Jube Customs single-speed fixie bike review

One of the first things that struck me about Jube Custom bikes was the paintwork. There’s a great deal of subtlety in the colours. And there are graphics. Jube is somewhat bucking a trend in the fixie field by putting stickers on their bikes.

On a hunch I asked Jube Custom’s Scott (man  behind Jim Junky, the mad genius fictional figurehead) how many female buyers he has and he said, “About 50/50.” I was impressed, fixies being a pretty masculine bike at times, but it also confirmed a hunch. That’s not to say the colours are feminine, they’re kinda retro 70s colours that’ll appeal across a spectrum. They’re a move away from the primary colours often found on fixies.

hmmm…it was actually a cream colour before the sun drained any notion of colour out of it

A quick straw poll of the female members of my household (we have two, my wife and our housemate) confirmed this bike as their favourite. There was an extended period of ooo-ing and ar-ing before I was allowed to put the bike to bed.

You can buy your Jube Custom in a couple different ways. First up are your stock bikes, Fixie Stocko. The bike I rode was a stock bike. Next up is your Fixie Pimped, where you go online and choose the colours you want.

After that is starts to get exciting, with some genuine one-off custom creations. I really loved this bike below:

The frame is custom sprayed, with a stem custom sprayed to match. The checkered decal on the front gives the whole thing a New York taxi cab feel. I’m told that the owner of this one took one look and bought it on the spot. I kinda feel the same way.

Scott was pimping another while I was there, a blue number with blue stem crap (on a silver stem) and blue and silver spacers. I could see that Scott got a big kick out of pimping these bikes and was satisfying within himself a eye for design and detail. The photo below shows his next creation in its nascent form:

You can check in on his Facebook page to see the finished creation. Here is a pic I stole from it:

The last way to buy your Jube Custom is to go in and choose every detail of it with Scott. He’ll pull out his colour book and help you design the bike of your dreams.

Now, if you want to make a decent custom fixie you need to have a decent frame to start with. The Jube Custom frame is on par with other such as Jelly Bean so you’ve got a decent start. The drop-outs are neat, the alignment of the various tubes consistent and the welding generally good. There’s a bit of magic that happens when the frame is sandblasted and re-sprayed though and the result is a frame that starts to look like it belongs on a much more expensive bike.

So you start with this:

And end up with this:

In my Jube preview last week I made the analogy of champagne tastes on a beer budget. That was probably a little unfair to both beer and Jube and didn’t allow for the incredible prices of boutique beers. A Jube Custom is more of a boutique beer on a XXXX budget. And at a time when it’s hard to get a good sharp ale for under $6 a glass your Jube Custom beer would be a welcome drop.

Getting your own personalized fixie would be a dream but it’s not like the stock bike doesn’t turn heads. Riding around Surfers on my first ride I stopped at Narrowneck for a while and was amazed by the lovely smiles I received from the lovely ladies as they passed by. Perhaps the bike had secret magic powers? It’s been a long time since I’ve been young and/or handsome and this was unexpectedly pleasant behaviour from our fairer sex. Of course, it was a beautiful late summer’s late afternoon surf-side location and people were walking around smiling at each other like they’d been drugged by happiness. Still, it was a good sign.

Every time I’m given a fixie to ride and test I look at it and admire its fine funky colours and lines and then I ride it round and feel just a little too conspicuous. You see, I’m not of the young and hip type and neither am I old enough to grow a handlebar moustache, don a vest and dashing hat and be considered a funky old guy. Being a little too inbetween I suspect people often look at my fine ride and then look at me and think, “What’s he doing with that bike?” But the Jube Custom was less brash and left me feeling that I was riding a classy steed rather than a showy one. The untrained eye could even mistake this for a distinguished vintage bike; a female friend gushed over the bike and declared that her brother would love one because he’s a collector of bikes. I rode it to indoor soccer Friday night (and brought it indoor because the bike’s not mine) and didn’t realize till I was about to ride home what a whirlwind of speculation the bike had caused. Pretty much everyone except JD loved the bike. JD didn’t like the colours and thought I’d look like a poof riding it. You remember that saying about opinions and arseholes?

Another custom from Jube Customs.

Enough of the look. How’s the thing ride? Well here it’s a mixed report. By far this was the least smooth ride of all recent test bikes. But also the most fun. The rigid deep dish wheels, the skinny road tyres and the straight blade forks all combined for a ride that was lovely on smooth roads but a little teeth rattling at times on our bumpy bike trails. I value a smooth ride and it’s something I comment upon on nearly every test, and yet for this bike I would happily forgo the smooth ride for feeling this bike gave me when I rode. The bike is a tight ride, makes you want to go head down and tear it up. Steering is direct and true, sharpish without being too sharp and we became firm friends quite quickly.

The bike has a compact stance and loved being thrown into a corner. Going fast and cornering fast on this bike was fun. In tight corners it could be steered dirt bike style (throwing the bike into the corner ahead of the body, rather than road bike style where bike and body move together) and was an agile counterpart to whatever moves you wanted to thrown down. I didn’t ride it in much traffic but could imagine this bike being perfect in a city environment for anyone who wants to take on the traffic and charge hard. The bike could be thrown into a slide at a moments notice.

As usual I’m going to complain about the handlebars being too skinny and a the gearing too tall. I should just put a standard caveat somewhere on my blog about me being too soft for standard fixie equipment. The handlebars I can accept, they’re really not that skinny, but the gearing is too tall for anyone who isn’t male and doesn’t ride at least cat 2 on the weekends. The gearing is no taller than any other fixie I’ve ridden lately but it is still at a point where hills must be laboured over at walking pace. If, for instance, you’e stupid enough to go see your customers on a bike and you end up carting home 15kg worth of UPS and other assorted gear in your Chunky Toad, then even the slightest uphill will feel like a hors category climb. (But who would be so stupid?) I’m not saying the gearing is wrong, because clearly single speeds only have one gear and you can’t please everyone, I’m just saying that I personally reckon the gearing should be pitched a little lower to appeal to more people. (By more people read: me.)

Here’s a better picture of the one I rode. 

Along with my central reference to store my caveat of whoosiness (did anyone ever figure out how to spell that word?) I could probably include a run-down of the parts on these fixies. They all pretty much have the same parts, the Radius brakes, Lasco or Sugino cranks, and Quando hubs. I’m more than happy with all of this gear and it appears on just about every bike at this price (please note, I didn’t add the meaningless and superfluous “point” on the end of “price” because the stupid and tired phrase “price point” irks me) and I’m well past the point where I’m going to keep writing too many words about them. (Except obviously, a bunch of words about how I’m not going to be writing too many words.) It’s all good gear, okay?

One thing you may need on this bike if you live in Brisbane is a bell. Brisbane pedestrians are bell obsessed. Riding along Southbank bike/walking track there were signs telling me to ring my bell and at least two groups of people had a go at me for not ringing my bell (which I didn’t have anyway). One made a sarcastic “ring ring” comment and the other called out to me to use my bell. Now…(deep breath while I contemplate the idiocy of my contemporaries)…the track had diverged into separate bike and walking tracks with large pictures of bikes and people on each to indicate to the dull minded which was theirs and which was for the other. In both cases these people were walking in the lane clearly marked for bikes. So just why I should warn a family of four walking down the bike path that I was about to safely overtake them is beyond me. I might have called, “Hey stupid, get off the bike track,” but I’m either too polite or am not given to wasting my breath on people who were clearly beyond my help anyway.

Customs are where it’s at. Here

The last thing I would comment on is the seat. It looks like the same seat I’ve seen on all the other bikes but struck me as being a bit harder, or maybe that’s because the bike rode a bit harder, or because my bum was having a soft day. Anyway, I’d probably look to swap it.

In all the years I rode motorbikes I never got myself an Italian bike but I sure lusted after plenty. To those that loved them, Italian bikes didn’t have flaws they had character. I don’t want to talk up the Jube too much but it was a bit like that. There was something in the DNA of this bike that felt right to me. The reach to the bars was comfortably low, the bike looked good and the ride was tight, fun and kept drawing you back for more. I found excuses to get on this bike. It’ll be a bike I’m genuinely sad to return. 

5 Comments

  1. Dex

    I just won one of these and my head (wife) is pestering me to sell it before I ride it. I recently aquired my father in law’s ooold retro bike, which I ‘fixed’. Your words make me want to try out the Jube! and the pictures on this link als do it justice…. Bugger maybe I should buy some carbon forks to soften the ride??? Woops, I’m meant to be saving the money we don’t have!

    1. James Pollock

      Looks like you’re on the slippery slope my friend. Enjoy the ride. You’d be doing yourself and the bike an injustice if you let go of the Jube without riding it. What you want to do is ride the Jube for a couple days and then go back to your old bike. My guess is you’ll never want to let go of the Jube after you’ve compared the two.

  2. Alistair Chong

    Hi James,
    Love your blog, it’s a great read for someone who is looking to get into riding, makes me want to get a bike asap. I’ve been looking round at entry level fixies and managed to find a Jube stocko for nearly half the price (nearly mint condition). What would you suggest I look at first if I wanted to upgrade some parts with the rest of my budget (being about $150-200)?

    1. James Pollock

      Hi Alistair and thanks for your comments.

      I can’t think of too much on the Jube that you would need to upgrade. All the running gear is good and this being a fixie there isn’t much to wear and tear. Maybe look for a point of difference and put your mark on the bike with some new grips and pedals (matching of course!) and some funky bars. Failing that just spend the money on some knuckle tatts that say “No brakes”.

      The thing that sets the Jube’s apart, for me, is their wonderful custom fixies. It would be interesting to take a Jube back into Jube HQ and see what they can do to turn a stocko into something exotic. If you haven’t seen Jube’s custom work then check out this link:

      http://ssgc.co/2012/08/where-wild-things-are-custom-fixies.html

  3. Marc Vialli

    Hi James, serious considering ordering a Jube online, but unsure about the frame size being 56cm. I’m 5’10. What height are you? I’m from WA so I can’t exactly go to their warehouse to see if it’s a good fit. Many thanks.

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