High-end but low-key commuter: Vanilla's new Urban Racer

Vanilla Workshop sets a high bar for the bar bike

Want a city bike that gets a nod of approval from highbrow cyclists but goes unnoticed by potential thieves? The new Urban Racer from The Vanilla Workshop could fit the bill. Designed and made in Portland, Oregon, the Urban Racer sports fixed-gear looks but with a little more functionality, thanks to a two-speed SRAM coaster-brake hub. 

While the price tag will certainly limit potential buyers — complete bikes start at US$4,895 (approx £3,211 / AU$6,382 – Vanilla ships internationally) —  the clean lines can be appreciated by all cyclists.

Vanilla Workshop founder Sacha White said the Urban Racer was designed a 'super commuter',  with nimble handling in a lightweight steel frame that shares geometry more with race bikes than slack cruisers.

"I used to think that a bike for getting around town could be as heavy as it needed to be and if that meant it had more utility," White said. "While there's a place for the mule, or grocery-getter in every stable, what I've gravitated toward with this new bike is fun. A light bike that has some good volume to the tires, has a minimalist, modern, sexy design and above all is something that I totally want to shred on."

The bike comes in three sizes, with a wealth of upgrades, such as the integrated bar/stem shown in blue above. The wheels are 650b, shod in plump, 42mm rubber. Paint options abound, including a distressed look where baselayer graphics are painted over, and then partially sanded off to reveal the design beneath.

Click through the gallery above for a closer look.

The urban racer comes with custom-length seatmast cap, plus scores of potential upgrades: the urban racer comes with custom-length seatmast cap, plus scores of potential upgrades
The urban racer comes with custom-length seatmast cap, plus scores of potential upgrades: the urban racer comes with custom-length seatmast cap, plus scores of potential upgrades

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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