Wabi Cycles Classic
by Kia Lam

Dennis: Over the last five years we've reviewed just about every model of fixed gear bike that Wabi offered, including the 43cm Wabi Lightnng that was reviewed by our friend Jill Martindale. ( there's no way I can fold my body around a 42cm frame!)

One only has to take a look at the Gallery, at magazine ads, or out on the street to see that there are lots of fixed gear bikes out in the marketplace. Some are cheap, some are good, a few are almost both. It all depends on $ - as in how much you have to spend.

But if you're 5' 3" it doesn't really matter, because there are so very very few choices - in fixed gear OR geared bikes.

Here's a report from Kia Lam. She sent us an email a couple weeks ago and she was SO excited with her new bike...and with Wabi... that she just wanted to tell everyone. So here's what Kia has to say........

Some comments on my new Wabi Classic ......

Quality off-the-line bikes for short riders simply do not exist.

If you're under 5"3 you can basically forget about looking for anything pre-built. Sure there are manufacturers like Fuji, Iro, and Affinity who are considerate enough to offer entry-level FGSS bikes in the sub 43cm category with 650c wheels, however, these bicycles are often hard to come by and the frame geometry is modeled after track bikes used in velodomes.

Enter Wabi Cycles in LA, a bike shop and store owned and operated by Richard Snook. In the past he offered the Wabi Lightning model (scandium enhanced aluminum) in a size 42cm with 650c wheels. It was the first of its kind to offer short riders a realistic and quality FGSS bike with a relaxed road frame geometry. It was a huge success.

After giving the Fuji Track 650c a good 6 months of riding, I decided to revisit the Wabi Lightning 650c. Sadly, the website had cited that the Scandium model Lightning had been discontinued, including the 42cm version. I decided to e-mail Richard, the owner, as I figured it couldn't hurt to ask if he had any future plans of bringing the 42cm back. Luckily, Richard informed me that he was bringing the 42cm version to the Classic! This was great news, especially since the Classic is $400 cheaper than the Lightning. Full Info

At $695, I ordered my 42cm Classic in Desert Turquoise with the following: 650c Wabi wheelset, 90mm stem, 165mm cranks, bullhorns, and a gearing ratio of 47x17. The bike shipped on Monday and arrived on Wednesday. The bike arrived in excellent shape and was well protected during its transport. It took longer to unpack the bike than to assemble it. That same day, I rode the bike home in the pouring rain.

Fast forward a few weeks and some micro-adjustments later, I have put a lot of miles on the bike and feel qualified enough to write my first impressions of the bike. First off, the paint job of the Classic is wonderful and pretty much flawless.

I love the color of Desert Turquoise and it definitely stands out when in a group of other bikes. The welds on the frame are clean, and the choice of silver components makes the Wabi Classic one classy looking bike. It's definitely a head-turner and I've gotten many compliments on the bike since having it.

All of the ravings about the lightweight, plush ride of the Wabi Classic are true. Where my Fuji was twitchy, the Wabi just goes where it's told. The Reynolds 725 does a great job of absorbing all of the bumps and cracks of the urban streets of San Francisco. The bike is light (~17lbs or so), and glides over the road effortlessly. The road geometry of the bike allows me to ride comfortably yet be aggressive when I need.

The light wheels allow the bike to accelerate quite nicely and is a joy to ride in the stop and go traffic of San Francisco. During my morning commute, I've noticed that I have much more starting power off the line than with my Fuji. Once during a group ride my friend asked me, "Is this a race?" I guess I was riding a lot faster than I had thought.

From the relaxed road geometry of the frame to the solid, smooth steering, everything contributes to an extremely comfortable and nimble ride. The components themselves are well-thought out and serve to compliment the clean, simple lines of the bike and Richard's design philosophy.

In short, the Wabi Classic is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Short riders should rejoice because finally there is an offering on the market that is both sensible and high quality. 650c wheels on a 42cm allows one to proportionally shrink down the size of the frame without compromising the fit and comfort of the rider. Richard himself is ever patient, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to deal with and talk to.

If you are out looking for your next FGSS .... little frame or big ...... consider the Wabi as you will not be disappointed.

Kia Lam email