Introducing: Wabi Cycles

Wabi Cycles is an outfit in Los Angeles that specializes in fixed gear bikes. They offer three different models available as a complete bike or as a frameset.

Richard Snook, founder of Wabi Cycles was kind enough to send us the Wabi Special in Burnt Red. In my opinion, this is the most striking bike they sell.
The Lab-O-Ratory

Its lugged construction and cast horizontal dropouts combined with the deep, metallic red/orange paint really set this machine apart, visually. Mechanically, this is a no-frills transportation machine. The Reynolds 725 tubing is strong yet very light, making for a bike that’s got an amazing road feel. The lugged construction of the Wabi Special comes at a cost, though. The beauty pictured above will set you back $925 as shown, or $600 for the frameset.

The Wabi Classic is a nearly identical bike as far as components, feel and weight are concerned. This practical bike is simply TIG welded instead of lugged and brazed. It’s also very attractively priced ($675 for a complete bike, $350 for the frameset) if you compare it to the popular, heavier mainstream fixies such as the Surly Steamroller ($720, $420).

In the middle of the price range is the Wabi Lightning ($825, $500 for complete and frameset respectively.) The Lightning features a butted scandium frame with carbon fork blades, and comes in nearly three pounds lighter than its steel cousins. (Note: I had mistakenly called this an aluminum frame in an earlier revision.)

I’ve put about 15 miles on the Wabi Special so far. This is the first fixed-gear bike I’ve ridden any significant distance. My initial reaction: This bike really wants to just go. It’s the smoothest, mellowest, quetest bike I’ve ridden, and I had no problems sporting a backpack for my usual daily commute. I made it to work at the same time I usually do on my triple-crank road bike with all its gizmos and gadgets. I easily adjusted to the fundamental simplicity of fixed-gear once I learned to break myself of my coasting habit.

Some people have asked me why a bicycle commuting site is reviewing a fixie without braze-ons, doodads and widgets. That’s simple. You don’t need a purpose-built commuting bicycle any more than your co-workers need a purpose-built car to get to and from the office. Single speed and fixed gear bikes are quite popular among commuters, especially those of us who don’t have epic cross-town commutes. In fact, Richard Snook himself is a bicycle commuter, as you can read on the Wabi Cycles “About” page.

As with every review I do, the Wabi Special will be my primary vehicle for the coming weeks, and I’ll have a full review of my experience before I box it up and send it back home to the city of angels.

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