Tonight we’re going deep in to the road.cc archives back to 2009 for a bike which, if you’re lucky enough to own, will surely be a collector’s item by now. Yep, it’s the very beautiful Fixie Inc. Betty Leeds, that wasn't actually a fixie despite the brand name suggesting otherwise.
Fixie Inc. blazed briefly through the cycling world from the end of the noughties with a slew of eye-catching machines. They were mostly fixed gear, and often belt-driven, plus there was their legendary 'car scratcher' bars (Vecchiojo may still have a set of those).
They were also responsible for a number of other interesting innovations like the Kickflip, the first flip flop hub for belt drive bikes, and a quick-release mudguard system… although some of us were never convinced about the Velcro strip on the downtube, but I digress.
They also made two very classy steel road bikes. The Chip Race was a no compromise crit racer made from Reynolds 953, and the Betty Leeds you see here was what we'd now call an endurance road bike, but a very light one – especially sporting a set of DT Swiss Mon Chasserals, as our 2008 model year test bike did. It was also very comfortable too.
The 2008 model was made from 4130 Chromo, but for 2009 Fixie Inc. made it from a custom-drawn version of the same material, and took the opportunity to tweak some of the tube profiles too. They said this gave a stiffer, yet more comfortable ride, and certainly the 2008 version was not lacking in the comfort stakes. The only thing I could make flex were those Mon Chasserals.
For a black and white bike it really was jaw-droppingly pretty. Fixie Inc. were sometimes unfairly pigeonholed as a German hipster brand, but while founders Recep Yesil and Holger Patzelt were immersed in German fixie culture and certainly liked their bikes and kit to look cool, they were first and foremost engineers – function trumped form. So, though their bikes often looked quite classical in style, those boys liked to push things, and up close there would always be something a bit different and interesting going on, and going on for a reason.
Clearly they knew their stuff, because when Fixie Inc. fell victim to the killer combination of fast growth and slow cashflow (before the brand name was revived years later) their talents were quickly enlisted elsewhere.
You can read our 2009 review of the Betty Leeds here, and as a special treat here's a link to an accompanying video review of the bike from around the same time (best not watched before bed, or over breakfast).
Fixie Inc. kind of disappeared at the start of the 2010s and shut for good in 2011, but the name has now been revived, and bikes carrying the Fixie Inc. name can be found for sale at Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles and Bikester. The Blackheath Street is selling for as little as £293.99 on Wiggle, while the Backspin Zehus e-bike will cost you £1,119.99. These ones are all actually fixed gear and/or singlespeed bikes unlike the brand's flirtation with gears in the noughties.
Fixie Inc. doesn't really have any online presence beyond this, with their bikes described as being "noted for their understated design" and featuring "the bare essentials"... which is a bit of a shame, because let's be honest, none of them hold a candle to the Betty Leeds.
road.cc's founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.