We're going back in time to the 2010 edition of Eurobike for this Bike at Bedtime, a time when a tide of fixed wheel bikes were everywhere in the mighty halls of the world's biggest bike show. There were also a lot of cruisers, but the less said about them the better...
While all those new fixies might have had function on their side (compared to the cruisers anyway), it’s fair to say that the downside of their simplicity when viewed en-masse was a certain lack of visual distinctiveness... except for the Commencal Acid.
I’ve always had a soft spot for bikes with split tubes or weird profiles, and the Acid is certainly one of them. When we first wrote about it our headline was: 'Bike, art, or novelty towel rail… I don’t care I want one'.
...and I still do! Sadly that's pretty much impossible nowadays without offering a tidy sum to one of the few owners of a long-discontinued Commencal Acid, because the French mountain bike brand now makes, erm, pretty much just mountain bikes and not much else. Some of its range is available to buy online in the UK through Chain Reaction Cycles.
Back to the bike: this one that we saw was a prototype, but the production versions weren't that much different. What set the Acid apart is that it had a split top tube, and the splits didn’t run strictly parallel to each other.
The one on the driveside was slightly higher, and an extra cool touch was that the seat stay on the non-driveside met the seat tube at the same height as the drive side top tube, and vice-versa. It looked like it was twisted round the seat tube, and as already mentioned, we observed that it looked almost like something you could dry a towel on. You’ll get a better idea from the grainy video below.
The frame and fork were steel, and the standard gearing was a 45/17 that could be run fixed or free. Hubs were 36 hole, and in another slightly different touch it ran fat rubber (for the time) in the shape of 28mm Freedom Thickslicks. And that’s about it! It was a very simple bike with a twist, literally.
It hit the shops the next year, possibly a bit later in the UK, and I sensed a bit of hesitancy when I asked Commencal’s then UK distributor about it after the show. Maybe they had read Commencal’s product description:
"The city is a world of abundance where all objects, moving or inert, stand out only by the style and uniqueness that they display. For the attention seekers out there, sobriety is not the priority. Bring on the Acid, COMMENCAL's first fixed-gear bike. It's not looking for its identity, it imposes it. No illegal substances needed for this trip, grab the Acid and you will find your nirvana."
To be fair, Commencal is a mountain bike brand which had risen from the ashes of Sunn, a French bike company that really did make some great bikes. Plus, by 2010 everyone in the UK already thought fixed fashion was on the way out. You could buy them in the UK for at least three years though, with Chain Reaction knocking them out until around 2015 according to Google.
I’m not a fan of hanging bikes on the wall to look at, and if I’d have bought an Acid I’d definitely have ridden it, and smiled every time. Maybe if a few years down the line I’d got a bathroom big enough, I’d have looked into the possibility of having it plumbed in. If you’re going to have a towel rail, you’d want it to be heated...
If you enjoyed this Bike at Bedtime, be sure to check out all the others here.
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.