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  1. #1
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    Seeking Recommendations for Single Speed Commuter Bike Under $500

    Hi - I've been researching single speeds for the last few weeks and would appreciate some help narrowing down my search. Most of the options in this price range seem pretty similar (at least to me). Does chromoly vs aluminum frame make a difference? Anything I should pay particular attention to? I'm not sure about straight vs drop bars either, so I'm going to test a few of each and would appreciate any advice. Here's where I've arrived so far in my research:

    Intended usage:
    -- Primarily for ~10 miles round trip daily commute
    -- All weather - year round in NYC (rain, snow, ice...)
    -- Occasional longer ride of 20-50 miles, inc. on pretty well maintained dirt trails

    Desired Specs:
    -- Fenders, ideally full fenders
    -- Wider tires, at least 28c
    -- Option to add a rack would be a plus
    -- Low maintenance
    -- Price ~$500 or less - really the minimum required to get a bike that will serve me well for the next few years+

    Some of the options I'm considering:
    -- Mercier Kilo WT (Save up to 60% off new Mercier Singlespeed Track Bikes - Kilo WT - Save Up To 60% Off Brand new Bicycles)
    -- Motobecane Fixie Cafe (Save Up to 60% Off Road Bikes | Track Bikes | Fixed Gear | Single Speed Bicycles | Motobecane Fixie Flat Bar singlespeed bicycles | Save up to 60% off list prices)
    -- Fuji Declaration (Fuji Bikes | LIFESTYLE | PAVEMENT - CITY SINGLE-SPEED | DECLARATION)
    -- Jamis Sputnik (JAMIS BICYCLES)
    -- Trek Earl (Earl - Trek Bicycle)
    -- Motobecane Fantom Cross UNO (Save Up to 60% Off Motobecane Cyclocross Singlespeed Fixie Bikes - Fantom Cross UNO Track | Singlespeed Cross bikes | Save up to 60% off new bikes)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    pro in someone's theory prooftheory's Avatar
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    Aluminum is stiffer than steel and will give a harsher ride. It will be somewhat lighter and this could be an advantage if you have to carry the bike. It also won't rust if you scratch it by locking it up a lot but this advantage is generally minimal.

    The best bike you have listed is the first one, though all of them are relatively good bikes for your purposes.

    There are two different schools of thought with regard to bars for commuting in a city. One school says that you want risers to bring the body up and improve visibility. The other says that you want somewhat narrowish drops or bullhorns so that you don't have to worry as much about hitting things. This depends on your style of riding more than anything. Things like having lots of places to put your hands are not as important if you are not riding long enough for your wrists to get tired, but you do want to make sure there is a reasonable place to put your brakes so track drops are not recommended.

  3. #3
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    The Kilo WT should meet most of your needs. I have one with full fenders, rear rack and lights for all weather and time usage.

    IMGP1856.jpg
    What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

    Quote Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
    I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.

  4. #4
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    Here's the Nashbar Single Speed Cyclocross Bike @ $400

    Wide tire clearance + Rack and Fender Mounts

    Bikes, Cycling Clothing, Bike Parts & Cycling Gear: Bike Discounts & Deals from Nashbar

    * Read all of the reviews, before calling customer service for sizing...

    Call customer service for sizing suggestions
    Last edited by WestPablo; 06-16-14 at 09:34 AM.

  5. #5
    pro in someone's theory prooftheory's Avatar
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    @WestPablo, do you have actual experience with that bike. Every nashbar branded thing I've ever owned or encountered has been a piece of crap, so I'm a little dubious.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by prooftheory View Post
    @WestPablo, do you have actual experience with that bike. Every nashbar branded thing I've ever owned or encountered has been a piece of crap, so I'm a little dubious.
    Hi there, Prooftheory!

    Everything I've ever order from Nashbar was of good to excellent quality.

    I've never even heard about anything negative, until now...

  7. #7
    Senior Member loubapache's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Here's the Nashbar Single Speed Cyclocross Bike @ $400

    Wide tire clearance + Rack and Fender Mounts

    Bikes, Cycling Clothing, Bike Parts & Cycling Gear: Bike Discounts & Deals from Nashbar

    * Read all of the reviews, before calling customer service for sizing...

    Call customer service for sizing suggestions
    Seems like the 58 cm one is a good fit for 6" tall people.

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    Chromoly steel is stronger than hi-tensile steel or aluminum. It can last for decades, if kept dry and not abused. It generally rides better than aluminum too!

    I would suggest that you get Bullhorn handlebars. Bullhorns offer you a wider selection of hand positions.

    They also look kinda cool too!

  9. #9
    pro in someone's theory prooftheory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Hi there, Prooftheory!

    Everything I've ever order from Nashbar was of good to excellent quality.

    I've never even heard about anything negative, until now...
    Just to be clear, I'm only talking about their branded stuff. Nashbar itself is a highly reliable company. My experiences with nashbar branded stuff include gloves, a mini-pump, shoes, a saddle and a stem. The gloves lasted a week. The mini-pump broke on the first use. The shoes were so poorly sized I had to send them back. The saddle was a butthachet. The stem broke, but admittedly it was crashed. I still shop at nashbar but I don't get their branded stuff any more.

    You didn't really answer my question. Do you have actual experience with this bike or are you simply listing it because it fits OP's requirements? I'd be happy to learn that their frames are awesome, light, vertically compliant and laterally rigid, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by prooftheory View Post
    Just to be clear, I'm only talking about their branded stuff. Nashbar itself is a highly reliable company. My experiences with nashbar branded stuff include gloves, a mini-pump, shoes, a saddle and a stem. The gloves lasted a week. The mini-pump broke on the first use. The shoes were so poorly sized I had to send them back. The saddle was a butthachet. The stem broke, but admittedly it was crashed. I still shop at nashbar but I don't get their branded stuff any more.

    That's strange, I've belonged to a road bike club for many years. We all get most of our stuff from Nashbar. I've never heard anything negative, except for one time, just about a couple years ago, somebody order a wheel set and one of the wheels was bent. However, Nashbar quickly replaced the set, like within a week!


    You didn't really answer my question. Do you have actual experience with this bike or are you simply listing it because it fits OP's requirements? I'd be happy to learn that their frames are awesome, light, vertically compliant and laterally rigid, etc.
    Since, just about all of my personal transactions with Nashbar have been positive, along with all of the indirect things that I've heard, I felt quite comfortable making my recommendation for the Nashbar Single Speed CX bike, eventhough I've had no personal experience with the bike.
    Last edited by WestPablo; 06-16-14 at 10:59 AM.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the advice. Looks like the Kilo WT is the leading contender.

    Is the WT significantly better than the Motobecane Fixie Cafe? I'm leaning towards the WT, but the Motobecane Fixie Cafe is about half the price, so it would be helpful to understand what accounts for the price difference.

    Also, does anyone have experience with the Fuji Declaration or know who it stacks up to the WT? I tested the Declaration at LBS and liked it. Again, I'm leaning towards the WT, but there is appeal to getting something I've ridden and felt comfortable on.

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    @TejanoTrackie: Thanks for sharing a picture of your WT. It's reassuring to see that it accommodates fenders and a rack. (The specs say these are supported, but still nice to see it all put together.) Do you have any recommendations for fenders? Also, how long have you had your WT, amd have you had any issues so far?

    Also, does anyone know if the drop bars would be easily changes to a straight bar if I don't end up liking them?

    Thanks!

  13. #13
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssc79980 View Post
    Is the WT significantly better than the Motobecane Fixie Cafe? I'm leaning towards the WT, but the Motobecane Fixie Cafe is about half the price, so it would be helpful to understand what accounts for the price difference.
    Well for starters, the Moto Fixie Cafe is an aluminum frame with no provision in the rear dropouts for full fenders or a rack. And I know that bd says it has fender mounts, but as usual they are incorrect. Also, there is no chainstay bridge for mounting a rear full fender. The Kilo WT OTOH is chock full of mounts for just about everything, even low rider racks on the front fork. The chainstay bridge is even threaded, so you can bolt rear fenders directly to it.

    Now, as far as the price difference, it comes down to a significant difference in the quality of the frameset, wheels and crankset, which accounts for about 80% of the cost of a bike. Relative to its price, the Kilo WT is a better value than the Fixie Cafe. If you are going to ride your bike in bad weather, it's much better to have the sealed cartridge bearing hubs of the Kilo WT than the loose bearing hubs of the Fixie Cafe.
    What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

    Quote Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
    I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.

  14. #14
    Clark W. Griswold
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    Quote Originally Posted by prooftheory View Post
    Aluminum is stiffer than steel and will give a harsher ride. It will be somewhat lighter and this could be an advantage if you have to carry the bike. It also won't rust if you scratch it by locking it up a lot but this advantage is generally minimal.
    Just for clarification purposes the steel bikes in that price range are going to be heavier (because of lower quality steel) but steel is not always heavy aluminum isn't always light and neither is carbon. It depends on the quality and construction of the material.
    Quote Originally Posted by jhess74 View Post
    just flip it over to fixed and forget about brakes. check out the documentary "premium rush" for more info.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
    Well for starters, the Moto Fixie Cafe is an aluminum frame with no provision in the rear dropouts for full fenders or a rack. And I know that bd says it has fender mounts, but as usual they are incorrect. Also, there is no chainstay bridge for mounting a rear full fender. The Kilo WT OTOH is chock full of mounts for just about everything, even low rider racks on the front fork. The chainstay bridge is even threaded, so you can bolt rear fenders directly to it.

    Now, as far as the price difference, it comes down to a significant difference in the quality of the frameset, wheels and crankset, which accounts for about 80% of the cost of a bike. Relative to its price, the Kilo WT is a better value than the Fixie Cafe. If you are going to ride your bike in bad weather, it's much better to have the sealed cartridge bearing hubs of the Kilo WT than the loose bearing hubs of the Fixie Cafe.
    Thanks for clarifying. Do you also have a recommendation on sizing? Based on the below sizing guide from the order page, I'm between a 53cm and 56cm and unsure of whether it's better to go with the smaller or larger size.

    General Sizing Guide
    49 cm fits most 5'3" up to 5'5"
    53 cm fits most 5'6" up to 5' 8"
    56 cm fits most 5'9" up to 5' 11"
    59 cm fits most 6'0" up to 6'2"
    62 cm fits most 6'3" up to 6' 5"
    http://bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_wt_xiii.htm

  16. #16
    easily distrac jhess74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssc79980 View Post
    Thanks for clarifying. Do you also have a recommendation on sizing? Based on the below sizing guide from the order page, I'm between a 53cm and 56cm and unsure of whether it's better to go with the smaller or larger size.

    General Sizing Guide
    49 cm fits most 5'3" up to 5'5"
    53 cm fits most 5'6" up to 5' 8"
    56 cm fits most 5'9" up to 5' 11"
    59 cm fits most 6'0" up to 6'2"
    62 cm fits most 6'3" up to 6' 5"
    http://bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_wt_xiii.htm

    ¶¶¶¶¶PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Before asking a question on BIKE FIT, check this thread first.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by prooftheory View Post
    @WestPablo, do you have actual experience with that bike. Every nashbar branded thing I've ever owned or encountered has been a piece of crap, so I'm a little dubious.
    I have not seen any of Nashbar's ss/fixed bikes in person, but its also pretty likely that many of the Kilo TT parroters have not touched that bike either.

    I did, however, own & ride one of Nashbar's weird gold-colored singlespeed 29er mountain bikes. It was decent enough for the money - a pretty well put together frame, meh parts. It rode & handled fine for an entry-level bike. But I can tell you that its fit, finish, & equipment was superior to that of a couple of my riding buddies' Bikesdirect ss mtbs. In fact, after trying my bike, a guy with a Hawkeye? Bullseye? talked me into selling mine to him.

    I don't have any proof or inside knowledge, but I'd be willing to bet that a lot Bikesdirect & Nashbar proprietary bikes/frames come out of the same factories...
    Last edited by IAmSam; 06-18-14 at 06:29 AM. Reason: ooops...

  18. #18
    pro in someone's theory prooftheory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAmSam View Post
    I have not seen any of Nashbar's ss/fixed bikes in person, but its also pretty likely that many of the Kilo TT parroters have not touched that bike either.
    Really? It seems like every third fixed-gear bike I see is a Kilo TT. I built one up for my brother. It seems unlikely that the consensus around the Kilo TT Pro is based around nothing.

  19. #19
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    OP, you can eliminate the Sputnik. I have one, and while I really like the ride, it won't fit your needs. Little room for wide tires, and I'm judging that you caould barely fit both 28s and fenders through the rear brake bridge.

    Stock handlebars were track drops with funky interrupter levers mounted at the stem. I had to change all of that out.

    For street use, great. For trail use, not so much. My two centavos.

  20. #20
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prooftheory View Post
    @WestPablo, do you have actual experience with that bike. Every nashbar branded thing I've ever owned or encountered has been a piece of crap, so I'm a little dubious.
    WestPablo is former cfiber, former SlimRider, who doesn't ride SS or FG AFAIK. He has an 80s Univega, a Marin Muirwoods 29er, and some addition more modern road bike that I can't recall. He's adept at web searching and recommending bike models, though. PG

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