McFixie: The Kent Thruster Fixed Gear [review]

[Reposted from bikepaducah.blogspot.com (my old blog). Apologies for any formatting errors as this was published from a phone. Ain’t technology grand?]

About 8 weeks ago I broke down and boughtthe bike I said I would never buy. I wanted it. It was interesting. It is fugly and overall NOT a crap bike.

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“Why did you buy this?”

It was on sale. I fell for it.

After half an hour of talking to the “Toy Manager” she called in the assistant store manager who could not understand why I wanted to take the wheels off to transport it home.

“Because it won’t fit in the trunk of the car, that’s why. What does it matter?”

He then had to call the store manager, at home, to find out if it was OK for me to disassemble the bike in the store for easier transport. Cluster-F city. It took an hour from entry to the store to me going through self check-out with my bike and two ponies.

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[Enough about Wal-Mart antics and My Little Pony.]

I brought the bike home and immediately set it up as a fixed gear. A few laps around the driveway and I discovered the brakes rub. Primarily the rear brakes. The handlebars were rotated 180 degrees from where they should be. A lot more of the parts are plastic than the photo on the Wal-Mart website led me to believe. I brought the bike in my shop to give it a quick once over. Eight hours later I felt somewhat comfortable riding it.

The following item is not recommended or even considered safe, it was just for my own amusement.

I removed all safety features: reflectors, chain guard, bash ring. They were all plastic and going to eventually break. (Side note: I don’t ride this bike after dark and if I plan to, I have a full set of lights for it). Don’t try this at home unless you fully understand what the hell you are doing.

The rear brake was bent causing it to drag. It was bent bad enough that I didn’t even consider trying to bend it back. I took it off and threw it in the scrap parts pile.

The wheels shown on the Wal-Mart website have machined braking surfaces. Mine are painted and severely limit the braking efforts. Either way, the red&yellow/yellow&red combo got swapped around and is now yellow on yellow and red on red. Much more pleasing.

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[Ignore the water hose. I didn’t feel like moving it and it kind of matches the photo.]

Staying with the wheels I’ll mention this: my rear wheel is slightly out of round. Not enough to notice while riding but if you give it a spin on the stand it develops a nice hop. I’ll bring my mechanic a sixer of something beer-like and we’ll fix this problem.

The drivetrain is squiffy at best, but for all practical purposes as a “my first fixie” it’s not that bad. The pedals are plastic yet shown as metal on the Wal-Mart website. Standard sized bottom bracket with what feels like the shortest cranks they felt like including. Chain ring is a non standard type and cannot be changed. The flip-flop hub included both a fixed cog with lock ring and a freewheel of the same tooth count. No chain tugs makes getting the chain tension difficult.

The frame feels like it could be cast iron but we’ll just say steel. It’s freaking heavy for no bigger than it is. No bottle cage bosses even though they are shown on the website. Only available in one size, feels like a 52cm. Old school 1” threaded headset instead of 1 1/8” like the current standard. The seat is meh at best and the grips are hellish.

The Kent Thruster “fixie” normally sells for $99.99 but due to some scrapes and scratches mine was discounted to $69.99. Honestly it is NOT as bad as I make it out to be. Don’t expect to get what’s pictured on the website. Do expect their “free assembly” to be bad and to require a few hours of slowly going over for mistakes. For a big-box-store brand bicycle shaped object, I would rather have this bike than one of the many 26” full suspension turds. Yes, it’s too small for me (I’m ~6’1” and 200lbs) but that does not make it any less fun to ride. Now that I have “My First Fixie” out of the way it’s time to start shopping for a more permanent addition to my bike stable.

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[You can see the $30 discount scratch on the right side of the handlebars. ]

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[Rode it to work, a grand five miles each way. It bordered on masochistic but has started to grow on me.]

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[Occasionally I take a decent picture of myself. This is not one of them.]



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