Critical Cycles Single Speed Road Bike Review

Updated May 31, 2013
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Critical Cycles Single Speed Road Bike
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Critical Cycles' distinctive fixie style includes BMX-type handlebars for the adventurous rider and comes in more than 10 different color combinations. Customers rave that it's easily customizable with upgrades. A versatile flip-flop hub and brand-name components all add up to a valuable single-speed package.

Performance

Not too twitchy. The Critical Cycles Single Speed Road Bike receives very positive feedback for performance at Amazon.com, where it's currently the No. 2 best-seller behind the Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike (Est. $200). A hand-built steel track frame with bar-spin clearance and flat-top tube makes this bike a standout in its price range at CommuteByBike.com where Pete Prebus notes, "the handling of the bike was quick but still comfortable -- not too twitchy."

ProsSolid components, Flip-flop hub, BMX handlebarsConsNo front brake, A bit heavy, Rims could be stronger

A flip-flop hub allows riders to easily switch from a fixed-gear mode, in which the pedals move with the rear wheels, to standard single-speed for the ability to cruise. Distinct straight BMX-type handlebars are a hit among those looking to try freestyle tricks and stunts. Other reviewers say they prefer the straight handlebars for city riding.

Some users dislike that the Critical has only a rear brake. Prebus says the stock brake pads wear out quickly, probably because there's only a rear brake and "the pads' material was also low quality."

The Single Speed Road Bike's gear ratio of 48:16 pedal crank cog to rear cog is pretty high for climbing hills but cruises along the flats comfortably, making it great for city commutes. Prebus calls it "a quick bike, like you would expect from a road-style track bike," but says if you live in a hilly area, you may want to change the chainring or rear cog size.

Comfort

Stiff seat. Several owners describe the seat as stiff but say it provides comfortable stability, adding that they like it overall. While CommuteByBike.com's Prebus is impressed with the Critical's BMX-style handlebars, he finds the toe grips to be "a little cumbersome" and eventually removes them.

Durability

Strong, TIG-welded steel frame. Reviewers like that the Single Speed Road Bike's bottom bracket comes sealed against moisture and dirt, and although owners say the Promax brakes are a nice touch, the pads need to be switched out sooner than later. Stock tires also receive kudos, with some riders calling them "really good quality."

Critical Cycles describes the deep V, double-walled rims as adding "strength and rigidity," but several users say they seem weak. At this price point, this feature is most likely more for aesthetics than performance.

Customer Service

Exclusively mail order. Available only through Amazon.com or directly from the manufacturer online, the Critical Cycles Single Speed Road Bike comes in five frame sizes -- 43, 49, 53, 57 and 60 cm -- and more than 10 color combinations. Aside from the handlebars, front wheel and pedals, the bike comes assembled and all necessary tools to build and maintain it are included.

Critical also provides a website for assembly instructions that forwards visitors to a useful video. More than a few owners say they receive excellent service when contacting the Critical Cycles support team by email.

Our Sources

1. Amazon.com

Critical Cycles Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Urban Road Bike, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of June 2013

The Critical Cycles Single Speed Road Bike gets positive feedback at Amazon.com and an average rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 from more than 130 users. It's the No. 2 best-selling single-speed bike behind the Takara Kabuto Single Speed Road Bike.

2. CommuteByBike.com

Critical Cycles' Factory-Direct Fixie, Pete Prebus, Nov. 13, 2012

This site offers news, tips, articles and reviews geared toward the commuter bicyclist. Prebus offers a detailed account of his experience with the Critical Cycles Single Speed Road Bike and concludes, "for the price, it is a very compelling offer for a fixie style bike." He also recommends "that you upgrade the brake pads ASAP and use a smaller chainring if you live in a hilly area."