I am not going to lie, one of the best things about having this blog is getting to try out all sorts of awesome equipment. Before I start this review I thought it would be worth pointing something out; I don’t like negative reviews. Well I don’t like anything negative actually! So the ethos behind this blog and my way of keeping it positive is to only write reviews of products I think are good.
I test a lot of stuff out, but that doesn’t mean it will make it onto these pages. If something isn’t very good or I don’t get on with the product; rather than slag it off, I write my thoughts and send them back to the manufacturer. I feel that the point of this blog is to let people know what is good and what will last, it is a simple formula, if its on here then it’s because I like it. I am not going to publicly slag off products as it is not what I set up the blog for.
Right now thats all cleared up, something that I am happy to review is the Polo&Bike Williamsburg. Firstly I must point that the Williamsburg I tested was the model the team rode in the Red Hook Crit, so it was slightly different to the stock model. The only differences are the saddle which is a San Marco and a wheel set by Nesta.
Aesthetically the Williamsburg is nice, both clean and simple. Available in three colours; black, white and blue; there is enough choice for most people. I personally prefer the white and black models. 6061 T-6 Aluminium frame with a carbon fork. One thing that niggled me was the fork, I have a strong dislike for curved forks on track bikes. It didn’t really seem to match the lines of the frame and just looked a bit out of place.
The bike is kitted out the with Critter crankset which is reminiscent of old track cranks; it is solid and tough and the 46-17 ratio was pretty much perfect for hacking about town and making it up hills without any trouble. After using numerous external BB cranksets I was concerned that it might be a bit flimsy, I am happy to report that this is definitely not the case! I rode up a pass…basically a mountain in Italy on this bike and the crank felt solid. I really like how Polo&Bike went with the vintage inspired look rather than creating just another GXP crankset to add to the market.
Some may think track bikes are most at home on the track?! Makes sense, but I disagree, one of the reasons I like riding track bikes is the sheer fun. I think challenging yourself to ride up and down a mountain pass is also a great way to test out the rigidity and responsiveness of a frame. Climbing the pass the first thing I noticed was the stiffness of the frame, the 6061 T-6 Aluminium felt very rigid indeed. There is always a fair bit of debate about whether 6061 T-6 is better than 7005, I just don’t have enough time or knowledge to go into this fully.
Basically both materials are used on frame sets at the lower and upper end of the market. It depends more on the frame manufacturer and the quality of design. Factors such as double butting, weld quality and tube shape come into play here and are being continually developed. So it’s hard to say one is better, 6061 T-6 is heat treated and 7005 is not. The Williamsburg felt very stiff indeed and I really noticed this when I went out to do some sprints, it only took a couple of rotations before I was spinning out on the 46-17 gearing. The back end feels solid and it really enabled me to get the power down, the rear triangle has triangular tubing rather than the classic round, which definitely adds to the rigidity of the frame.
I can see why the Polo&Bike team do so well in crits, the frame is very responsive and is easy to chuck about at speed. I rode numerous hairpins and really enjoyed pinning it into them, seeing just how far I dare to lean the Williamsburg in. I never caught a pedal and I my confidence grew rapidly each time I tried. It is great fun to ride, but the time I had descended the 15km of switchbacks, I had tired hands and some worn tyres but was all smiles.
The seat post and team are courtesy of FSA, and the bars are Polo&Bike’s own, I must say I really like the shape and found it extremely comfortable to ride on the drops. Overall this is a very decent complete at a competitive price, retailing at €800. So you really can get a race ready, sub 10kg bike for under a grand! The only thing I can fault is the look of the fork, though this is down to personal taste. Oh, actually I must add that when riding in torrential…I mean really torrential rain the rear stays did fill up with quite a lot of water, obviously rust is not a problem but remember to stand the bike up and drain it before taking it through someone else’s very nice house! This is one of the best fixed gear completes if you’re on a budget. You may want to tweak a few things but for the price, the 8.9kg Williamsburg is a bargain. Light, responsive and stiff and worth considering if you are in the market for a new steed!