I opted to build the bike up from scratch for a number of reasons.
Primarily, I had a very specific vision for the be-fendered, dynamo’d, ultra-compact-geared, all-day mile munching, lane shredding skid wagon that I wanted to ride. As you can imagine, a stock build was (very) unlikely to meet these needs.
There is also no denying the fact that I delight in agonising over every little detail when building a bike — give me a new frameset, a bottom bracket facing tool, an M4 tap and a podcast, and I’m the happiest boy on earth.
Because I wanted to take full advantage of the Mr Pink’s generous tyre clearances, I also had to swap Shimano’s brakes in favour of something a touch more capacious. Velo Orange’s Grand Cru Long Reach brakeset was just the ticket, with a quoted max tyre width of up to 35mm.
Moving onto finishing kit, I decided to keep it simple, opting for Thomson Elite throughout. Thomson’s excellent quality, huge range of available sizes and minimal branding makes it a firm favourite for many.
The Brooks Cambium saddle was a last minute choice that I thought would look nice on the bike. More on how that worked out later.
Halo — the in-house wheel brand of All-City’s UK distributor — supplied the wheels, with the front laced to a Shutter Precision SV-9 dynamo hub. These were initially fitted with Challenge Paris-Roubaix 28mm tyres.
When initially choosing this bike, I was looking for an abusable do-it-all frameset that would see me through the winter and beyond.
This demanded something with generous clearances, external cables, a threaded bottom bracket and, critically, mudguard mounts — in my eyes, no road bike that is to be ridden in the UK is complete without mudguards.
When it came to deciding frame material, steel is by far the most Instagram-compatible frame material out there, so that choice was already made for me. I mean, if you ain’t getting likes on your bike pictures, what’s even the point?
Jesting aside, carbon or alloy would have suited me just fine, but this was destined to be an abused bike, and steel is a more life-proof material overall.
As for rim vs disc brakes, that’s a harder one to explain (or justify).
Discs offer many advantages, particularly in poor weather conditions. They also, usually, offer fewer compromises when it comes to tyre and mudguard clearances. I also think that the suggestion that discs demand more or more complicated maintenance than rim brakes just isn’t true.
In my eyes, the key advantage of rim brakes is that pad contamination and pad life is much easier to keep under control compared to discs.
During the winter months, I clean my bikes in the most — at the very best — half-hearted fashion. There’s just not enough hours in the day and so many better ways to spend your life than elbow deep in a bucket of soapy water in a freezing cold garden after every ride. This slapdash approach would almost certainly lead to regularly contaminating disc pads.
There is also some truth to the claim that production steel disc forks must be overbuilt compared to rim brake forks to comply with testing standards. This is said to result in a harsher ride quality compared to an equivalent rim brake fork. I was curious to see if this was true.
As I built the bike up to my own pedantic standards, the Mr Pink was pretty much perfect from the get-go. The inclusion of down-tube barrel adjusters also makes on-the-fly, mid-ride adjustments to indexing a breeze.
Again, as I had built the bike from the ground up, the initial fit was also pretty much spot on.
On that note, I was pleasantly surprised by quite how much I liked the Brooks Cambium saddle. It’s a seriously pleasant place to perch your peach, with the hammock-like flex of the saddle offering some serious shock absorbing qualities.
All-City Mr Pink Classic ride impressions
I’ve done a lot of miles on the All-City, including many on hills that are definitely as steep as this photo makes outAndy Lloyd
The best way to describe the ride quality of the All-City Mr Pink Classic is, funnily enough, classic. It rides just as you’d expect of a steel road bike with skinny-ish tubing and classic geometry. It’s got a pleasingly squidgy, bump-taming ride quality and it is, overall, relatively nimble-handling.
Though I’ve done some hard ol’ efforts on the bike, you really can see the tyres and fork deform under power. It’s no wet biscuit, but it’s certainly not some super-stiff, wattage-boosting road rocket either.
For long days or mellow rides, this translates into a really pleasant, fatigue-reducing ride that leaves you feeling far fresher than a bone-shaking super-stiff bike would. The relatively upright position also helps here.
Compared to the aforementioned Velo Orange Pass Hunter, which also had a lugged steel fork, the All-City’s fork definitely flexes more. This, again, improves comfort.
I am currently running the bike with a 48/34t chainring combo paired with an 11-28t cassette and this is just about perfect for my riding. I spend the vast majority of my time in the outer ring, running it like a pseudo 1x drivetrain, with the inner acting as a bailout gear for climbs.
I’ll likely swap the inner chainring for a slightly smaller option if I plan on doing some long hilly rides in the summer, but for the time being, I’m more than satisfied.
The Challenge tyres that I originally fitted to the bike were amazing and totally fuss-free summer tyres but, in their well-worn state, made absolutely terrible winter tyres.
Punctures were an alarmingly regular occurrence and I eventually subbed them for a set of tubeless WTB Exposure 30mm tyres that have, thus far, been amazing.
I’m a big fan of dynamo lighting and have been using my Exposure Revo to great success for some years now. The light now lives on the All-City and, though I’d like to try something new for the sheer sake of it, I am as satisfied with it now as I was when I first received it.
All-City Mr Pink Classic upgrades
I’ve been seriously impressed by WTB’s Exposure tyresAndy Lloyd
The Eagle-eyed will note that the lead image of the bike in this review features a number of upgrades. The first and by far the best so far is the aforementioned upgrade to the tyres. As I said, WTB’s Exposure 30mm tyres have seriously impressed me.
Setup was absolutely painless, they feel very fast and I have — touch wood — yet to puncture them. The extra volume over a 28mm tyre is also a huge boon on rough terrain.
I have just swapped the Exposure Revo lamp in favour of a Busch & Muller modelAndy Lloyd
I have also swapped the Exposure Revo dynamo light for a Busch & Muller IQ-X headlight. As I said, I am delighted with my Exposure lamp, but my dear colleague Felix Smith needed to borrow it for an upcoming adventure, and I will take any excuse I can to try out something new.
I also upgraded the stock Velo Orange pads for a set of Koolstop Salmon inserts. These have massively improved braking power in all conditions. The softer compound also deforms a touch more under braking, improving lever feel and, at a stretch, modulation.
These Silca bottle cages are in equal measure ludicrously expensive and lovelyAndy Lloyd
A matching set of oh-so-lovely but oh-so-ridiculously-expensive Silca Sicuro titanium bottle cages have also been fitted.
At £55 / $70 / €62 each (each!), these are an eye-wateringly unjustifiable upgrade… but heck they do look great.
Once settled on the fit, I chopped off the vestigial resale-nubbin from the steerer, swapped the 100mm Thomson stem for a 120mm Extralite option and slammed the cockpit.
Once I’ve settled on the position — which so far, feels great — I’ll likely swap the Extralite stem for something with slightly less terrifying max torque values.
I swapped the 105 rear derailleur for an Ultegra RX modelAndy Lloyd
Lastly, I have swapped the 105 rear derailleur in favour of a clutch-equipped Ultegra RX model. This has quietened down the bike on rough roads considerably.
As is probably clear, I’m thoroughly enjoying my time on the Mr Pink. It has been an absolute delight getting to build what, in my eyes at least, is the perfect bike for the riding I enjoy, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the build progresses as the months go on.
What do you think? Have I got it catastrophically wrong or is the build right on the money? Am I an idiot for going with rim brakes? I’m sure you were going to anyway, but don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments!
Jack has been riding and fettling bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork and thinks nothing of bivouacking on a beach after work. Also fond of his tandem, Cecil, cup and cone bearings, skids and tan wall tyres.