Pinnacle. It’s a great brand for super practical hybrids, excellent aluminium road bikes, and some fun mud-plugging mtbs. All very sensible, straightforward stuff. Nothing very niche or leftfield… right? With the advent of the Monzonite — a British designed, retro-inspired, steel-framed, low-cost but highly-practical singlespeed road bike — you might have to slightly re-evaluate your preconceptions. We spoke to the man behind the Monzonite, Pinnacle’s Matt Ischt-Barnard about how this exciting new addition to the range came into being.
CS: Tell us all about the Monzonite
MIB: The brief was that we needed a value-oriented singlespeed bike in the range. But we didn’t want to do just that — we also wanted to make a bike that was slightly different from the rest of the Pinnacle range. We have always loved classic steel frames and retro singlespeed bikes but never had a place in the Pinnacle range, so that’s what influenced the Monzonite.
And we also wanted to make it as ‘Pinnacle’ as possible, in that it had to be ultra-practical. It’s easy to make a singlespeed bike in theory — you just give it old-school geometry and somebody will buy it because it looks cool. But we wanted to make a cool, retro-looking bike that also rides well and is practical. So we had to give it the Pinnacle stamp.
CS: Tell us about the steel frame?
MIB: It’s a chromoly tubed frame. It’s fairly simple in its construction; in fact, it’s fairly similar to the Pinnacle Dacite touring bike in terms of tube sizing. However, on the Monzonite, the tubes are slightly slimmed down because it’s built for road cycling not touring. It has got some extra little features, such as internal cable routing inside the top tube, but it’s actually a very simple frame.
CS: What practical considerations have you built into the frame?
MIB: Well, modern singlespeeds have a horizontal dropout where the wheel comes out the rear of the bike, whereas the Monzonite has a more traditional forward-facing dropout at an angle. Our approach really helps with mudguard compatibility because — if you have a puncture — you can still easily remove the wheel with mudguards fitted. It’s also got a huge tyre clearance, so it uses long-drop brakes. It’s got room for 32c tyres or if you want to use mudguards you can use up to 28c tyres.
CS: What else on the bike makes daily life easier?
MIB: A lot of the retro bikes also tend to do away with other commodities, such as the ability to change the cockpit, because they use a quill stem to get that really retro look. We decided to use an Aheadset stem instead on a proper steerer tube. So, if you want to change the cockpit you have a lot more options of readily available stems you can use to fine-tune the fit.
We’ve also fitted a bottle cage mount on the down tube as it’s always good to have a drink with you.
There’s obviously a balance you have to manage between style and practicality with a bike like this. For example, we fitted cyclo-cross style bar-top brake levers to offer a more classic fixie look, but you can easily fit standard drop levers on the bars if you prefer different positions when braking.
CS: How did you feel when you first got to ride the Monzonite?
MIB: It was all pretty exciting. You put something on paper and you think and hope it’s going to come out as you planned, but you have to wait for the first sample. Then you finally get the bike and ride it and it’s great when it rides as well as you thought it would.
The nice thing is that we’d had some time to test other brands’ singlespeed bikes and check out the competition. Other brands tended to be quite rigid on the fact that they stick to the retro bike theme, and the bikes tended to be short and twitchy and good for nothing much in general. They look cool at the cafe stop, but in between the cafe stop and home they don’t feel great to ride. So it was great to know the steps we took when designing the Monzonite resulted in a bike that rides exactly how we wanted.
CS: What has the reaction to the Monzonite been like?
MIB: I think people have been quite shocked that Pinnacle could do a bike like this. We don’t just make practical hybrids, we can also make cool stuff when we want to! We took it out for a video shoot on Friday, so it ended up in the Evans Cycles marketing office at some point and all the staff there were super excited and eying up a potential new purchase.
CS: Is this just going to be a single standalone model or are there any other plans to use the Monzonite name elsewhere?
MIB: At the moment it’s a standalone model in two colours. It’s a fairly timeless model, which uses traditional parts so there isn’t going to be any new tech which would need to be updated. As with any bike, though, there is always feedback from customers and we’ll probably make slight tweaks to improve it further down the line.
CS: Finally, who would want to ride the Monzonite?
MIB: I’m not a singlespeed rider, I’m a mountain biker, but this is not a scary singlespeed. We want people to understand this is a singlespeed, not a fixed gear bike. So you are still able to freewheel, you are still able to coast through traffic, you are still able to control the bike. Part of the practicality is that the Monzonite has been designed to be so controllable — it’s not some crazy bike that you have to ride super fast and can’t stop.
The other great thing about the Monzonite is that it is a ride-and-forget bike – you can use it and simply throw it in the shed and forget about it. Whether you’re a hipster or a commuter, or a weekend club rider, it’s just a bike that you can use and abuse. It looks good and you can put it away without having to worry too much about maintenance. It’s all about easy, flexible cycling.