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

Modifying a State Bicycle Co Undefeated for hill climbing

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...
The Profile Svet TT bars feel absolutely wicked...

...though I had to wrap them with innertubes to stop me from falling off
...though I had to wrap them with innertubes to stop me from falling off

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
These hubs from Mack are the lightest fixed gear hubs around

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
I've had this CaneCreek EE brake salted away for years now

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
The stock gearing was bit tall for hill climb efforts

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...
Yes, that is a missing chainring bolt and no, it's not for weight savings...

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
The name of the bike was modified by a colleague to more accurately reflect my hill climb performance this season

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.

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. 

Jack Luke

Staff Writer, UK
Jack has been riding and fettling with 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 cup and cone bearings, skids and tan wall tyres.
  • Discipline: Long days in the saddle by either road or mountain bike
  • Preferred Terrain: Happiest when on a rural road by the coast or crossing a remote mountain pass. Also partial to a cheeky gravel adventure or an arduous hike-a-bike.
  • Current Bikes: Custom Genesis Croix de Fer all road adventure wagon, Niner EMD 9.
  • Dream Bike: A rigid 44 Bikes Marauder, all black please.
  • Beer of Choice: Caesar Augustus
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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