From the moment I got on this beautiful stallion I didn't want to stop riding it. I thought that maybe I would need to adjust my aggressive riding style going from fixie to this beastie. Though, if anything, I have become more aggressive now that I have energy to burn all day due to the fact that I can coast now and have a plethora of gears to choose from.
Let’s get to the reason you came here, to talk about bikes- or at least read about them. Sometimes when looking at bikes in this price range, there is a small sacrifice in either the frame or the components. Not so with the Space Horse, with a $600 frame and a little over $600 worth of components there is little to begrudge.
It has All City’s “612 select” steel for the frame and a 4130 Chromoly fork. This is a great platform for building that bike you want to keep for a decade or more. Of course the complete bike is only $1150 and for that price I think it is worth buying the complete and replacing parts as they age. It comes stock with the Shimano Tiagra groupset and a Salsa cockpit, you gotta love those Cowbell 3 bars, with rims from Alex and a Tiagra hub this bike wants to just keep on rollin’. In short this bike come ready to take you on any adventure you want right out of the gate. All City’s “612 select” steel paired with the 4130 chromo fork allows you to stay comfortable without having to haul around some 30 lbs of just bike or worry that it will ride differently when packed to the gills. This allows for some pretty hefty carrying capacity, 30 lbs on the rear and 20 lbs on the front without having it affecting the riding style of the bike.
All City wanted to make a bike that would feel the same under load as it does when you have nothing on it. Well, to be perfectly honest, they nailed it. If anything I think that the bike is slightly more comfortable with some weight on it, allowing the steel to flex just a little bit more. The 35c tires that come stock are more willing to take some extra beating for you, and all without affecting your ability to ride as hard as you want, jump curbs, run red lights/cut off cars (with caution), or make that annoying roadie wonder where the motor is as you fly past him/her with a front and rear rack loaded with at least 25 lbs of extra gear. The Space Horse is an exceptionally fun bike to ride. Just writing this article is making want to throw my laptop into a river, quit my job, grab my Space Horse and ride until I either die, or fall off the edge of the earth, whichever come first.
All City built this bad boy to tour, gravel race, commute, or do whatever you simply want to do. I have been commuting on this bike for the past couple weeks to work and back. It's easy to love a bike that allows me to do whatever I want. I have to admit that I have become attached to this bike, it has a bit of a sleeper-cruiser vibe to it. The Space Horse deserves its moniker- it wants to run and be wild. There is a surge of energy, excitement and curiosity when you grab the bike and head towards the door. you can’t help yourself, you have to take the longer route now, you have to hit the bigger hills now, you want to go further, you have to go faster.
All City saw room for some improvement with the semi-horizontal dropouts by adding screws and a tab at the end. The tab helps to ensure that your wheel isn’t going to falling out of your drop outs while the tension screws, which I really think should be called placement screws, are used to help you get the correct position every time you take your rear wheel off. The real benefit of the placement screws are best demonstrated on the disc version of the Space Horse as once you get them set you won’t have to sit there and fiddle with your wheel to try and line up your disc up with your clamps. They also added the internal top tube cable routing which not only is a really nice aesthetic touch, but as a mechanic I can throw one of these bad boys on my stand using the toptube without having to worry about brake or shifter cables getting in the way. Small detail I know, but again All City is showing that they are paying attention. The Space Horse frame and fork come with double eyelets, and mid blade eyelets so you can install racks and fenders without much trouble, easy to install even easier to love.
Ok now for the cons list, DUN DUN DUUUUN. It’s not too bad. First thing that you need to know when buying any All City bike is that they measure from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the top tube. Which is a better measuring system, I think. So this make the sizing a little tricker for people who are already in the bike sizing limbo, or for those that are of perfectly average height. Just make sure to talk to your mechanic about getting fitted for your correct size. The only other gripe that I have about the Space horse is the brake pads that come stock from tektro, they just don’t have the best stopping power for a touring bike, so I swapped them out some some mountain bike brake pads from Jagwire, and I moved the cantilever pin up one notch so I could get a harder pull on the brakes. That’s really it as far as the negatives go on this bike. So go out there and get yourself on one of these bad mamajama’s, take some time off work, and discover some new adventures.
A little side note for those that are interested- there is a lot of talk on the interwebs about All City’s “612 select” steel. Some people are trying to compare it to Reynolds 725 steel or other steels in that family. Well let’s just start with don’t make that comparison. It’s a waste of time. All City is not stupid they are aware that you can buy Reynolds steel. Hell I can buy Reynolds steel, you can buy Reynold steel and build a bike out of it. It’s amazing steel, but it is not “612 select”. Well this got the old grey matter moving around and I needed to dig in more. The only thing that I can find that is relatable to “612 select” is 612 grade steel bars that are used in the making of low temperature pressure vessels, similar to those you would find on the back of a scuba diver. Now before anyone makes any assumptions let me be clear. There are dozens of different standards for grading steel so that is to say that the information on the 612 steel that I found may be similar to All City’s but they went through the added trouble of really selecting their steel. 612 steel is a carbon steel similar to 4130 chromoly that All City uses in the forks. However there are differences, 4130 chromo is stiffer and has a higher load capacity it is more resistant to torsion stress, has a higher yield and tensile strength. So putting 4130 in the forks is a good call, it makes it so All City’s goal to make a bike that will behave the same with a load or without is a reality. Now with the 612 steel all I can do or anyone can do is speculate. I hate speculating but my hand was forced. If the 612 steel that’s used in making pressure vessels is similar to the 612 steel that All City “selected” then we have a few good properties. 612 steel isn’t going to need as high a tensile strength or yield stretch. But what it does need is the ability to expand and contract just the tiniest amount when pressure is added to it. I think it would be safe to assume that All City “selected” the right steel for making good quality touring bikes that don’t cause to weep at your bank statement. The ability to flex only the tiniest bit but still flex at all is the key here. It allows for that fine line to be met between cost, flexibility, weight, and stiffness to be met. Now normally I am used to right rigid alloy track frames where there is no give in the frame and every bit of energy is put into your cranking effort. All City really did their homework when “selecting” the best steel. I can hardly feel any flex in the frame even when I am trying to crush it up a hill. Where I do feel the biggest difference though is in road vibration and sudden impacts, like a pothole or jumping a curb. The 612 steels beauty lies in its subtlety. Also All City must have done a real bang up job with the butting and double butting on the tubing because 612 steel in not the lightest steel around not nearly as light as Reynold’s 725 or Cinelli’s Columbus steel. But again you are not paying Columbus or Reynold prices. You’re paying All City prices and for $1150 out the door with a bike that you can travel the world on. That is not a bad deal. At the end of the day I have to give All City the credit where it is due. The “612 select” and the 4130 chromo, are an excellent pair, All City clearly took their time and the engineers put their heart in it. We as the cycling community are better for it.