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All City Zig Zag review...

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All City Zig Zag review...

Old 02-02-20, 10:20 PM
  #1  
showlow
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All City Zig Zag review...

***Update at the bottom...





I have around 115 miles on my new All City Zig Zag and I thought I might contribute a review since nobody seems to have written a substantial one yet.

So... The reason I bought this bike was because I wanted a fast road bike with clearance for big tires. My old road bike was an 853 Lemond Zurich which I freaking love, but Tucson roads are rough, and there are dirt roads everywhere that you can link together. What I really wanted was an Allied All Road or an Open UP but both of those frames are insanely expensive. I came across the Zig Zag and it seemed to tick the same boxes as the All Road at 1/3rd the price. There were no reviews anywhere for the Zig Zag so I was a little apprehensive about it, but I took a chance. I didn't buy the complete, I bought the frame and built it up myself. I spent around 2300 dollars total for the whole build by sourcing used parts and looking for bargains online. The build is as follows...

Frame/- Fork - All City Zig Zag 58cm
Groupset - Ultegra R8000 -50t Chainset w/ 30t cassette
Headset - Chris King mango
Brakes - TRP Spyre
Stem/Bars - 3t Arx and 3t Rotundo
Wheels - HED Ardennes SL plus and Continental Grand Prix 4 Season 25mm

My expectation was to get a quality steel road bike, that was every bit as fast as my Zurich, but lighter, with discs, and clearance for at least a 32. That's what this bike promised and I'm stoked to say I got it. It's every bit as fast as my Zurich (I've set several PRs on multiple rides on it already) but it is basically an improvement in just about every way. It is much more comfortable. The Whiskey carbon fork soaks up road chatter beautifully. The relaxed angles and "far out front" fork provide tons of confidence on dirt. It feels very native on loose surfaces. It takes a little more input to make it change lines than other road bikes I've ridden. That took some getting used to. But, now that I'm familiar with it I just think and it goes there. Overall, it's a great bike. It's not a gravel bike. It's a road bike first, but with some 32c Gravel Kings I wouldn't hesitate to take it almost anywhere. There's no compromise on the tarmac, but it has a versatility that my vintage road bikes just didn't have. Plus, it's secksy af. I'm not going to use any superlatives to describe it. I'm not sure that the complete is a very good value. There might be better choices. But, for a beautiful, modern/classic steel bike with no gimmicks (threaded bb, external cables, external headset cups) it's pretty tough to beat. And, dude, it's so pretty.

***Update*** - So, I wanted to come clean about some ignorance I had when I originally wrote this. I've learned a lot in the last few hours about how a bike handles and I wanted to update this review a little bit to be more honest now that I understand why it feels so different from my other bikes, and to revise how I was describing how it handles.

So, I was describing this bike as being "stable". It is stable, and if I'm going fast 20+ on the flat, or even better 30+ on descents, it will go where I ask it to go. This bike just points. But, at lower speeds, I've noticed that it feels very "tippy". Yesterday I took it out for a little 15 mile loop, and I went to fish my phone out of my jersey pocket and somehow the front end just started wobbling and it got out from under me and I took a digger right in front of an elderly couple about to get in their car. Humiliating. I can ride around the globe on my Surly Cross Check with no hands, same with my Lemond, but this bike doesn't seem to want to let me do that. I wanted to understand why, and being the huge bike nerd that I am, I went digging and I think I understand it a lot more. I've narrowed it down to trail. I was so focused on the head tube angle, which in isolation, apparently doesn't really mean much. The fork rake is 51, so the trail of this bike is actually really low, especially with 25mm tires. That means this bike is "twitchy", which it's pretty ironic considering I was describing it as "stable". Again, it is stable, but you have to be going pretty fast to enjoy that stability.

Here is the trail numbers w/ a 25c tire for the three bikes I'm most familiar with...

Surly Cross Check - 61
Lemond Zurich - 56
Zig Zag - 54

The Surly is as stable as a train. It tracks straight and handles very predictably, to the point of it being dull.

The Zurich is balanced and handles beautifully, in my opinion, and it has the perfect combination of slow speed predictability and high speed cornering performance.

The Zig Zag feels twitchy going slow, but is very responsive and at speed. Input translates to directional change once you're going fast, but at slow speed, the bike just feels like it's going to tip one direction or the other. That said, I stand by what I wrote earlier about Zig Zag feeling very native on the dirt. It does actually handle pretty well for a road bike on loose surfaces. Something about that slackish head tube, and the fork being so far out front, and perhaps the wheelbase, seems to contribute to it feeling at home on loose surfaces. Also, I think that for a lot of people, this "twitchy/fast" handling is a good thing? This isn't really a knock on the bike. I'm not so sure that I like it yet. Maybe after I get to know the bike better, or dial my position more, it'll start to feel more predicable to me. As it stands, I would trade the twitch for some stability so I can take my vest off without stopping and not worry I'll eat ****.

So, this is where I'm at now with it. I plan on getting bigger tires ASAP. It's the reason why I built the damn thing, but also, I noticed that increasing the tire size can contribute to a longer trail. So perhaps some of the instability at lower speeds would be resolved by larger tires. With a 32mm tire, the Zig Zag would have a trail number identical to my Zurich with 25mm tires. Extra bonus, it'll have a lot more traction and comfort for the dirt that I've been riding it on.



Last edited by showlow; 02-16-20 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 02-02-20, 11:36 PM
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Wow that's a long and low setup. The lemond must have been perfect for you too.

Good looking bike, glad that the frame worked out. For sure cheaper and/or better to build than buy complete based on their prices, at least from a few months ago.
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Old 02-03-20, 05:47 AM
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YOu mention big tires, 32's a number of times, but are running 25's?
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Old 02-03-20, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
YOu mention big tires, 32's a number of times, but are running 25's?
I'm using my old tires for now
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Old 02-06-20, 08:29 AM
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Awesome bike, one of the bikes I was looking at but the mechanical brakes for this price point seem dumb. Also how much does the bike weigh for you?
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Old 02-06-20, 12:54 PM
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You mention the "far out fork" and I take it as a bit slower steering wise? Would you prefer the steering to be a bit quicker for the "perfect" bike or what they offer is good enough? I wonder it they offer a fork with less offset?
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Old 02-10-20, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Jrasero View Post
Awesome bike, one of the bikes I was looking at but the mechanical brakes for this price point seem dumb. Also how much does the bike weigh for you?
I'm coming from exclusively riding v-brakes and calipers. This is my first go at discs. For me they are huge improvement from what I'm used to. I imagine hydraulic is awesome, but I kinda prefer simple cables for everything.

No, I would not buy this bike at the complete price of almost 4k. It's just not a good deal at that price, IMO. I built it for almost half that and came out with a better spec. The other day I saw a Pivot Vault on closeout on Backcountry in my size and it was only 2800. Kinda felt a twinge of regret, but then again this bike is classy and steel and has external cables which are easy to service, so I suppose I prefer what I have.

It weighs about 20.4 lbs with pedals, a bell, and accessory mounts. When I add my lights and computer it's about 21 lbs. Not too bad for a 58cm.
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Old 02-10-20, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by showlow View Post
I'm coming from exclusively riding v-brakes and calipers. This is my first go at discs. For me they are huge improvement from what I'm used to. I imagine hydraulic is awesome, but I kinda prefer simple cables for everything.

No, I would not buy this bike at the complete price of almost 4k. It's just not a good deal at that price, IMO. I built it for almost half that and came out with a better spec. The other day I saw a Pivot Vault on closeout on Backcountry in my size and it was only 2800. Kinda felt a twinge of regret, but then again this bike is classy and steel and has external cables which are easy to service, so I suppose I prefer what I have.

It weighs about 20.4 lbs with pedals, a bell, and accessory mounts. When I add my lights and computer it's about 21 lbs. Not too bad for a 58cm.
Well if you ever get to ride or own a hydraulic disc bike IMO it's a game changer and really where the industry is going overall.

Your All City is a great bike and if you are a Steel is real guy than there really isn't any substitute, however IMO the Pivot Vault is simply a better bike, especially at $2800. I highly doubt you can return or sell your bike at this point or really want to but yeah me personally I would be shooting myself for not getting the Pivot. Totally different bikes and you would have to enjoy carbon as well. In the end the Pivot is 18lbs stock so probably with all your accessories you are looking at 1lb-1.5lbs less than the All City

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Old 02-10-20, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Jrasero View Post
Well if you ever get to ride or own a hydraulic disc bike IMO it's a game changer and really where the industry is going overall.

Your All City is a great bike and if you are a Steel is real guy than there really isn't any substitute, whoever IMO the Pivot Vault is simply a better bike, especially at $2800. I highly doubt you can return or sell your bike at this point or really want to but yeah me personally I would be shooting myself for not getting the Pivot. Totally different bikes and you would have to enjoy carbon as well. In the end the Pivot is 18lbs stock so probably with all your accessories you are looking at 1lb-1.5lbs less than the All City
Yeah, I hear you. No, absolutely no way to return this bike (Is there? Don't get me started...). That Pivot wasn't on sale at the time that I'm aware of. Backcountry still has last year's model online, in my size, for a huge discount. No real regrets though. And if I was to go out and get another 3k bike that in a year or two I'd probably go for an Open UP frame and swap my parts.
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Old 02-10-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
You mention the "far out fork" and I take it as a bit slower steering wise? Would you prefer the steering to be a bit quicker for the "perfect" bike or what they offer is good enough? I wonder it they offer a fork with less offset?
Nah, I think it's perfect as is. The geo makes it much more stable on dirt than my old road bikes, and after half a day riding it I got completely used to the way it handles.
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Old 02-10-20, 12:00 PM
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Yeah don't let my preferences throw you off, seems like you are well accustom to steel since you own Surlys. At this price point All City is kind of the Apex of steel bikes IMO. Still a great bike, my only suggestion would be converting down the line to hydraulic brakes but it seems you might never feel the need to...
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Old 02-10-20, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Jrasero View Post
Well if you ever get to ride or own a hydraulic disc bike IMO it's a game changer and really where the industry is going overall.

Your All City is a great bike and if you are a Steel is real guy than there really isn't any substitute, however IMO the Pivot Vault is simply a better bike, especially at $2800. I highly doubt you can return or sell your bike at this point or really want to but yeah me personally I would be shooting myself for not getting the Pivot. Totally different bikes and you would have to enjoy carbon as well. In the end the Pivot is 18lbs stock so probably with all your accessories you are looking at 1lb-1.5lbs less than the All City
dude.
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Old 02-10-20, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Jrasero View Post
Yeah don't let my preferences throw you off, seems like you are well accustom to steel since you own Surlys. At this price point All City is kind of the Apex of steel bikes IMO. Still a great bike, my only suggestion would be converting down the line to hydraulic brakes but it seems you might never feel the need to...
Yeah, that was my impression of it too (apex of steel), short of custom I guess. I do often wonder what I'm missing out on on the carbon side of the fence, besides that 1.5 lbs.
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Old 02-10-20, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
dude.
Haha. It didn't bother me... much.
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Old 02-10-20, 01:53 PM
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You put in all of this effort, spent all that money... and then biffed the last hurdle. Dude, you gotta ditch those tires and put some supple 32s on there, something like the Rene Herse Stampede Pass. It will change your life.
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Old 02-10-20, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Jrasero View Post
Well if you ever get to ride or own a hydraulic disc bike IMO it's a game changer and really where the industry is going overall.
Hydraulic is hardly a "game changer". The Spyre's are damned good and very reliable.

Your All City is a great bike and if you are a Steel is real guy than there really isn't any substitute, however IMO the Pivot Vault is simply a better bike, especially at $2800. I highly doubt you can return or sell your bike at this point or really want to but yeah me personally I would be shooting myself for not getting the Pivot. Totally different bikes and you would have to enjoy carbon as well. In the end the Pivot is 18lbs stock so probably with all your accessories you are looking at 1lb-1.5lbs less than the All City
On the other hand, I'd take the All City over the Pivot every day.
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Old 02-10-20, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
You put in all of this effort, spent all that money... and then biffed the last hurdle. Dude, you gotta ditch those tires and put some supple 32s on there, something like the Rene Herse Stampede Pass. It will change your life.
Yeah. It's coming eventually. I was just using these old 25s because I had them on my old bike, and they are practically new, and I also wanted to make an apples to apples comparison between the frames using the same tires. When I do get new tires I'm leaning towards Gravel King SKs. I want some tread for those sketchy descents down Redington Rd.
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Old 02-11-20, 11:49 AM
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I had Spyre's and while they are better than cantilevers they simply aren't as impressive as hydraulics. Yes Spyre's are some of the best mechanical disc brakes you can get but when it comes to modulation, power, and fit hydraulics simply can't beat and you don't have to worry about fraying cables. Granted the cost of entry for good decent-good hydraulics and maintenance cost is higher

each to their own really. All City like I said are simply some of the best steel bikes but if you wanted something lighter and probably more fast than going carbon makes more sense. Metal bikes however tend to have better mount capabilities and are better day to day bikes since IMO you don't have to fret as much over chips or spills compared to carbon
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Old 02-12-20, 09:06 PM
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Thank you for the post.

I have been looking for a new do it all type cruiser. This bike has popped up on my radar but I have been waiting for some reviews. For once I am flush with cash yet my indecisiveness keeps me from spending the money. My problem I guess.Still just wanted to thank you for taking the time to review the Zig Zag.
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Old 02-12-20, 11:26 PM
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I got a new issue (April 2020) of Road Bike Action Magazine today and it has a nice article on the All City Zig Zag with hydraulic 105 group for $2699. They said lots of nice things about it. Funny, after reading the magazine, I picked up my tablet to Google "Zig Zag All City" for more info, and this thread popped up. Cool bike. I love old steel. I have five, including two Legnanos, two Raleigh Super Courses, and a Peugeot PR10. I also have a couple of modern carbon, with modern drivetrain, and the All City looks like the best of old steel and modern drivetrain. I don't do much dirt, couple of Eroicas, and a few fire roads, and Pasela 28s have worked fine on my Legnano and Super Course. I could go wider, but the All City disc brakes really simplify the big tire issue. BTW, I've been riding TRP Spyre discs since 2013, and have been very happy with them, but they haven't been ridden on dirt. Have fun with your new ride. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 02-14-20, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Slightspeed View Post
I got a new issue (April 2020) of Road Bike Action Magazine today and it has a nice article on the All City Zig Zag with hydraulic 105 group for $2699. They said lots of nice things about it. Funny, after reading the magazine, I picked up my tablet to Google "Zig Zag All City" for more info, and this thread popped up. Cool bike. I love old steel. I have five, including two Legnanos, two Raleigh Super Courses, and a Peugeot PR10. I also have a couple of modern carbon, with modern drivetrain, and the All City looks like the best of old steel and modern drivetrain. I don't do much dirt, couple of Eroicas, and a few fire roads, and Pasela 28s have worked fine on my Legnano and Super Course. I could go wider, but the All City disc brakes really simplify the big tire issue. BTW, I've been riding TRP Spyre discs since 2013, and have been very happy with them, but they haven't been ridden on dirt. Have fun with your new ride. Thanks for sharing!
I'm going to go to the grocery store and get that issue. Thanks.
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Old 02-15-20, 01:10 AM
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Old 02-15-20, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by showlow View Post
***Update*** - So, I wanted to come clean about some ignorance I had when I originally wrote this. I've learned a lot in the last few hours about how a bike handles and I wanted to update this review a little bit to be more honest now that I understand why it feels so different from my other bikes, and to revise how I was describing how it handles.

So, I was describing this bike as being "stable". It is stable, and if I'm going fast 20+ on the flat, or even better 30+ on descents, it will go where I ask it to go. This bike just points. But, at lower speeds, I've noticed that it feels very "tippy". Yesterday I took it out for a little 15 mile loop, and I went to fish my phone out of my jersey pocket and somehow the front end just started wobbling and it got out from under me and I took a digger right in front of an elderly couple about to get in their car. Humiliating. I can ride around the globe on my Surly Cross Check with no hands, same with my Lemond, but this bike doesn't seem to want to let me do that. I wanted to understand why, and being the huge bike nerd that I am, I went digging and I think I understand it a lot more. I've narrowed it down to trail. I was so focused on the head tube angle, which in isolation, apparently doesn't really mean much. The fork rake is 51, so the trail of this bike is actually really low, especially with 25mm tires. That means this bike is "twitchy", which it's pretty ironic considering I was describing it as "stable". Again, it is stable, but you have to be going pretty fast to enjoy that stability.

That said, I stand by what I wrote earlier about it feeling very native on the dirt. It does actually handle pretty well for a road bike on loose surfaces. Something about that slackish head tube, and the fork being so far out front, and perhaps the wheelbase, seems to contribute to it feeling at home on the dirt.

So, this is where I'm at now with it. I plan on getting bigger tires ASAP. It's the reason why I built the damn thing, but also, I noticed that increasing the tire size can contribute to a longer trail. So perhaps some of the instability at lower speeds would be resolved by larger tires. Extra bonus, it'll have a lot more traction and comfort for the dirt that I've been riding it on.

Also, I think that for a lot of people, this "twitchy/fast" handling is a good thing? This isn't really a knock on the bike. I'm not so sure that I like it yet. Maybe after I get to know the bike better, or dial my position more, it'll start to feel more predicable to me. As it stands, I would trade the twitch for some stability so I can take my vest off without stopping and not worry I'll eat ****.

All else remains the same. Original review below...

---------------------------------------------------------------




I have around 115 miles on my new All City Zig Zag and I thought I might contribute a review since nobody seems to have written a substantial one yet.

So... The reason I bought this bike was because I wanted a fast road bike with clearance for big tires. My old road bike was an 853 Lemond Zurich which I freaking love, but Tucson roads are rough, and there are dirt roads everywhere that you can link together. What I really wanted was an Allied All Road or an Open UP but both of those frames are insanely expensive. I came across the Zig Zag and it seemed to tick the same boxes as the All Road at 1/3rd the price. There were no reviews anywhere for the Zig Zag so I was a little apprehensive about it, but I took a chance. I didn't buy the complete, I bought the frame and built it up myself. I spent around 2300 dollars total for the whole build by sourcing used parts and looking for bargains online. The build is as follows...

Frame/- Fork - All City Zig Zag 58cm
Groupset - Ultegra R8000 -50t Chainset w/ 30t cassette
Headset - Chris King mango
Brakes - TRP Spyre
Stem/Bars - 3t Arx and 3t Rotundo
Wheels - HED Ardennes SL plus and Continental Grand Prix 4 Season 25mm

My expectation was to get a quality steel road bike, that was every bit as fast as my Zurich, but lighter, with discs, and clearance for at least a 32. That's what this bike promised and I'm stoked to say I got it. It's every bit as fast as my Zurich (I've set several PRs on multiple rides on it already) but it is basically an improvement in just about every way. It is much more comfortable. The Whiskey carbon fork soaks up road chatter beautifully. The relaxed angles and "far out front" fork provide tons of confidence on dirt. It feels very native on loose surfaces. It takes a little more input to make it change lines than other road bikes I've ridden. That took some getting used to. But, now that I'm familiar with it I just think and it goes there. Overall, it's a great bike. It's not a gravel bike. It's a road bike first, but with some 32c Gravel Kings I wouldn't hesitate to take it almost anywhere. There's no compromise on the tarmac, but it has a versatility that my vintage road bikes just didn't have. Plus, it's secksy af. I'm not going to use any superlatives to describe it. I'm not sure that the complete is a very good value. There might be better choices. But, for a beautiful, modern/classic steel bike with no gimmicks (threaded bb, external cables, external headset cups) it's pretty tough to beat. And, dude, it's so pretty.

I have around 115 miles on my new All City Zig Zag and I thought I might contribute a review since nobody seems to have written a substantial one yet.

So... The reason I bought this bike was because I wanted a fast road bike with clearance for big tires. My old road bike was an 853 Lemond Zurich which I freaking love, but Tucson roads are rough, and there are dirt roads everywhere that you can link together. What I really wanted was an Allied All Road or an Open UP but both of those frames are insanely expensive. I came across the Zig Zag and it seemed to tick the same boxes as the All Road at 1/3rd the price. There were no reviews anywhere for the Zig Zag so I was a little apprehensive about it, but I took a chance. I didn't buy the complete, I bought the frame and built it up myself. I spent around 2300 dollars total for the whole build by sourcing used parts and looking for bargains online. The build is as follows...

Frame/- Fork - All City Zig Zag 58cm
Groupset - Ultegra R8000 -50t Chainset w/ 30t cassette
Headset - Chris King mango
Brakes - TRP Spyre
Stem/Bars - 3t Arx and 3t Rotundo
Wheels - HED Ardennes SL plus and Continental Grand Prix 4 Season 25mm

My expectation was to get a quality steel road bike, that was every bit as fast as my Zurich, but lighter, with discs, and clearance for at least a 32. That's what this bike promised and I'm stoked to say I got it. It's every bit as fast as my Zurich (I've set several PRs on multiple rides on it already) but it is basically an improvement in just about every way. It is much more comfortable. The Whiskey carbon fork soaks up road chatter beautifully. The relaxed angles and "far out front" fork provide tons of confidence on dirt. It feels very native on loose surfaces. It takes a little more input to make it change lines than other road bikes I've ridden. That took some getting used to. But, now that I'm familiar with it I just think and it goes there. Overall, it's a great bike. It's not a gravel bike. It's a road bike first, but with some 32c Gravel Kings I wouldn't hesitate to take it almost anywhere. There's no compromise on the tarmac, but it has a versatility that my vintage road bikes just didn't have. Plus, it's secksy af. I'm not going to use any superlatives to describe it. I'm not sure that the complete is a very good value. There might be better choices. But, for a beautiful, modern/classic steel bike with no gimmicks (threaded bb, external cables, external headset cups) it's pretty tough to beat. And, dude, it's so pretty.




Beautiful gravel pic! In Mesa with those kind of trails, you now have a good gravel option, as it looks like your covered for street commuting and road riding.
Nice that you can pretty much ride year round and anywhere you want now with confidence
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Old 06-04-20, 01:34 AM
  #24  
Ryder1
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Thanks for the review. Beautiful bike. Any update on how you're getting along with the increase fork offset/front-center?
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Old 06-04-20, 11:50 AM
  #25  
RoLo50312
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Cool. Thanks. I enjoyed this. I am looking at the All-City Cosmic Stallion so I appreciated this info about the zig zag which does seem to have some similarities.
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