After seeing Crusher’s article on the evolution of polo bike(s), I was reminded of my own strange journey to my current ride. Long ago, when Karl was texting me every Saturday to see if I wanted to come play his stupid game, I rode around on a Mercier Kilo TT, all chrome, with some nicer wheels and other hipster bits. It was fixed gear, with no brakes, and if I recall correctly, a 44/15 gearing.
Eventually I traded that bike (and by traded I mean even trade, in the back corner of a shopping mall) for a Kona Paddywagon. I was still riding fixed, but reluctantly added a front brake.
The Kona had a much more forgiving geometry than the strict track angles of the Kilo TT, and while some might argue this made it less agile on the road, the truth is… I didn’t notice. I DID however notice that I crashed a lot less, sat a bit more upright, and felt more confident. I’ll chalk this up to either the Kona’s geometry or the fact that I grew some brain matter and bought a brake set. Brakeless is pretty stupid. (No one likes hipsters, but dead hipsters are smellier than live ones – so invest in some brakes.)
To be honest, that bike was fantastic. I played polo on the Kona for over a year, and never had any issues. It changed colors three or four times, and it matured from having caliper brakes, to V brakes, and eventually disc. But beyond the color and brake changes, it stayed pretty much the same (the rear wheel is almost 4 years old).
Then came an irresistible sale at a particular online retailer, and before I knew it, I had recycled the Kona back into the Lancaster United Bike Pool, and taken ownership of a new All City Dropout. Now, before I praise the All City, I want to make everyone aware that all of my love for this bike came AFTER I built and rode it. I was just ready for something new. I have bike A.D.H.D. and after six months, every bike I own goes through some sort of transformation. So it was just time.
Out of the box, the All City came with a really clean grey powder coated finish, and relatively simple (if not leaning towards elementary) decals. It is relatively light weight for a frame advertised as a fixed/freestyle frame, and is gusseted and enforced in all the right locations. The frame also features an internal headset, rear 990 brake mounts (removable) and some damn sexy dropouts with built in chain tensioners.
The All City is sold as a frameset, meaning it comes with the frame and the fork. Since I was already running disc, and the new owner of my Kona was also hoping to run discs, I contracted my good friend Tony from Mountain Top Fabrications to weld on a IS disc tab to the fork. While I was at it, I went down to the local bike shop and picked up a 19t freewheel. It was long overdue. About an hour and half later, I had a new bike, with front discs and a cool feature allowing me to coast. whoda thunk it.
The geometry feels spot on. The bike sprints well, and has a short back end making turns and stability right at home. You can see the geometry here http://allcitycycles.com/bikes/dropout_framesets.
So that’s where my bike currently stands. The All City is holding up fantastically, showing no signs of fatigue or abuse, so my best guess is I’ll be selling this frameset to a friend somewhere down the line and writing another article about my newest bike. I have a hard time comparing it to my other bikes because the switch to freewheel alone has changed the way I play so tremendously that any comparison to the past would be kind of pointless. But, that aside, the Dropout is great. For the money (about $400 frame and fork) it can’t be beat.