My FBM Sword SQ Track

This bike has been in the works for a while now and I’m not talking about the weeks the frame sat in the box while I accumulated the parts. I’m talking about since I first saw one in person, at Post Bikes in Brooklyn. The original Sword wasn’t what I would consider a true track geometry. It was more of a fixed cruiser, marketed not only at the kids wanting a street bike to thrash, but also to the older BMXrs who wanted a quicker way around town.

Steve and John Paul began working on the Sword SQ. They talked to various people in the “industry”, including Josh “Big Red” Hayes and Kyle Kelley, who worked on the Sword’s geometry, making it what it is today. This Sword SQ represents a lot of things to me. Mostly, a company, who in the wake of Taiwanese fabrication, still make their bikes in America, for an affordable price and have never taken a penny from an outside investor.

While I’ve already got a kick-ass track bike, this Sword will go through many variations. I’m already planning on putting a Cetma on it to carry my photo bag in the summer and will probably throw risers on it at some point to encourage some throwback FGFS. It’s a little small, compared to what I’m used to riding, so the saddle to bar drop is much more race-fit than my Icarus. I’ve dialed in the fit now and it looks a lot more reasonable than the first Instagram photo I posted.

I tried to use as many American companies as possible. Profile Fix / Fix hubs laced to H+Son Archetype rims (fucking love these rims!) and a 18t Phil Wood SLR cog. Thomson stem, post, 1960′s Unicanitor Saddle, Ritchey Classic Curve bars and Newbaum’s tape. I was tempted to buy a set of the Phil Wood cranks, but went with the tried and true SRAM Omniums with an extremely rare, purple 44RN 144#47 ring. My White Industries pedals got a new life and the Toshi single straps are just right. Finally, a black KMC Cool Chain and 28c Continental Gatorskins finish off the build, with a 3/4″ mini Viking decal on the stem.

I’m very happy with this bike and it’s been nice to ride a track bike around, since my Icarus’ fork has been at the painter’s for a few weeks.

Many thanks to FBM for this beast and I can assure you, this won’t be the last time you see it here on the site!

  • Chris Loudermilk

    Don’t leave this one on the front porch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1375154064 Aaron Garcia

      Low blow.

    • http://twitter.com/princeofbraddon James McKeon

      Bro

    • http://www.facebook.com/eli.brock.1 Eli Brock

      Too soon?

    • Corey Kamp

      Jeez! Too Early!

  • http://twitter.com/VinylDonQuixote Bob Dobbs

    Just curious, why gatorskins over 4 seasons? Beautiful steed though, just beautiful.  

    • Richard Smith

      Gatorskins are cheaper and more durable than 4 Seasons. 4 Seasons would get wrecked skidding around on the streets almost instantly.

      • http://coffeeandbikes.cc/ Cooper Ray

        not true at all

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      it’s what the shop had in stock and I’ve had luck with Gatorskins on fixed.

      • http://twitter.com/AceMetric Ace Metric Cycles

        have you been on the RiBMO?  was on gatorskins religiously years back, made the switch and never went back.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      it’s what the shop had in stock and I’ve had luck with Gatorskins on fixed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexandre.harvey.566 Alexandre Harvey

    wow beautiful and classy, it is just a little sad that the front fork is drilled

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/N3M3JZ7WXIXRCDBCANQWRDASLI Hans

      it makes sense to have it drilled: “I’m already planning on putting a Cetma on it to carry my photo bag in the summer”. if prolly broke a camera due to having a fork that wasn’t drilled then we’d miss out on some rad photos and i bet he’d be bummed. 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      No, it’s not. It just makes the bike all the more versatile.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      No, it’s not. It just makes the bike all the more versatile.

    • http://twitter.com/SRAMUEL SAM

      oh please.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=172006683 Ozren Opacic

    Are H+Son US Made?

    • http://twitter.com/VinylDonQuixote Bob Dobbs

      No

      • Ian Stone

        Yeah, they are a product of China. Love my TB14s anyway though.

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          They’re domestic to China. Designed and fabricated in their country, which is ok by me.

        • Ryan Combdon

          Agreed, The TB14s build up really nice. 
          I still riding the ones i won from Affinity. Awesome Rim. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000960165685 Adam Perin

    Great looking bike! Are those rims the black ano version or the just the black version? Im looking into getting a set and those look pretty damn amazing.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Black. Anodizing is more of a jade grey. 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Black. Anodizing is more of a jade grey.

  • too cool charlie

    nicely done john.

  • Bilsko

    Slick looking ride – is the Thomson stem custom? – I noticed the Prolly logo etched on it… that angle makes me think its the X4 stem?

    • ZianStudios

       read: decal

      • Bilsko

        Yeah, I figured Decal…but it has an etched look to it so I thought maybe custom

        • Ian Stone

          Matte Black

    • http://www.facebook.com/wade.schultz1 Wade Schultz

      4 bolt faceplate = X4 (mountain)
      2 bolt faceplate = X2 (road)
      Prolly chose X4, maybe because of possible fgfs intentions for this ride.

      • http://www.ridetheblackline.com/ ridetheblackline

        X4 because it’s a true track-worthy bike yo!

  • http://twitter.com/JMilligan718 J

    47X18 for hills or mellow street riding or tricks or all 3? Asking out of curiosity and always messing with my ratios. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=172006683 Ozren Opacic

      47/18 is perfect. 18 skid points, 18.4 mph at a cadence of 90. Great choice.

      • http://www.digicycle.net/ Tucker

        36 patches actually since John is likely an “ambi-skidder”

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      All of the three. Austin’s quite hilly.

    • Dan P

      69 gear inches too! LOL.

      • http://theradavist.com John Watson

        Spinning > Internet “Street Cred” 

        • Dan P

          I just happen to like the number, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Good cunt.

  • http://www.ridetheblackline.com/ ridetheblackline

    love it, John.  nice angles and great build.  the fork looks curious to me but i think it makes sense.  any idea what the rake is?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      It feels like a 32mm based on the HTA.

      • http://www.ridetheblackline.com/ ridetheblackline

        oh i didn’t look at the geo chart.  it’s 35mm.  legit!

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          35mm is great!

  • Ben C

    Super nice. The black with a couple bits of chrome and the purple ring looks amazing and fun to ride. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kris.fay1 Kris Fay

    .

  • http://www.facebook.com/kris.fay1 Kris Fay

    So good john. That fork is amazing and the purple pops so good.

  • http://twitter.com/acklindesign James Acklin

    That fork is really classy. Love the taper.

  • Christopher Newton

    What size frame is that?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      the 56cm.

  • steve fry

    What is the saddle? looks like ones BMX bikes used many years ago.

    • Christopher Newton

      As stated in the description a 1960′s Unicanitor Saddle

      • http://theradavist.com John Watson

        :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001711377791 Sean Smith

    Wicked nice looking!

  • http://www.cycleexif.com/ Adam Leddin

    Bloody good job, John, another good looking addition to the Prolly quiver.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/angeloMedi Angelo Medina

    ride must be so soft and gentle …

  • http://coffeeandbikes.cc/ Cooper Ray

    25 contis on 23m h+. good call.
    havent run anything else over 3 wheelsets recently

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      28mm ;-)

      • http://coffeeandbikes.cc/ Cooper Ray

        comfy! those will feel awesome at 80

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/5HTCL5A6LD2RUGQPGOKKWOGQ7Q Arthur

      what is a good size to run with these archetypes?  

  • jamesdeanus

    Seat Too High/10…
    Also, ironic component colors… come on already, i thought that fad was finally over. 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      I don’t take fit critiques from people who call a saddle a seat. I think I know how to measure 99cm from the center of the pedal to the top of the saddle for my proper leg extension (sorry this is over your head, I bet).

      • http://twitter.com/oheyitschasm Brian

        wondered why you went for the 56 when you usually ride a 58 or so TT (if i recall correctly, which is rare), but then i realized that 56 is the biggest size the sq comes in.  i assume fbm doesn’t offer custom frames?

        just thinking out loud.  killer build, subtle and solid.  a few more tiny purple bits might be dope but aren’t needed.

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          they only make a 56, so I built it up and the position is fine for a quick, around town bike and will ride great with risers. I’ll still prefer my Icarus for any kind of track bike hill rides. 

          • http://twitter.com/oheyitschasm Brian

            tits.

      • ZianStudios

        I think you are much taller than most people (on the internet) realize

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          yeah… 

          • http://www.facebook.com/wade.schultz1 Wade Schultz

             mind–>blown

      • jamesdeanus

        Seat/Saddle=Potato/Potahto
        Your frame is clearly too small, as this looks outright foolish.
        Yes, you can make up for that by jacking up the “saddle” to achieve your “99cm” y-coordinate, but I could do the same on a BMX frame with a long enough seat-post (notice it’s not called a saddle post).
        Good luck with your sky scraper saddle goals of 2013.

        • http://twitter.com/princeofbraddon James McKeon

          lol

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          lol

        • http://twitter.com/pmurfdesign Patrick Murphy

           right, the guy running the successful bike blog needs to be coached in component terminology and fitting. The drop is what most would consider “aggressive,” but for a flexible rider it’s pretty normal. Look up Hesjedal’s rig. I guess even Giro winners are in need of your expertise on the subject….

          • kooktruck

             lulz
            coz mr watson is ready to hit the pro tour any minute now?

          • http://theradavist.com John Watson

            I mean, everyone calls me “grandpa” when my bikes are custom built with an appropriate head tube and now, they’re calling me “outright foolish”. People are fucking idiots.

          • kooktruck

             yeah can’t please em all. the drop on this thing will be fine with some risers or something.
            grandpa-ish 8cm drop is about perfect if the reach is long, but whatever. gotta ride what’s comfortable for you.

            i just thought it was funny, that dude ^ up there comparing you to a pro rider with the most drop on the tour or something close to that…

          • Lee N.

            Youre a fucking idiot. Why would you want to make yourself look like a total jackass on your own public blog? Theres no response you could give me that would satisfy, so go ahead and try slinging another insult, cool guy.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            CSB

          • http://www.facebook.com/sonam.gray Sonam Gray

            this is proof John, seems you can never be a great rider now (sarcasm)….lol For fuck’s sake, Ride bikes everyone. With tassles if you have to! keep doing remarkable things prolly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.torres.1048 Daniel Torres

    This is making me want to get one. My neon green track bike is cracked in idk how many places & I checked this frame out the other week and now I deff want one! glad it can clear 28c gators cause that’s what I was planning on running!!! looks fucking awesome prolls! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=535916451 Ricky Wallace

    looks like your seat is really high 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      “Looks” don’t matter, the saddle is at the height I need. 

      • Ian Stone

        Did you not feel you’d get the aggressive position you wanted from a 58?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=172006683 Ozren Opacic

          According to the “Sword SQ” link, they only come in 48cm, 52cm, 56cm. Us tall guys not being looked after again.

          • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.wallis1 alexander wallis

            OR THE SHORTIES!

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          They don’t make a 58 dude.

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          The Sword doesn’t come in a 58, dude. If they did I would have ordered one.

  • http://twitter.com/HarryShawd Harry

    Pretty aggressive fit. Id have thought this would be a little more relaxed and the Icarus would serve as the speed demon pursuit bike?

  • http://zenitme.com/ bartspin

    You came to the point where anybody who see this photos would say: this is prolly’s bike for 100%!!! without need of reading the text. Very nice build and you got your style man.

  • http://twitter.com/dave_comiskey Dave Comiskey

    I think I can hear FBM’s stock shooting up from here, this came out looking great.

  • Echo Tile

    Really sharp bike yo! I don’t care what people say about saddle hight people can do as they please. But is there a chance of the seat cluster/ tube ever cracking? Iv’e always herd its a fist length and no more.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      This is one of the super long Thomson posts. There’s a minimum insertion line on most posts, placed there by the manufacturer. This line actually needs to be in the center of the top tube, not the top of the seat tube… Most modern frames have a lot more seat post than a traditional “fist full”. 

      • Echo Tile

        Word, I got a Thompson for my Vivalo but have been scared to jack the post up higher than 5 inches, it is 30 years old after all. Should be fine to raise then?

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          As long as you’re not above the minimal insertion line, you’ll be fine.

  • Jeff Smith

    FBM used to make 59cm before the SQ.  Mine is built up quite differently, but still has purple trim.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.wallis1 alexander wallis

     i liiittle bit small can work fine for the street anyways, more room for your balls anyways. how does it feel to have another non-custom bike you dont mind locking up and walking away from?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jake-Ricker/760362430 Jake Ricker

    I dig everything about this except your idea of putting a Cetma rack on it.
    Support the homie and get a TCB Rack!
    You won’t regret it.
    Trust!

    • NoahGenda

      Truth!  especially since Lane is dialing back and Tad/Damian are ramping back up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tarckinout Dustin Hubbard

    god damn that looks good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1081913964 Jeff Schoolcraft

    what width are those ritchey’s?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      44cm

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1081913964 Jeff Schoolcraft

        Sweet. I really like the way you have this bike set up, it’s very similar to how i set up mine. I too am a rather tall human and thinking about doing a build with The Sword SQ as soon as they are back in stock.

  • http://twitter.com/SRAMUEL SAM

    Looks like your stem’s faceplate is tighter on the top two bolts than the bottom two.

  • Simplicityofjoy

    …do you use the BB that comes with the Omnium’s as well? And if so are you happy with it? Oh and looking at the comments below, I believe your front tire does not have the pressure suggested by Continental. Just so you know.

  • Richard Smith

    Do they come with the steerer pre-cut? Coulda got dem handlebars a bit higher. Could even flip the stem.

  • http://twitter.com/eric_d_hancock Eric Hancock

    This is really sweet.  I’d love to read your impressions of the setup (mostly the frame) after riding it for a while.  I’m thinking of using a Sword as an “around town” bike.

  • Aaron Erickson

    Gotta love the too small frame plus slammed stem. Gotta have you priorities straight, eh? Form > function. Whatever the frame size, gotta slam that stem!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Stem isn’t slammed, there’s a spacer in there.

      • Joss Dakin

        Ha!

  • Simplicityofjoy

    ..ever had that problem that your rear wheel moves forward and your tyre touches the seat tube?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      No because I tighten the shit out of my rear wheel in the track ends.

  • Brian de Bruin

    Love this ! What tape did you use ?

    • Ryan Combdon

      Newbaum’s tape, It’s mentioned in the article.

  • George

    How Heavy This Axe?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I think it weighed 18 or 19

    • Steven Von Williamsen

      ^^nice reference

  • schue113

    Prolly, what length Omniums do you run?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      172.5

      • schue113

        Have you had any problems with tow overlap or pedal strike on any fixed gears you run with this length? Reason I’m asking is I respect your opinion as a man of many bikes. Would you run 172.5 on the track or revert to 170s (58cm track frame)? I’m 6’0″ and have a 34 inseam….

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          It depends on the bike. If it’s 74 degrees or steeper with a 30-32mm rake and a 57cm tt, you’ll have a little overlap. My Icarus doesn’t have overlap, because the top tube is a 58cm and there’s 32mm rake. It’s a 74 HTA.

          • schue113

            I’m asking for street purposes because I’ve never tried a track crank that length. At the Blaine velodrome we can only run up to 170s due to the banking angle and at the track toe overlap is of little concern.

  • clint glugla

    Hey John your blog is dope loves it……after riding the sword sq for a bit now what you think? Also I’m 6ft like 31 inseam you think I can rock this frame?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      For sure. I’m 6’2″ and a 36″ inseam!