Alien Track Frame and Fork
www.alienbikes.com

Ok, you all know I'm likely to be biased about Alien Bikes, so let's get all that out of the way first so that there's no misunderstanding.

* We sell Alien frames, wheelsets, and components from our brick and mortar store.
* We also do the powdercoating and component installations for them.
* We do not sell Alien stuff by phone order internet or any other way besides directly here in Traverse City. * Our prices are the same as on-line direct from Alien. Order yours thru Alien's website.

I've never met Joseph and it's only thru dumb luck that this all happened because Joseph picked a warehousing and shipping service in the US that just happened to be here in Traverse City. All this all happened months before he contacted us about a banner ad.

So there ya' go, you'll need to decide for yourself in reading this review if I'm biased or not.

/dennis


Now, fast forward from there to early July 2008 when I got word that the frames had finally been received and inventoried at EFS and there were some for me to pickup for Powdercoating - I hooked the trailer to the Trek and rolled across town to see how many frames and wheelsets I could haul back across town. You're lookin' at it. Two wheelsets and two frames - a bit unwieldy at slow speeds but at fifteen or faster I felt like a runaway semi - "Look-Out-Kids"
"What the hell is that?"

Back at Building 50, I ripped the box open and pulled out the frame. Was I surprised? You bet.

I'm not sure what I expected but it wasn't these track ends, I know that.

No offense to all those other frame sellers, but I was expecting stamped fork ends and track ends, not what you see here.

I wasn't expecting long lugs and a gusseted bottom bracket, nor a top pointed seat lug, nor a flat crown fork, and I wasn't expecting such tight tire clearance - all totally cool stuff, but not the norm for a $389.00 frame and fork. Yup three-eightynine unpainted.

Five sizes - 53, 55, 57, 59 and 61. But make sure you check the dimensions and don't assume that Alien's sizing designations are the same as everyone elses. Guess I'm pretty old school when it comes to calling out a "59" - personally, I like center-to-center sizing but I'd better get over it as just about every manufacturer is using center to top or even center to top of seat tube. I hate it, but that's the way it is. My Pinarello road frame is a 56, the Nobilette that I rode all the way through the 90's is a 57, but in an Alien I ride a 59. So beware of sizing.

The photos to the left (you've probably scanned them all by now) represent
1) A bare 55cm frame straight from the box.
2) The unpainted 59cm that I've been riding.
3) An orange 61cm that we originlly built up for Bill to ride and review because ....he normally rides a 61. Guess what, it's too small. If you're 6'2" or bigger you'll have to look elsewhere right now, because any Alien frame is likely to be too small for you.

From Alien's website:
"Lugged steel track frame and fork. Double-butted Cro-Mo steel. Cast (not stamped!) long-point lugs and dropouts (no lawyer-lips!). These frames are made to my design and spec and are not available anywhere else. Choose from unpainted rattle-can-ready raw steel or any of 20+ different powder-coat colors (CLICK HERE FOR COLORS!) for a $89 upcharge and 1-2 week turn-around. Comes in 2cm increments from 53cm to 61cm. No holes. Round bladed fork. The fork crown can be drilled for a brake (it's tight, so not all brakes will fit!). Super-tight track geometry for the ultimate in handling and feel. If you've never tried a true track bike, you should. Fixed gear is only half of it. A 53 frame weighs 1900g, fork 740g.
Requires 27.2mm seatpost, 120mm rear spacing, 68mm BSC (standard) bottom bracket, 1" threaded JIS headset. Includes 22mm seatpost binder bolt.
Price: $389
Shipping:
US: $35
Worldwide: $70


As tested: Nominal Size - 59 Seattube c-c - 57 Top Tube c-c - 57 Seat Angle - 74 deg Headtube Angle - 74.5 deg Fork Rake - 28mm Chainstay - 40mm

Through November 4, 2008 I've probably ridden this bike about 500 miles, I've been riding it for the last month or so exclusively except for a few geared rides and that one day when I took out both the Alien and that Milwaukee you see in the photos to the left. I've used it intown, out to Leland, and for bike polo. I like it brakeless with Look pedals better for polo than the Milwaukee with a brake. Maybe it's just me, but a brake really gets in the way for polo...you agree?

I wanted to see how they compared as they are speced out exactly the same dimensions. Not the same wheels and components tho, and the bars on the Alien are not nearly as stiff, nor are the two wheelsets probably the same. Nevertheless, it was interesting to compare the two. Would I be able to tell the difference if I was riding blind-folded? Probably, because the difference in the stem is very noticable. Nils would of course say that the Cinelli XA stem was a worthless noodle, but it does make for a comfortable front end on this bike.

I could substitute a 12cm Salsa and stiffen up the front end , but I like the way it looks and rides. This is a comfortable frame to ride, it steers quickly and can be laid over through corners very nicely. I never rode it on the track, hell, those of you who know where I live also know it's nearly 300 miles to the closest track and 99% of these frames will never see the track anyway. It's not as stiff as the Milwaukee I'll say that.

We recently received some Kreitler Rollers for a product review and I decided to take them up to the Friday Night Expo for the Iceman Mountain Bike Race www.iceman.com. Long time readers may remember that last year I rode a geared bike for seven hours on a set of eMotion rollers (and no, I will probably not attempt to break that record on the Kreitlers with a fixed gear bike) - nevertheless, it was the Alien that I hauled along last Friday. We also took along three powdercoated bare frames - why not get a bit of publicity for everything?

Anyway, I rode the uncoated frame you see in the photos. My project this year was to challenge a local road race team to various roller stunts, like 10 second sprints, 5 minute intervals, maybe see who could ride no-handed longer. We could have betting from the audience (3,500 people pick up race packets at the Expo) with the proceeds going to charity and a Hell Yes tee to each winner. Well, our illustrious local "racers" would take me up on any challenges despite the fact that I'm at least twice as old as many of them. So much for racer challenges.

What DID I learn from the Expo? Well, first off I learned that riding the Kreitlers became alot easier. Secondly, the Alien was a pretty comfortable bike despite my 2 hours on and off. Next, don't forget your floor fan if you're going to ride indoors. And last, much much to my surprise, I became pretty adept at riding no-handed. I ripped off several 15 minute stints without touching the rail....and that attracted alot of attention - to the Alien frame, to the Kreitler rollers, and to my own local and national legendary status. :0)

So, what's my (biased, yeah) opinion of the Alien. I likes it. I like the lugs, I like the flat crown, I like the rear fork ends. I like the price and I like the fact that you can get it uncoated or powdercoated in many many colors.

Hit it.

/dennis