All City Cycles 2015

While checking out the steel wares being displayed at NAHBS 2015, a friend of mine mentioned seeing some nice new stuff coming from All City Cycles, a company that I’ve been watching for some time. Apparently, though, I haven’t been watching them closely enough.

All City seems to be one of the very few companies that fill the niche-gap between inexpensive Tange steel frames and expensive custom 853-type frames. At the bottom, you have companies like Surly with cheap (about $500), mass-produced, no frills steel frames. I’ve never been a fan of Surly because their frames are no better than any entry-level steel production bike from any big-name manufacturer, yet by the time you build a full bike, you’ll be paying way more than an off-the-shelf Trek, Marin, etc. Next, you have companies like Soma Fabrications, that offer much better products at moderate prices (roughly $500-$1000), which actually are nice enough to justify an inexpensive bike build. After that, nowadays you pretty much jump up to about $2000 for a semi- or full-custom Columbus or Reynolds tubed frameset. Every once in a blue moon, a big company like Raleigh might offer a quality steel frameset for around $1500, but generally this is an under-served market.

That’s why All City’s bikes and frames are pretty exciting. The Mr. Pink road frame uses Columbus Zona tubes, custom stainless odropouts, internal top cable routing, a tapered steel fork, and has an MSRP of about $1100. Plus, All City designed enough clearance for bigger tires and/or fenders. Nice. (And if you don’t get the Mr. Pink reference, then you can’t own this bike.)

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above: All City Mr. Pink frameset (allcitycycles.com)

My personal favorite, though, is All City’s Macho King frameset, a cross rig fabricated from Reynolds 853 tubes and a Whiskey 7 carbon fork. It boasts similar frame specs as the Mr. Pink, but is disc ready.

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above: All City Macho King frameset (allcitycycles.com)

All City also makes a single-sped version, the Nature Boy 853 – apparently available as a frameset (also $1200) but mostly seen as a complete bike.

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above: All City Nature Boy 853 (allcitycycles.com)

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2 thoughts on “All City Cycles 2015

  1. I came upon your site as a result of researching a Pashley Guv. Thanks for some excellent information that helped me make a buying decision..

    Your All City entry is an interesting read. Curious how you’ve never been a fan of Surly, yet seem to be okay with City Bikes—both owned by QBP in MN.

    While still very much a neophyte, it is my understanding that Surly uses 4130 Chromoly Steel in their frames. While not Reynolds 531, it is my understanding that this is a considerable step up from an “entry level” bike.

    I have a Surly LHT at our summer place in CT. While I grant that I could possibly have been drawn into the marketing hype, my limited experience is that this bike is a considerable upgrade from the stuff the big box stores are peddling.

    Jus’ sayin.

    Thanks for a great blog.

    GA

    • Thanks for your comment, and sorry to bust on Surly a bit. 4130 cromoly actually dates back to the 1920’s when it was used for aircraft tubing. It’s been used in bikes since at least the 1960’s and today is the lowest grade tubing used in “bike shop” bikes (as opposed to department store bikes, which use high tensile steel – maybe that’s what you mean by big box stores). But that doesn’t mean it’s junk – with all the improvements in manufacturing techniques (butting, tapering, size-specific butting, etc.), you can make a decent 4130 frame. But looking at the Surly Pacer road frame (4130) as an example, it’s a pretty mediocre frame with butted main tubes, but non-butted rear triangle tubes (and probably head tube). For the same price, you can get a Soma Smoothie road frame made from Tange Prestige heat-treated tubing, with butted tubes all around – stronger and lighter. Many compare this tubing to Reynolds 725. Surly used to really shine through in their offerings of special-purpose frames for hauling, big tires, etc., but now lots of companies make those frames too. To their credit, some Surly frames are offered in a wider range of sizes for very short or tall riders. I think the Pacer is offered in 9 or 10 sizes, versus 3-6 sizes for many mass produced bikes. But, again, within the most common see range of 52-62 cm, both Surly and Soma provide sizes in 2 cm increments. In rare cases where you find a new “bike shop bike” (Raleigh, Trek, etc.) cromoly frame for sale (usually because a bike was cannibalized for parts), you’ll see these 4130 frames sell for $150-250. To me, that’s what a Surly frame should sell for, as long as you can find a lot nicer frames for $500ish from others.
      QBP owns all sorts of companies, but it’s really just a holding company. I don’t think QBP itself makes anything; they started out as a parts distributor and just started buying up their suppliers. They’re about as evil as Trek nowadays, but hard to avoid!
      Cheers,
      Dave

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