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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Entry Level SS/Fixed - Top 5 affordable/quality mix

    Hi all. Been a long time since I posted on RBR. Wife and I had a baby 4 years ago and I got a job with no shower/bike locker setup so my riding days dwindled to mainly mountain biking on the weekend and running during the week because it was convenient.

    Good news. My company moves into a new building next week with SHOWERS and secure area to lock up bikes!!!! My old road bike is an entry level Bianchi Brava (Sora components anyone! - hey it was affordable) with 10,000 miles on it and I am due for a new bike. A few years back I built up a SS mtn bke that I love riding.

    So I want to buy a new SS/Fixed gear bike for commuting as an XMAS present!!! I want to buy new and keep it under or around $700. I suspect building up from scratch will be expensive and I don't have many misc. road parts laying around.

    I am looking for advice for your top 3-5 most affordable SS/fixed gear bikes that are also of decent quality. I would like to put a rack on the back for commuting (tried bike bag in past, didn't like it), and while I suspect I will keep it SS, a flip-flop hub to tried fixed gear would be nice.

    I did some searching of posts here last night and two bike appear to standout in the forums:
    - Schwinn Madison
    - Bianchi San Jose

    Any bad things to say about either one above, or others you can recommend. I understand the Madison does NOT have rack mounts so that may be out. I hate to try a rack mount that attaches to the seat post as those are heavy and flimsy in my experience. It also looks the the San Jose is SS only, no fixed gear option.

    As of right now I am leaning towards the Bianchi, but my info is limited. Also, not sure this is important, but on my MTN bike SS, I am running 32:18 gearing. I live in San Diego - lots of hills on the trails and the roads. I can make most of the hills at that gearing. I am thinking 42:16 or 42:17 for a road bike. I went for a road ride yesterday and run a 42 front ring. I tried to stay in the 17 in the back most of the day and for the most part succeeded, but did downshift a few times. Some of the hills were a ***** but I didn't walk at all.

    Looking for any advice, input on what else I might want to consider and why.

    Thanks.

    PS - darn, only one post! All my old posts must have been wiped out when they upgraded the forum software. It has been a good 4 years since I posted I am sure, but my username and password still seem to work. Odd.

  2. #2
    Baltic Scum
    Reputation: seeborough's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickel II
    Hi all. Been a long time since I posted on RBR. Wife and I had a baby 4 years ago and I got a job with no shower/bike locker setup so my riding days dwindled to mainly mountain biking on the weekend and running during the week because it was convenient.

    Good news. My company moves into a new building next week with SHOWERS and secure area to lock up bikes!!!! My old road bike is an entry level Bianchi Brava (Sora components anyone! - hey it was affordable) with 10,000 miles on it and I am due for a new bike. A few years back I built up a SS mtn bke that I love riding.

    So I want to buy a new SS/Fixed gear bike for commuting as an XMAS present!!! I want to buy new and keep it under or around $700. I suspect building up from scratch will be expensive and I don't have many misc. road parts laying around.

    I am looking for advice for your top 3-5 most affordable SS/fixed gear bikes that are also of decent quality. I would like to put a rack on the back for commuting (tried bike bag in past, didn't like it), and while I suspect I will keep it SS, a flip-flop hub to tried fixed gear would be nice.

    I did some searching of posts here last night and two bike appear to standout in the forums:
    - Schwinn Madison
    - Bianchi San Jose

    Any bad things to say about either one above, or others you can recommend. I understand the Madison does NOT have rack mounts so that may be out. I hate to try a rack mount that attaches to the seat post as those are heavy and flimsy in my experience. It also looks the the San Jose is SS only, no fixed gear option.

    As of right now I am leaning towards the Bianchi, but my info is limited. Also, not sure this is important, but on my MTN bike SS, I am running 32:18 gearing. I live in San Diego - lots of hills on the trails and the roads. I can make most of the hills at that gearing. I am thinking 42:16 or 42:17 for a road bike. I went for a road ride yesterday and run a 42 front ring. I tried to stay in the 17 in the back most of the day and for the most part succeeded, but did downshift a few times. Some of the hills were a ***** but I didn't walk at all.

    Looking for any advice, input on what else I might want to consider and why.

    Thanks.

    PS - darn, only one post! All my old posts must have been wiped out when they upgraded the forum software. It has been a good 4 years since I posted I am sure, but my username and password still seem to work. Odd.

    Mr. Nickel,
    Let me welcome you back. I, too, have a four year old and am splitting time between riding and playtime. Both are great ways to spend time, no?
    To reply to your questions: I have a few fixed/SS rides that are in your price range, but none with rack or mudguard braze-ons. However, my next project is a Motobecane frame from bikeisland.com.
    Frame/fork/HS $220
    SuginoRD cranks/BB $100
    a decent enough wheel set on ebay $250
    Kalloy stem/bar/post $ 80
    Tektro levers/calipers $70
    rack/fenders $50
    your favorite saddle priceless

    Looks like $750 to $800 could get you pretty nice ride.
    Last edited by seeborough; 12-01-2008 at 06:21 PM.
    Was juckt es die stolze Eiche, wenn sich ein Schwein an ihr kratzt?

  3. #3
    Not a rocket surgeon.
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    I commute on a SE Lager with fenders and I picked it up at Performance for 450.00 with the fenders. Not the best but not too bad either. I dont commute far though. About 4 miles to the train. then 5 miles from the train to work. Its a nice ride at 430 am except in the Chicago snow.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: David Loving's Avatar
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    There are seven bikes from $479-299 at bikes direct and they all look decent to me. Check out the trek soho s and the cannondale capo.
    Waxahachie, Texas
    Biciclette Gios

    "She loves to limbo. That much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"

  5. #5
    Bikes Belong
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    How bout a CycloCross SINGLESPEED?
    This one from Bikes Direct. I believe BikeIsland has the frameset but it has the fugly decals:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/uno.htm

    I kinda like this REDLINE 925 too, I believe its under $700,
    And the gearing looks good for hills:
    http://www.redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/925.html

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I just checked the IRO website. They have some decent builds that come in at about
    $ 700+. I am running 42/16 on a cannondale I converted to SS. It's about 70 gear inches.
    Waxahachie, Texas
    Biciclette Gios

    "She loves to limbo. That much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    The two you mentioned (Schwinn Madison and Bianchi San Jose) are my favorites. A couple other good ones that are mostly commute-ready are the Redline 925 pictured above and the Raleigh One-way. I wouldn't rule out the Madison because of the lack of rack mounts. A couple of P-clamps will solve that problem.

    Disclaimer: My commuter bike is a Bianchi Volpe that I converted to single speed. The San Jose is basically the single speed version of the Volpe. Same frame with track ends instead of horizontal dropouts.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I bought a Motobecane Uno from Bikes Direct (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/uno.htm) a few weeks ago for a commuter and I couldn't be happier. I had considered several other options, especially the One-Way and the 925, but decided I'd like a bike so cheap I wouldn't think twice about leaving it out all day.

    I went back and forth on different offerings from BD, but chose the Uno because it had just about everything I wanted -- drop bars, brakes, rack and fender bosses, a fixed gear and a freewheel, and geometry very similar to my road bikes -- for $400 shipped. Weeks later I've stripped off the rear brake and removed the toe clips and reflectors, but the only thing I've felt a need to swop out or add were a pair of old fenders I've had sitting around.

    The bike mailed promptly, with little assembly required, and I was impressed that it even included little details like decent rim tape. I did true and tension the wheels, but they were probably ridable right out of the box. All in all I'm very pleased.

  9. #9
    Old and Fixed, Moderator
    Reputation: Dave Hickey's Avatar
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    Welcome back...

    If I were to buy a budget/quality fixed gear today, I would go with either a Schwinn Madison or an IRO Mark V or Angus..

    IMHO, the Madison has a charm/class to it that few other bikes in that price range have..

    The IRO Mark V is great if you want to run SS and fixed since it has routing for the rear brake

    The Angus is more of a pure fixed gear....



    There are plenty of offerings in this price range and more come out every month... Pick the one that speaks to you.....
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    There are lots of great bikes in your price range, so it will be hard to choose one. Right now I have a Kona Paddy Wagon which isn't half bad. Steel frame, plenty of room for big tires and/or fenders. Has lower rear rack mounts and two water bottle mounts. Geometry is more road bike than track bike. You might want to have a look.

  11. #11
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    Hey - thanks for the replies, advice and insight everyone. I haven't made a decision yet, but what is looking most interesting to me is the IRO Cycles route. Sounds stupid, but I get a really good vibe from the website and found a lot of positive reviews on the web. Someone said "go with the one the speaks to you" and that is it.

    At first I was bummed because, even though the "build a bike" feature says the Mark V has braze-ons for a rack, I called and that is a misprint. The rob/jon frame had them but was discontinued and they are not going to have a repalcement frame until spring 09 called the phoenix.

    But, the other gem I saw is lonesomesteve educatng me on p-clamps. I had never heard of them before.

    I am going to go back over my list and compare to my budget and make a choice in the next few weeks, but I am leaning towards IRO Mark V and using p-clamps to mount a rack. Their build a bike feature says the chain rings are only available in a 46. I wasn't keen on that as even a 46/18 I think is too steep for me to start, but I also called and they said they can throw on a 42 for me and to call in the order rather than use the web.

    It looks like all of IRO's components are private labeled with their name on it. Does anyone know the manufacturer/quality reports? Most interested in the wheels and what to expect. If there is anything I'm bad at, it is truing wheels.

  12. #12
    Old and Fixed, Moderator
    Reputation: Dave Hickey's Avatar
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    The IRO hubs are rebadged Formula hubs...They are bullet proof.. The rims are unlabled Velocity Fusion rims( at least they were)... I've bought two wheelsets from IRO and had zero problems.... I can't speak for the rest of the components
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  13. #13
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    Well, just looked at performancebike.com, and they put the Madison on sale at $459. Based on what everyone is saying, that seems like a steal. Even after tax, it is $200 under an IRO.

    Going to debate it tonight and will swing by local performance shop on the way home to see if they have any in-stock to check out.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickel II
    Well, just looked at performancebike.com, and they put the Madison on sale at $459. Based on what everyone is saying, that seems like a steal. Even after tax, it is $200 under an IRO.

    Going to debate it tonight and will swing by local performance shop on the way home to see if they have any in-stock to check out.
    I love my Madsion. It rides, REALLY, REALLY nice.

    Old pic:

    DIRT BOY

    "Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels. The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles." - Scott Martin


  15. #15
    i like whiskey
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    Check the stickies at the top of this forum. There is a very large list of all the fixed gear usual suspects.

    That Schwinn Madison is getting a lot of good play lately. Based on DirtBoy's pic, I can see why. Great looking bike. I'm off to check out the Kona Paddy Wagon.

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Does This Matter

    I am very interested in opinions here

    We sell 9 models of SS/FG right now

    5 are from Taiwan
    4 are from China

    Does the country of origin matter to any shopper on these SS/FG bikes?

    Does anyone care where the Schwinn, Redline, or Bianchi are made?

    Is there any extra value seen in sourcing from Taiwan over China?

    { I know the cost difference; just wondering what people think of the Value difference}

    mike
    mike
    http://www.bikesdirect.com - supports Mtbr.com and RoadBikeReview.com as great places to exchange ideas
    ~~~~
    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." – Mahatma Ghandi

  17. #17
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    I am not an entry level buyer but at those price points I don't care where things are made. If I was looking for a more "valuable" bike, Taiwan over China. Personally I try and buy from smaller companies that make their products in Japan where I live, or from the states, you guys need all the foreign cash you can get.IIWYIW look at sourcing from Cuba in the next few years, as labor is cheap and it helps out in your own backyard. Nicer climate for factory visits as well. Picture riding a Gitmo Havana or the Gitmo Fidel. Wonder if Gitmo could be converted into a bike factory?
    Edit Signature here---------->

  18. #18
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    I'm new to fixed gear bikes after having not riden a bike in close to 20 years. I recently went into a LBS with the intent of buying a Surly Steamroller and wound up buying the Redline 925 for a few different reasons. After putting a few hundred miles on it in the last few weeks I'm still happy with the decision. Even though I stripped the fenders off it's nice to have them if I do start commuting to work on it.

  19. #19
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Handlebar style - why for different styles...?

    Sorry - meant this to be a new thread on handlebar styles. Deleting....

  20. #20
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikesdirect
    I am very interested in opinions here

    We sell 9 models of SS/FG right now

    5 are from Taiwan
    4 are from China

    Does the country of origin matter to any shopper on these SS/FG bikes?

    Does anyone care where the Schwinn, Redline, or Bianchi are made?

    Is there any extra value seen in sourcing from Taiwan over China?

    { I know the cost difference; just wondering what people think of the Value difference}

    mike
    Personally I could care less where my bike was made/assembled. I spent a long time researching possible bikes. In the end though it came down to 1) buying something online either from BD or IRO or 2) LBS. If I knew more about how to fix my own problems it's more likely I would have bought from an online vendor.

  21. #21
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    i like my trek soho s, though it doesn't have the classic SS styling.

  22. #22
    huvia ja hyötyä
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    Specialized Langster?
    It is (gasp) aluminum but that doesn't seem to bother everybody. Anybody have opinions on how they ride?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickel II
    Well, just looked at performancebike.com, and they put the Madison on sale at $459. Based on what everyone is saying, that seems like a steal. Even after tax, it is $200 under an IRO.

    Going to debate it tonight and will swing by local performance shop on the way home to see if they have any in-stock to check out.
    I don't know much about road bikes but I was looking at the Madison listed here on pb.com and the banner at the top says "Free Shipping today only Monday, December 8th. Not sure if it says that every day but if not then that may be something to take into consideration.

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Also, is that Madison for 459 from performancebikes a better bike for the money than a Mercier Kilo TT Pro for 450 from bikesdirect? I know this is a matter of opinion but I'm curious to see what you think, as probly is the guy who started this thread because they're both decent bikes for the money.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRT BOY
    I love my Madsion. It rides, REALLY, REALLY nice.

    Old pic:

    What kind of wheels? I love the classic look...looks sweet!

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