By Matt Kasprzyk
All-City was primarily focused on urban riding until they decided to get muddy with the Nature Boy. This black beauty, named in honor of Minnesota professional wrestling legend Ric Flair, is meant to get down and dirty as a singlespeed cyclocross race bike. The handmade movement heavily inspired the frame’s classic look, enough so that you almost forget that a guy with a neck-beard didn’t weld this in his garage.
The frame is constructed from 4130 chromoly tubing. The top, down and seat tubes are double-butted. The chainstays are ovalized for added tire clearance and the 4130 chromoly fork has double-butted tapered blades with a lugged crown. Electrophoretic deposition is used to coat the tubes to inhibit rust and improve the durability of the sparkly black paint. All-City also makes a $775 Zona LTD frameset that’s 0.5lb. lighter. It features a lighter weight Columbus Zona tubeset and PressFit 30 bottom bracket.
All-City also knows ‘cross bikes often pull double-duty (Like this one, also featured in Issue #13 of Bicycle Times.) as commuting bikes. There are hidden fender mounts on the inside of the seatstays, removable canti studs, should you decide it ride fixed; the rear hub is threaded for a freewheel on one side and a fixed cog on the other. There’s enough clearance for 700x38c tires, or up to 35c tires with fenders.
While All-City designed the Nature Boy with racing in mind, the stock build is better suited to commuting than racing. The chainstay bridge makes installing fenders simple, but also collects mud and grass. The 42×16 singlespeed drivetrain is comfortable for commuting, but too steep for racing through grass and mud. The WTB All Terrain 700x32c tires are fast rolling, but don’t have an aggressive tread, not an ideal ‘cross tire in my opinion. Both gearing and tires can be easily switched come race day.
Between the tape (and ropes)
The bottom bracket is on the low side for a ‘cross bike, with 70mm of BB drop. All-City questioned why you would need a higher BB for a cyclocross bike. In ‘cross you get off your bike and run over things. A low bottom bracket, 70mm of BB drop, keeps your center of gravity low.
The head tube angle is on the steep side, at 72.5° on my size 61cm tester. Typically, you can expect quicker handling with a steeper head angle, but less stability at speed. I found the geometry to work well while racing. The only time I really noticed any twitchy tendencies was during high-speed descents on pavement. The head tube angle is slackened on the smaller frame sizes to minimize toe overlap, down to 70.5° on the smallest size.
The internal routing of the rear brake cable kept mud from con-taminating the brake cable. There’s nothing to snag your shorts on or press uncomfortably against your shoulder on run-ups.
With the recent shift in UCI standards I would have liked to see an option to run disc brakes. Maybe next year we’ll see more momentum in that direction, but All-City isn’t planning on it for 2012. If you really want to race it, plan on switching tires and definitely swapping to a lower gearing.
- MSRP: $540 (frameset), $925 (complete)
- Weight: 24.3lbs.
- Sizes available: 46, 49, 52, 55, 58, 61cm (tested)
- Country of origin: Taiwan
- Age: 31
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 185lbs.
- Inseam: 34”