Chad Battistone is a bicycle industry vet who knows all about industry trends and cutting-edge mountain bike technology. With years spent working with AMP, Felt, GT and Bike Press Camps, Battistone has seen every niche and technology come and go. With decades of perspective, it’s fascinating to see Battistone start Coastline Cycle Co. with a bike that eschews all the trends and niches, and by doing so, might have invented its own.
Ever want to go on a ride without an agenda or planned route, with no intentions to do intervals? For many of us, before we became “racers,” that’s how we approached every ride, and before we were led to believe that every ride needed a specialty bike, we just grabbed our bike and rode. This latest review bike is something unique for the CXM pit crew, but still relevant as a capable do-it-all bike suite to how many of us ride.
The Coastline SSRX "The One" Frame
Coastline’s initial bike line, called “The One,” take us back to that time and offer new cyclists a simple, versatile choice. Coastline has five variations of a bike built to suit the needs of nearly every rider, opting for no-nonsense, low-maintenance components over the latest technology and suspension. From a fully rigid belt-driven singlespeed, to a front suspension-equipped bike with an internally-geared hub, Coastline’s bikes are comprehensively thought-out offerings that resist categorization. And while some readers may start to tune out once they see a riser bar, 650b wheel belt-driven singlespeed, there's plenty of reasons to keep reading. Coastline's bikes fit 700c wheels and cyclocross and gravel tires, have an optional derailleur hanger, and of course, accept chains. Co-founder Battistone also says there's a drop bar version coming soon.
All Coastline Cycle Co. models are currently built around a hydroformed, aluminum “urban moto” frame, which is largely based on a mountain bike hardtail, with some customizations to create a simple, low maintenance, lightweight do-it-all bike. The frame features internally-routed hoses and cables (including for the dropper post) as well as rack and fender mounts. Low maintenance should also mean no creaking, and in that spirit, Coastline also picked a 68mm threaded bottom bracket shell. The singlespeed frame features a slick, adjustable dropout system that utilizes two hex bolts to adjust chain and belt tension.
Our medium test bike featured a 70 degree head tube angle, 73 degree seat tube angle, 61cm effective top tube and 44cm chainstays (with effective chainstay length varying based on gearing choice and belt/chain length). Those numbers add up to a roomy 67.3cm front center, and a whopping 110.8cm wheelbase, a good 7-8cm longer than our typical cyclocross bike.
Are Coastline’s bikes simply full-fledged cross country hardtail mountain bikes? No. With tire clearance that tops out at 2.1″ out back, they’re a bit limited in terms of today’s fatter mountain bike tires, plus the spacing out back is 135mm, a “classic” choice given today’s 142mm and 148mm thru axle mountain bike standards. Furthermore, the belt drive capability and singlespeed or internal gear options differentiate it from most hardtails.
Are they gravel bikes? With a flat handlebar, and 650b/27.5″ wheel size, they fall outside the current norm of a drop bar, 700c wheel gravel bike, although they work fine with 700c wheels and gravel tires. Is it a beach cruiser? No, despite the name, the bike is lighter and more agile than any cruiser, plus the components are high-end and performance-oriented.
And thus we’ve proved Coastline’s point. We tried to categorize such a bike and failed, which means Coastline Cycle Co. succeeded in ignoring the trends and building a unique bike not found in every big bike company’s lineup. A similar option might be REI’s Novara Buzz series of bikes that have come in various wheel sizes and with or without suspension forks and derailleurs over the years.
The Coastline SSRX Build
We received our test bike a few weeks prior to Sea Otter, and two testers had the chance to take the bike out on familiar roads and trails to see if The One is really capable of being a one-bike quiver. Our $1,850 USD The One test bike came equipped with the SSRX build, which included an MRP Rock Solid rigid carbon fork, Deore XT hydraulic disc brakes, and Easton ARC 30 650b alloy wheelset with Deore XT hubs dressed with Maxxis Re-Fuse 2.0″ 650b rubber, a Carbon Gates belt drive with a 50/20 gear, Race Face Turbine dropper post and carbon handlebar. All of that adds up to an impressive build kit that doesn’t cut corners and leads to a lightweight bike that tipped our scales at just 22.5 pounds. For the record, that’s several pounds lighter than a few gravel bikes we’ve tested this year, albeit a bike with 21 or 10 fewer gears.
On a tighter budget? Save $900 USD and gain only 1.3 pounds with the SSRB build that loses the dropper post, the Easton Arc 30 rims and XT brakes. A $900 do-it-all bike for riding the bike path with the family, to the coffee shop or to work isn’t a bad option for the cyclist who isn’t inclined to cobble together a bike from parts found in the garage or at the local bike swap.
And if you want more gears or a suspension fork, Coastline has you covered. The SSSX adds a suspension fork to our test bike’s build, while the 8SRX and 8SSX utilizes a Shimano Alfine hub on the rigid and suspended XT/Easton builds. Got all that? There are five bike builds in total, and each model has options, including tire and grip choice.
The Coastline SSRX Ride
Although the bike arrived during a busy time, over the last month, the bike was often picked for road rides, family rides, trail rides, a bit of pump track session and of course our typical cyclocross and gravel-oriented mixed terrain rides. It’s a fun time of the year to be on such a bike. We’re not training for anything in earnest, and not in a huge rush, but on all of these rides, we never felt limited by the bike from taking on our normal riding. Sure, with a tall 50x20 gear, not every hill was rideable, and the fastest downhills were an exercise in spinning, but it was both eye-opening and refreshing seeing how capable and fun such a one-gear bike, slick tire bike could be.
It’s a fun time of the year to be on such a bike. We’re not training for anything in earnest, and not in a huge rush, but on all of these rides, we never felt limited by the bike from taking on our normal riding...it was both eye-opening and refreshing seeing how capable and fun such a one-gear bike, slick tire bike could be.
On a rolling paved ride, we mashed up climbs, pulling on the wide carbon riser bar, and motored along the flats without feeling undergeared. On the trails, the bike feels more mountain bike than cyclocross or road bike, not just because of the flat bar and rider position, but also in terms of handling and confidence. Tacky dirt descents and singletrack were a blast, and the 2.0″ rubber and powerful XT hydraulic brakes added a bit of carefreeness to rocks, roots and stairs.
One tester noted:
Going downhill felt just like a mountain bike, from a rider positioning point of view. This made it much more relaxing to charge down descents, at least until I leaned it over too far and the slick tires let go.
When the trail pointed uphill, the steepest climbs were more challenging, with limited traction and a tall gear, but 90% of our typical short, punchy hills were still clearable. Think you’ll ride more hills and trails? Opt for the 22t rear cog instead of the 20, and opt for knobby tires. The one gear would limit most mortals in terms of using this bike for gravel grinders, but although we haven’t tested it, we’re guessing the Alfine hub option would provide enough range for most events, albeit at a weight penalty. Alternatively, ask for the optional derailleur hanger for such occasions.
Although the longer wheelbase makes carving up hairpin turns more challenging, and the higher bottom bracket (less drop, at 50mm) makes remounts more of a stretch, we’d absolutely race a singlespeed cyclocross race on such a bike, especially on the bumpy courses we typically have during the season’s early months.
Nitpicks? There are a few minor ones. When grinding up steep hills, the wide handlebar feels a bit flexy, and on some bumps, the internally routed housing gives a bit of a rattle. The dropper post also feels a bit excessive on a bike like this, and given that the post retails for $469, you might be able to save a bit if you ride more like us and opt for a standard post. With knobbies and a suspension fork, a minority of owners might take advantage of the on-the-fly lower saddle height, but for our riding style, and that of typical prospective owners, we’re thinking it’s a little overkill and would opt for weight and dollar savings to complement this build.
Any bike that aims to do it all, especially a model with the name “The One” is bound to have a few compromises, but two features of this bike buck the recent trends for fatter rubber and thru axles. We have no doubt that tire choices and and wheel selection will be available for years for this frame, but it’s not cutting edge tech. And that’s the beauty of the Coastline SSRX. With a rigid fork, one gear, a threaded bottom bracket and a standard 135mm quick release rear dropouts, the bike will remind you that the joy of cycling isn’t about having the latest and greatest technology, but removing labels and limitations to your cycling.
One of our testers stated it best, describing the SSRX:
The Coastline SSRX is ideal for cyclists who ride mixed terrain and don’t care for drop bars, or people who want a modern rendition of the classic converted mountain bike with slicks but don't want to bother doing it themselves, or don't have access to old parts and frames. The geometry, sliding dropouts, disc brakes, wheel size and internal dropper post routing are all features unlikely to be found on an old hardtail frame in the garage.
Some of us are fortunate to have a few options in the bike quiver, and less of us are fortunate to ride all of them regularly. Options and specialty bikes are good right? Yet even if we can afford several bikes, they can present the paradox of choice. The Coastline Cycle Co. SSRX bike could be the perfect solution to simplify your riding, your garage, and your pre-ride decision making.
Alternatively, it could be a justifiable, N+1 paradox-inducing addition to the quiver for the days when you don’t know what lies ahead, when you’re just looking to ride without purpose, or need a fun bike to ride to work or with the family. Just don’t blame us if your other bikes start collecting dust, feeling jealous of The One for most of the year, and paranoid that any camera represents an imminent Craigslist or eBay listing.
The young Coastline Cycle Co. is just getting started, but is selling its bikes direct to consumers currently while it finalizes its full distribution plan.
More info: www.coastlinecycleco.com
Coastline Cycle Co. SSRX Bike Specs:
Frame: CCC Designed - Hydroformed 6061 Alloy - 650B - Urban Moto Frame
Fork: MRP Rock Solid Carbon Fiber Tapered Steerer 15mm Axle Rigid Fork
Handlebar: 3C K720 Carbon Urban Moto Bar - 31.8 Clamp Dia - 30mm Rise - 720mm Width
Stem: Race Face Evolve Stem - 90mm +/- 5deg - 31.8
Gearing: Gates Carbon Drive CenterTrack Drive System - 50/20 Gearing
Rims: Easton ARC 30 650B Rims - 32H
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray Bladed Spokes With Alloy Nipples
Hubs: Shimano XT Centerlock Hubs - QR Rear - 15mm Front
Brakes: Shimano XT Hydraulic Disc Brakes With 180F/160R Centerlock Rotors
Seat post: Race Face Turbine Dropper Post With Remote - 125MM Drop (S) - 150 Drop (M/L)
Crankset: Race Face Aeffect Crankset With Single Ring Cinch Spider
Bottom Bracket: Race Face X-Type Turbine Bottom Bracket
Headset: FSA Orbit Carbon Headset
Grips: WTB Moto Lock On Grips
Saddle: WTB Rocket Pro Saddle
Tires: Maxxis Re Fuse 2.0″ tires
Pedals: Race Face Chester Pedals With Replaceable Pins
Weight: 22.5 lbs (List, Size M, with pedals), 22.0 lbs w/o pedals actual, 12.5 lbs w/o wheels
More info: coastlinecycleco.com