Big bicycle brands love flash. Bright colors. Huge graphics. The hollow rattle of a carbon frame. And many riders share the love.
But not all of them. Some prefer understatement.
For them, there’s Idaho-based Civilian. It makes the bicycle equivalent of Cold War-era Soviet MiG fighters – hardy, utilitarian, affordable.
Civilian encompasses the entire bike spectrum, from road bike to mountain bike … all built from steel – not the lightest material, but hard to beat for ride quality, longevity and value. Civilian is creating a dealer network, says designer Tyson Hart. So far, Civilian is only available online at Competitive Cyclist. Hart hopes to find shops "with some soul" that fit the Civilian ethos.
The Civilian frames are made in China, then painted and assembled in Taiwan, Hart says.
"The factory is Taiwanese owned and I spent much time researching manufacturers that I wanted to partner with and I chose the factory based on working conditions, quality of output and overall professionalism," he says. "The factory I use to build Civilian excelled at all three criteria and is used by other US- and Europe-based bike companies."
The Civilian mountain bike line includes the Luddite ($1,049) a singlespeed 29er and The Young Turk ($1,499) 29er, which has a 10-speed drivetrain and a Rock Shox Reba suspension fork.
The Young Turk’s sole nods to advanced mountain bike technology are a Rock Shox suspension and Avid hydraulic disc brakes. The 10-speed drivetrain is a bit newfangled since 10-speed rear derailleurs and cassettes are relative newcomers. It’s still stripped down compared to 27- and 30-speed drivetrains.
Eliminating a front derailleur isn’t a very popular setup for a mountain bike. But it could be a perfect setup for many Phoenix-area rides: Many riders could find some use for a 10-speed setup at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Papago Park, the Desert Classic at South Mountain and the Fantasy Island North Singlestrack network in the West Valley. The flatter, rolling terrain on these trails makes the extreme gear range less important. And fewer chainrings makes it easier to dial a drivetrain in and makes cleaning it a few steps easier.