All-City Big Block Track Frameset Review
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.