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Sometimes, a spec sheet will land on our desks that could get the most seasoned cyclist teary-eyed. It might be the geometry of the lightweight carbon frame. Or some easy, breezy tubeless tyre. The catch? A price tag is upwards of £3,000.
So, what if that’s way out of budget? Or if you’re hunting for a back-to-basics model that’ll still ride with finesse?
Retrospec might be your answer. It’s a young outdoors brand, straight out of Perris, California.
Their range is adventurous, laidback and importantly, highly affordable.
Customers can expect retro styling that wouldn’t be out of place on a Beach Boys’ album cover. You can immediately picture yourself coasting through San Francisco, or Sacramento streets.
The question is, however, are Retrospec’s bikes any good?
Who Are Retrospec?
Retrospec are a Californian bike brand, founded back in 2008. Laidback and wallet-friendly, the team started with just one product – the Harris Fixie, but now sell over 130 different items, tested in their own Adventure Lab.
They’re committed to making the outdoors accessible for all – which is why their products are priced affordably.
What Does Retrospec Specialize In?
Retrospec specializes in products for the great outdoors – whichever way you’d like to explore it. We’ve previously included their bike accessories in a round-up of stylish helmets – and are impressed by the breadth of products available, including paddle boards.
Are Retrospec Bikes Good?
Retrospec are an affordably-priced retailer – and the lower prices mean swapping Shimano gears and big-name tyres for own brand alternatives. The frames are mainly steel – as opposed to carbon and aluminium. These features might coalesce into a less responsive ride than you’re used to.
This is common among all bikes in this price bracket – and certainly isn’t a deal-breaker. Models, like their hybrids, do come with bigger-name features like Shimano drivetrains. Customer feedback on their site itself is positive and for less than half-a-grand, you can snap up a beautiful-looking pair of wheels for errands and weekend adventures.
Is Retrospec a Good Brand?
The accessible pricing is something we’ve seen crop up repeatedly in brand reviews. Here at Discerning Cyclist, we’re excited by their aim to make everyone feel at home in nature and the retro-inspired visuals deserve a round of applause too.
It looks as if Retrospec are taking inspiration from mid-century design classics. The bikes feel visually in step with the West Coast’s rich natural heritage – and have a lovely bohemian edge. There are easy step-through frames, or sleek fixies to suit all tastes.
A handful of reviewers have struggled with assembly, but if this is your first time buying a bike, your local bike store can always guide you through the process. Others have mentioned ways that they’ve switched out some components, like the saddle, to fit their specific needs.
A pan-state US brand, we haven’t got our hands on one yet to check the ride.
Where are Retrospec Bikes Made?
Retrospec bikes are designed in-house in Los Angeles and manufactured and shipped from China. They have roughly 1,000 authorised retailers across the States and a lovely online shop.
Do Retrospec Make E-Bikes?
Retrospec do make e-bikes. At the time of writing, there were a range of city, folding and fat-tyre e-bikes available on their website.
What really sets them apart from the pack design-wise, in our opinion, is their e-beach cruiser. Visually, it’s a playful nod to the brand’s breezy Californian location – and we imagine it will inspire many other designers to follow suite.
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Best Retrospec Bike Review
Considering one of these hugely cheerful and accessiblely priced bikes? We’ve put together a list of Retrospec‘s most popular models.
Stylish and Simple
Where it all began, the best-selling Harper is a classic fixie for bustling city streets.
Venice Beach Ready
Chatham E-Beach Cruiser
What’s not to like about a bike that combines the slackness of a beach cruiser with the ease of an e-bike?
Classic and Cool
Beaumont City Bike
An elegant Dutch-style city bike to get you to your destination with class.
Ascent Mountain Bike – 27.5
With disc brakes and smooth Rapidfire gear shifters, this is a great gateway hardtail for off-road riding.
Handy and Portable
Judd Folding Bike
A lightweight aluminium folding bike created for small spaces and multimodal commutes
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