riding and racing fixed down here in Cornwall for something like 14 years now. It’s not always ‘practical’ but it is very enjoyable and puts my head in a very chilled out place that doesn’t always happen with gears… and the lack of maintenance is great, particularly in winter; I much prefer riding bikes to cleaning bikes. Besides I just like simple things, simple is always better when you just want to ride a bike.
Up until the last couple of years or so something like 90% of my domestic riding was on a fixed wheel, recently however I’ve been enjoying much more of the flavour of riding that, as well as knocking around on a few local trails, involves carrying stuff… laptop + work, camera gear, stove and picnic, fishing clobber etc etc. My Surly Crosscheck does a brilliant job at that, as, admittedly, does my old Salsa Casseroll.. but I was missing the fixed wheel. I still love to hammer around on my DeSalvo fixed wheel road bike, which will be 10 next year, but something a little more relaxed and useful in ways beyond going somewhat quickly was in order. The Allday frame from London-based Brother Cycles managed to tick all my particular boxes in a way that very little else managed to do.. steel, traditional geometry, rack and mudguard eyelets, and clearance for fat rubber. The only other frame I’ve seen that manages to come close is the Condor Tempo but that’s almost twice the price and can only take a 28c tyre… and for some reason they did a weirdly unappealing banana thing with the seat-stays.
Built up mostly with parts I had kicking around it’s turned out to be a super ride. The first time I slung a leg over it immediately felt like something I’d been riding for years, instant familiarity. Just perfect, it rides like a nice steel frame should. I’ve geared it much lower than the 48 x 16 I use in summer (48 x 18 in winter) on my road fixed wheel to suit its intended use. It’s running 44 x 18 which keeps climbing Cornwall’s hills a nicely chilled experience even with a couple of kg of gear onboard. I run out of spin on the flat at about 25mph and downhill closer to 30 but that’s OK, it’s not a racing bike. A comfy 18-19mph cruise happens at a cadence of about 100rpm which is just perfect. In retrospect I should have built the rear wheel with the disc version of the DT R460 rims since I don’t need a brake back there, but I just wasn’t really thinking about it, something that happens worryingly often… The DT rims aren’t flash but they’re cheap and good.. and I can run them tubeless which I couldn’t do with the nice Kinlin low-profile box-section rims that were the alternative I considered.
I rather suspect I’ll be enjoying very many miles with this bike. I’ve got a lightweight Tubus Fly rack kicking around somewhere which will be perfect for carrying a bit more than I can fit in a saddle bag. I’ll bung some mudguards on this weekend ready for winter, and when summer rolls around again I think I can squeeze a 35c or 38c knobby tyre in for some of the undemanding trails around here. Good fun.