We ride and review three quite different bikes that can be ridden fixed or singlespeed
According to its website, Fixie Inc stands for ‘individualism, purity and a love for detail’. The German firm from Karlsruhe regards its creations as state-of-the-art in efficient, detail-oriented design. Its motto is ‘Cycles for Heroes’ and Black Jack is definitely a heroic recreation of a classic bike with all the trimmings. Its golden coffee and chrome finish turned heads everywhere. In fact, you’ve probably seen it in the magazine a couple of times already — we’ve used it as a prop in photo shoots ever since it arrived.
Obviously, it’s made of steel — double-butted 4130 aircraft steel — and lugged in the traditional style. Even the chromed stem is lugged (though bolts to a modern threadless 1in steerer), as are the bottle cage mounts on the down tube! Everything is either beige, chrome or brown leather, and there’s a sharp, black panel on the top tube where the Fixie Inc logo is reversed out.
The frame has some intriguing detailing. On the chainstay bridge is a red stud set in its own housing with the Fixie ‘F’ on it. On the rear dropouts ‘Cycles for Heroes’ is engraved and there’s a communist red star. Who knows what it means — “workers unite on your fixies”? Whatever — it looks cool and that’s what it’s about. The rear brake cable is held to the top tube with chrome clips, so that if you run it without a back brake there are no fixtures and fittings left over.
The Fixie Inc Black Jack has fairly standard road geometry, with a 73deg seat tube and 71deg head angle. The bottom bracket is a good height at 27.5in (with 23mm tyres), but not high enough for a banked track. Horizontal rear dropouts are inexplicably spaced at the geared road bike width of 130mm — though there’s no mech hanger, so you couldn’t easily convert it. The Black Jack can be ridden singlespeed or fixed as it comes with a flip-flop hub like the other two bikes here.
Wheels are Fixie Inc-branded, highly polished chrome deep-rim jobs with Schwalbe 23mm white-walled tyres. Interestingly, the front wheel is radially spoked. The crankset is also Fixie Inc’s own, with a 48t ring. The freewheel and fixed sprockets are both 17t, so you get a gear of 76.2in — which is perfect for accelerating up to a decent 20mph-plus in the bus lane.
You’re really spoilt with the contact points, as they’re all Brooks! Saddle is the classic Swallow, Brooks also supplies stitched leather bar tape and the toe straps.
It would be a big ask for the Black Jack to ride as well as it looks, as it’s a bit heavy, but once you forget about 11-speed carbon-fibre machines and go back to 1972, it’s all in order. A balanced ride, it has that sought-after feel of steel, it goes fast if you want it to, people admire it and it’s great fun!
The only problem is the Black Jack is really too beautiful for hacking about on. Fixie Inc would probably disagree and tell you to ride it like you just don’t care (or whatever they say in German), but every time the gold coffee paint gets chipped it will feel like somebody is gouging out a piece of your own flesh.
Steel double butted
XS, S, M, L
Rigida DP18 rims/Fixie Inc 32 hole
Schwalbe Stelvio 23mm
Fixie Inc Roadbar
Brooks Swallow Classic