Pace have been fettling a range of bikes, bits and clothing from inside their shed on the Yorkshire Moors for near on 25 years although you may never have heard of them as up till now it's all been about mountain bikes. Most notably aluminium mountain bike frames, including one that they won't be allowed to let lie, famously and iconically made from square tubing that mountain bikers of a rose-tinted persuasion get all damp around the chamois over. So for Pace to come out with a bike made of *gasp* steel, with *faint* round tubing brazed into a *fetch the smelling salts* road bike, is certainly an unexpected departure to some.
Born out of a personal desire, like all the best bikes, possibly, Adrian Carter - the head boy at Pace Cycles, designed the 42:16 after fixiefying his mountainbike to ride to work over the bleak northern winter and after realising that it was a bit of a slug on tarmac fancied a bike more suited to the task, and so this fixed machine was born. As the market seemed flooded with pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap before the bubble bursts fixies Adrian decided to create something that's a pleasure to own, easy on the eye and more stable and comfortable to ride, not yet another old track frame dusted off and bodged for hipster street use. He did reet enough.
The 42:16 frame is finished off in a pleasing "Ultra Pale Green" that looks more of a "Spitfire Underside Blue" colour really, and that's no bad thing. Everyone who saw it, without exception, remarked on how pretty it was, and then spent five minutes making appreciative gurgling noises as they discovered all the little details that decorate the bike, and leaving it in it's natural environment outside coffee-shops to conduct passer-by testing it got an ample amount of admiring glances and double-takes.
Rather than look like the result of an unholy drunken union behind the bike sheds with a box of Lego, as many fixies seem to be these days the Pace all co-ordinates rather beautifully. The colour-matched straight blade steel fork and very nearly unique steel one-piece stem and handlebar blend with a custom Charge Spoon saddle. The rest of the finishing kit is a go-with-anything black. The frame and fork are peppered with sweet little niceties; the stem bolt is hidden round the wrong side of the bike, an aesthetic feature that's also kind on knees, a "42" and a "16" are embossed into the tops of the fork legs, the chainstay is chromed with pin-stripe paint detailing and the bike has enigmatically minimal graphics.
Thoughtful attention to the small stuff is displayed in the components too, the 42:16 comes with a custom Pace etched 16t CNC machined track rear sprocket, the FSA headset, layback seatpost and Vero crankset are collar-and-cuffs and the latter's hidden chainring bolts are a smart touch. And as this one is part of the initial run of 100 Limited Editions the 42:16 comes with an individually numbered brass ID plate mounted on the bottom-bracket, ultimately useless but worth a secret smile nonetheless. Under harsh Fashion Police scrutiny the angular and gumpy FSA seatpost is the slightly ugly fly in the beauty cream, a more elegant seatpost would certainly set the bike off to a tee.
The track-ends are quality items rather than the pressed steel cut-outs on some fixed-wheel bikes, and they come with integral adjusters to help with wheel positioning and chain tension too, which is a Good Thing, just don't forget to pack the teeny allen key along with the 15mm spanner should you want to get the rear wheel out by the side of the road.
And beauty is not just skin deep, Pace are keen for this bike to last and make the bold claim that the 42:16 is one of the best corrosion protected steel frames in the business. Underneath the twin-pack epoxy paintwork a coat of chrome plate covers the hard-living chain and seat stays and the main frame triangle is phosphate treated during the manufacturing process to add internal and external corrosion resistance. All graphics are applied over the paint surface before the whole frame is sprayed with a tough high gloss laquer clearcoat. Certainly on the surface it's a hard-wearing frame, after being treated badly and clanked and rattled while locked against various street furniture and rubbed against other bikes the 42:16 remained resolutely scratch and scuff free. While on street-smart practicalities the frame is designed with room to fit mudguards, with eyelets decorating the track-ends and the forks, and there's a suitable hole in the seatstay bridge, so a rear brake is a possibility too if you want to flip the rear wheel round and use a freewheel.
Obviously looks aren't everything, apart from those times when, you know, they really mean quite a lot, but thankfully the 42:16 rides pretty nice too. While the fillet brazed custom double butted 4130 CrMo steel is neither super-light exotic nor bargain gas-pipe heavy the top-tube passes the fingernail flick test with ease, and the whole bike track-stands on the scales at 19lbs for the Large without pedals, making it sturdy enough for the harsh reality of the gutter but light enough for jaunts outside the town boundaries.
On the road it doesn't quite have that instant steel bike clichd spring, it's there all right but deep down and slightly muted, that's not to say it pedals like a dog, far from it, there's a pinch of ferrous feedback when punching the pedals and attacking the fixed gear making it certainly no slouch, and it's comfortable over distance where it smoothes the miles along, well, at least the back half does as unfortunately the steel love affair unravels up front. The combination of a steel handlebar welded to a steel stem, bolted onto a straight-blade steel fork with a deep-section wheel stuck in it makes for a resolutely solid front end so that palms, wrists and forearms soon become acutely aware of the minutiae of road surfaces. Familiar potholes become reacquainted as unwanted enemies, and new friends will be made of minor irregularities previously unfelt as the 42:16 literally pounds it's way across the tarmac. The grips don't help much either, although they're bulbous and maybe too fat for smaller hands they're pretty firm deep down and don't do too much to dampen the ride.
Ignoring the jack-hammering ride the position offered by the stylish one-piece flat bar and short stem makes the 42:16 a real giggle to weave around town on, the position is nice and upright for traffic visibility, not so much fun into a headwind though, and steering is lightning quick for speederbike traffic threading, while the geometry that's been designed for the road rather than the track ensures nothing gets too nervously out of hand. While great for short blasts the combination of short stem, flat bars and harsh front end gets a little weary over several miles with the Tyrannosaurus Rex riding position getting tediously uncomfortable and inefficient, which seems to be at odds to the bikes long distance promise suggested by the pair of bottle-cage mounts on the down and seat tubes.
As an experiment the bar and stem combo was swapped for a 'normal' cockpit with an alloy stem and set of dropped bars stolen from the shed and it transformed the bike. With a more stretched out position, a variety of places to rest the hands and the less solid components soaking up some of the road vibration the bike morphed into both a more aero street hack and an enjoyable mile muncher. A little of the snappy steering was lost but it was still snickety enough to split traffic and long distance rides were suddenly a pleasant proposition, for me that was a fair trade for losing the bike-about-town good looks of that fashionable bar and stem.
Wheels are burly Halo Aerotracks with on-trend deep section rims, the front is radially spoked and the rear is flipable for singlespeed freewheel fitting should you not have the knees or cojones for fixed. The wheels survived a few months of town bashing and country lanes without a flinch and stayed true and smooth running. A single Tektro brake lever that looks more style than substance pulls on a Tektro dual-pivot calliper brake to do the slowing down thing on the front wheel, your leg muscles are the brakes for the rear wheel, obviously. Despite it's diminutive size the dinky lever does an impressive job of stopping, leading to almost an over-the-bars incident when first used in anger. The anodising on the braking surface of the rim wasn't an issue in the dry but as soon as there was a little damp in the air then a few revolutions of preplanning were needed to stop, and as the rim coating started to wear off wet weather stopping began to improve.
The gearing is, as you may have guessed, a 42 chainring up front linked to a 16 tooth cog, which if you live somewhere with significant gradients could find a little top-heavy and might consider changing, it is uncertain if Pace will supply different frame graphics to suit whatever ratio you may choose to use. The Schwalbe Blizzard 700x25 tyres are designed for riding, not for fixie-skids, and they're a comfy all-rounder. They softly take off a little of the harshness of the front end yet roll well, grip unflinchingly in all weathers and survived the test puncture free. The chain did it's thing with minimal stretch and despite the best efforts of some hefty leg braking the split-link didn't come undone.
The Charge Spoon saddle has found friends in many a bottom, and there were no issues here, it wasn't the most comfortable saddle with the majority of the rider's weight forced upon it with the Pace's original short and sweet cockpit but with the trial dropped bars and stem on it felt considerably more at home twixt the cheeks as rider weight was more balanced over the bike.
All the bearings and moving parts ran smooth throughout some miserably invasive weather, which is more than you can say of some off-the-shelf fixies, although the square taper bottom-bracket did work loose.
The 42:16 is available in four sizes, each with a dedicated stem length and bar width, supplied with a front brake only and without pedals for £795.
When there's a tinge of sadness as a test bike has to go back then it's usually a sign that it's a goodun. The Pace 42:16 was put back in the box with a pat on the top-tube and a heartfelt goodbye.
Yes, it's a bit on the rich side for a fixed-wheel bike, but it's not a cookie-cutter cheap old frame with a different paint job, it's a decent steel frame with a bouquet of well thought out little details, and all the components are of a pedigree, not no-name specials to keep the cost down to a shop-window price-point, all of these things go a long way to justify the extra spend. And it is very very very pretty, one of those bikes that will get wheeled out the door with a smile long after the cost has been forgotten and it's stylish enough to be a smart looking fixed-wheel bicycle long after the fixie thing has moved on. Ride wise it's a whole bunch of fun, with a short and upright riding position town riding is a fast and skittish experience and it's hard not to ride the 42:16 at full gas everywhere because it simply induces giggling. But that which makes it such fun over short distances makes it a pain as the miles increase, the cramped stance combined with the punishing firm all-steel front end gets weary after a while. Experimenting with a longer and more compliant cockpit stretched the rider out comfortably and also stretched the bikes legs too. With room for mudguards the 42:16 has the ability to be not just a trendy fixie but a useful year round bike and with the fixings to bodge a rear brake on there as well an even more versatile beast if you want to run a singlespeed freewheel or don't want to rely on your legs for braking all the time. I didn't want to give it back because bar and stem issues aside and after a layoff of a decade it made me want to ride fixed again. That's fixed, not fixie.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pace 42:16
Size tested: M
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame - Handmade fillet brazed custom double butted 4130 CrMo. Adjustable track dropout, mudguard eyelets. Chrome plated right-hand chainstay and dropouts. Coachwork line detailing. Painted finish in Ltd Ed Ultra Pale Green.
Fork - Pace Straightblade handmade custom fillet brazed 4130 CrMo. 1 1/8" Ahead, stainless dropout, mudguard eyelets.
Handlebar/Stem - Pace 42:16 Street handmade custom one-piece fillet brazed 4130 CrMo, side clamp slot.
Wheels - Halo Aerotrack 27mm black deep section Aero rims, radial laced front. Large flange hubs with sealed bearings, rear fixed/freewheel hub.
Tyres - Schwalbe Blizzard 700x25c.
Sprocket - Custom Pace Rear 16t sprocket.
Sprocket Lockring - 7075 CNC alloy.
Chain - Zero stretch fixed specific KMC.
Crankset - FSA Vero, 170mm arm. 42T chainring.
Bottom Bracket - FSA Powerdrive, square taper, sealed cartridge bearings.
Seatpost - FSA SL-280, 27.2.
Saddle - Charge Spoon. Charge logo and base colour coded Ltd Ed Ultra Pale Green.
Headset - FSA Orbit Equipe 1-1/8".
Front brake - Tektro R538, dual pivot with QR.
Front brake lever - Tektro FL750, singlespeed specific.
Grips - Passport Navigator.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
According to Pace the 42:16 is a bike stripped to its bare, beautiful essentials, combining soul with performance. Form with function. Exhilarating to ride and own 42:16 bikes are a very new take on classic bicycle design and materials. Finished in subtle colours and chrome the 42:16 Street is the first complete bike Pace has manufactured for many years. The 42:16S is not just another track frame dressed up for an urban role but has dedicated geometry and spec' to provide just the right balance of stability, speed and comfort when out on the town.
Can't argue with any of that, hyperbole aside. There's something nice about riding a fixed-wheel bike, especially one that is as nippy yet well mannered as the 42:16. Although halfway up the steep hill to the bike shop the function suddenly seemed to be at the expense of form and knees.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Overall its excellent, the track-ends with integral adjusters are a quality touch, but the welding around the ahead clamp on the bar/stem unit is a bit globby though.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Handmade fillet brazed custom double butted 4130 CrMo.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The Small and the Medium have a head angle of 71, the Large 72 and the XL is 73, all sizes have a seat-tube angle of 73, all have a bottom-bracket height of 267mm.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It feels a little odd riding a bike with a horizontal top-tube in these overly compact days, like the bike is too big, which it wasn't. With the short stem and flat bars it was perfect for nipping around town on short errands but too cramped for longer journeys.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
On the whole the 42:16 was a pleasure to ride, especially over nice surfaces where the all-steel front end didn't come into play.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The entire front end was uncomfortably stiff, which was a shame as the rear half was all-day comfortable.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
The direct drive of fixed certainly helped with the efficient feeling of power making it to the rear wheel, and the frame had a subtle hint of steely spring to skip things along.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
None at all.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? The fun side of lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The 42:16 was a blast to ride, great at weaving through traffic yet not too nervous for longer trips.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The one-piece steel bar and stem on a steel straight-blade fork ensured that the ride was pretty solid on the arms, changing the bar/stem to common-all-garden alloy made things a lot more bearable.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
That front end ensured that the steering was pretty stiff, but the rest of the bike was pleasingly compliant.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
As a fixed wheel there wasn't much to get in the way of efficiency. As with any one-speed bike a gear change might make things more efficient for your specific terrain.
It's a fixed wheel, it ALL goes to the back wheel, mostly.
It's very good at getting the holeshot from the lights.
Stability at high speed is directly related to how well you can cope with that fixed-wheel legs rotating at washing-machine revs thing.
Cruising is something this bike does very well, hands off, sipping a macchiato.
It's great for track-stands.
Spin, spin, spin, make Spitfire noises.
Watch that permanently spinning pedal on the inside corner.
Being fixed there are times when legs enjoy the direct power as they pound up the hill, and there are times when it's a struggle. That stiff handlebar set-up is great for hauling on though.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Apart from the bottom-bracket coming loose, which will have to be put down to awesome leg power there's nothing to complain about.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The tyres were fine, wide and tough enough to cope with most anything, the wheels were up to the job and had that urban-chic look too.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
What there was in the way of controls was well up to the job in hand, the fat grips might be a bit much for slender hands, an easy swap though.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Nothing to say here, it all worked well and was of a good enough calibre to keep working for some time to come.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Any friend that looked at it fondled it and wanted it, so no recommendation needed.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
Can I have it back please?
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he’s not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he’s not doing either of those he’s pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he’s agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours doesn’t. He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.