In setting out to build a bike capable of taking the rigours of fixed freestyle riding with their new Persona, Identiti have also produced a bike that's a great, rugged round town urban machine.
Fixed gear freestyle is definitely gaining popularity, it has progressed somewhat from the circus balancing acts better suited to performers in leotards to something a little more burly although those skinny jeans could be mistaken for denim leggins or jeggins *shudder*.
Big stair drops and aerial tricks are more de rigour, requiring a bike far stronger than your standard track iron. And regardless of what you think of this non free-wheeling stunt bike phenomenon, what has evolved from this new genre are rugged bikes that are clean, minimalist looking bikes that are nippy and strong, making them pretty handy around town, like this one, the Persona from Identiti.
Identiti are well known and highly regarded amongst the trail hardy mountain bike scene, producing innovative and trusted jump bikes and 4X mountain bikes backed up by a strong team of sponsored riders. Now Identiti are mixing up the influences of their heritage into a track bike that can take the rigors of 700c trick riding which brings us the Persona. What we have is a frame that keeps the tight, upright, geometry of a track bike and built from strong double butted 4130 Cro-mo steel, then reinforced where it is most needed.
A heavily gussetted head tube (hiding an internal Campag type headset) should prevent the headset from flaring or cracking and there's enough clearance for the front wheel to miss the down tube so you can spin the bars and a sloping top tube for more manoeuvrability and stand over are the most visually apparent tweaks. It is like a bastardised semi compact race frame, skinny yet tough. You still get a fairly high bottom bracket and the stable track geometry which makes slicing between wing mirrors a less nervous operation and track stands are a cinch with such a small amount of trail from the fork.
The rear drop outs use the Taper-Lock wedge-shaped horizontal slotted system that when used with a special keyed washer self tensions the chain when tightening the axle nuts negating the need for chain tugs. And because the taper wedge goes thicker towards the crank, the wheel won't get pulled in, loosening the chain. It works so well that you wonder why all horizontal drop outs aren't made like this.
In keeping with the clean lines of the frame the cable guides for the rear brake are removable, unscrewed from beneath the top tube, which is very neat. Also, to personalise your ride Identiti supply the bike without any of the decals applied and instead provide you with a couple of sticker sheets for you to paste them where you like if you wish to do so.
Our bike came in a bright orange which has a bit of a metallic glint to it and a mix of white or black components that makes it look more like an over grown BMX and a strong contrast against the drab grey concrete of the city. Or you can choose the bike in a stealthy all black ensemble with everything black apart from the white plates on the side of the chain. The chain by the way is the excellent Gusset Badger chain, designed for bashing and grinding yet with an effort to keep the weight down.
You might think that all this extra strengthening to handle the assault of aggressive street riding would whack the weight up but this complete bike lands in at 9.88kg (2.3kg for the frame only) including pedals which I think is pretty impressive and especially good for the 550 notes that this set up would set you back or £250 for the frame only.
For Identiti to be able to give you such an apparent bargain the entire bike is built from own branded components from the Ison distribution stable namely under their Gusset, Genetic or Halo Marques. Just because they are own branded components doesn't mean they are stickered up OEM tat straight out of the Tawain catalogue, oh no, Ison put a lot of time and money into designing and developing new, cutting edge, product that is thoroughly tested by their pool of extreme riders. Check out the videos of Chris Doolaly on Youtube crashing about on his practically stock Persona with the only changes being a lighter set of Gusset 853 cranks, riser bars and the wider Aerowarrior wheel rims and you will get an idea of the sort of abuse this bike can put up with.
Starting with the Aerotrack wheels with their 27mm deep aero section and a machined braking surface. These wheels are pretty tight and can take a fair amount of pranging, you don't need to be hucking off stairs to give your hoops abuse, cycling over the pot holes which seem to be emerging everywhere on our roads can cause delicate wheels to fold in an instance but these seem to have enough substance to stay true and that threading a line between all the imperfections in the road can be a little less erratic and slightly more subdued knowing that your wheels are going to hold together. The tall air chamber of the 29c Twin Rail courier tyres help dampen the road buzz which is greatly needed because this frame is so stiff and solid that if you have the tyres pumped up beyond 100 psi your wrists will feel it and your eyeballs will rattle. The Twin Rail tyres are easy to skid and make a sound like your dragging your back pack along the ground when doing a broady! The hard-ish compound and puncture protection will keep you rolling and skidding with confidence.
This frame doesn't have the zing of a high end steel road bike but that doesn't mean that it feels dull and boring either, it does exactly what you ask it to do without any fuss or flex, every hard crank is fed directly into the wheels and the short rear chain stays make this bike accelerate well and get the power down, but it feels solid rather than lively and at 5.1lbs for the frame it isn't exactly heavy. The straight bladed cro-mo forks are very direct and solid too and this is telegraphed through the welded cro-mo stem and handle bar combo which Identiti whitily call their 'single bar'. The one piece unit looks smart, simple and un-cluttered and the wedge bolt clamped the steerer securely and doesn't disturb the aesthetic either. My only gripe was that it too was very stiff and direct in feeling and the cheapo grips did nothing to stop the bumps from the road being felt in my eye sockets, maybe my bones are getting old but with the tyres at 120psi I found the bike a bit tiring but that could also be down to the fun I am having on it too?
No eyelets for mudguards or racks or even water bottle holders are provided. To me this shows that the bike is aimed at fun and not to be taken too seriously - even if you aren't going to be popping tricks on it this is a short haul urban machine. I guess if you are looking to go longer range you could fit generic clip on guards, but I'd also guess if that was your main sort of riding you wouldn't be looking at this bike in the first place. That said, the lack of guards is not an insurmountable problem.
A set of Dia compe calliper brakes and generic black levers are supplied and gripped admirably on the machined braking surfaces of the wheels but couldn't be described as the strongest of stoppers. The pedals too were a bit so-so, the alloy bear trap type pedals looked like they belonged on a hybrid not a bright young thing like the Persona. The saddle looks a bit cheap and plasticky but was in fact very comfortable and actually quite lean. Its synthetic cover was easy to clean though.
There isn't much to talk about with the drive train on a fixie but what we have on the Identiti Persona is a dependable Genetic crank with stiff and solid forged and CNC'd arms that are no lightweights, a chain that won't break in a hurry and a stainless steel cog. If you ride your fixie hard then you want these components to be strong and these are. If you want to save weight on this bike without compromising strength then the crank would be the component to swap, everything else is very well chosen for its performance in weight and strength. Identiti have managed to produce a town bomber to a high spec which will give a lot of fun to all types of rider after the low maintenance, single gear experience regardless of whether they want to jump off things.
A tough, lightweight (for what it is) hardcore freestyle fixie that makes a great, solid, dependable town hack. Equally fun as a single speed or as a fixed gear. Lacks sensible stuff such as mudguard and pannier rack mounts, but then it's not meant for doing sensible things
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Identiti Persona
Size tested: Metallic Orange, medium
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Double butted TAF Cr-Moly tubing
Identiti FFX fork
Gusset Singles Bars 440g +/- 10degrees 80mm/500mm
Halo 700 x 29C Twin Rail Courier tyres
Genetic forged and CNC finished alloy crank and 42T
Gusset Badger chain
16T Cr-Mo fixed rear cog
Gusset R-series saddle
Genetic Drift pedals
Dia Compe brakes
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Urban fixed gear single speed bike, that will allow you to develop and ride in your own individual style.
A fast single gear town hack that is built tough and specced well to take the pounding of freestyle riding.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The bones of this bike is the fantastic frame and fork, available separately for £ which represents excellent value for money.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Double butted 4130 cro mo steel.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Tweaked track frame geometry. Still very upright and responsive, not much trail on the forks makes you move you body more to get round corners than turning the bars. Short rear chain stays for very direct quick acceleration and making it easier to pop up onto the back wheel for tricks such as wheelies or bunny hops.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Good amount of stand-over height from the sloping top tube, similar to what you would find on a mountain bike. I found the bars quite low for tricks and would opt for a slightly shorter stem and some riser bars if I was that way inclined.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
This bike is solid which is especially noticeable with the tyres pumped up to anything over 80psi despite the tall 28c twinrail's it is shod with, my wrists felt the brunt of this bikes stiffness. This bike is built to be strong not super light and that translates to thicker tube walls which don't absorb the trail buzz like a top end steel frame would. The bike felt sturdy and sure footed and that inspires confidence and makes you feel like you can tackle anything.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
This bike is stiff EVERYWHERE! Cranks, bars, forks, frame, all stiff and solid. It has the direct feel of a BMX, no flex detected apart from the wheels but even they were tight.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Short chain stays and stiff tubes mated to solid cranks gives a very direct power transfer. The one piece cro mo steel stem and handlebar doesn't twist much either.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
The toe clips were quite deep and there was a bit of over lap making bar spins
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? the upright track geometry make you steer more with the bike thant the bars. Very responsive at speeds below 20mph.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The tight geometry allows you to weave the bike easily and pick lines along the road, avoiding the pot holes and slippery ironwork.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I liked the look of the one piece stem and handlebar but felt that they were very uncomfortable both in their shape (too straight) and how brutally stiff they were.
I was pleasantly surprised with the saddle but it may be a bit too narrow for those with wider sit bones.
All the components were very well chosen and definitely a good choice for durability but maybe not for weight.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The one piece handlebar and stem was very stiff, all the shock sent though the stiff frame and fork went straight to your wrists! Maybe a thicker pair of grips like some Oury's would help or some fatter again tyres like the Schwalbe Kojaks 35c.
The crank was impressively stiff but pretty heavy, if you replaced it for the equally stiff Gusset 853 cranks that would save a heap of weight.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Gusset Badger chain is a brilliant fixie chain, it is very strong and surprisingly light for such a tough chain.
stiff crank, stiff frame, no flex and a burly chain = power
Short chainstays and stiffness
The bars are a little too narrow for hard out of the saddle sprinting
Under 20mph and the bike
you don't need to lean much to steer this bike round a corner
not really this bikes domain, luckily the fixed gear restricts this
42x16 means you will be able to get up most hills and the roomy front end stops your knees from klonking the bars
Stiff, solid, Gusset crank + strong Gusset Badger chain
This is where it's at for fixie durability
the chain is one of the lightest burly chains about but running 1/8 chains etc you are going to pay a weight penalty
for durablility and dependability which are two important factor (especially if you choose to ride brakeless)
Wheels and tyres
sound performing commute wheels
The wheels held true throught the test.
At under 2kg for the pair they were reassuringly heavy
You can run these tyres at 60 and iron out the lumps in the road and save your wrists
these are a favourite for upgrades or replacements for urban fixie riders
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The tyres offer are fairly hard and easy to skid and the grips give a bit more confidence on greasy roads.
The wheels remained true and were fairly light and they looked good which is always a bonus.
lightish, stiff, strong and direct
less parts to go wrong.
Combined stem and bars saved weight while adding strenght
So very stiff plus the grips were pretty awful.
Dia Compe brakes and quality home brand everything else
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Swap the grips because they are a bit naff. The pedals are nothing to write home about but despite their generic town bike looks they served a purpose well.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? yes
Would you consider buying the bike? definitely
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I have already
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
A hybrid track bike with more in common with a BMX than a mountainbike.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 180 Weight: 80
I usually ride: Bike that I am testing at the time My best bike is: Giant CFR pro. Old school carbon converted to fixed. Kinesis Convert 2 fixed. Shorter cafe racer
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back