Category: Fixed Gear

Man, we haven’t done one of these in a while…

Last night when I got home from work, I was thrilled to discover a package waiting for me — a fixed gear frameset from the folks at 183rd Street Cycles. You may remember the company from our coverage at last year’s Interbike.

frameset

Details on the frame are a bit sketchy…but what we do know is this: the frame is made from double-butted Tange chromoly and is TIG welded. The fork has a low rake (30mm!) for fast handling, and both fork and rear bridge are drilled for brakes, so this could be a singlespeed or fixed gear machine. The only braze-on on the entire frameset is a pair of waterbottle cage holes on the seat tube (it’s more aero that way, I swear!).

Normally, the frameset comes in white or “E.D. Black”, a flat black that requires no additional prep before powdercoating with another color. As you can see, though, 183rd Street whipped us up a special one that is a dark green with silver sparkles…they know I like to express my inner Bootsy Collins from time to time!

The fork itself is a thing of beauty. In my opinion, it’s the way a steel fork should look. 183rd Street could have taken the easy way out and designed a unicrown fork like so many other manufacturers, but they took the extra steps and specified a flat crown with long-point lugs and cutouts on the front and rear. Gorgeous.

pretty fork

Rear forkends are drilled and tapped for long setscrews that help tension the chain and also help prevent the axle from slipping under load. No additional chaintugs are needed:

forkend

Over the next couple months, I will be building this bike up with an assortment of new and used parts. This project will give me the opportunity to try out some of the bits from the good folks over at Velo Orange (stem, headset, Milano citybike handlebars and possibly a seatpost). It ain’t gonna be a “hipster fixie”, but there WILL be some colorful additions — I can’t help myself! After all, it IS a sparkle paintjob!

From time to time, we get some cool and fun products to ride with and feature on the site. The Monkeylectric M132 is such product.

Here are the product’s features:

· Unique and powerful graphics synthesizer system:
generates thousands of constantly changing patterns and colors
instantly customizable colors, patterns and activity to fit any situation
· 32 Full color, wide angle, ultra-bright LEDs provide nearly 360-degree visibility
· 8 mounting options fit nearly any Road, Mountain or BMX bike wheel
· Ruggedized construction designed for daily use and frequent wet weather
· Vibration-proof 3-point mounting system
· High strength fiber composite construction withstands rough riding
· Hook & loop battery strap keeps batteries secure and easy to replace
· Lead-free, RoHS compliant environment-friendly construction
· Only 65 grams without batteries
· Clear hardcoat over all LEDs keep the lights fully waterproof for the deepest puddles
· Lasts up to 30 hours on 3 x AA batteries, rechargeables provide best performance

I installed the Monkeylectric LED on my DB Transporter-Xtracycle, I figured that the bike is an excellent candidate since I like to cruise with it in the dark.

The LED is fairly easy to use, simple push the power button, select a color, pattern and speed and you are ready to go. One of the things that I really like about the LED is that is really bright and it really attracts attention. As I rode through my neighborhood during 4th of July, I got a lot of cheers from the people that were enjoying the 4th of July festivities outside in their driveway.

The only drawback of this light is that it may make your wheels imbalanced, since I don’t ride very fast on my Xtracycle, I don’t really notice, but here’s what Monkeylectric says about how to handle such imbalance:

Our more casual test riders can’t tell the difference when riding. As with any product you attach to your bike wheel or bike – it can affect the handling especially at high speeds. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the handling of your bike after installing the m132s.

Any imbalance is more noticeable on high-performance lightweight wheels, and at faster riding speeds. If this is important to you there are a couple things you can do: (1) mount the m132s closer to the hub of the wheel – this will dramatically reduce any imbalance, (2) remove the batteries when you are not using it. the bare unit is only 65g, the batteries usually add another 100g. (3) mount a second m132s, or similar weight, on the opposite side of the wheel.

Here’s a short video of the Monkeylectric in action (Sorry about the fuzziness, my camera is not really equipped to shoot in the dark):

At $64.95 it may not be cheap, but Monkeylectric seems to be sold out due to high demand. I think that if your commute is a short one or a slow one and if you ride at night, you could benefit from the Monkeylectric M132’s brightness making you more visible at night.

The KHS Flite 100 is KHS’ offering for track racers and bike messengers. Here are the specs of the bike:

Frame: Reynolds 520 Double Butted full CrMo
Fork: CrMo track
Headset: Cane Creek A-Headset
Rims: Weimann SP17 Alloy, Doublewall, black
Hubs: Alloy Flip-Flop Track, black
Tires: Kenda Koncept 700x23c, Kevlar
Spokes: 14G Stainless 36°, black
Chain: KMC Z30
Crankset: FSA Vero Track, 165mm x 48T, black
Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace SS-7600, 16T
Pedals: Alloy road w/toe clips & straps
Seatpost: Alloy micro-adjust
Saddle: San Marco Ponza Lux
Handlebar: Alloy track bend, black
Stem: Alloy 3D Forged, black
Tape: Cork Tape, black
Brake Levers: Tektro alloy top mount, Front Only
Brakes: Alloy dual pivot, Front Only
Color:Flat Dark Gray
Frame Sizes: 50, 53(tested), 57, 60cm (measured center-to-center)

Weight as tested:20.05lbs

Here’s some info about me and my commute: I’m 5’7″, 160lbs and 37yrs young. My commute is 23.6 miles round trip and it is mostly flat. I ride from Whittier, CA to Downey CA in Los Angeles County. 90% of my commute is ridden on the street and the rest is on the San Gabriel River Trail Bike path.

Aesthetics:
The KHS Flite 100’s flat dark gray/black scheme reminds me of a Stealth Bomber; the bike is very unassuming, it has proper track dropbars instead of risers and there are no trendy Deep V rims here. KHS did add a little touch of ‘retro’ with its fork:

KHS also added a front brake to this year’s bike; you can also add a rear brake since the frame is drilled for one.


These cracks on the road help me determine the bike’s ride quality.

The ride:
The KHS Flite 100 is one fast machine: once you are up to speed, you can cruise at 19-20mph effortlessly; if you want to sprint, the Flite 100 feels stiff with no noticeable flex. The steel frame absorbs most of the road chatter; however, the 150 psi tires will make the ride uncomfortable. I usually inflated the tires to 100 psi and I had no issues. The San Marco Ponza Lux saddle is rather hard, but once I dialed it in, I got used to it. The Tektro front brake did a great job slowing the bike down in conjunction with my legs, being able to use your legs to control the speed of a bike is one of the great things of riding a fixed gear bike.

I found the 48X16 gear combination to be adequate for my commute, it does take the Flite 100 a little time to get up to speed, but when it does, it flies. The last half mile of my commute is a gradual incline, it does take a little bit of more effort to get up the road, but that is how your physical condition is improved by riding a fixie/singlespeed bike.

Things I would like to change:I complained about the lack of water bottle bosses, so I asked KHS why is it that they are missing. Their answer was that the KHS Flite 100 is a true track bike that it is used for competition and it is also mostly used by messengers that ride short distances. My solution was to add a handlebar water bottle mount which kind of ruined the look of the bike, but another alternative is to get a water bottle holder that clamps to the seat tube or the downtube. I also didn’t care for the pedals; I know that this is a personal preference, I just like the easiness of entry of clipless pedals.

Should you buy one?
Riding a fixed geared bike is an experience that I recommend trying, not because it is the cool thing to do, but because of how much your pedal technique and your physical condition improves. The MSRP of this bike is $549, which is pretty much the average. Although the bike is a great seller among track riders and messengers, I also think that this bike is a good medium distance, flat terrain machine. If you are looking for a decent Fixed Gear bicycle, check out the Flite 100, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, go to www.khsbicycles.com