All City Macho Man >> $1600 complete, $600 frame & fork, 22.9 lbs
With a name like Macho Man, I knew this bike was going to be fun. But I didn’t expect it to be quite as good as it is. The first time I threw a leg over the Macho Man (that sounds a bit weird), something clicked. Maybe it was the cheapskate in me (I knew that I was aboard a $1,600 bike), maybe it was good blood sugar levels, maybe I simply found the perfect trail for the Macho Man. Whatever it was, I loved the All City for its handling, comfort, affordability, and aesthetic. It may be the most two-wheeled fun that $1,600 can buy.
The parts selected for the Macho Man are a smart mix of budget and function. The Shimano 105 shifters and rear derailleur are matched with a CX70 top pull front derailleur, an FSA compact crank, and Tektro cantilever brakes. Nothing fancy there, but all very reliable. All City spent a bit of its spec money on great contact points; namely the Salsa Cowbell handlebar and All City’s own Gonzo saddle. The flare of the Cowbell’s drop is nice, and the Gonzo saddle may be the most comfortable original-equipment saddle I’ve tried.
Much appreciated details on the Macho Man’s steel frame include fender mounts, a seat tube-mounted front derailleur adjuster, dual water bottle bosses, and the use of full cable housing for the rear derailleur from the top tube down the seatstay. If you purchase a frameset, you can also use a more common, bottom-pull front derailleur, thanks to the pulley mount on the back of the seat tube. The offset of the steel fork is a fairly standard 45mm, so upgrading to a carbon fork is possible if one wanted to drop some weight.
While the wheels are heavy, they are also robust, and the Tiagra hubs, with traditional cup-and-cone, loose ball bearings, should last for years with proper maintenance. Continental’s Cyclocross tires are great for dirt roads and cyclocross training, but you’ll want to swap them out for a tire that suits your area if you’re racing.
While I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the All City, instead, over a bumpy mountain bike trail, the Macho Man knocked my socks off. It handles exceptionally well, is forgiving where you want it to be, and stiff where required. Simply put, the Macho Man is a stylish, inexpensive cyclocross bike that gets the job done. — NICK LEGAN