Schwinn Cutter Review
The announcement of the Schwinn Cutter has been one of our most popular posts, and with good reason. People are interested in this bike; an inexpensive take on the singlespeed trend aimed at an in-touch yet frugal consumer. A true entry level bike aimed at the enthusiast rider, this $329 MSRP bike is pretty well suited for what most city riders are actually after, and far better to get around on in traffic than any laid-back hybrid on the market.
Let’s cut to the chase of what this bike isn’t. It is not a race bike, nor a lightweight one (26.75lbs as pictured, without pedals). It is not a good candidate for pricey upgrades and is best left pretty much stock. Far more impressive is what the bike actually is; a roughly $300 reliable and serviceable bike. Perfectly suited for commuters and city riders who for one reason or another do not have the inclination to spend more than a few hundred bucks on a bicycle ridden for utility rather than performance, the Cutter is expected to be locked up outside and put away wet time and again.
For reliability, a singlespeed drivetrain is unparalleled. With a straight chain and no derailleur the drivetrain is quiet and seemingly lasts forever. Chains don’t break, and chainring and cog teeth don’t wear as quickly as on a geared bicycled. As long as you don’t mind the noise, you can practically go without lubricant on this drivetrain and it’ll still go. Getting over the mental block of not shifting is the hardest part of falling in love, besides the steepest of hills a singlespeed bike is at best marginally harder to ride. The stock 46×18 gear on the Cutter is very reasonable.
The Cutter has an oversized high-tensile steel frameset and unicrown fork sharing the geometry of the more upscale Schwinn Madison; nothing special, but everything reliable. And frankly, cheap steel bikes typically ride pretty well for what they are. Parts are inexpensive as expected, but serviceable. The 36 spoke singlespeed wheels (no fixed threading) and Kenda 28c tires are a good choice for city streets, and the flat bar and upswept 1″ threaded stem (with removable faceplate!) that is actually shipping with the bikes yields a realistic, comfortable position. Two water bottle mounts, a quick release seat binder and a set of fender mounts front and back round out the practical package. Chain tensioners are an especially nice touch for the intended user who will find them very handy for positioning the wheel.
Parts oddities that are a dead giveaway for the price point include the non-replaceable 46t chainring and 110mm spaced singlespeed rear hub. I wouldn’t worry about the chainring, as singlespeed road rings take exceedingly long to wear out. As for the wheels and the BMX standard 110mm rear spacing, don’t worry about it either. Even if you want to upgrade to a nicer singlespeed/fixed wheelset with conventional 120mm track spacing spreading the frame to fit is really of no concern. Truly the only component I’d consider upgrading out of the box would be the single-pivot brakes. but even these work sufficiently well for most.
The Schwinn Cutter is the ideal bicycle for many folks, either as a primary bike or a secondary commuting or polo set of wheels. If you’re looking at the Cutter and instantly thinking “upgrade!” you’re truly barking up the wrong tree – save your cash a bit longer, buy a bike for a couple hundred dollars more and get a frameset much more worthy of ongoing purchases. This is a cheap date, better than Red Lobster is throwing good money after bad. If you’re looking for a reliable and serviceable bicycle a step up from the department store garbage more in touch with today’s city riding, this is it. Available in 4 sizes, S-XL, the Cutter is going for about $300 right now and comes as a mostly blank canvas and a sheet of decals.
If this is your first “adult” bicycle, do it. You can’t go wrong, you will have fun.
Visit www.schwinnbike.com for more information.