5 Stars By MWK on 2016-09-30
Awesome daily commuter
I recently moved to an area where daily bike commuting has become an option for me, so I'm only just getting back into riding a bike - My review is written from that frame of reference. Also, I'm rating it 5 stars based on value (obviously there are better bikes, but none that can even remotely compete at this price level). I've been using this bike as a daily commuter for about five months now. This bike is AWESOME for $199. I challenge you to find another bike remotely close to the quality of this one for the same price (besides used/self-built). I wasn't ready to invest the time/effort into hunting for a used bike (with potential issues) nor do I have the expertise to comfortably build a bike from the ground up. My goal was to find an affordable, decent quality, good-looking, simple and comfortable daily commuter for a relatively flat area. Critical totally delivered on every front.
Unboxing/Assembly:The bike came well-packaged and assembly was EXTREMELY straightforward. All necessary tools are included (though a phillips screwdriver is required to adjust/remove the reflectors). No, the tools aren't great quality, but you're buying a bike, not a tool kit. The brakes needed some adjustment to get the wheel clearance right (easily done with a single nut). Unboxing to road-ready was probably a 20-30 minute process at most, and would be intuitive to anyone who's ever assembled a piece of IKEA furniture. One key item that is not included is a bicycle pump to inflate the tires. If you don't have one, be sure to order one. Also, as others have said, if you're not experienced with bikes, take it by a shop/professional to have your work inspected.
Material Quality/First Impressions: The bike frame is solid, has clean welds, and actually doesn't have much plastic on it at all. In fact the only plastic parts are the rings that attach the front and rear reflectors to the bike, the wheel reflectors (obviously), the brake-line clips and the pedals. I saw in other reviews that the pedals felt cheap to some, so I ordered an aluminum set for $12. Link here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XIZTGRW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I mounted the metal pedals, but upon seeing the included plastic ones, I have no doubt that they'd be totally adequate. Also, with reference to what some have said about the bike's weight: I don't have a good frame of reference here, but it's certainly not cumbersome. The whole package feels solid, reliable and trustworthy. It definitely "feels expensive," AND it looks AWESOME - It's really a fantastic looking bike. I went with "Sangria," which is a little more muted than it looks in the picture - closer to a faded crimson or maroon.
Ride Quality: The ride is great, but it's definitely a road bike. The thin tires definitely let you know if you're on a poorly paved street and you do notice every bump. That's fine for my purposes, but if you're in an area with lots of cracked pavement and pot holes, this will shake you up. It took me a few days to work through the "saddle soreness," and the bike feels awesome now: It's quick, stable, easy to control, and the gear ratio is perfectly balanced for speed/ease of start/small hills.
Overall: If you're in a similar position to me, and want something of decent quality that is handsome, simple, safe and great-looking, I would highly recommend this bike. The price is unbeatable, and the assembly is super easy, and the ride rocks. Happy riding!
4 Stars By Clayton L. on 2017-08-13
Love the frame, but you get what you pay for.
I love my bike, been riding it to and from work for the past couple weeks, but already my chain broke. Other then that I'm super happy. The bike is sturdy and pretty quick. I'm used to 5 ish mile commutes, but now I'm riding 17.5 miles each way and cruising around 15 mph. I bought the single speed because of the price and ruggedness of this type of bike. Really disappointed about the chain though. I just had a link fall apart. I guess I should have done a better job inspecting all the parts. Chains should last more then 300 miles.
5 Stars By Gil on 2017-01-11
Best Single Speed/Fixed from Critical Cycles to date!
We received this bike yesterday afternoon, I purchased it for my girlfriend who stands at 5'0 tall. This bike is a perfect fit, we purchased the 43cm and there is about an inch clearance when standing over the top tube. This is an excellent starter bike for under $200, this is the 5th Critical Cycles bike I've built from shipment and has to be my absolute favorite. Front and rear brake, 2' risers, large bmx style pedals that are open for straps, eyelids for front and rear rack, the list goes on! Beautiful accents showing off "Harper", "Critical" and "Critical Cycles" on the frame and wheel set, it looks great. I love the dual water cages, perfect for a long commutes! (Sold separately) We will be adding a front rack soon. This does have 700c tires with Schrader valves! a bit unusual for 700c usually come Presta. This does come with a flip-flop hub for those who enjoy riding fixed or single speed (arrived with chain side on freewheel). I believe the gear ratio is standard at 46 x 16, perfect for city riding.
Yes you do compromise when you purchase such an affordable bike, this is made from hi-ten steel, loose ball bearing hubs and generic components. Definitely not a reason to deter from purchasing this bike. Box arrived intact with no holes, the bike arrived 85% complete, you also receive a guide to build the rest, along with some allen keys long with 15mm open wrench to complete the built. If this is your first bike ever or haven't built a bike, I strongly recommend visiting your LBS (Local Bike Shop)! If you plan ahead you can contact your LBS, have your CC bike shipped there and they can do the rest! You won't have to worry about theft and your handy LBS will take care of you, just remember this is not a free service! A LBS can charge anywhere from $25-50 for the build FYI.
Overall, this has to be the best Critical Cycles single-speed bike I have seen yet. Critical has been around for a handful of years and the quality seems to get better each year. The first two I built were the fixed bikes with BMX risers, the second two I built were the pista bikes with the drop downs handle bars. The fixed/BMX came with rear brakes only (I found that to be really strange due to the fact most of your momentum 70%+ is in the front), the pista/drop downs came with front brake only. With that said, both of those models always seem to have something missing. The Harper seem to close the gaps for what those models missed!
4 Stars By Kat on 2017-06-04
Inexperienced commuter: just what I needed.
My purpose in buying a bike was to get one I could ride in my neighborhood with my son and occasionally do a quick commute to work(8 min by bike). I know nothing about bikes/biking, and can't even say if I'm riding on the right size bike. If you are an experienced cyclist, read someone else's review. If you are looking to start biking as a hobby, then this review may help.
What I like about it: Very easy to put together. I did not have all the tools so I put it together and then had a friend tighten everything up for me quickly before I went for a ride. I rode the bike 4.5 miles today on paved roads and after doing so, I may still take the bike in to have the brakes checked at a bike shop, but even those worked well enough that I did not feel unsafe. I also like that the bike is light so if I need to put it in my car, I can do it on my own. The bike is very stylish and does not fell cheap at all. The seat is in no way comfortable, but I am in less pain than expected for riding 4.5 miles. As a child I remember my bottom instantly hurting when getting on my bike, and this definitely was not like that experience.
What is challenging: There are no gears, so as a large, out of shape person, I found myself walking the bike up 2 hills on my ride. Small hills are no problem, but since I am not fit, going up long, steep hills was very challenging. I anticipated this when I bought the bike, and am ultimately happier to walk the bike occasionally than care for a more complicated bike. I also found the skinny tires challenging at the start of my ride. I have never ridden a bike like this before, and felt very shaky on it. Taking my hands off the bars to signal a turn was a bit of a scare for me, but by the end of the ride I felt more comfortable.
4 Stars By Jekyll on 2017-08-17
The amazing thing about this bike though is that it got ...
This is basically a strong, hand welded bike frame that comes with some spare parts that will get you on the road right away. I knew from the start that at 6'3 and 220 pounds I was pushing the limits of what cheap components could handle and that they would need to be replaced. The amazing thing about this bike though is that it got me on the road and cycling to work every day for dirt cheap. I could have spent $1000 on a bike and still not had it set up perfectly for me but with my critical I'm going to buy all the exact components I want. So far I have added 28c thickslicks, bullhorn bars and a Brooks seat and I have ordered a new bottom bracket, crankset, and wheels. My biggest issue with this bike looks to be specific to the black version, and it's that the braking surface is painted and makes the most horrible noises while braking, if it weren't for this unfortunate effect I wouldn't have to replace the wheels until they wore out. I expect that I'll be upgrading the brakes soon too but that will just be for peace of mind. I currently have around 300 miles on the bike and the only issues I have are that something in the area of the BB is creaking (which is why I'm just replacing everything) and that the seatpost clamp is garbage.
5 Stars By Jason K on 2018-06-18
Quality and Price. Buy one.
Wanted to get back in the fixed gear game. Quality bike for the price you pay. Arrived with packaging damage but all components were unharmed. Easy to assemble with the included tools. Easier to assemble if you have your own. Once done just make sure things that came pre-assembled are tightened up. Was torn between the medium and large frame based on height recommendations. Look at the companies website for geometry information. I'm 5'10" with a 32" inseam with feet at 6-8" apart. I ordered the 53cm (medium) because the stand over height is listed at 31". Perfect fit. Raised the seat and bars up to my preferred riding position and it's all good. I would highly recommend buying based on the stand over height for this bike. Bike rides smooth, fast, and has been a joy. No regrets on this one.
4 Stars By Mike Yarbrough on 2016-07-05
Great bike, spotty customer service
I live in Brooklyn and commute over the bridges to work every day in Manhattan and this bike is light enough, smooth enough, and reliable enough to get the job done. You won't find a better deal for $200. It's very maneuverable, too, which is great since it seems like 50% of all drivers in this town are purposely trying to run cyclists over.
Why is this just a four-star review, then? Because the customer service department is seemingly nonexistent. I put the bike together myself and took it to my local bike shop for an initial tune-up and they noticed a clearly defective part. I contacted customer service about a replacement and put them in touch with my bike shop so they could speak further... and the shop never heard from them again.
To be fair to Critical Cycles, the part *may* have been damaged by some rough handling by UPS or whatever company delivered it. But, if you purchase this bike, be prepared to pay out of pocket if something is damaged.
4 Stars By Bast on 2017-08-29
So far so good on this front
Writing as of having built sub 24 and have out about 15 miles or so on the bike. This bike was purchased to be a starter polo bike until something pops up used or I can piece together a dream bike. So far so good on this front.
Things to know: If you don't have the tools don't build it yourself. I, thankfully, had a friend who has been working on bikes for 20+ years with a near complete shop of tools in his basement.
Fork was slightly out of wack, which we adjusted. Head tube needed milling. The seat tube was not the size it was supposed to be. Therefore the lost rattled inside like the organs of a freeze dried turtle.
I can certainly order a replacement seat tube (it ended up being a standard size but not something most shops carry at 25.8), we worked around this and fixed a different way.
Truing and dishing the wheels was a fun task as well. At the end of the day we didn't perfect them as I will be knocking this bike around quite a bit and why bother.
I changed out the chain ring and freewheel based polo. Also, front break was the only install. I have yet to change the cog for fixie and so have not ridden as fixed yet.
All in all... I do NOT recommend building this yourself. Have a shop do it, if you have your LBS work through these kinks you will have a great bike for under 300 plus labor (you may want to leave wiggle room for swap outs of grips, saddle, chainrings and such.)
1 Stars By James on 2018-08-21
Poor Customer Service, goal is to blame the customer and not help them
I got this bike a couple of weeks ago, and put it together by following the instructions that came with it. Everything was fine and easy to assemble up until I was putting the right pedal on the bike, making sure to follow the instructions carefully to turn it the right way. I found that the pedal only went in most halfway, and it went in crooked. So I thought okay, the threading wasn't properly put on correctly, it happens. I'll just call customer service and get it sorted out. Well what happened was, the customer service representative told me that all their bikes never have any problems and telling me it is completely my fault for messing up the threading. Their first reaction is to blame me, they don't even try to help. It made me realize that if any other problems were to arise with this bike, the outcome will probably be the same. They won't take responsibility and will blame the customer. Their customer service is therefore unreliable and faulty.
I ended up returning the bike. I'm really disappointed as it was going to be my first bike and was really looking forward to riding it. Please do yourselves a favor and don't buy from this company. Poor customer service is a big reason not to buy this bike as if something does happen, you're on your own.
5 Stars By gena on 2018-07-05
WANT IT, GET IT! Itâ€™s WORTH IT!
I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this bike. Itâ€™s fast, itâ€™s light for me to carry up 4 flights since I have no elevator, and itâ€™s thin enough to fit in spaces in my small apartment.
Besides from all that, itâ€™s a very speedy bike. Itâ€™s quick, perfect for communting. I live in upper Manhattan and I cycled all the way to Times Square! I was sooo happy. Honestly this bike is great because itâ€™s simple and made with good quality. Not to mention the color, itâ€™s beautiful.