Fixies are dumb, but I love them — Jack’s hill climb fixie

Modifying a State Bicycle Co Undefeated for hill climbing

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Over the past year, my State Undefeated has spent its life as a fixed gear TT wagon, a flat-bar street-skidin’ machine and now, it’s had the weight-weenie treatment and will be my choice for the remainder of the 2018 hill climb season.

State Undefeated hill climb bike key specs

  • Frameset — State Undefeated II, 7005 double-butted frame, full carbon Essor fork
  • Wheels — Yishin Bike tubular rims on Mack hubs
  • Tyres — Continental Podium TT tubular, 22mm
  • Cranks — SRAM Omnium with VeloSolo 42t chainring
  • Cog — Surly 20t
  • Chain — Miche Pista
  • Handlebars — Profile Svet TT base bar 
  • Seatpost — Ritchey Pro
  • Saddle — Fizik Antares R3

I’ve made a few changes from the stock spec to make the bike more appropriate for hill climbs.

The Profile Svet TT bars feel absolutely wicked…
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
…though I had to wrap them with innertubes to stop me from falling off
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
To start, I’ve swapped the generic alloy drop bars for a Profile Svet TT base bar. 

It’s a hill climb favourite to run bars without tape in the name of weight savings. However, I found the bars to be too slippery with sweaty hands sans tape, so I have wrapped them with a DIY grip tape made from a chopped up innertube.  

These hubs from Mack are the lightest fixed gear hubs around
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
On race day, I’m also using the pictured sub-kilo Yishin Bike/Mack wheelset that I’ve borrowed from Joe’s 2016 hill climb bike. These are fitted with a set of 22mm Continental Podium TT tubular tyres.
I’ve had this CaneCreek EE brake salted away for years now
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
A CaneCreek EE brake that I had salted away has also been fitted (CTT regulations require that you only have one brake if you’re riding a fixed gear bike).

I’ve also fitted the bike with a set of SRM/Look Exakt power meter pedals. No crank-based power meter solution exists for SRAM’s Omnium cranks.

However, as the Undefeated spends most of its life as a distinctly non-performance-focussed bike, an easily transferable solution like these pedals makes perfect sense.

The stock gearing was bit tall for hill climb efforts
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
I have also fitted a 42t VeloSolo chainring and swapped the stock cog for a larger 20t Surly cog.
Yes, that is a missing chainring bolt and no, it’s not for weight savings…
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
All of these upgrades have got the weight of the bike down to a perfectly respectable 6.1kg.
The name of the bike was modified by a colleague to more accurately reflect my hill climb performance this season
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media

There’s no doubt I could drop a good chunk of weight from the bike if went for more svelte cranks, chopped the steerer and got some lighter finishing kit, but I could do with losing a bit from myself and actually training first!

A delightfully stiff ride

Check out my decidedly mediocre performance aboard the Undefeated in the latest episode of Hill Climb Diaries

The Undefeated is designed for Red Hook-style fixed gear crit racing, so it should come as no surprise that the frameset is ridiculously stiff.

During a hill climb, this translates into a bike that feels incredibly efficient, direct and fun.

The last point is the most relevant to me; I just really enjoy riding fixies and that, to me, is justification enough — If I get my kicks out of mashing one (probably wrong) gear up a hill as fast as my little body can, then so be it.

That the bike is highly Instagram-compatible, attracting lots of horrified/admiring attention whenever I post about it is just another benefit.

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Are any of our readers riding fixed gear bikes up hills? Or were gears invented for a perfectly good reason? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.