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!

121 responses to “My FBM Sword SQ Track”

  1. Chris Loudermilk says:

    Don’t leave this one on the front porch.

  2. Bob Dobbs says:

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

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

  4. Ozren Opacic says:

    Are H+Son US Made?

  5. Adam Perin says:

    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.

  6. too cool charlie says:

    nicely done john.

  7. Bilsko says:

    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?

  8. J says:

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

  9. 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?

  10. Ben C says:

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

  11. Kris Fay says:

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

  12. James Acklin says:

    That fork is really classy. Love the taper.

  13. Christopher Newton says:

    What size frame is that?

  14. steve fry says:

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

  15. Sean Smith says:

    Wicked nice looking!

  16. Adam Leddin says:

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

  17. ride must be so soft and gentle …

  18. Cooper Ray says:

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

  19. jamesdeanus says:

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

    • John Watson says:

      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).

      • Brian says:

        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.

      • ZianStudios says:

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

      • jamesdeanus says:

        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.

        •  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 says:

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

          • John Watson says:

            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 says:

             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. says:

            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.

          • Sonam Gray says:

            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.

  20. 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! 

  21. looks like your seat is really high 

  22. Harry says:

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

  23. bartspin says:

    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.

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

  25. Echo Tile says:

    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.

    • John Watson says:

      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 says:

        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?

  26. Jeff Smith says:

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

  27.  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?

  28. Jake Ricker says:

    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.

    • NoahGenda says:

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

  29. god damn that looks good.

  30. what width are those ritchey’s?

  31. SAM says:

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

  32. Simplicityofjoy says:

    …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.

  33. Richard Smith says:

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

  34. Eric Hancock says:

    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.

  35. Aaron Erickson says:

    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!

  36. Simplicityofjoy says:

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

  37. Brian de Bruin says:

    Love this ! What tape did you use ?

  38. George says:

    How Heavy This Axe?

  39. schue113 says:

    Prolly, what length Omniums do you run?

      • schue113 says:

        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….

        • John Watson says:

          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 says:

            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.

  40. clint glugla says:

    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?