Is it wrong to like this bike?

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Suppose you read on a blog somewhere that Urban Outfitters is now selling these highly customizable single-speed rides, made by Republic, for $399 (roughly the cost of an entry-level hybrid or cruiser). Suppose you found yourself experiencing deep longing for the machine, which lets you choose the color of the frame, seat, handle grips, chain and wheel rims, and even reverse the back wheel so you can actually coast, which you can’t do on a proper fixed-gear bike. (Granny moment: WTF not?) Suppose you also noticed purists dumping all over the bike and wondered, is it wrong to like it? Is the butch vibe of single-speed bicycling somehow emasculated by a cobalt-blue chain and matching handgrips? And if you’re man enough to go single-speed, are you supposed to make it yourself from recycled junkyard parts?

picture-238Even though you’re not serious about buying one, you might ask a bicycling blogger, Brooklynbybike‘s Anita Singh, for a reality check. She might say this:

No, you are not wrong to want it. I have to admit I saw someone drop off this bike at when I was volunteering at the bike valet at Celebrate Brooklyn. At first glance, I though it was a sexy bike. Republic Bikes get style points for their customization features…that and a really easy-to-use website.

picture-239Anita might go on to say this:

On the other hand, you are buying a fully customized bike for $399. You’ve got to question the quality. If it’s just a casual bike meant for short rides or as an accessory, then this bike isn’t bad. I mean they even state on their website that they offer “fun, modestly customizable bikes for fun, modest prices.” This bike is pretty much for FUN. It’s got a heavy steel frame and parts that aren’t going to be up to performace standards. The fixed gear kids will get all up in arms about the culture taking off, but it’s already happened. Now it’s going mainstream with the Urban Outfitters partnership. Honestly, I don’t care. I just love that more people will be on bikes.

So, friends, even though riding the VW Beetle of single-speed bikes may establish you as someone who cares more about looks than performance, it is officially OK to like it. But don’t wear matching shoes.

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  1. If they’re cheap commuter bikes that ride fine and won’t fall apart on Jay St, I don’t see what the fuss is about. Then again, I never get what the fuss is about when it comes to “bike culture”.

    Great blog, keep it up.

  2. “So, friends, even though riding the VW Beetle of single-speed bikes may establish you as someone who cares more about looks than performance, it is officially OK to like it.”

    I thought single speed bikes already established their riders as people who care more about looks than performance. Like Paul, I don’t understand or care about bike culture (beyond noticing that many of the people who get obsessive about it are raging d-bags). Also like Paul, I think you are doing a great job on this blog…

  3. Question: are these bikes make in You-Know-Where????!!!! Honestly. Hhhh…
    The company website makes NO mention of anything/any place that I could see. What, do they simply disassemble the bikes enough upon arrival from You-Know-Where to spray the parts with different colors of spray paint? I’m, frankly, not impressed. Why pay $400 plus for a bike that is one-speed?

    It’s cute and designy and you can get a similar simply bike, a used bike, a whatever, for WAY cheaper. Jeez. Come on Brokelyn, get a grip!

    If you keep this up you might as well start a Trendlyn blog. Hhhhhhhhhhhhh…


  4. The question should be, is it okay to steal this bike? I think the key is that anyone who buys it deserves the punishment of having it taken away.

  5. I’m a bit late on this – came across your site doing research on Republic’s bikes. I don’t care about the Urban pairing.

    I used to build bikes for a living and now live in NYC. I’ve had countless parts stolen from even my crappiest rides. For that reason, buying “performance” parts really isn’t an option – at all – unless you’re a glutton for punishment.

    Yes, you should always keep your bike inside and use as many locks as you can squeeze on the thing – but for my (little) money, I’d rather buy something cheap-but-reliable. Why spend a bunch of money when it’s guaranteed to get stolen? It’s impossible to always bring your ride inside.

    So yes, I want to like this bike. What I don’t like is the lack of warranty/guarantee info on the site. Short of what has been mentioned here, there’s nothing. Then again, when you have components that aren’t labeled, thieves are less likely to nab them. Right? Maybe I’m kidding myself.

    Final thought: I have owned countless old bikes that I’ve built up here and there – none of them single speeds. Running around town I rarely shift, making derailleurs pointless. I’m also sick of buying new wheels and re-running cables, etc, when my $100 bike’s old parts fall apart. So for $400 – which is more than reasonable – I think it’s worth a shot.

    And furthermore – the crazy, trendy colors aren’t really for me. Luckily you can get any color you want for the most part – and that includes simple, matching black components. Andrew, your dickishness is nowhere near funny. Wait til someone steals something you rely on, and we’ll see how you feel about it. Have fun pressing up against someone’s sweaty back in the underground.

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