Review: Mission Bicycle Company Sutro

If you’re a city person who uses a heavily customized steel road bike as your primary mode of transportation, you’re a freak.

I know this because I am one of you. My emotional attachment to my bicycle is one of unhealthy intensity. The bike I ride every day is not just some inanimate object. It’s a close personal friend, a life partner. I coddle it, care for it, tell it stories.

Though my bond with my bike is strong (I call her Goldie), I do occasionally get the wandering eye. I’m not above openly ogling all the gleaming, powder-coated specimens locked up outside the coffee shops, artisanal salt boutiques and bespoke scarf manufactories in my disturbingly hip neighborhood.

So I suppose Goldie would be jealous if she knew I just spent an entire week shacked up with this hot new thing, a young beauty named Sutro.

The Sutro is the latest city bike from San Francisco’s Mission Bicycle Company. For the past few years, the small shop has built its business offering custom builds — the company adds whatever components you want to its stock design, a frameset called the Valencia. It’s a track-style bike, so it’s almost always sold with a single-speed or fixed-gear drivetrain.

As popular as the Valencia frame has been, the folks at Mission Bicycle wanted to offer a more versatile bike, something built to handle a wider array of gearing options. So instead of taking a single-speed bike and squeezing a multi-gear hub into it, the company’s designers crafted a new frame specifically to use internal-gear drivetrains.

And so the Sutro was born. The name comes from Mount Sutro, one of San Francisco’s famous “seven hills,” which sits in the middle of the city like a beacon. A fitting name to give a machine made for the steeper stuff.

Mission Bicycle launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the design into production, taking pre-orders at $1,234 each. The frameset alone is also offered for $350. The Kickstarter drive ends on Monday, Apr. 9, and it’s already well past its goal. The first round of bikes are expected to ship some time in June.

Like the Valencia, the Sutro is crafted from 4130 chromoly steel. But the Sutro has a wider spacing between the rear dropouts — 132.5mm instead of the Valencia’s 120mm. The extra width allows it to accommodate a number of internal-geared hubs like an 8-speed or 11-speed Shimano Alfine. It will even take a 14-speed Rohloff or one of the new Di2 internal-gear hubs if you want.

The Sutro’s design uses internal cable routing, reducing the clutter of the additional cabling and keeping the lines handsome and tidy. One other change on the smaller size frames (50 and 53cm): the seat tube angle is slightly steeper than the Valencia, and the top tube has been lengthened by 1mm to eliminate toe overlap.

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