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February 05, 2015

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Valentine's Day Gift Guide

The 14th of February is almost upon us. Perhaps you’re looking forward to it so you can have a day to celebrate your loved ones. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to celebrating with your girls in true Galentine’s Day fashion. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to celebrating yourself! Whoever you are trying to gift, we have some great options available.

Critical Cycles's Valentine's Day Gift Guide

 

1-CityLites ($19.99): This interlocking head and tail bike light is compact and powerful. When the two pieces are attached to your bike, they shine brightly, and when the two pieces are attached to each other, they shut off. It’s a lot like cuddling.

2-Step-Thru Seven-Speed City Bike ($299.99): This darling bicycle has a Dutch-style frame with a lower standover height to make getting on and off easy. This fully equipped lady’s bicycle is the perfect present to tell your girl she’s awfully special. Available in a variety of colors.

3-Track Pedals with Leather Straps ($21.99): These pedals with genuine leather straps will make any bike reminiscent of a classic velo bike. Keep it classy this Valentine’s Day.

4-Classic Commuter Helmets ($24.99): Keep your beloved’s cabeza intact with a classic commuter helmet.

5-Bondi-2 Bike Light Set ($9.99): Light up your lovely’s life with a set of small but bright bike lights.

6-Ergonomic Grips ($7.99): Like loving someone, cycling can be hard on your body. Grab a set of these ergonomic grips to reduce the pressures of riding so you can ride a little harder and love a little harder.

7-Dreamcatcher Basket (from $27.99): Hand-woven and double reinforced, these baskets will protect your beloved’s items as she or he goes from A to B.

8-Mixte Frame Three-Speed Urban Coaster ($279.99): This bike is optimized for city riding and is equipped with a coaster brake and a three-speed internal hub. It has a little bit of everything for your special someone. Available in turquoise and coral.

9-Diamond Frame Single-Speed City Bike ($249.99): This single-speed city bike is the counterpart to our step-thru city bike. No one would dare accuse you of being matchy-matchy if you got two.

10-KMC Chains (from $5.99): This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. Keep it lowkey with colorful KMC chains for a touch of personalization.

11-Kryptonite Locks (from $9.95): Defend your sweetheart’s bike (and honor) with a lock from Kryptonite. (Kryptonite even guarantees your bike’s safety with some of these locks!)

12-Drone Bike Headlight ($16.99): Your sunshine will appreciate this solar-powered bike headlight.

13-Fixed-Gear with Pista Handlebars and a Flip-Flop Hub ($219.99): One love. One bike. Our fixed-gear bikes come with a flip-flop hub so your honey can ride it as a fixie or a single-speed with a freewheel.

April 03, 2014

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A Brief Comparison of the Critical Cycle Fixie to the Takara Kabuto

You’ve finally made the decision to ride a fixed-gear bicycle. Good for you. You’ve decided to take all of the control into your own hands. We’re so proud. But the time has come to choose a fixed-gear bicycle. What to do, what to do? You may be thinking, “Oh me, oh my, there is such a vast variety of fixies to choose from.” Worry not, dear friend. Let us lead you and you’ll leave a more informed cyclist.


Red Pill or Blue Pill? The choice is yours.
If you really want a delicious warm and gooey doughnut with rainbow sprinkles on it, you wouldn’t settle for a three-day old “jelly” filled pastry, would you? No. At the end of the day, you want what you want. If you wouldn’t compromise on a rainbow-sprinkle-just-out-of-the-oven doughnut, why would you compromise on your mode of transportation?


The Critical Cycles Fixie has 17 color options, 5 sizes, and 2 handlebar options to choose from. We’re not math majors, but we’re giving you about 170 options. The Takara Kabuto has two colors and two sizes. Again, we’re not math majors over here, but that’s four options, right? Yeah, four. We live in a world with nearly infinite options. Some are more difficult to make than others, but this one doesn’t have to be.


The Red Pill
Aside from choosing exactly the bicycle you want, the better-built Critical Cycles Fixie keeps your ride safe and smooth. The tig-welded frame is accompanied by an alloy crank and an alloy seat post, both of which are ultimately the better and lighter choices for this already lightweight fixed-gear. Oh yeah, and we’ve got a fancy leather foot strap on light alloy pedals.


The Takara Kabuto may not look like the cyclists’ enemy, but it is. This WalMart bike has a quill stem, rather than our threadless stem on our Fixie with BMX handlebars. The threadless stem is ultimately lighter and stronger and allows the rider to easily center it without disrupting the handlebar height.


The Critical Cycles fixed-gear bicycle has a sealed bearings bottom bracket, which outlasts loose ball bottom brackets by a lifetime. While the latter requires more service more often and will need to be replaced soon after virtually any wear, our sealed bearings will withstand varying weather, road, and riding conditions and are particularly necessary in commuting environments to keep out moisture and dirt.

Critical Cycles Fixed-Gear Pista Bicycle
In addition to the lightweight accessories and sturdier stem and bottom bracket, our Pista Fixie has double wall rims as opposed to the Takara Kabuto’s single-wall rims. Although there is virtually no weight discrepancy between single and double wall rims (i.e. double-wall rims don’t add weight to the bike), the construction makes a significant difference when it comes to brawn and stability. These stiffer rims are much harder to bend.


Flip-Flop Hub
Sure, both the Pista Fixie and the Takara Kabuto have flip-flop hubs so you can alternate between fixed-gear and freewheel. But do you really want to be riding a bike that lacks a sealed bearings bottom bracket? Letting all that moisture and dirt get into the bicycle? Naw, man. And do you really want to be riding on a bike that has single wall rims rather than double wall rims? That’s another no. And besides, our flip-flop hubs are bit easier to change.


Dolla, Dolla Bills, Ya’ll
We get it, money is a consideration for a lot of people. The price point of these two bicycles are comparable, though the Takara Kabuto is about $20 cheaper. But that’s only because you’re getting close to bottom of the barrel bits and pieces. Our single-speed fixed-gear bike has been thoughtfully loaded with Protek cranks, a Sunrun freewheel, a KMC chain, Well-Go pedals, and Promax brakes. Each of these mechanisms have been carefully considered to bring you a bike that will be dependable for years to come.


Go on, Grasshopper
You have read this article and will presumably make a decision imminently. Go on, get outta here, and cycle happily.

March 12, 2014

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One of the Best Bicycles for Women

Where the women at? According to a survey completed by the National Sporting Goods Association, about 39.5 million people in the United States cycle, which is about 13% of the U.S. population. But a mere 29% of the cycling population is comprised of women. Why don’t we represent a bigger portion of cyclists? As I am of the female variety myself, I can see an assortment of reasons that would keep me off a bike and in the comfort of my car, my ripped-seated-air-conditioning-less car.

1 – It’s uncomfortable 2 – It’s dangerous 3 – It’s rigorous…err, maybe I’m lazy

Critical Cycles offers a solution to the first and second concerns with the Step-Thru City Bike, which proves to be one of the best bikes for women available. (…I think I need to find a solution for the third.)

Frame
This Dutchie style accommodates our body proportions better because the distance between the handlebars to the seat post is a smidge smaller than that of other bikes. This city bike also permits an upright riding position as opposed to having to lean forward, which 1-makes riding in everyday clothes easier and 2-preserves your back. The actual structure of the frame of the bicycle is a step-thru, which was traditionally preferred by the cycling ladies of the 1800s to accommodate their attire. The 61.3º angle of the head tube (the top bar of the bike) allows for easy mounting and dismounting because there isn’t a high bar to avoid. This also prevents stretching of clothes when getting on and off the bike (and encourages the wearing of sundresses as there’s no awkward pole between your legs, lifting the skirt of the dress as you ride).

Saddle

The brains behind the design of these bikes also incorporated a shorter and wider saddle that is more comfortable for women to ride. This seat style feels better on the sit bones, while thinner, longer saddles are generally intended for men.

Wheels

The 700c size wheels are ideal for any kind of riding. Whether commuting in the city, exercising those legs, or taking a stroll under the moonlight along the boardwalk with your honey, these wheels provide a smooth ride from sunrise to sunset and then some.

 

Critical Cycles Seven-Speed Step-Thru City Bicycle

 

Shifters

This Critical Cycles bike comes with grip twist shifters, which gives you the control you want. You can shift gears without removing your hands or loosening your grip, unlike thumb shifters and downtube shifters. These are much more convenient and comfortable.

Critical Cycles Seven-Speed Step-Thru City Bicycle Shifter
But wait…there’s more!

Critical Cycles's step-through bicycle comes with a light, a bell, a rack, and fenders. These features not only extend the retro vibe of the bicycle, but also pacify safety and convenience concerns. The mid-century headlamp has two modes, steady and flashing, to choose from. Most bicycles sold around town and on the interwebs don’t offer these accessories within the sale of the bike.

Savvy Shoppers: Shop Savvy at CriticalCycles.com

Women have a reputation for being shoppers. And some women have a reputation for being savvy shoppers (I’d like to put myself in this category). Regardless of whether or not you identify with either of the aforementioned stereotypes, everyone likes a good deal. Critical Cycles’s goal is to provide customers with the best bargain possible. We want our customers to be as happy as we are when cycling and we want you to feel like you made a sound investment. Critical Cycles can offer factory-direct prices because we remove the middleman. We design, manufacture, and distribute these babies so you can get out riding even if you are on a budget. Or, you are like me and just really, really like a good deal.

March 05, 2014

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Why Fixed Gear Bikes Make Great Commuter Bikes

Now that you’ve made the decision to start commuting by bike, it’s time to figure out what type of bike to purchase. Whether you’re trying to go green, save green, or make others green with envy over your new fit body, you will need to look at a lot of options in order to select the right bike for you and your commute. This can seem like a daunting task, but luckily there is one type of bike that works for almost any commute and that is a fixed gear bike. Not sure why these make such great commuter bikes? Read on.

Critical Cycles Fixed Gear


The Science of the Thing
Fixed gear bikes are bikes without a freewheel. This means that if the wheels are in motion, the pedals are too. If you’re not used to a fixed gear bike, one of the first things you’ll notice is that you can’t coast, even if you’re going downhill. You have to keep the pedals going around to keep the bike moving forward. If physical fitness is part of your motivation for becoming a bicycle commuter, you will very quickly see why fixed gear bikes make great commuter bikes. You are fully physically engaged the whole time you’re on the bike. This burns more calories and builds more muscle. This effect is enhanced by uneven terrain since you can’t make it easier on yourself by shifting gears.


The Maintenance of the Thing
Ease of maintenance is another reason why fixed gear bikes make great commuter bikes. Fixed gear bikes have far fewer parts than multi-gear bikes. They require very little maintenance and last for years. This will keep you sticking to your bicycle commute for several reasons. First, you won’t have to worry about constant repair, and you can just enjoy the ride. Second, if your bike isn’t broken, you won’t have a good excuse not to ride it. Third, since they have so few components, fixed gear bikes weigh much less than multi-gear bikes. This makes them much easier to transport upstairs if your lifestyle requires it.

Critical Cycles Maintenance


The Fun of the Thing
Fun is always a factor. If you enjoy riding your bike to work, you’re much more likely to stick with it. Many avid cyclists, even those who ride mountain or road bikes, choose fixed gear bikes because they provide the most enjoyable ride. That’s because the fixed gear bike’s motion and the rider’s motion on the pedals are in sync. This makes you feel more connected to the bike and the ground. The bike almost feels like part of your body.
Besides being simply enjoyable, this connection with the bike also has an impact on your safety since you will receive better feedback from the road. In hazardous or complicated situations, particularly in crowded urban areas, this will improve your alertness and response time if something unexpected pops up.


Regardless of your reasons for deciding to commute by bicycle, fixed gear bikes make great commuter bikes because they simplify the process of getting to work via bicycle. If you are ready to give fixed gear bikes a try, check out our full selection. We cut out the middleman, so you won’t get a better deal on the highest-quality fixed gear bicycles.

March 04, 2014

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Track Bikes v Fixie Bikes

At Critical Cycles, we’re passionate about fixed-gear bikes. Accordingly, we strive to educate our customers as much as possible about everything fixie-related. One common misconception about fixie bikes is that they’re the same as track bikes. While track bikes are also technically fixed-gear and offer many of the same riding benefits as a standard fixie, there are some key differences. For starters, track bikes are designed for racing on a velodrome, or bike track, while fixies are optimized for regular recreational and commuter bike use. Though both track bikes and fixies operate fixed, our fixies have a flip-flop hub with a freewheel, so riders can decide whether they want to ride fixed or single-speed. There are a number of structural differences in these two types of bikes that correspond to the intended use of each.

Critical Cycles Fixed-Gear Single-Speed Bicycle


Brakes
The most obvious difference between fixie bikes and track bikes is that track bikes are brakeless. On a bike track, everyone is moving in the same direction, so brakes are not needed. Interestingly, brakes are actually considered a safety hazard in velodrome bike racing. Without brakes, everyone stops at about the same rate; brakes add a dangerous variability. While you can remove the brakes from your Critical Cyles fixie, it’s definitely not recommended. It’s also important to note that removing the brakes alone doesn’t change a fixie into a track bike.


Engineering
Track bikes are also engineered slightly differently in order to make them more aerodynamic and more efficient at hard sprinting. The fork blades are circular, rather than oval-shaped, which makes them more rigid against the heavy side loads that biking out-of-the-saddle puts on the fork blades in a race. The more upright angles of track bikes’ frames increase the maneuverability while maintaining stiffness. This stiffness means that track bikes are less capable than fixies of handling hazards like bumps, which are more often found on roads rather than tracks.


Tires
Track bikes have the tightest possible tire clearance, so your choice of tires on this bike is limited to the narrowest types available, whereas fixies can accommodate a much broader tire size. Track bikes are also not designed to be used outside of the controlled arena of a velodrome and, as such, can’t have the quick release wheels or fenders that fixies can. This can translate into trouble if you get a flat tire. It’s much more difficult to fix a flat if you can’t remove the wheel. Rough weather conditions are also a cause for concern, since fenders protect a bike’s rider from backsplash.

 

What to Ride
While you can technically ride a track bike on the road, it’s not what they were designed for. If you are debating between track bikes and fixie bikes, it’s important to know that a regular fixie is much safer for commuters and recreational cyclists. Track bikes are better left to professionals. If you’ve made up your mind about a fixed-gear, check out our fixies, available with both BMX handlebars as well as Pista handlebars.

January 09, 2014

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The Best Single Speed Bike for Urban Commuting

Looking to get out of your car and to into some good exercise? A trusty single speed bike may be just what you are looking for. The market is full of bikes for all sorts of purposes, so if you’re wondering what would be the best single speed bike for urban commuting, let Critical Cycles help you select the perfect bike for you.

Simplicity

For day-to-day urban commuting it is a good idea to go for a simple bike. You will want to have something light and responsive, so you can ride comfortably in urban environments, mind traffic, walk your bike through buildings, and carry the bike around when you need to.  A simple bike design has fewer moving parts to worry about and to perform maintenance on, so you can go about your day without laboring over the intricate functioning of shifters and double or triple-chainring cranksets. With a simple bike, you can just grab it and go. For the best option, look at a fixed gear or city single speed bikes.

Critical Cycles Fixed-Gear Single-Speed BikeCritical Cycles Single-Speed Diamond Frame City Bike

Durability

The best single speed bike has a durable frame and is composed of quality components. You want your bike to last for a long time and hold up under the wear and tear of daily urban riding. You should seek out sturdy wheels and tough tires that are built to take on potholes and rough asphalt. In the hustle of an urban environment, it is good to have a reliable, durable bike that can navigate any obstacles you come across.

Critical Cycles City Bike Wheel

Affordability

You could sink a lot of money into a high-performance road bike or mountain bike if you have a specific aim in mind, but for daily urban commuting, it is better to spend a modest amount on a simple, workhorse bike. The best single speed bike won’t exhaust your savings and will provide years and years of trustworthy transportation.

Critical Cycles Has a Bike for You

When it comes to simplicity, durability, and affordability our fixed gear bikes and single speed city bikes are among the best bikes available on the market for urban commuters. Our bikes are built with quality components for urban environments, so you can rely on your bike for years of commuting. We offer a wide selection of eye-catching colors for the most expressive ride. Our bikes ship straight to you, ready to be assembled, so you can get right on the road. Shop for the perfect urban commuter bike from Critical Cycles.

January 06, 2014

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Fixed-Gear Bicycle Accessories: How about an invisible bike helmet?

At Critical Cycles, we believe that being cool starts with being street-smart, and being street-smart means wearing a helmet. Hat hair is a silly excuse for being careless with your own well-being.

The numbers speak for themselves: in 2010, 616 bicyclists were killed in the United States. Of those victims, 79% were not wearing a helmet. In 2009, a staggering 91% of bicycle fatalities involved riders without a helmet.

So how do we encourage riders to reconsider the helmet?

At Critical Cycles, we’re always on the lookout for hot new fixed gear bicycle accessories, and we’re very excited about the latest gadget about to hit the market: the invisible bicycle helmet.

Breaking Down the Invisible Bike Helmet
The idea for the invisible bike helmet was conceived by two design students, Anna and Terese, who came up with the idea as part of an exam project. According to one of these forward-thinking inventors, “An invisible bicycle helmet is a symbol of 'the impossible.'” The women contacted a head trauma specialist and looked at decades of reports on bicycle collisions, in order to determine movement patterns and assess how common head injuries occur. They spent a total of seven years on the project, and the results are nothing short of extraordinary.

Rather than strapping onto the head, the invisible helmet looks more like a thin flotation device that wraps around the neck. Inside the device is an airbag that deploys in an emergency situation. The device contains sensors that determine unusual activity (such as a collision or free fall) and respond accordingly. Though this marvel of innovation has yet to hit the marketplace, the inventors have already received $10 million in venture capital funding, so you may just see the invisible helmet in your local bike shop in the not-too-distant future.

 

Fixed Gear Bicycle Accessories of the Future
In recent months, we’ve seen a number of incredible startup innovations designed to make life easier for bicyclists. From a motorized, self-propelling bike wheel (the Copenhagen Wheel) to bike theft GPS, the industry is experiencing a technological boom like never before. Is this proof that bicycling is sneaking its way into mainstream culture? We’d like to think so, and we hope to see even more of these ingenious inventions in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a selection of invisible helmets to offer at this time, but at Critical Cycles, we do carry a wide array of fixed gear bikes, city bikes and fixed gear bicycle accessories. We pride ourselves on carrying the most high-quality bikes at the most reasonable prices, and we even offer free shipping within the continental United States. Browse the full inventory for yourself, and become a part of this new biking revolution with Critical.

January 04, 2014

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Critical City Bike 7 Speed vs Public Bikes CityBike V7

Curious about the differences between various seven-speed city bikes available? Search no further. We’ve compiled a handful of the similarities and differences between the Public Bikes CityBike V7 and the Critical Cycles 7-Speed City Bike.

Critical Cycles Diamond Frame Seven-Speed City Bike


The Similarities
From the KMC chain to the Shimano Revo Grip Shifter, these bikes share some impressive qualities. Both the Critical Cycles and Public Bikes 7-speeds feature Kenda Kwest high-performance tires, a durable steel frame, dependable alloy brakes, and ergonomic handlebars. Both are available in an array of colors and sizes and both are extremely lightweight. In fact, either option will prove to be a dependable bike for any serious rider.

But of course, there are a few small, but important, differences to take note of.


The Distinctions
When it comes to accessories, the Critical Cycles 7-speed has the upper hand. The Critical model comes equipped with a free light rack and bell, neither of which are included with the Public Bikes 7-speed. Public Bikes does carry these accessories, but they are sold separately, and they don't come cheap. Additionally, the Critical model is available in a much wider array of color combinations. In fact, Critical Cycles has a dozen different options to choose from.

Critical Cycles Diamond Frame Seven-Speed City Bike

The most notable difference, though, has nothing to do with accessories or color choices. Rather, it’s the price point. The Critical Cycles bike comes with more and still costs substantially less than its competitors. We manufacture all of our bikes and sell them directly to the customer. By doing this, we cut out the middleman and avoid any retail mark up costs. We can offer you manufacturer-direct prices, while Public Bikes has to incorporate industry wide retail mark-ups into their pricing. We also offer free shipping within the continental United States, which is not something Public Bikes does. We offer the seven-speed city bike of your dreams complete for a price of $299. Get riding now.
November 22, 2013

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The Pros and Cons of Bike Sharing

In light of recent economic and environmental concerns, traveling by bicycle has become much more popular than ever. Many progressive cities have implemented bike sharing programs that make it possible to rent out bikes for a very small fee, while seasoned bicycle commuters remain loyal to their favorite fixed-gear bicycle brands. Paris has had its bike sharing system in place since 2007, and many cities in the U.S. have followed suit. Although there are clear benefits to having a bike share program available, there are some drawbacks as well.

Critical Cycles Bike Sharing


The Positive
On a global scale, more bikes means less pollution, and riding a bike is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. In major cities, driving often takes much longer than walking, taking public transportation, or biking, because traffic can be unpredictable. Additionally, parking spots are few and far between in the city, and if you are lucky enough to find one, you often have to pay for it. Plus, on a fundamental level, riding a bike is just a fun way to see the city in a unique and personal way.


The Negative
Unfortunately, bike sharing programs have the potential of being abused, which has been proven by recent vandalism and theft in Paris. Approximately 9,000 bicycles were lost or damaged in the past year alone.
Many riders also feel uncomfortable about riding an unfamiliar bicycle. Just like a car, knowing the history and riding characteristics of your bike help you ride more safely. Not to mention, you can’t expect a shared bike to be as well maintained as your own.


The Next Step
The general consensus in Paris is that it may be necessary to reduce the amount of bikes available for public use, which will mean closing down stations. Hopefully, this will make the program more financially viable, while also reducing the amount of bikes that are available to be abused. Unfortunately, this also reduces the amount of bikes that are available for those who use them legitimately.

Critical Cycles Bike Sharing


What We Can Learn
Depending on a bike share program as your primary source of transportation is risky. There are many fixed gear bicycle brands out there, and plenty of them offer quality cycles at affordable prices. In the long run, investing in your own bike is going to be the more dependable and cost-effective option. With so many cheap fixed gear bicycle brands around these days, there is no reason why everyone can't enjoy the benefits of a personal bicycle.
Critical Cycles has earned a solid reputation in the cycling community by being one of the only fixed gear bicycle brands that combines quality components, unrivaled style, and budget-friendly prices. Contact us today to snag your own fixie without paying the premium prices found elsewhere.
November 15, 2013

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Fixed Gear Bicycles: Los Angeles Bike Scene

If you’ve spent any time navigating the busy streets of Los Angeles, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the emerging fixie trend. Fixed gear bikes are proving to be more than a passing fad on the West Coast, as many, many cyclists are trading in their old mountain bikes and road bikes for fixies. Los Angeles is no stranger to bike culture, but fixies have made it easier than ever for people to purchase affordable bikes and customize them.


Fixed Gear Bicycles in Los Angeles – A Match Made in Heaven
It should come as no surprise that L.A. is fast becoming the fixie capital of America. After all, Los Angeles has always marched to the beat of a different drum, much like fixies themselves. We don't follow the trends, we set them. Fixed gear bikes, with their unique drivetrain and absent freewheel, are highly functional and yet unapologetic in their individualism. They look normal on the outside, and yet, they refuse to conform to the traditional.

Doesn't this all sound characteristic of the L.A. vibe? It’s a town of diversity, united by a common passion for doing things its own way. Perhaps that's why the fixie is equally appealing to the college hipster, the tech entrepreneur, the middle-aged commuter, and the high school adventurer. Often imitated but never duplicated, fixies are the Hollywood of bicycles.


The Best Way to Explore L.A.
If you're passionate about fixed gear bicycles, Los Angeles is your playground. Cruise Santa Monica Boulevard in style or explore the LA River bike path. Experience Santa Monica with the wind to your back and the cool ocean waters to your face. Soak in the history and culture of Hollywood and Highland, navigate the roads of bustling downtown, and stop in China Town for some world-class Kung Pao. There is, quite simply, no better way to experience this iconic city. Is it any wonder why we love our fixies so much?


Looking for a Fixie of Your Very Own?
If you're ready to join the legions of Angelenos committed to the fixed gear revolution, check out the selection of stylish, affordable fixed gear bikes at Critical Cycles. Not only are our fixies made from the best components on the market, but our prices are unbeatable. L.A. is one of America's greatest cities, and if you haven't experienced it on a bike, you haven't truly lived it at all. So find your perfect fixie, and experience the amazing possibilities that await you.