All-City’s Zig Zag Put to the Test
All-City manufactures modestly priced, quality steel bikes for nearly every discipline of riding. The Minnesota-based bike brand is one of many (including Salsa and Surly) that runs under the roof of America’s largest wholesale distributor—Quality Bicycle Parts. All-City was founded by Jeff Frane, who evolved his ideas of city-focused bike designs from his days working in the QBP warehouse.
All-City stayed under our radar until we saw them at the QBP’s own Frostbike trade show in 2014. Classic steel craftsmanship was combined with massive tire clearance, an unheard of concept in those days. They stole the show with their Macho King, which boasted Reynolds 853 steel and clearance for up to 38mm of rubber.
Still at the forefront of steel frame innovation, All-City unveiled the Zig Zag last year, a modern take on a road bike.
All-City’s Zig Zag follows in line with the type of updates that many bike manufacturers have made standard in the last few years while retaining a unique All-City flavor. Wide tire clearance? You got it, up to 35mm. A long wheelbase? You know it, 102cm. Disc brakes? Of course. A slack head tube angle? Yup, 71 degrees. Altogether, this makes the Zig Zag and endurance-oriented bike suited for long rides
A close look reveals the finer details, like mounts for a frame pump, faux downtube shifters secure the shift cables, hidden fender mounts, and the brazed-on seat collar is stamped with an elegant All-City logo.
All-City uses their own proprietary ACE tubes that are heat-treated and custom-extruded for the frame and a wide Whisky No. 9 carbon fork.
Two Shimano build kits are available on the Zig Zag, starting with a hydraulic 105 group for $2699 (the higher-end model runs Shimano Ultegra parts). The Zig Zag is spec’d to a higher standard than other steel-focused brands like Pure Cycles to handle the rigors of daily, high-volume riding.
Alloy Whisky parts are used throughout the rest of the build. The aluminum stem, handlebar and seatpost are Whisky No.7-branded.
The Zig Zag rolls on 700c WTB alloy rims laced to All-City hubs that feature a 19mm internal width and are mated to 28mm Trevail Rampart tires. Compared to other modern endurance builds, the 19mm width is on the narrow side.
A threaded English bottom bracket is a nice touch that’s a mark of the industry experience that sets All-City apart. The threaded bottom bracket requires minimal maintenance and eliminates the creaking noise that plagues many Press-Fit-spec’d bikes.
On the road the Zig Zag noticeably smothers vibrations, thanks to the steel tubes used and the wide, beefy tires. Handling in corners is predictable and, due to the disc brakes, confidence-inspiring. Small cracks and debris can be ignored, as the long wheelbase provides a stable ride.
Our testing included paved as well as some light gravel riding, or, in other terms, quintessential modern all-road riding. The Zig Zag performed well as an endurance bike, with the main hindrance being its 22.12-pound weight, which adds up on long rides. However, the high amount of compliance and vibration reduction found on the stock build are a trade-off. Upgrades to a lighter wheelset and a carbon cockpit are the fastest ways to shed a few pounds on the build.
All-City’s Zig Zag is a modern take on a road bike with a classic steel aesthetic all its own. Although the purple paint wasn’t universally liked, at least it wasn’t black. With its smooth ride and quality complements, this is a steel rig that also enjoys an attractive price. Since a key feature is room for bigger tires, we would’ve liked to see some, well, bigger tires. As our in-house joke goes, 28mm tires were the new 25mm tires—two years ago!
For those looking for the trappings of a steel dream bike from years past but with modern amenities, the Zig Zag has got it covered.
Classic steel aesthetic
Carrying some extra weight
Weight: 22.12 pounds
Sizes: 46, 49, 52, 55 (tested), 58, 61cm