The popularity of the road fixer market has seen an explosion of machines battling for top spot at the ultra competitive £400 price point. Pinnacle’s Bachelor stands out with a great blend of charm, value and practicality.
Proper guard and rack provision coupled with good tyre clearance make this a very good choice for UK conditions. Were it complemented by a carbon fork, the Bachelor would stand head and shoulders above its rivals but with the present spec it still gives them a run for their money.
Ride & handling: quick, yet dependable
At its simplest, the Bachelor is a modern, semi-compact road frameset with track ends, and it behaves accordingly. Acceleration is brisk and engaging without feeling skittish.
It passed a trip down an icy lane with flying colours, helped in no small part by the 25mm Continental rubber and precision feedback that comes from riding fixed in such conditions. Even with a rack and heavily laden panniers, the front end did not shimmy or wander off line.
Town manners were equally encouraging, thanks in no small part to proportionally sized components. In particular, the sensibly wide anatomic bars gripped by a 10cm stem meant it could snake around car doors and unexpected holes without feeling barge-like. These could be exchanged for low-pro/pursuit bars if you were desperate to squeeze through the tightest of gaps.
Weaving around cats' eyes and traffic cones through a deserted town centre unleashed the bike’s playful yet dependable “elder sibling” persona. Out-of-the-saddle efforts were equally rewarding and there was no tell-tale power sapping flex. Given the low weight, bunny-hopping is a breeze and will save taco’d rims and hurt pride should an obstacle present itself unexpectedly.
Frame: subtle detailing gives it the edge over its rivals
With its semi-sloping geometry, A6 series aluminium tubes and straight forks it would be easy to dismiss the Bachelor as just another inexpensive road fixer. Look closer and there’s a wealth of subtle yet significant detailing.
The distinctive top tube, formed triangular to round, allows the use of lighter gauge tubing without resorting to industrial-looking and weighty gusseting. Raw, uniform TIG welding holds an industrial beauty and contrasts with the sculptured, flowing lines of the headtube as it blends seamlessly into an unusually pretty straight-bladed oversized fork.
A front-facing seat collar slot prevents dirt entering the seattube, while mudguard eyes, four-point carrier fixings and twin bottle mounts are also well suited to longer rides in the UK’s changeable climate. The understated champagne livery seems resilient to nicks, scrapes and stone chips, translating into a frameset worthy of upgrading.
There’s ample clearance for 700x28 tyres without guards and 700X26 with. The rear triangle features 120mm track spacing, meaning there’s no shortage of hub choice should you chose to upgrade, although it rules out running a hub gear should the thrill of fixed fizzle out.
Cable routing for a rear brake may offend the purists but is discrete and a legal requirement, given the bike is built around the flip-flop fixed freewheel configuration.
The modest bottom bracket height pretty much rules out track duties - a common trait among the latest generation of road fixer/single speed packages.
The alloy forks almost seem exotic, such is the ubiquity of carbon, and enjoy a good performance-to-cost ratio. Contemporary aluminium frames are, in the main, more compliant and the Bachelor is no exception. However, the fork isn’t quite so forgiving on rides exceeding 30 miles, leaving my arms in no doubt that a budget carbon offering would have been a better choice.
Equipment: commendable blend but no chain tugs
Components on a fixer/single speed are pretty minimalist but, done properly, mean more bang for your buck. In the main, the Bachelor steals a march over the competition. The only exception is the KMC chain. It performed faultlessly but a 1/18 chain would be more suitable given the additional stresses placed upon a fixed transmission.
Components are available in any colour you like, so long as it’s black. They contrast with the frameset nicely but will tire faster than silver/polished examples.
FSA’s venerable Verso crankset is very pretty. Bog-standard 170mm crank arms won’t suit everyone and it’s a shame crank length isn’t proportional to frame size, but Pinnacle reasons that 170mm cranks offer ample ground clearance when cornering on a fixed. Heavier riders will probably upgrade to the ISIS system once the venerable sealed bottom bracket gets the rumbles.
Crank Brothers Smarty pedals as standard are a nice touch. Tektro R358 long-reach dual pivots mated to Cane Creek SCR5 levers are a tried and tested combination, offering good modulation and feel in most conditions, and are all you’ll need to stop a fixer in its tracks. The discrete lever QR allow the pads to be opened a little on the fly should a pothole claim you as its next victim while the soft rubber hoods are very tactile, even without gloves. The P-fit sleeve system makes for simple adjustment of bar height on threadless steerers.
A proportional width Pinnacle four-bolt stem and ergo bars make for comfortable positioning and a suitably rigid cockpit. The bars felt broader than their suggested 42cm and offer good leverage at the expense of all-out traffic jamming prowess. Synthetic, water-resistant bar wrap adds the finishing touch, is easy to clean and dampens vibration.
The San Marco perch felt a little on the on the firm side, although comfortable enough, while the binder bolt is prettier than many gracing pricier mounts. The only omission worthy of note was the absence of chain-tugs - not essential but they make a lot of sense on a fixer.
The black theme continues with the wheelset, Alex 500 32-hole hoops with machined sidewalls are something of a benchmark at this end of the market and, although unremarkable, seem worthy enough. They are laced two-cross to sealed, large-flange hubs, which to their credit seem smooth and with basic care should not require attention for a few seasons. Threads on the fixed side seem a little agricultural and will warrant a liberal application of marine grease to prevent the fixed sprocket corroding firmly into place after an unforgiving winter but otherwise should not give rise for concern.
On the subject of sprockets, 3/32 cogs are fine for conversions where the bevelled teeth correct any slight chain-slop or chainline imperfections but make for a slightly gritty transmission. In contrast, the freewheel mechanism is surprisingly refined and silent - better than many specced on bikes costing a good £100 more.
There’s no doubting the two-cross lacing makes for a lighter wheelset and contributes to the punchy acceleration, especially away from the lights or on shorter climbs, but three-cross at the rear would be more practical on a bike likely to be pressed into service as a commuter scoot. However, this didn't present any problems over the test period and 25mm Continental tyres are an excellent choice, nimble enough on the open road yet never batting an eyelid cornering hard on greasy lanes or negotiating manhole covers.