Just in: Tokyo Fixed Road Rocket
New steel road bike made for going fast blasts in to our orbit
Tokyo Fixed, founded in 2009, is one of the most exciting bike shops you could walk into with bikes and bags hanging from the rafters and the shelves stacked with an eclectic array of products - from merino wool jerseys to helmets and everything in-between.
Having built up a good reputation for building custom bikes over the years, with a heavy bias towards fixed wheel and singlespeed bikes, they're now looking to make an impact on the road scene with their first proper road bike. They've offered a road frame before, the Wide Open, a heavily retro inspired frame with a traditional crown fork. The Road Rocket has higher ambitions.
The frame is a mix of Columbus Spirit and Max tubing, the former for the seat tube, head tube, top tube and seat stays, and the latter for the chainstays and down tube. They combine to give the frame a most elegant appearance.
If you've never been near a steel frame, you'll be stunned at how skinny the tubes are, with the top tube in particular of a narrow diameter. It certainly makes you do a double take if you're only used to aluminium and carbon frames.
Tokyo Fixed use the combination of Spirit and Max tubing to harness the individual benefits of each. The idea is to deliver a frame that is at once comfortable – steel's trump card – yet stiff and solid enough not to wilt under some earnest pedalling and out-of-the-saddle sprinting.
The Road Rocket tubing is designed to resist the forces from pedalling through the use of large oversized Max tubes that are also ovalised and tapered along their length. The chainstays are 36mm at their fattest point and the triple-butted down tube is 40.3mm. It's also ovalised to create smoother junctions at the head tube and bottom bracket shell.
It hardly need saying (just cast your eyes over the photos on this page) that the frame is extremely nicely finished. Closer inspection reveals welds of the neatest variety, tiny dropouts, smart cable routing and tidy cable stops. The quality of paint finish appears to be of the highest order with a slight sparkle in bright sunshine.
Rather than plaster the bike with stickers and logos, Tokyo Fixed have kept it nice and simple with just four decals: a head badge, seat tube logo and two down tube decals. Classy.
A 360g Columbus Minimal full carbon-fibre fork is fitted into the head tube. It's painted the same colour as the frame and spins on an external 1 1/8in headset.
Tokyo Fixed claim a frame weight of 1.7kg for a 56cm like the one we have here. We put the bike on our scales and it came in at a very respectable 8kg (17.6lb).
That's built up with a Shimano Ultegra groupset, Strada wheels, Easton and PRO finishing parts and a Fizik Arione saddle. It's all no-nonsense kit that just works and allows the frame and fork to shine through.
Those Strada wheels are a particular highlight. These are the Velocity A23s from the Hove-based brand. Strada's own hubs are laced with Sapim CX Ray bladed aero spokes to a 23mm rim. Tyres are Vittoria Open Corsa Evo CX 23mm; they appear a lot wider on these rims.
Tokyo Fixed don't supply fully built bikes and instead focus on just selling the frame and fork and leaving the build up to the customer. The frame and fork costs £900. That sounds like a very good price for a high-end steel frame like this and it's easy to imagine a sensible build costing in the region of £2,000, making it a viable alternative to more mainstream offerings. If you're looking for something a little different, this could very well be it.
There's something ever so nice about the way a steel road bike rides and we have high expectations for the Road Rocket. Every cyclist needs to have owned a high-quality steel frame at some point in their cycling career. Tokyo Fixed's offering is a well priced frame with beautiful aesthetics. Watch this space for a full review soon.