Review: Swobo Accomplice – The perfect commuter
As it’s been almost 2 months since I picked up my Swobo Accomplice at Charlie the Bikemonger, I thought I get down some thoughts on the bike, which is a great choice if you are after an urban allrounder.
Although the bike is perfect for urban riding, it is also very capable of longer distances. When I picked up the bike I cycled for three days along the English South Coast, averaging about 75 miles a day. Not a huge daily distance, but enough to test whether the bike is comfortable over long distances or not. And I can assure you it is. Fitting a Brooks Cambium C15 was a welcome upgrade to the quite soft Swobo saddle, but I wouldn’t choose a bike for its saddle anyway. Equipped with an Apidura saddle bag you can have a jolly good time cycling from pub to pub if you wish.
Size wise I opted for the small version, as the medium bike didn’t give me enough standover height. The frame geometry required me to go for one size smaller than usual, so keep that in mind when choosing. The bike is very compact, quick and very easy to handle, perfect for short urban rides. The wide bars took a few moments to get used to, but come in very handy once you have to haul yourself up steep hills. More leverage on the bars means less worries on a singlespeed. I recently used the bike for my 42mile commute from Stirling to Edinburgh, and really appreciated the setup on those short off road sections, with snow and ice on the ground. With the wide bars the bike handles much better then my drop bar equipped alternative.
If it is speed you’re after, you will find the Accomplice accelerates perfectly in those short sprints at traffic lights, as the bike comes with a 41-18 ratio, and can be ridden freewheel or fixed. I have only ridden it with the freewheel so far, which works well. The ratio is fine for steep climbs on Devon and Dorset roads if you have the patience and legs for both, and will give you enough speed to enjoy longer flat stretches. Depending on your terrain you might want to go for a slightly smaller cog in flat environments and a slightly bigger one in hillier areas, for riding in and around Edinburgh, my stomping ground, the ratio is perfect.
What else is there worthwhile mentioning? The bike comes with 42mm Kenda tyres as standard, for the UK you might want to upgrade those to Schwalbe Marathons as I did. The stock tyres are perfectly fine, but upgrading to puncture resistant tyres like the Marathon saves hassle. With enough debris and broken glass lying around on cycle paths in Scotland, I haven’t regretted spending a bit more extra on the tyres. Both the Kenda tyres the bike comes with and the new ones have reflective sidewalls for better visibility in the dark, a plus especially in winter. And then there is the width. 42mm tyres laugh at potholes and tram tracks, give you enough grip and comfort off road, and roll quick enough on tarmac. The cantilever brakes do a good job, a little bit more braking power would possibly help, but you only go so quick with a singlespeed bike, so they are fine for the job.
The vanity factor: I must admit I first opted for the signal green version and ended up picking up the black model, opting for a more classic look instead. Fitted with a Bird Cage from Portland Design Works the bike blends in perfectly with commuter jeans, Swobo merino top and DZR shoes. The finish on the seat stays looks very elegant and isn’t something I would expect in this price range. After all the bike currently retails for £499, which is a steal for how much fun you get. The Swobo branded saddle comes with a bottle opener, while handle bars, seat post and stem are nicely finished.
There are no mounts for rack or mudguards, but for two bottle cages. With being a little creative I’ll try to fit Soda Pop mudguards this week as well. If you need to carry stuff, think about a saddle bag, which fits perfectly, Apidura has different sizes to cater to your needs. A front roll will carry more if needed, even a few bottles of beer. For business, get a small frame bag, big enough to hold important documents and a jumper, a tube and a 3wrencho 15mm tool to change tyres if needed. Or to swap from fixed to freewheel, whatever your choice.
So, does the bike world need an Accomplice? I would strongly argue it does. As with any Swobo bike, expect it to be different and niche. Swobo creates demand other than responding to it. Thats is no different with the Accomplice. The bike is the perfect fit for getting around town and beyond with fun, and that for a pretty competitive price. The geometry and spec make it a perfect allrounder that can swallow potholes, tram lines, gravel and whatever else you encounter in the UK, while looking very good at that. In three words: The perfect commuter.