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All-City Bikes Buyer's Guide - Road & Gravel Bikes

Whether you're racing, commuting, or exploring, a handbuilt steel frame from All-City Cycles will last you a lifetime. Here's how to pick the right All-City bike for you.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Guides

The All-City Zig Zag steel road bike.

Is metal your thing? Do you care about value, durability, and good looks? Then All-City Cycles is the bike brand for you. All-City builds classically inspired frames that will last a lifetime with hand-built touches and luscious paint jobs. Best of all, there are lots of budget builds that won't break the bank. 

There are currently eight road and gravel bikes offered in the All-City line-up that will suit everyone from racers to commuters to off-road adventurers. This buyer’s guide will cover the differences between models, so you can pick the right All-City for your needs. 

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Why ride an All-City bike?

All-City specialized in building steel frames. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase: “Steel is real.” Steel is the most traditional bike frame material, and riders still love it today because it provides a plush and pleasant ride quality. Steel frames are also super durable, so they can handle a ton of abuse and will last decades, or even a lifetime. Steel also provides that classic bike look with sleek and skinny tubes paired with elegant lugs or welds. 

All-City bikes ACE steel tubingAll-City’s steel bikes use either its proprietary A.C.E. tubing or 612 Select tubing. A.C.E. stands for air-hardened, custom-extruded steel and it is used on All-City’s more race-oriented models. It has the thinnest walls possible to reduce weight without sacrificing strength, and tubesets are produced with custom butting profiles and wall diameters for each bike model to achieve the desired ride characteristics. 612 Select tubing is named after area code 612 in All-City’s home town of Minneapolis. It’s a proprietary blend of double-butted 4130 Chromoly steel tubes that places a greater emphasis on ride quality and durability.

All-City bikes brazed seat collarAll-City's signature brazed seat collar.

All-City frames are handmade in Taiwan by expert craftsmen, and feature many of its signature touches like beautiful braze-ons for cable exits, fender mounts, integrated seat collars, reinforcement stars on the bottle bosses, and more. Steel forks feature lugged fork crowns and the rear drop-outs are custom, investment-cast dropouts designed for each bike model (no cheap off-the-shelf drop-outs here!). This gives All-City frames the same look and feel as boutique custom steel bikes without the stratospheric price tag. 

All-City E.D. Coating and wet paintFinally, All-City is renowned for its industry-leading paint. Its frames are given an E.D. (electrophoretic disposition) coating that provides a uniform and durable base coat to protect the metal and prevent rust. This is followed by multiple coats of custom-mixed wet paint that give All-City bikes their unique, eye-catching, high-gloss look. 

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All-City road / city bikes

All-City Zig-Zag

All-City Zig ZagFrame material: A.C.E. Air-Hardened, Custom, Extruded steel
Fork: Whiskey NO.9 RD+ carbon fork
Tire clearance: 700c x 35mm / 700c x 32mm with fenders
Who it’s for: Modern road cyclists who prefer steel

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The Zig Zag is All-City’s take on what a modern endurance road bike should be. It’s designed to be efficient and comfortable so you can ride farther, faster, and have more fun. It has ample tire clearance so it can even handle rough pavement and light gravel. Hidden fender mounts keep it looking sleek and racey, but add versatility and protection for when the weather turns.

All-City Big Block

All-City Big BlockFrame material: 612 Select chromoly steel
Fork: Signature lugged steel fork
Tire clearance: 700c x 32mm
Who it’s for: Urban fixed-gear riders

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The Big Block is a track racer designed to take the modern fixed-gear rider beyond the velodrome. The steel frame is more comfortable than the race-oriented Thunderdome and it’s got all the features needed for riding on the street: bottle bosses, increased tire clearance, mounts for front and rear brakes.  

All-City Thunderdome

All-City ThunderdomeFrame material: Alumasonic TIG welded aluminum
Fork: Whisky No.7 RD carbon fork
Tire clearance: 700c x 25mm
Who it’s for: Track and alley cat racers

The Thunderdome is a striped down UCI-legal track racer that represents the heart and soul of All-City, which made its name in the fixed-gear community. It’s All-City’s only aluminum bike, using its proprietary blend of race-ready Alumisonic aluminum tubes. It’s even drilled for front and rear brakes, so it can be ridden just as fast in urban environments. 

All-City gravel / CX bikes

All-City Gorilla Monsoon

All-City Gorilla MonsoonFrame material: 612 Select chromoly steel
Fork: Signature lugged bi-plane steel fork
Tire clearance: 27.5 x 2.4” / 700c x 42mm
Who it’s for: Off-road adventurers and bikepackers

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The Gorilla Monsoon takes inspiration from All-City’s famed cross bikes, but beefs things up with big mountain bike tires that give you the ability to venture far into the unknown with comfort, style, and elegance. Designed around  27.5 x 2.4” tires, it's the ideal rig for exploring rough gravel and singletrack, or taking epic bikepacking adventures. 

All-City Space Horse

All-City Space HorseFrame material: 612 Select chromoly steel
Fork: Signature lugged steel fork
Tire clearance: 650b x 47mm / 700c x 42mm
Who it’s for: Long-distance road and gravel tourers

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The Space Horse is All-City’s most versatile and popular model. It’s a long-distance all-road tourer that feels right at home on both paved and unpaved roads. The handling is a perfect blend of agility and stability, allowing riders to tackle everything centuries to fast rides, daily urban commutes to epic tours loaded up with gear.

All-City Super Professional 

All-City Super Professional Frame material: 612 Select chromoly steel
Fork: Signature lugged steel fork
Tire clearance: 700c x 45mm / 650b x 47mm
Who it’s for: All-purpose, all-terrain riders

The Super Professional uses All-City’s 2-For-1 sliding rear dropout system, which can be converted between geared or singlespeed set-ups. The frame is built around more agile cyclocross geometry to be fast, responsive, and capable on mixed terrain. It’s a solid daily driver that’s ready to explore. Kit it out with racks and fenders for a super versatile commuter.

All-City Cosmic Stallion

All-City Cosmic StallionFrame material: A.C.E. Air-Hardened, Custom, Extruded steel
Fork: Whiskey NO.9 CX carbon fork
Tire clearance: 700c x 42mm / 650b x 47mm
Who it’s for: Gravel racers

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The Cosmic Stallion is All-City’s ultimate gravel bike made for chasing PRs during training and podiums on race day. Like any good gravel bike, it’s fast on pavement, but it really shines when things get rough. The quick and efficient frame soaks up chatter so you can go all-out against your rivals, even if you’re just racing yourself.

All-City Nature Cross

All-City Nature CrossFrame material: A.C.E. Air-Hardened, Custom, Extruded steel
Fork: Columbus Futura Cross carbon
Tire clearance: 700c x 42mm
Who it’s for: Cyclocross racers

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The Nature Cross is a pure-bred cyclocross race bike for steel lovers. The agile geometry provides agility between the tape while the A.C.E. tubing keeps weight low and power transfer high. It is available in geared and singlespeed builds so you can race any category you prefer. Tear up turns, blast through sand pits, and hop barriers. The Nature Cross will let you push your limits. 

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Photos courtesy of All-City Cycles.