When I first found out that I was moving to Shanghai a little over 6 months ago, the first thing on my mind (other than the countless immaculate skate spots this city possesses) was “what am I going to do for a bike?” Bringing one of my bikes out wasn’t exactly an option, especially after only having two days notice as to when my flight was booked. Two days…48 hours notice before moving 8,000 miles away.
My last two days in the states were spent scrambling to scrap some parts together to stash in my checked baggage. Knowing that Shanghai is completely flat, I decided I’d cut the hubs out of the wheels on my Gan Well Pro (tear tear) and start piecing together another track bike.
Anyway, I’d heard of the guys at Factory Five through the WWW and after John Prolly paid them a visit a while back, I knew that I’d have to drop in and check them out. What a good call that was. I stopped in about month after landing, put a deposit down on a 56cm F550 and grabbed a few last minute items to complete the build. Once my frame arrived, I spent a couple hours in the shop meticulously piecing it together while enjoying a couple ice-cold Asahis.
After not riding a bike for nearly a month-and-a-half, my ride home had me feeling like my 10-year old self; spinning out the 16” coaster BMX, grass stains on my jeans and ripping coaster brake skids. The frame fit me perfectly and had the most synergistic feel right out of the stand. Usually getting a bike this dialed takes a few tweaks after the initial build, but I really lucked out here. No measurements, no real fit adjustments needed. Just a suitcase of random parts and solid 7005 series aluminum track frame.
In terms of the parts and build, I took the Suzue Pro Max hubs I had and grabbed some 32h hard anodized H Plus Son Archetype rims, laced them up 3-cross and slapped some super cheap 23c tires on them. I usually don’t like to skimp on tires, but the cost of moving across the world had me on a bit of a budget. I picked up a track crankset from the guys at the shop and set it up with their signature Factory Five Lattice Chainring in hard ano. This chainring goes! It feels stiff as anything, is very very light and also looks amazing. On that crankset are a set of MKS pedals, Soma double cages and All City double straps.
The only other piece I needed was a seat post. I somehow grabbed a 27.0 post from home, thinking it was a 27.2 and needed to find something reasonably priced. The shop had a swap meet one day and I lucked out by coming up on a Miche seatpost. Atop the post, I hung a nicely worn-in Fizik Arione saddle.
For the cockpit, I brought over a 100mm Ritchey WCS 4 AXIS stem, a set of Truvativ mountain bars with a slight rise and a VP-Comp headset. Enough with the build though…
This bike rips. It’s all you need here and nothing you don’t. As a big fan of aluminum bikes (most of the time), I knew what to expect with the F550. Stiff and responsive, yet not overly aggressive as far as track geometry goes. This was just what I needed; something that is equally at home either thrashing through traffic or moseying on over to the bar.
I’ve been riding this for just about 5 months now and still feel as happy as the day I set it up. Sure, I miss riding road and mountain bikes, but having a city track bike in a place as wild as Shanghai has yet to get boring. Having a brakeless track bike here is akin to mountain biking, except the trees here are on gas scooters and have a mind of their own.
I’m gonna stop rambling though and give the guys at Factory Five a strong shoutout. Thanks for everything dudes! Be sure to check out the rest of the Factory Five frames and other products. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email or get at me on IG or Twitter. Check out the rest of the photos below!
EDIT: photo updated – swapped out my crankset for the trusty SRAM Omniums & have been running the Cetma Cargo 5-rail rack for the last year or so.