Urban Velo

All-City Big Block Track Frameset Review

all_city_bigblock_1 While in Minneapolis for Stuporbowl 13 I had the opportunity to borrow an All-City Big Block track bike to ride for my four day adventure, pieced together from a variety of parts much like most people’s personal bikes look like anyway. The short story is that the Big Block is a quality steel track frame fork with the clearance for big tires and built with real-deal track geometry—steep and high for the banks of the local velodrome. On paper it’s a recipe for a fast handling city bike, and after some 50 or 60 miles in the cold and sloppy snow of a Minneapolis February I’d have to say it adds up as promised.

At $460 the Big Block straddles the place in the market between the entry level frames and complete bikes and the higher end, racier stock track framesets out there. It’s all about the tubeset and the small touches at this price—where lower end bikes have straight gauge or single butted tubing with 4130 on the front triangle if anywhere, the Big Block is 100% 4130, with the main triangle being double butted. The straight blade fork has a lugged crown and dropouts, and the track ends of the frame feature a cutout of the Hennepin bridge in downtown Minneapolis. Front and rear brake mounts, clearance for 32c tires and a bottle mount for those of us that ride long enough to get thirsty are all nice touches, broadening the utility of the bike while keeping it track-like enough for the purists. Most people see “track” as a bike with steep head and seat angles, a high bottom bracket (for going slowly up the bank and not clipping a pedal), a short fork offset and short chainstays. That’s the Big Block in a breath, with all of the actual numbers available here. I’ll say that it felt as I judged it should, much like the bikes in my personal stable I have the most fun on and like I’d expect a frameset such as this to handle. For the record, my loaner 58cm frameset did not have any toe overlap, even setup with BMX platforms and a ‘cross front tire as shown.

The conditions for the 2010 Stuporbowl weekend may have been perfect for the racing and fun, but at the same time gave me a chance to ride the Big Block through a number of different conditions in the span of a few days. Clean open roads, snow covered alleys, icy side streets, city trail systems, dicey traffic. Through all of it the bike felt predictable, with no dead spots in the steering or other handling quirks. Perhaps better stating the bike’s handling I managed to not hit the ground with anything but my feet throughout my entire stay, keeping the two wheels up and moving forward for the duration. With clearance for most ‘cross tires the bike makes a solid platform for those who prefer track bike handling, even in the slop.

Ride it with 28′s in the city, with ‘cross tires for a dirt road tour and then with 23′s and drop bars for the track. With no fender or rack mounts the bike is certainly not everyone’s ideal commuter, but that’s not the aim. The goal was pretty much a traditional track sprint bike with a few tweaks to better suit the street where it will most likely live and I’d say they nailed it. Available in black/white or red/white as a complete bike, the pictured black/blue is a one-off paint sample. Visit All-City for more details on the frameset or on the complete build.

7 Comments

  1. J-DiggaFebruary 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the quick review. I’ve been checking the updates on this bike, since last spring/summer when you guys first mentioned this bike was coming out. It Pretty much looks like a perfect balance of Urban Hardcore and Track Dopeness.

  2. CrisFebruary 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Nice! I am a big fan of this bike. Thanks for the positive review.

  3. Ghost RiderFebruary 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Gotta love those Hennepin Avenue Bridge cutouts, too.

    How do you feel about those tensioners? They’re a pain in the ass when you’ve got a flat, but otherwise rock!

  4. ChelseaFebruary 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

    thank god! 46 cm for us munchkins! (I’m a petite 5’2″) Granted ideally 43-44 cm suits me better depending on the size of my tires but at least I will be able to rest my butt on the top-tube and not pulling a bike out of my ass at intersections since most companies will not make a frame smaller than 49 cm. I’d love to ride some of the specialized bikes but no I guess a standard size of 47 cm is too much to ask from you money pressed people.

    I want my 700c and I want to eat it too!

  5. All-city / 183rd street frame Anyone know anything about either of them? - London Fixed-gear and Single-speedFebruary 26, 2010 at 3:19 am

    [...] All-City Big Block Track review. Or give Luke a ring at Triton Cycles, and ask for the inside word. [...]

  6. All-City Thunderdome | Urban VeloJanuary 4, 2013 at 1:27 am

    [...] Thunderdome is based on the Big Block geometry, just changed up for a shorter axle to crown fork. I reviewed the Big Block two years back and came away impressed, I’d imagine the Thunderdome to be just as a nice, [...]

  7. JustinMay 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Can it barspin?

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