Bike test: Steed Stallion singlespeed bike
The fixie fad may be long behind us but singlespeeds with and without freewheels remain popular in big cities – particularly London where Steed Bikes is based. The company has two models: the flatbar Thoroughbred (£450) and this Stallion (£375).
It looks like you’d expect a London singlespeed to look: skinny (hi-ten) steel tubes, deep section rims, bonkers bullhorn handlebar, and those little cross-top brake levers that people seem to like. Oh, and it’s all black. “Cool bike,” a bloke said to me when I was parking it in town on my first ride. Score one to the Steed Bikes marketing department.
Beneath the fashionable exterior there’s a fairly sensible frameset for urban use. Mid-drop brakes create room for mudguards and there are eyelets to fit them. There’s toe room too, despite a short-offset fork, as the top tube is long. The chainstays are short, however, so you may have to cable-tie a cut-down rear mudguard to the seat tube.
The rear dropouts have useful Allen-bolt adjusters. The rear brake cable guides can be removed if you convert the Stallion to fixed wheel and dispense with the rear brake. (The bike has a flip-flop hub but you’ll need to add your own sprocket and lockring).
The components are a mixed bag. Shorter, square taper cranks? Good. That handlebar and those brake levers? Bad. The dinky levers give less braking leverage than ‘proper’ ones and their position either side of the stem forces you to ride with your hands there while whizzing down the busy urban streets the bike is built for, as you can’t reach them with your hands on the handlebar’s forward extensions.
I’d much prefer TT brake levers fitted to the bar ends, which I’d first saw several inches shorter. Riding with your hands on the bar ends would also give more steering leverage to counteract what is, for a ‘fixie’, a lot of trail.
The 69in gear is probably ideal for London but slightly tall for a hilly town like Scarborough. It’s harder to spin up to speed than the gear size suggests because the narrow, bar-top hands position prevents you bringing your upper body into play. Heavy, deep section rims with stodgy, price-point tyres don’t help, although I did appreciate the tyres’ width – which the wider-than-usual rims plump up further.
Handlebar and brake levers detract from what is otherwise an affordable, commuter-friendly singlespeed that’s rack and mudguard ready. A pair of TT levers and new cables would cost around £50, so Steed’s Thoroughbred model looks to be the better buy.
Elops City Bike Single-Speed 500 £249.99
Long-drop brakes allow pothole-smoothing 40mm tyres but there are no frame so you’ll need to bodge mudguards to fit. Reviewed February/March 2020.