Urban Velo

Redline 925 – First Impressions

The Redline 925

The Redline 925 is a bike I’ve had my eye on for some time. It’s a simple, steel singlespeed road bike that comes complete with fenders for roughly $500. Redline’s been producing the 925 for a few years now, and the latest incarnation features a retro-style paint scheme and bullhorn handlebars. It has rear-entry horizontal dropouts (properly known as track fork ends) and sports a flip flop rear hub that comes correct with both 16t freewheel and fixed gear cog. While it’s no featherweight, I’m pleasantly surprised at how light the 925 is.

redline 925At right you can see what the bike looks like when it arrives at your local bike shop. It’s pretty much built and ready to ride, save for attaching the front brake, pedals, stem, handlebar, etc. The wheels came out of the box true to within 1/16″, the bottom bracket was greased and the cranks were properly tightened. This is all pretty standard fare, and won’t matter much if you get yours from a top-notch shop (like the kind that stocks Urban Velo) but it’s good to know that Redline cares enough to have their bikes properly assembled at the factory.

redline 925While assembling a bike it’s always interesting to think about what a product manager considers when specifying parts. Redline did a nice job of choosing dependable parts while keeping an eye on the budget. And in some cases, budget minded parts are better suited for commuter bikes. For instance, the Cane Creek threadless headset uses caged ball bearings, which are easier to repack with grease than the sealed cartridge variety. True, sealed cartridge ball bearings are generally more resistant to water penetration, and that’s why they make so much sense for use in the 925′s hubs. Of course they’re more expensive and not designed to be repacked… See, I told you it’s fun putting yourself in the shoes of a product manager!

redline 925The 925 has track bike spacing (120mm) and comes ready to ride as either a singlespeed or a fixed gear. For the time being I’m enjoying the freewheel, but the fixed option is only a 15mm wrench away. The 925 comes with chain tensioners, which makes life easier. You do have to resist the temptation of over tightening the chain, however, because the chainring is not perfectly round. This is fairly common on entry level cranksets, and hardly noticeable unless you don’t have any slack in your chain.

redline 925The 925′s frame is really quite nice for such an inexpensive bike. Double butted chrome-moly is brutally strong. It’s flexible enough to last a lifetime, and unlike other frame materials, minor dents and scratches don’t raise significant safety concerns. The matching straight blade fork is simply beautiful.

The 925 comes with Kenda 700×28 tires, but has clearance for bigger tires both front and rear. I doubt it’ll hold anything more than a 32 with fenders, but I am thinking 35′s would be pretty sweet if the fenders come off in the summertime. Both tires are mounted to 32-hole Alex rims, which have earned a reputation for reliable, budget-conscious hoops. The front wheel is radially laced, which I can take or leave, but it looks nice. The rear is laced three-cross, which is what you want.

Redline 925On the road, the 925 is exactly exactly what Redline claims—simple and fun. I chose the 48 instead of the 44 because I was afraid the smaller bike would have way too much toe overlap. I’m pretty sure I made the right choice, but the geometry does feel a little “low and long” to me. That could be attributed to the bullhorn bars, though, which I’ve thought about exchanging for a mountain bike handlebar. Unfortunately, while the 70mm stem has a 25.4 clamp diameter, it’s going to be too short for a straight bar. Who knows, I might really grow to like the positioning on the stock 925.

redline 925One thing I’m pretty sure that I’ll switch are the pedals. The cheap plastic toe clips just aren’t cutting it for me. My first choice would be clipless pedals (which I’ve got) or some nice BMX-style flat pedals (also in my collection). Or maybe the best option will be to pick up a pair of metal toe clips at Kraynick’s later this week…

But back to the initial road impressions—the 925 definitely seems like a bike that’s meant to handle some rough riding. It’s comfortable, and not overly stiff or anything, but it just looks and feels sturdy. The 42×16 gearing seems pretty spot-on for riding a freewheel in moderately hilly urban conditions As a fixed gear, a bigger chainring might be in order to avoid spinning out. I’m really looking forward to putting the full-fendered 925 through its paces, especially with a wet Spring on the horizon.

Visit www.redlinebicycles.com for more info.

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20 Comments

  1. DaronFebruary 3, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I was hoping you guys would review the 925. I’m looking forward to your follow up impressions. I’d love to see reviews of all the affordable commuter/track bikes. Steamroller, Paddy Wagon, Bianchi Pista in particular. It hard to make the decision of what to get when your lucky if you local bike shop carries one the mentioned models. Makes it hard to compare.

  2. JeremyFebruary 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I’ve been riding a 925 for a year and a half now for commutes in all sorts of Boston weather and been pretty happy with it. The one thing that I wish is that it had clearance for wider tires with the fenders so that I could run some studded tires in the winter… this winter especially.

    But it’s definitely a fun around-town bike

  3. Alex - VelomanicFebruary 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve been seeing ads for this bike all over the place but my local store doesn’t carry Redline. This bike seems like exactly waht I’m looking for. Anybody know any Toronto area shops that carry redline?

  4. jayFebruary 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I have wanted to try (ok I just want to buy, and try after purchase) one of these since they came out. This year model looks like everything I want (including bullhorns, which I have considered putting on my converted ss commuter).

    I’ll be interested in your longer term review.

  5. TerryFebruary 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Last year’s color was way cooler–a burnt metallic orange.

  6. nickFebruary 3, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    are you kidding? replacing a cartrige v. individual bearings? GAHH! just pop it in! i would prefer a shimano stx hs over any loose ball any day…thats all i run!

  7. AnneFebruary 3, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I have last year’s 925 (metallic brick)and ride it everywhere. I changed out the handlebars to Bontrager Satellite Trekking bars and switched out the front chainring to a wimpier size so I could get up hills. I use the Planet Bike fenders it came with which have worked out great. I love this bike! It handles well, is light enough, and is a fits great. For the record, I don’t have anything to compare it to.

  8. Ghost RiderFebruary 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    The Redline 9-2-5 is one of the Bikecommuters.com staff favorites — they’ve really done well in balancing performance and value and lots of folks agree that it’s one of the best off-the-shelf singlespeeds on the market these days.

    Seems like we did a long-term review of it over there…but I don’t have time to search for it just now.

  9. Sacchoromyces' RevengeFebruary 3, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Ya’know, I need another bike like I need to mathematically prove the supposition: B=n+1. I’d have to unload a really cool old Schwinn Worldsport, and my even older/cooler Raleigh (English) Record Ace. The Schwinn I could live without, but that Raleigh…it’s my loaded tourer.

    Decisions…

  10. Dan PugatchFebruary 4, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Just a word of caution, as a mechanic who works at a shop that sells that bike… We’ve noticed that a lot of times the fixed cog and lock ring are on hand tight, and they don’t grease the threads on the hubs before putting them on, so its good to take them off grease and put them back on. That way they wont fall off and if you ever decide to change your gear ratio if you’ve tightened them you won’t have a nightmare gettning the cog and lockring off.

  11. JasonFebruary 4, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Redline bikes are pretty easily ordered piecemeal by most bike shops even if they’re not an official dealer. If you’re looking for one, ask your local bike shop.

  12. JoeFebruary 20, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I’ve had my 925 for several years – I kept the moustache bars, which I like – and have put about 3500 miles commuting around Boston. If I worked at REDLINE, and could change one thing about the bike, I’d get rid of the cheap plastic chain guard. Most people just remove it, but it’d be a lot nicer if they’d installed a great looking, sleek metal chain guard at the factory similar to the Trek District (maybe a belt drive on the 925 too?). I wish I could get a good after market one.

  13. BillApril 2, 2009 at 2:03 am

    My guess is that the bike weighs 23-24 lbs? Have you weighed it? It’s hard to get a an affordable chrome-moly frame to come in less. Usually the wheels are the culprit and first to go.

    It appears to be an excellent bike for the money. I’ve built several really nice ss bikes with new parts and once done, $500 really is bottom end. So, if it’s good quality and you don’t have to build it, what a deal! Coming from a road background, it’s hard to get used to not caring about weight and just riding for fun. Is weight watching a sickness?

  14. What do you commute on? at Urban VeloApril 17, 2009 at 6:33 am

    [...] I ride the Salsa La Cruz anytime I want gears. Since it’s the newest bike in my basement, the Redline 925 has been getting the most use overall. Plus I use it for playing bike polo, so I ride it to work on [...]

  15. Michael KellyApril 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I’m obsessed with bikes. There I said it. I can’t get enough of them. I really love them all. I currently have 5 bikes, some of them tipping the $1,000 price tag. But the bike I reach for the most is my ’08 Redline 925. Which is funny, cause on paper, its not much. Its rather heavy, not the best gear ratio, average components, etc. But what it lacks on paper, it makes up for in personality. The Cromoly steel feels “alive” and communicates very easily and softly with the rider. Its the the fastest or zippiest bike in this category, but as soon as you ride it, you feel like old friends.

    I personally took all the fenders and chaingaurd off to make the ride quieter (and look simpler). I’m going to put a rear rack and bag on the back too to make it the perfect commuter. So in the end, its no racer, its no slow cruiser, its hard to classify, but just a great bike. If your thinking about one, ride one and you’ll see what its all about.

  16. Darrell GoodwinJanuary 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I have two 925′s, a black 2007 with Velo Orange fenders on it, and a brick red 2008 without fenders. Best fixed gear bike out there in my opinion. The handling is perfect!

    Regarding tire clearance, here is what I’ve found. The stock 700×28 tires run fine with fenders. I’ve mounted Panaracer Pasela TG 700×32 tires, but they are too tight for fenders. You need a tire that is 30mm or less to work with fenders.

  17. jimmy--dFebruary 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    have a brick red with taupe highlights 925. has the classic silver componentry/wheel set for a retro look. love this bike so much. put a brooks style leather saddle on it and it looks amazing with the brick red hue. this bike turns heads. i’m looking for a diff. crankset. might go with an old campy record unit to replace the out of round stocker.

    as for handling, this bike a little sluggish underway but once you get it moving, it doesn’t stop. like a cruise missle. straight and true and fast!

    buy this bike, you will not regret it. it is an absolute steal for 550 bucks. oh, and jettison the cheap chain guard.

  18. AnthonyJune 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I just picked up one of these beauties at a garage sale in Colorado for 270$ – it’s near mint condition with just a few nicks and scratches. The rear mudflap has some damage to the top of it but I’m sure I’ll survive. I was somewhat reluctant to purchase it since I don’t have money to burn and I had never heard of the Redline brand before (I’m an amateur bike enthusiast) but I took a risk – and I’m happy to say it has paid off!

    The bike rides like a dream and I particularly love the fact that I can swap between fixed gear and single gear with just a few minutes of work. I’m looking forward to customizing it with some led lights and custom decals in the future. Thanks for the great review! Good luck to anyone looking to pick one up.

  19. Mark VinselJuly 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I bought a 2011 Redline 925 about 6 weeks ago and have enjoyed a six mile commute a couple times a week on it. I too removed the plastic chain guard that was the source of occasional noise. I like the silence.

    In expectation of black ice on our nice days in the winter, I looked for studded tires, and took a leap of faith ordering Nokian A10 “700 x 30″ listed online. What arrived are marked 32-622 which I think is outside the spec listed for the bike with fenders on.
    But after adjusting the fenders for maximum clearance, these tires fit without any interference or noise from the fenders.
    For now I’m braking them in on dry pavement as recommended.
    We’ll see this winter whether the tight fender clearance causes any troubles when there is snow and gravel on the road.
    Any input is welcome.

    I really like this bike!
    -MV
    Juneau, Alaska

  20. mikeNovember 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Hello my name is of course mike. I saw the same model of redline on Craigslist. I was worried cause it had been 18 days since the posting. It was Friday and i didn’t get paid till the next friday…which is today. I saw you blog and it sold me (keep in mind I was already infatuated just by the look) luckily he still had it. It had some minor dings and boo boo’s. Just superficial things other than that it was mint. It’s my first road bike and it’s absolutely perfect. I couldn’t ask for a better ride.thank you for your input, it feels as if it was made for me….. Such a great post! Thank you again!

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