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See our high-level takeaways below, or skip to our full review!Our Take:
- Affordable quality
- Company isn't bike-only focused
- Avoids excessive bells and whistles
- Few performance bikes
- Versatile line-up
- Great for everyday use
- Bikes for kids of all ages
Jump to: Full Review
Retrospec is a unique company because they started with bikes, but instead of tripling down on just bikes like some competitors, they instead broadened their horizons to all outdoor sporting equipment. Part of the company pledge is to focus on having fun, rather than on being first, and that comes through in the brand profile and product line-up. But the question for this Retrospec bike review is whether the quality and experience hold up to the competition, so let’s find out.
Retrospec Bike Review
One of the first things you might notice about Retrospec bikes is that they generally are at a very affordable price. This also aligns with Retrospec’s pledge to invite everyone, regardless of experience. TheRetrospec brand is now a multi-sport brand, but the company was founded to create simple and affordable bikes, and they might be best known for their commuter bikes and beach cruisers.
Over time the brand expanded to include geared hybrids, geared bikes, and even kids bikes. While they do sell mountain bikes and road bikes, the Retrospec brand may best align with commuters and joyriders, people looking for quality, but not interested in unnecessary bells and whistles.
The Retrospec brand offers a comfortable ride in an affordable price range, the product line-up offers unmatched variety. The company manufactures nearly every type of bicycle you might expect to find at your local bike shop, and indeed you might find the Retrospec brand at your local bike shop, though we prefer the convenience of shopping online, where you can do your own research and make an informed decision without pressure.
Cruisers & City Bikes & Single Speed
These categories are where Retrospec really got started. The bikes are handsomely designed with a modern aesthetic and will appeal to those that like minimalist styling. While there are quite a few options in this category, if you are looking for a basic bike to get started with, we recommend theHarper Plus Fixie Bike with Single Speed.
Retrospec Harper Plus Fixie
The Retrospec Harper Plus Fixie has a threadless steering system, beautiful stainless steel spokes, and a striking diamond-shaped frame. The wheel rims are made with double-wall aluminum with precision machine braked trakes, and the spokes are made from stainless steel. The handlebar grips and seat are pleasing to the touch.
One thing worth noting is that many of the Retrospec bike models come in multiple sizes, offering riders plenty of choices, and personalized riding comfort. The sizing guides offer very easy-to-follow guidance regarding how to choose the correct size you will need. For instance, I am 5’ 11”, so the 57CM - L bike is the best fit for me. One quick piece of advice related to sizing: measure your inseam, as well, before buying, to make sure you can stand over the top tube without a compromising situation.
The Harper Plus Fixie Bike with Single Speed easily transitions between a fixed setting (explained below), and a single-speed mode. As a kid, I thought the longer the list of features, and the more speed settings the better. As an adult, I now realize that less is often more, and simplicity reduces hassle and frustration. While more advanced riders need multi-speed bikes, single-speed bikes are perfect for the casual rider looking for smooth rides and fresh air.
One thing I appreciate about Retrospec is that they sell quality bikes to average people. They aren’t trying to corner the specialty bike market, where they might be able to sell the most expensive bike possible. Instead, they offer a wide range of bikes, perfect for urban riders, joyriders, and enthusiasts alike.
Of course, Retrospec offers a wide variety of beautiful bikes, so if you arent’ sure about a Fixie, or are just more interested in other types of bikes, Retrospec has a bike for every rider. Bike enthusiasts searching for premium bikes and beginners looking to avoid as much bike maintenance as possible will find something to meet their needs.
Retrospec Chatham Plus Beach Cruiser Bike
What makes for a good beach cruiser? Well, for one, beach cruiser bikes need to be rust-resistant. The salty wet atmosphere can wreak havoc on metal, causing even the best bikes to rust out. Retrospec’s beach cruisers are rust-resistant to help you avoid this problem. We love the sleek alloy aluminum frame design on the Retrospec Chatham Plus Beach Crusier Bike, but all of the beach cruisers feature aluminum due to its rust-resistant attributes.
The other thing that the Retrospec beach cruisers have in common is that they feature Retrospec BigWave tires. Not only are the BigWave tires more substantial and stylish looking than standard tires, but the wider tire design is also perfect for bumpy roads and sandy pathways.
Lastly, the upright handlebar design is comfortable, making your beach cruising as relaxed as possible. Many bike designs require the rider to sit in a lean-forward position. This works well for commuting and more athletic endeavors, when you to be in a more engaged and athletic-like position, but the upright position is definitely more comfortable if you are more focused on the sunshine and sea breeze than you are on speed and traffic weaving.
While Retropsec has the flare of an urban bike company, they make a quality bike, and their beach cruisers are no different.
Retrospec Kinney Mixte City Bike
If you are looking for a commuter bike, we recommend that you check out the Kinney Mixte City Bike. From a design perspective, we like the Mixte because he features a step-thru frame while maintaining a more traditional diamond frame look, compared to many of the sloped step-thru frames. Additionally, the Kinney Mixte features a sturdy rear rack, perfect for commuter needs. The durable rear rack is perfect for all of your necessities, whether that might be your work bag or your gym bag. Simple strap your bag to rack and get riding.
From an ergonomics perspective, we appreciate that the seat post is aligned slightly below the handlebar. On some of the Beaumont models, the saddle and handlebars are aligned horizontally, which requires the cyclist to lean forward more aggressively.
So what makes a city bike? How is the Retrospec Kinney Mixte different from a single-speed bike? Well, the Kinney Mixte City Bike features seven speeds, instead of just one. Whereas the single-speed bike works perfectly for joyriding, the multiple speeds allow for a safer and more comfortable commuter-like experience. When you need to pick up speed or traverse hills along the way, the seven-speed city bike is the perfect choice for anyone looking to conquer city riding.
If you are in the market for a versatile bike, taking a hard look at Retrospec’s hybrid bikes is a good place to start. We particularly like the Amok Hybrid 8-speed Bike , which works as well on the road as it does on gravel and dirt. The Shimano drivetrain and Rapidfire shifters facilitate a versatile ride. Beyond that, the Amok Hybrid features dual-purpose tires, and mechanical disk brakes, for a responsive stop.
The Retrospec Amok Hybrid Bike is designed for comfort too. The riser handlebars that create an upright riding position and cushioned saddle are designed for comfort, regardless of where you take your hybrid bike.
Here is the thing about the Amok Hybrid, and all of Retrospec’s hybrid bikes: it has everything you need, and nothing that you don’t need. Retropsec bikes are known for their affordability, but that doesn’t mean they are functional and durable, and hybrid bikes are a great example of this. If you need a bike with a little more functionality, the hybrid bikes are versatile for your commute, plus some reasonable off-roading.
If you just plan on using your bike for gentle rides through your neighborhood, then don’t worry about the hybrid bikes, and instead go with a beach cruiser or single-speed bike, but if you need something with more advanced functionality, then the Retrospec hybrid bikes offer a great combination of value and functionality.
It is honestly impressive that Retrospec has been able to carve out a niche in so many different sub-categories, and youth bikes are one of those areas they have had success along the way.
Retrospec Balance Bikes
Balance bikes weren’t a thing when I was a kid, but I am kind of jealous because balance bikes have been great for my kids. The Retrospec Baby Beaumont Balance Bike looks like the adult version of the Beaumont, with one glaring difference. There are no pedals. This no-pedal design allows young kids to get comfortable sitting on a bike seat and steering the handlebar before they have to worry about pedaling, too. Trying to figure out rear brakes vs front brakes can also get a little crazy for a small kid, but with the balance bike, your toddler can just use their feet to stop.
The beauty of the peddle bike design is that helps children develop balance in a safer and more natural manner than you and I learned to balance on bikes. Toddlers can move the bike Flinstones-style, by walking their feet with the bike, but they will naturally start to pick up their feet to glide. As they get more comfortable, this allows children to more naturally build balance and comfort on the bike.
The Retrospec Baby Beaumont Balance Bike features an adjustable seat post and adjustable handlebars so that as your little one grows, the bike can grow with them until they are ready to take the next step in their bike evolution.
Retrospec Kids Bikes
Once your child has outgrown their balance bike, there is still another step in the progression before they have to graduate all the way up to a full-size bike. In fact, if you like the handsome and classic Beaumont frame, it is available in the kid’s bike too, so theoretically, you could start your kids out with the Beaumont Balance Bike, graduate to the Retrospec Beaumont Kid Bike, and eventually buy them the full-size Beaumont Bike. To us, this is pretty cool.
There is a lot more going on here than just the size of the bike, though. The Beaumont Kid’s Bike is designed with an easy-to-mount frame and training wheels so that your mini-me can continue their gradual comfort with a bicycle.
There are also multiple ways to stop these kids’ bikes. The bike features an intuitive hand-brake, plus a built-in coaster brake. Whichever method naturally makes sense for braking is available for them, so they don’t have to overthink stopping when they need to stop on a dime.
Traditional bikes will always have a place in our garages, but electric bikes are on the rise and here to stay. As more and more commuters look for an alternative to their gas-guzzling cars, electric bikes are particularly enticing, but electric bikes are so much more than a commuter alternative.
Electric Cruisers & City Bikes
One thing that we love about Retrospec is that they maintain consistency across their portfolio. Just as the Beaumont frame is available as a balance bike, a kids bike, and an adult bike, it is also available as the Beaumont Rev Electric City Bike. It has a top speed of 20 mph and depending on your battery choice, a range of up to 37 miles, which is more than enough for the average rider.
We also love the Chatham Beach Cruiser frame, so we love that Retrospec also offers the Chatham Rev Beach Cruiser Electric Bike. It also has a top speed of 20 mph, but a shorter range of 28 miles, but if we are being honest, most of us aren’t riding our bikes 28 miles, so this range should still be plenty sufficient.
The electric bikes offer 6 different pedal-assist levels and have enough juice to get you moving on its own, up to about 4 mph, before you need to engage the pedals. Plus, lithium-ion batteries should be durable and long-lasting. The Beaumont and Chatham electric bikes are perfect for urban environments, while the Beaumont will do a little more serious road work, and the Chatham is great for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Electric Fat Tire Bikes
The Beaumont and Chatham Electric Bikes are perfect for city streets, boardwalks, and greenways, but once you leave the flat terrain and smooth surfaces, you might opt for an electric fat tire bike. We particularly love the Valen Rev Electric Fate Tire Bike, which has metro styling that is sophisticated and fun. The Valen is perfect for urban-style commuting, or just for fun. Impressively, the Retrospect Valen Rev has 55 miles of range, which means you might go for days without needing a charge.
The Retrospec Valen looks like it is made for the open road, and it will just fine there, at least reaching up to 20 mph (of course, check local laws), but Valen will do just as well off-road, on sand, gravel, or greenway.
We like the very distinct styling that the Valen has to offer, but if you want something that looks more like a traditional bike, the Koa Rev Electric Fat Tire Bike is the bike you want to check out. It offers slightly less range than the Valen, but will still last for more than 40 miles under optimal conditions.
Both bikes are reputable, so the choice really comes down to styling. If you prefer a traditional look, then choose the Koa. If you prefer a more sophisticated urban styling, then choose the Valen.
What Are Customers Saying?
For a company whose mantra is to focus on having fun, and to invite everyone, regardless of experience, you would expect customer reviews to be positive. In aggregate, that is exactly what you find.
Regarding his Valen Fat Tire Electric Bike, Scottie says he feels like he is flying, which is especially impressive because Scottie lives in the mountains. Scottie goes on to say that the electric bike is the best technological advance since the cell phone!
Vilma got the Harper Plus Fixie for her son’s 17th birthday, and Vilma calls it the best birthday present ever. They went with the aluminum-bodied Harper because they live in Florida near the ocean, where everything (bicycles included) rusts.
Isaac says it all regarding his Kinney Mixte City Bike. He describes it as affordable and built to last, which is enough for Isaac to rate the bike as 5-star. In fact, after they bought the Kinney Mixte for his wife, they bought two more bikes for Isaac and their son.
What about the kiddos? Well, Kathie bought a balance bike for her grandson, and she says it was well worth the money because her grandson loves it! So if you are looking for Retrospec Cub Balance Bike Review, look no further. Kathie says it is beautiful and made with quality.
Carr took his beach cruiser to a local bike shop to have it assembled. The bike mechanic said that Carr got a GREAT deal on the bike, and estimated that he would have thought it cost nearly twice as much as what it actually cost, due to the high quality.
In considering a Retrospec bikes review, it’s helpful to look at what the competition has to offer. Retrospec’s brand identity is wrapped around quality outdoor equipment, sold at an affordable price. They have some performance equipment for hard-core athletes but mostly serve the average customer, like you and me, looking to get outside and enjoy life. So how does that stack up?
Retrospec vs Electra
In many ways, the Retrospec brand is a modern city brand, very similar to another modern city brand called Electra. Electra bikes are sold by the same company that sells Trek bikes, which you might be more familiar with. Electra bikes are sold at a slightly higher price point than Retrospec bikes, and Electra has fewer traditional bike options than does Retrospec.
The Electra Loft is a commuter bike built with high function and style, and versatility to hit the streets hard when needed, and offer a chill ride when wanted. Electra also sells cruisers, including a tandem bike, but our favorite Electra is the Electra Townie.
Electra claims that the Townie 7D is the best-selling bike in the U.S., and we could see why. When we first starting researching the Electra Townie, one of our first thoughts was, “we want one.” You can buy the Townie with a stylish fender and headlight, or even upgrade to a more adventurous package called the Townie Path, which features add-ons such as nicer Kenda tires, but
The Townie bike features Flat Foot Technology which has been awarded two patents. The frame design provides an upright seating position with proper leg extension, which allows you to easily transition your feet to the ground as needed.
And if you like the ergonomic-minded design of the Townie, you will be happy to know that the Townie Go! is an electric version of the bike with the same frame.
Retrospec vs. SixThreeZero
SixThreeZero is quite interesting in the world on bicycles. Why? Well, they developed a proprietary BODYFit Quiz to help you pick the perfect bike. The quiz naturally starts by asking about your height and weight and then works through a detailed series of questions related to your preferences.
The quiz then spits out the bike that the SixThreeZero team recommends for you. And I must say, I was impressed with the results. The bike recommended for me was exactly what I might need. The quiz takes into account factors such as whether you have aches and pains, or previous injuries, and whether you are a male or female rider, so they can better recommend a bike that will be comfortable and in the right size.
Here is another fun fact, and one that differentiates SixThreeZero from Retrospec and many other competitors: SixThreeZero actually sells an adult tricycle! It’s a handsome tricycle and houses a convenient basket between the back wheels. It is designed with an ergonomic riding position intended to help you avoid post-ride discomfort. It is the perfect bike for those that feel they might need a little extra stability (or cargo capacity).
And while several of the competitor bikes feature aluminum frames for rust resistance, several of the SixThreeZero bike options feature a lightweight steel frame, which is sure to maximize durability and strength.
Check out the EVRYjourney frame, which features a lower ride position and a forward pedaling, which allows you to sit lower to the ground while still getting full leg extension. The unique design is meant to be more comfortable and reduce potential knee pain sometimes associated with cycling.
Retrospec vs. Schwinn
Schwinn bikes are ubiquitous. You probably rode on a Schwinn when you were a kid, or at least had a friend that rode on a Schwinn. And because they are ubiquitous, they sell nearly every type of bike you can think of, and in a variety of price points. Schwinn sells everything from mountain bikes to road bikes to electric bikes, but because they are so well known we aren’t going to go into some of the unique details like we did with the other brands.
Why? Well, if you are buying a Schwinn, it is most likely for one of two reasons. The most common reason to buy a Schwinn is that you are familiar with the name, appreciate the brand reputation and because the bikes are easy to find. If this is you, then more power to you. The second is that they have a broad suite of accessories that you might be interested in.
Still, we appreciate some of the fresh perspectives and interesting bike frames offered by the before-mentioned brands. We recognize this is completely subjective, but we are also assuming that you don’t find your way to this article because you want to buy what everyone else is buying. And if you want to go with something new and different, that has a unique “it” vibe, then we would recommend Retrospec, Electra, or SixThreeZero. If you prefer tried and true, then, by all means, go with the peace of mind that Schwinn offers.
Retrospec Bike Pros & Cons
We recommend a Retrospec bike if you are looking for a quality bike, with a fun stylistic flare, and at a price point that won’t break the bank. If you are looking for a true performance bike, you might look elsewhere, but for a reliable commuter bike, or something simple like the Chatham Beach Cruiser, then we highly recommend you consider purchasing aRetrospec bike today. They have all types of bikes you might be interested in, and we are certain you can find something that meets your needs.SUMMARY PROS
- Affordable quality
- Company isn't bike-only focused
- Avoids excessive bells and whistles
- Few performance bikes
- Versatile line-up
- Great for everyday use
- Bikes for kids of all ages
If you are looking for an electric bike, we recommend that you check out our article comparing Rad Power Bikes vs. Pedego vs. Juiced Bikes. Honestly, it is hard to beat Rad Power Bikes for utility, or Juiced Bikes for performance. Still, if you are looking for a traditional bike, Retrospec is a respectable choice at a reasonable price.
Is Retrospec A Good Brand?
You are probably searching for a Retrospec bikes review because you are wondering if Retrospec is a good brand. If you are a fan of a versatile outdoor lifestyle then you probably should be a fan of the Retrospec brand. The bottom line is that they make quality equipment at affordable prices. Plus, they offer much more than just bikes.
If you are looking for high-performance gear, Retrospec has some great options, but you might still consider looking at company’s more focused on performance bikes. We recommend comparing Trek vs Specialized vs Giant if you are looking for a performance road bike or mountain bike. Still, if you are looking for a solid bike that you can use for commuting, family joyriding, or even some light offroading, Retrospecis a fantastic brand to start with. And if that isn’t enough, they offer traditional bikes and electric bikes, so there are plenty of choices.
Is A Retrospec Bike Worth It?
Retrospec is an affordable choice for new riders and experienced riders. The bikes are thoughtfully designed with specificity for certain purposes, but with enough versatility to be used in almost any way you might need.
Take the beach cruisers for instance, whose lightweight frame is rust-resistant. The bike itself is simple, straightforward, and comfortable, but the bike doesn’t have tons of unneeded features. The bikes have just enough features to standalone as quality cruisers, while still maintaining affordability.
At the other end of the spectrum, the fat tire electric bikes will take you for miles and miles on smooth roads or rough roads. And while the hybrid bikes lack the batter of the fat tire electric bikes, they too are versatile enough for gravel and dirt roads, while still being refined enough for traditional roads.
Retrospec offers all types of bicycles, perfect for the average commuter or the lazy-riding family. Unless you are specifically in the market for a high-performance bike, Retrospec offers a great combination of quality and affordability and is well worth considering.
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