There’s two different camps in cycling. The first seeks out every new, high-tech toy they can attach to their carbon fiber frame, while the other takes the opposite approach, stripping off anything that’s not vital to its performance. These fixed-gear purists shun derailleurs, brakes and anything else that obscures the clean geometry of the bicycle frame.
The latter group is the target audience of Alien Bikes. Based out of Tjøme, Norway, Alien is essentially a one-man business operated by Joseph Santaniello. He sells the most pared-down bike components imaginable, not far removed from the rudimentary bike technology of centuries past. The all-steel products favor durability and low cost over advanced materials and newfangled technologies. Don’t expect a frame with any attachments for brakes or — God forbid — a water bottle holder. Alien products are almost completely anonymous with no branding or other markings. This creates the sleek, unassuming rides preferred by urban cyclists who don’t need any eye-catching embellishments to help get them stolen.
I recently had a chance to take a spin on an Alien wheelset and was impressed with the smooth ride and solid construction. The silver, non-machined rims are very attractive, which is a big selling point to appearance-obsessed single-speed riders. They aren’t designed to work well with conventional brakes, but I gather most Alien riders aren’t too fond of them anyway.
Better still, Alien makes a point of selling the most affordable products. Frames are a reasonable $350 and wheelsets go for $170. Take a look at their complete catalog, or check out some of their previous builds.