Solé Bicycles was formed in 2009 by some friends and is one of the few companies out there that makes durable yet stylish single speeds and fixes. They're based out of California and have a reputation for producing quality bikes at pretty low prices.
When my box arrived I was pleasantly surprised that the packaging seemed to do a decent job of protecting the bike. I think one piece was broken in transit but it appeared to be a supporting plastic piece, not something vital to the construction of the bike. There was also a mark on the frame, but it was cosmetic so I wasn't going to ship it all the way back. I quickly started unwrapping so I could put this bad boy together.
Assembly was pretty painless, the frame feels and looks well made and the wheels were downright breathtaking. I think the only issue I had was needing to tighten the brakes because they were extremely lose. After that everything was good to go. The bike comes mostly assembled, requiring only the attachment of the front wheel, handlebar, seat, and pedals. I'd say it took me 35 - 45 minutes total to completely assemble and thats partly because I was taking my time tightening each piece.
Out on the road, this bike draws attention. The other day I had a kid ride up next to me and eagerly ask if I wanted to trade him bikes, tempting but I declined. The Foamside feels sure-footed. Even on gravel or uneven pavement I don't feel as though I'll slip. Performance is amazing, even on a single speed I can keep up with my friends who are all boosting 12 speeds or higher. It's not super quick and it's not a road bike, it's somewhere in the middle without the claim of being a hybrid. But I don't think it's trying to be either. It's the perfect bike for me since I live in the city and it doesn't hurt that heads turn everywhere you go. The only issues I've had to date have been one of the nuts falling off, but Solé sent me a new one that same week. The reflectors on my pedals also fell off, I mentioned that to customer support as well but they only sent over the nut. Meh. Also, the back tire valve is a little messed up, sometimes the air will start to come out if I don't have the little silver piece in the right spot. I still haven't figured out what all is going on there, but usually if I wiggle it the right way the valve will close and I'll be able to ride without any problems. Where I live we have a bunch of different air pumps, so it's possible that one of those pumps may have messed up the valve.
All in all, I love my Solé despite the minor issues. If budget is a concern I suggest doing what I did and waiting to get your Solé on sale. You can get 30% off for President's Day, and I believe they have 2 for 1 specials for Valentines Day. If you're willing to wait, I highly suggest signing up for their newsletter so you can snag a deal. The Foamside is a super smooth ride for my everyday commute and I mean for this price you really can't beat the Solé.
images via jessica alvarenga