All City Nature Boy Disc

This isn't a bike review. It might be a review, but if it's a review of anything, it's a me review. Yay solipsism.

I didn't need a fourth bike. I certainly didn't need a singlespeed cross bike, nor did I need to justify the purchase this bike with the SOLEMN OATH that I would in fact, at least once, enter it and me into a cyclocross race in the upcoming fall even though I made that solemn oath anyway much to my future self's detriment, but that's future me's problem which current me continues to ignore and past me never really took into consideration. I can't really tell you why I fell in love with this bike, which happened well in advance of the purchase. I think I was drawn to it because I've long been intrigued by singlespeeds and liked the idea of disc brakes on a singlespeed. I remember liking the Raleigh Furley a few years back, but never got around to liking it enough to buying it. I guess I was drawn to the simplicity of the bike (gearing simplicity being a seeming antidote to a complicated life?) but that seems more like an post-facto excuse than a justification. This isn't my first All City- I purchased the pink Mr. Pink in a fit of Cherry Blossom Madness (check the DSM V)- and I've loved that bike from the very beginning to the point that I love it so much I barely even ride it. It's that beloved. So I was acquainted with the brand and the quality bike parts on this Quality Bike Parts mark, but I don't even think that brand familiarity and allegiance was enough to push me over the top. What did it, I think, was Star Wars.

This bike is black and shiny. Like Darth Vader's helmet. I can't look about this bike and not think about Darth Vader. This condition is also in the DSM V or at least was until the DSM people sold out to Disney. It's weird to love a bike because it's black, the most boring of bike colors, but that's what I love about it. The paint. What's on the surface. The superficial. I don't know. All I'm saying is that I saw Rogue One in December and bought this bike in January this definitely indicates that there is complete and total causation between these two events.

I've had it for a few weeks and I've done a few rides already. I rode it home from the shop in the rain with no lights. That was ill-advised. I took it out on the C&O towpath for 30 miles when I only intended to take it 10. And then I took it back to DC on River Road, which is not flat. Not flat and one gear was an unexpected challenge and surpassed my expectations in terms of difficulty. I think I would be more ready for it now, but my lack of preparation (no food or water) and my lack of familiarity with the demands of having only one gear, slowed me but didn't break me. I've taken it the 3 uphill miles to work a few times and have minded it less with each trip.

I think I love this bike. Maybe not as much as the Pink, but still a lot. It's obvious that I would love this bike. It's steel. It has nice lines. It's shiny and black like Darth Vader's helmet. The shiny black paint holds dirt well, which I appreciate. It pushes me harder than I would generally prefer to be pushed and this is good for me. It makes nice noises. And it's not exactly a reach bike pricewise and not so fancy or precious (I love beautiful bikes, but preciousness rankles me) that if I knock it over once, I'll cry a swimming pool's worth of tears. It's a good solid bike that does exactly what it does and I'm looking forward to spending more time with it in the coming months. I don't have any ambitious plans about long rides (the initial metric has temporarily dissuaded me from such enterprises, plus I don't spend enough time on the Mr. Pink to sacrifice my few non-commute rides to the new bike) and I suppose I'll have to learn a scant minimum about of cyclocross skills so as to not end up in a literal ditch in October, so I guess the bike and I will bond over that. And I think I'll keep riding it to work on the days when it's dry (no fenders and I wouldn't dare, even though you could).

I didn't need this bike. At least not for any practical purpose. The Pink does all my 'fun' rides and the new-and-improved Ogre (now with Rohloff hub) beastily handles the day to day and the Brompton, I don't know, figures out ways to justify itself like when I have to pick up a rental car on the other side of town twice or year or if I have to ride Metro but still need a bike with me as a safety blanket. But I'm glad that I bought this bike and maybe gladder still because it's for no practical purpose at all (even though the bike is, in many ways, extremely practical). I have no regrets now (talk to me again when I'm in that ditch) and I look forward to continuing to enjoy this bike for years to come.

Here's a picture:

A photo posted by @brianmcentee on


  1. I feel the same way, bought the same Nature Boy.... nice piece of writing! I also have a Brompton, too many bikes, but... thanks for the Ode to Nature Boy.

  2. How was your cross race? Did you do it yet? Did the Nature Boy serve you well? Like you and the other commenter here, the first time I saw one of those beautiful Nature Boys the first thing I said was, "If there is one thing I don't need it's a single-speed, cyclocross bike." Thus far I have been able to resist the temptation, if just barely.

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