Brake Black review£350.00

A good looking bike for around town

BikeRadar score3.5/5

A no-frills hi-tensile steel frame lays the foundations for this slick-looking steed in Brake’s single-model range. Hailing from the streets of London, our bike of choice was finished in a black powder coat.

Its intentions are clear from the get-go; with no mounts for a bottle cage, mudguards or rear rack this is a solid pub bike, but you’ll have to think of another way of carrying your change of clothes if this becomes your workhorse (messenger bag, maybe!).

Look beneath the black, funky red and yellow finish and you’ll discover ball bearings within the headset, hubs and bottom bracket. In all honesty, this is a bit of a low point. We’ve seen cartridge bearings on bikes in this category and at much lower price points, and as we rate them higher than the balls, it’s a clear downer in terms of value for money.

Ball bearings in the headset, hubs and bottom bracket let the bike down
Ball bearings in the headset, hubs and bottom bracket let the bike down

Bike control derives from the 1 1/8in ahead stem with alloy riser bars. These feel stiff, especially when compared to a quill stem on the same budget, so a definite plus point giving confidence in and around traffic. Slack angles mean it’s not the nippiest ride, but providing you’re not looking to set any PBs, the Brake certainly soaks up potholes.

The wheels are a similar breed to those we’ve seen on other models at this price; the aero-style rims give a speedy impression, but they aren’t the lightest wheels you’ll find. But it’s an aesthetic pay-off — a shallower rim would have been a way of saving a little weight, but lose points for coolness. Equally, red tyres look good to the passer-by, but the actual rubber used here gives little grip on wet tarmac.

The Brake's saddle and soft grips are colour co-ordinated
The Brake's saddle and soft grips are colour co-ordinated

Colour co-ordinated ‘leather’ saddle and soft grips complete the package, the grips modelled on the classic fixed-gear favourite Oury. It’s an appreciated touch. The saddle is comfy, which is all too often lost on urban bikes that adopt the ‘faux retro’ look.

At close to 10kg, the weight isn’t near what we’d like a bike for getting to work fast, but its durability can’t be doubted. For £350 we’d expect a few higher-grade components but it’s certainly one to be chosen on looks.

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