I had reached that point which every man reaches in his life. N+1. Where N is the number of bikes you currently own, and +1, well, you “need” another bike. My current wheels were a 10 year old Cell bike, Aluminium, but a cracking bike for the price. Its been with me for so many kilometers and I love that old banger. But I wanted to upgrade. I thought a Single Speed/Fixed Gear (SSFG) might be the go. Why not? I am not a hipster, don’t have a beard and I don’t study philosophy. I just thought their uncomplicated, understated looks really appealed to me and I wanted to see how I went riding Single Speed, and at some point Fixed.
So after starting my internet research I quite quickly came across “Wabi Cycles”. Firstly these bikes were brought to my attention by an unusually large amount of positive feedback on a variety of internet forums. I’m normally pretty skeptical of online reviews and comments as stooges are all over the internet and being a shill is a pre-requisite for Search Engine Optimization after all. But much of the feedback was from long term posters, and the reviews were always consistent and thorough. After seeing a few pictures of Wabi’s I was interested.
Unfortunately the fall in the Aussie dollar caused a whack, and the paint colour I liked was non standard, so this was going to cost me extra. But I thought, you know what, if you’re going to spend x amount on a bike, you wanna love it. And with some of the god awful carbon designs on the road these days, I wanted my bike to stand out as a thing of beauty. After all, this is part of the reason I bought a Wabi.
So being in Australia, I organized for the owner, Richard Snook, to buzz me on Skype. We probably spoke 3 or 4 times over skype, and a few hours all up. I told him the specs I wanted and we waxed lyrical over one thing and another. Talking to Richard was like talking to an old mate. A few jokes, some things in common, and a desire by both of us to get the product I really wanted. He also asked me a bunch of questions aswell, such as “Hey <Stylish Male> , as you’re in Oz, do you want the front brake on the right hand side?” – just little things like that which would have been a pain in the ass if I’d forgotton to mention it and the bike had shipped with the brakes the other way round.
So once I ponied up the coin for the Wabi Classic, it was a matter of waiting. The custom paint job took a touch over a week to finalise. I also wanted to customize the bar, as I wanted a pursuit bar as opposed to the stock bar, and also wanted Tektro bar end levers. I purchased these elsewhere and had them sent to Richard, and he gave me a credit for not using his.
FedEX delivered the bike to my work, and my god, talk about ants in my pants! I opened the box and the first thing that struck me was the paint job. Wow. I chose the Brilliant Blue that Richard had used on the “special” some time ago. There wasn’t any left so I had to pay for the custom colour. When I opened the box, even through the packaging I could see the paint job was superb. Richard uses guys that paint hot rods and in fact, the first mate I showed said “man that paint job looks like a hot rod!”
The bike was well packed, however there was one minor issue, which had occurred during shipping regarding an auxiliary part which didn’t affect the bike in any way. I had a quick chat to Richard and he sorted it out. The front wheel also had a minor buckle in it, but again, it was quite minor and I certainly wasn’t going to send it back for that.
Pulling the bike out of the box it is clear that the tubing is great quality. I’d asked for the 725 Reynolds sticker to be placed on the seat tube. Its wonderfully light to pick up.
The set up was pretty minimal, the bike came 90% assembled. All I needed to do was attach the bars and tighten the stem using a hex key, put the seat in and tighten it with a hex key, and attach the front wheel and tighten with an 8mm hex key. The tires were pumped up.
I had ordered the 52cm version. From sending my sizing info to Richard, I was between a 52 and 55. I’m very glad to have gone the 52, I would not have wanted to go bigger than 52. I’m 175cm tall. The Wabi has quite a high standover. No issue if you choose the right sized bike, but make sure you do your research before you buy. One of the benefits of this though is that the Head Tube is higher, resulting in a less aggressive position than many of the Faux Track bike/Single Speeds you see getting around. With ample BB height, you’ll not need to worry about peddling through corners with this baby. I rode full steam through a few corners with a nice lean whilst wincing and waiting for the peddle to hit, but I was no where near it.
I must admit, when I got my bike home and wheeled it down the driveway and sat on it, the thought that was running through my head was “I wonder if it lives up to the hype.” From the first few pedals, it was clear it does. After about 30 seconds, the next thought was “I’m never selling this bike”.
For my first test ride I had the 16t with a 46t crank (free). My house is in quite a hilly area, and having been bikes for a while, that was probably a little bit of a stretch for me. But that’s no fault of the Wabi. It was just a 200m test ride before my long ride the next day. I changed out the rear cog for an 18t.
You often hear people say “the Wabi rides like butter.” I never really got that expression but when you jump on one, you get the point. Each bump you hit just feels softer (well for me it does). The bottom bracket is stiff enough that you can feel like you are getting good power transfer to the back wheel when you need it, particularly uphill when you want every ounce of energy you put in to be going to that back wheel, given you haven’t got gears to help you.
I love the classic look of the classic : ) The semi compact designs these days with riser bars and sloping top tube just don’t do it for me. I find them quite ugly to be honest. The geometry of the Wabi just looks great.
I love everything about my Wabi. From the amazing blue paint job interspersed with chrome, to the ride quality and the customer service – there is no reason I can think of that I will sell this bike. Its simplistic and functional, yet highly effective and its just great fun to ride.
Here’s some further pictures which we hope you’ll enjoy!