Monday, April 21, 2014


Brompton H6L dyno, Brooks, racing green: $1974
While not made in the USA, like the Bike Friday folding bikes, Brompton folding bikes are often touted as the bike with the most compact folded size and a very quick fold. This makes them a good option for people who need to combine a bike trip with trains or buses which do not allow full-sized bikes, or who want to fly with a bike when visiting another city. They fold down to a package that is a few inches larger than their 16 inch wheels.

The bikes and most of the special components are made in England, and there are many customization options, including all of the options we like here at Bikes for the Rest of Us: fenders, dynamo hub and lights, rear rack and a front bag or basket. Most are sold with a unique 6 speed drivetrain which combines a 3-speed internal gear hub with a tiny 2-speed derailleur.

There is no kickstand option, because the bike itself is designed stand up when folded, and there are small wheels on the rear carrier to allow it to be rolled around like a shopping cart when taken into a store. The front bags or basket attaches directly to the frame, above the small front wheel, instead of to the fork or stem as with most front baskets. This means a front load does not affect handling, and a surprising amount of cargo can be carried on one of these bikes.

Bromptons are also designed with surprisingly quick handling and a slightly leaned-forward position. This combined with small wheels, which accelerate quickly and light weight make it handle more like a road bike than a traditional city bike. The frame is meant to accomodate a range of riders, so taller people will have a more leaned-forward posture, and shorter riders are a little more upright. This can be partially counteracted by different handlebar options.
The most expensive options, including a titanium frame and fork, can cost over $3000 (above).
But the complete bike at the top of the page with 6 speeds, dynamo hub, lights, fender and the addition of a rack is under $2000. The most basic model is just over $1400.

For people in some cities, bike sharing systems, and access for full-size bikes on buses and trains, have made folding bikes less essential for multi-modal trips, but they can still be the perfect solution for some people, so it is no surprise that Clever Cycles in Portland has trouble keeping Bromptons in stock.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kettler Berlin Royal

Kettler Berlin Royal

Kettler bikes do not seem to be available via many local bike shops, but this German manufacturer will sell direct to consumers. We previously reviewed a few of their models.

They now offer several well equipped bikes with dynamos and lights, internal gear hubs, racks, chainguard, fenders and kickstand at reasonable prices. 

Kettler City Cruiser

The Kettler City Cruiser has a 7-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear hub with coast brake, front v-brake, dynamo hub with lights, chainguard, rack and fenders for only $729.

The Royal Berlin model has a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub, disc brakes, dynamo lights, rack, rear panniers, chainguard, and fenders for $1500. There are several other models with variations between these price ranges, including some with rollerbrakes.

The Royal is also available as an e-bike model

A commenter reviewed the standard Kettler Berlin Royal:
Only two commutes in on the Kettler Berlin Royal, but I wanted to share my first impressions. 
This is an imposing bike--very handsome and very large, with prewar motorcycle styling and oversized wheels and tires. It gets lots of compliments.
It's like riding a magic carpet. You ride above traffic where you can see and be seen, and the balloon tires and sprung seat ensure that bumps are only seen, not felt. The city bars with leather ergo grips are ergonomically sound, eliminating the numb wrist I get on other bikes. Handling is stable and relaxing.
The LBS was impressed at how rugged and well-built this German-made bike is, but puzzled why it's equipped with Dutch valves that can't be filled by US compressor hoses. (Luckily, screw-on adapters seem to work.)
The Kettler is fully equipped with everything needed for commuting: front and rear lights (with standlight) powered by a dynamo hub (no batteries required!), chain guard, fenders, bell, oversize pedals, internally geared 8-speed hub, tires with reflector sidewalls, weatherproof roller brakes with enormous cooling fins [edit: the current specifications list disc brakes], and coolest of all, a rack built into the bike itself (not some unsightly add-on rack) with matching pannier. Nothing to remember, nothing to bring, just hop on and go. 
Now the downside. Despite its aluminum construction, this is a heavy bike (about 40 pounds). And the same features that make it a great commuter (from the IGH to the upright seating position) also add a lot of drag. So you'd expect low, city-friendly gearing...nope. I'd gladly trade its very tall 8th gear for a lower first gear to get up the nastier hills.

Specifications: Kettler City Cruiser
Price $729 shipped
  • Frame: Durable 6061-K1 hydroformed aluminum frame
  • Fork:Lacquered unicrown construction rigid fork
  • Stem: Adjustable alloy quill stem
  • Handlebars:Humpert City alloy riser handlebars
  • Grips:Ergonomic Herrmans Moza ERGO comfort grips
  • Shifters: Reliable Shimano Nexus 7-speed shifter
  • Brakes: Exclusive KETTLER V-brakes
  • Rear Derailleur:N/A
  • Front Derailleur:N/A
  • Crankset:Exclusive KETTLER aluminum City 3-piece Beta crankset
  • Gear Ratio:38/19
  • Front Hub: Shimano DH3-N20 front dynamo hub
  • Rear Hub:Shimano Nexus 7-speed rear hub with coaster brake
  • Cassette:19 teeth
  • Rims:Mach 1 alloy double walled EXE rims with safety line
  • Tires:Robust yet nimble Continental City Ride tires with Puncture ProTection (42-622 & 47-559)
  • Headlight:Basta Pico 15 LED headlight
  • Taillight:Basta Ray Steady taillight
  • Saddle: Selle Royal Sky comfort saddle with built-in Royalgel
  • Extras: Front and rear fenders, center mounted kickstand, bolt-on luggage rack, resin chainguard
  • Motor System:N/A
  • Battery:N/A
  • Color:Matte Brown

Specifications: Kettler Berlin Royal
Price: $1499 including shipping
  • Frame:Durable 6061-K1 hydroformed aluminum frame
  • Fork: Lacquered unicrown construction rigid fork
  • Stem:Adjustable Humpert Kobra Vario Eco alloy stem
  • Handlebars:Swept back Humpert Stuttgarter alloy riser handlebars
  • Grips:Ergonomic faux leather comfort Ergo grips
  • Shifters: Reliable Shimano Nexus 8-speed shifter
  • Brakes:Powerful Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes
  • Rear Derailleur:N/A
  • Front Derailleur:N/A
  • Crankset:Competition SL Belt Drive 3-piece polished crankset
  • Gear Ratio:46/24
  • Front Hub: Shimano front dynamo hub
  • Rear Hub:Shimano Alfine 8-speed rear hub
  • Cassette:24 teeth
  • Rims:Mach 1 alloy double walled NEO rims with safety line
  • Tires:Schwalbe Big Apple balloon tires (55-622)
  • Headlight:B�chel Retro LED headlight
  • Taillight:Compact Spanninga Pixeo LED taillight
  • Saddle:Velo City sprung faux leather comfort saddle
  • Extras: Front and rear fenders, center mounted kickstand, bolt-on pannier rack, resin chainguard, Exclusive KETTLER Berlin Messenger Bag/Pannier, large metal platform pedals, faux leather water bottle cage, metal bell
  • Motor System:N/A
  • Battery:N/A
  • Color:Matte Graphite

Monday, April 14, 2014

Batavus Flying D

Unfortunately, Batavus bikes are no longer being regularly imported to North America. But for a period in the mid 2008's they were available through several local bike shops. I became the second owner of a Batavus Flying D, after my first good city bike, a Breezer Uptown 8, was stolen.

Batavus is a dutch company from the Netherlands, but the frames are made in Taiwan or China. The Flying D model has a traditional "Dutch Bike" geometry and appearance, but is made with thick aluminum tubing and modern "29er" wheels.

The wheels have deep rims that are laced in a modern-looking pattern, paired with huge 2-inch thick city tires. This can make it difficult to hang up on a bike hook in a train, but it certainly gets attention. The front hub is a Shimano dynamo plus roller brake, the rear is a 7-speed SRAM hub with coaster brake, with the chain inclosed in a full plastic chaincase with futuristic styling. The bike came standard with a leather Brooks saddle and matching vinyl grips, rear wheel lock, and dynamo headlight.

I later added a dynamo taillight and rear rack to mine, which made it much more useful. The standard metal fenders are a little short, and need rubber mudflaps to be added for full protection. The 7-speed hub is a little finicky, making it difficult get the shifting to work smoothly when the rear wheel is removed and replaced for repairs, and you have to let up on the pedals while shifting, as with most 3-speed hubs (but unlike the Nuvinci and Shimano 8-speed hubs).

The riding position is very upright even with the handlebars at the lowest setting, and the large heavy wheels make acceleration and hill climbing feel slow. But this also means it rides right over potholes without a shudder, it feels like riding on a full suspension. The upright postion feels regal, as you loom over cars and other bike riders, and a tail-wind feels like a magic carpet ride. Just watch out for headwinds and hills, the aluminum frame does not make this bike light-weight.

If you want a "Dutch" bike, I would recommend looking for a Gazelle or Workcycles bike, instead of a Batavus due to the better build quality and looks of those bikes. But this was an affordable option in the used market, which came along at the right time. It originally retailed for about $1100 in 2008 to 2009, and now would be worth about $500 to $600 used.


Frame:  Aluminium
Fork:  Aluminium
Rims:  Deep-section 700c ("29er"), black with silver sides
Tires:  Chinese imitation of Schwalbe Big Apple tires 29x2.20 (52mm x 622 mm); reflex sidewalls
Spokes:  Stainless, 36
Front hub:  Shimano dynamo plus roller brake
Rear hub:  SRAM 7-speed with coaster brake
Shifter:  SRAM twist shifter
Handlebar:  Cruiser-style, riser bar with swept-back grips
Stem:  Alloy
Grips:  Vinyl, leather-look
Bottom bracket:  Sealed
Rear Cog:  18 (I recommend changing to 21t for lower gearing)
Pedals:  Rubber block
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano rollerbrake (front), Coaster brake (rear)
Brake levers:  Right (front) only
Saddle:  Brooks B67 brown leather with springs
Seat post:  Alloy
Chainguard:  Full chaincase, thermoplastic
Kickstand:  Long alloy plus rubber single kickstand
Fenders:  Metal (black painted alloy?)
Rack:  Not included (added on mine)
Lights:  Halogen B&M (replaced on mine with LED headlight and taillight)
Extras:  Bell
Colors:  Matte black

Friday, April 11, 2014

Xtracycle Edgerunner

Xtracycle Edgerunner 27D Lux XO

Continuing our overview of cargo bike options, the relatively new Edgerunner is a Longtail cargo bike from Xtracycle.

Xtracycle founded the current Longtail cargo bike craze, with their FreeRadical. This frame extender attached to a standard bike, converting it to a longtail. An ecosystem of accessories, bags, decks, lights and kickstands was developed around this standard, which Yuba later adopted for their Mundo bike, as have some other manufacturers. Now Xtracycle is making their own complete bike, the Edgerunner. 

The 27D Lux features fenders, a double kickstand, disc brakes, a front dynamo hub and high-end dynamo-powered lights. It has a 3-speed front and 9-speed rear derailleur, for a wide range of gears. 
It uses a smaller, 20 inch rear wheel to keep the center of gravity lower. This make it easier for kids to mount the bike by themselves, and improves handling with carrying heavy loads. It also lowers the effective gearing, which will be a big help when hauling 2 kids and a week of groceries.

Options include huge cargo bags for the rear rack, rails for kids to hold, toddler seats, hydraulic instead of mechanical disc brakes, internal gear hub, and electric assist with the BionX system. The price can vary from $1500 for the basic 24D, to $2500 for a special version with Alfine 8-speed hub at Splendid Cycles, to $2900 for the 27D lux with dynamo lighting and high-end derailers. E-assist is $1000 extra.
Edgerunner Electric 24D Family


Specifications: (24D Family)
Frame & Fork

Front Rotor
Rear Rotor
Brake Levers

Shifters & 
Bottom Bracket

Front Hub
Rear Hub
Front Rim
Rear Rim
Front Tire
Rear Tire

Seat Collar


Front Light
Rear Light

100% Chromoly
Black, White, Blue, or Orange + clear coat
Avid BB5
Avid FR5
FSA Mallet
31.8 clamp alloy
65mm ext (16.5”)
95mm ext (19”)
Velo Duracork
Acera 8s
Altus 8s 170mm
Steel 48-38-28
JIS - 68 x 125mm
Acera 11-34 t
KMC Z72 8-sp
Sealed Bearing 36h
Sealed Bearing 36h
36h Double Wall
36h Double Wall
14g Stainless
Schwalbe Big Ben 2.35
Schwalbe Big Ben 2.15
34.9 alloy allen
31.6, 300mm (16.5”)
31.6, 400mm (19”)
Resin, Cromoly Axle
Alloy black
Optional Luxos U
Optional B & M Std.
Optional Upgrade

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bike Friday

Many have lamented the decline of American bike manufacturing, as most production frame builders have moved work to Taiwan or mainland China in the past 2 decades. Now most custom USA built frames will cost over $1000. Folding bikes or frames designed for traveling can cost even more. But it is still possible to get an affordable American-built frame on a Bike for the Rest of Us.

Bike Friday has been building frames for small-wheeled, foldable bikes in Eugene, Oregon for the past 22 years, and have gathered something of a following for their unique, customizable designs. Although most of the models do not fold as quickly and compactly as a Brompton folding bike, they are all designed to fit in a standard-sized suitcase for plane or train travel. A high-end Bike Friday with expensive components will cost $2000 or more, but they now offer an entry-level model with the same type of frame, hand-made in Oregon, matched with affordable parts (and an 8-speed rear derailleur), for as little as $798

They will add fenders, a kickstand, bell, and rear rack for a nearly complete 8-speed Bike for the Rest of Us priced at $920.95: the Pocket Companion (above)
They also will build you a "New World Tourist Nexus 8" with the premium "red-stripe" 8-speed Shimano nexus internal gear hub and rollerbrakes, Schwalbe Marathon tires, rear rack, fenders, kickstand, bell, water bottle, and a high-end front dynamo hub for about $1700 (not including the price of lights). The bike pictures has the Nuvinci hub instead:

And at the high end there is always the Infinity Drive Silk, with a Nuvinci continuously variable internal hub, Gates carbon belt drive, front and rear racks, and optional dynamo lighting for $2700.

Bike Friday makes it very easy to customize each of their models, or design a completely unique bike for people with special needs, so all of their models could be shipped to your door with a full complement of fenders, kickstand, dynamo lights, racks and bell, if desired. The Pocket Companion is cheaper due to using standard parts.

Here is the Silk 8sp (slct) with a Shimano Alfine hub and full dynamo lighting system:

They just unveiled a new "long-tail" cargo bike model, stay tuned for more about this.

Pocket Companion basic specifications:
2A MAIN FRAME:04 New 2014 Poc Companion EP 1 1/8, 1.75 (to 220lbs)
2B FORK:40 Companion /OSATA/HaD "V" Black 20"- 406-1 1/8
2C REAR END:1.5 Pocket Companion - 2013-14 left fold 406V
2D SEATMAST:01.21 EasyPack mast 1.25 X .055 (4130) x 13" Black
2E STEM /BF MADE:BF 25.4 Adj Riser & clamp Black- Companion/OSATA quill/ahead
BARS:MTB flat Kalloy 15degree flat bars,25.4 x 560mm
BB BEARING:111.5mm BF Sealed 68xEnglish
BOTTLE CAGES:Velocity Bottle Trap Black Cage
BOTTLES:BF 21oz. water bottle white w/black lid - black logo
BRAKE LEVERS:Alloy V brake levers
BRAKES:Alloy V brake for one wheel - Black
CABLES:Cable - Housing Black std w/ Decals Black or White
CASSETTE:11-28 8sp Shimano Oem
CHAINS:KMC Z-51 8sp chain
CRANKS:Alloy 170mm crank 44T- DD,Tan front & other w/plastic guard
DERAILLEURS REAR:Shimano TZ50 34T, 43 teeth - Change to SRAM for DD shifter
DESIGN / INTERNAL:NO Front Derailleur Hanger -NONE on this bike -add if need
HEADSET, THREADLESS:1 1/8" FSA Tap Adjust threadless, black, headset
HUB FRONT:BF Select 28o 100mm FRONT Silver w/QR
HUB REAR:BF Select 28o 130mm rear-Silver w/qr
MISCELLANEOUS:Optional fenders, kickstand, bell
PEDALS:Wellgo MTB Style (Pair) Pedal
RIMS:Weinmann TM19 (406) 28o Black
SADDLE:BF padded & bumpered saddle .
SEATPOST:Kalloy #243 Sil adjust post 28.6 x 350mm
SHIFTERS/CONTROLS:MicroShift twist 8 speed
SPOKES:Spokes DT 14 ga. Stainless w/ brass nip
STEMS F:Kalloy 22.2, 60mm quill, silver or black
TIRES:Sunlight Kontact 20 x 1.75" (406) 40psi blk. hybrid tread
TUBES:20x1.5 to 1.95" SV (406)

Infinity Drive Silk (baseline specifications without rack or lights) $2250
2D SEATMAST:01 .1 Left Fold Mast 2010> Silk/NWT/ PR / PL std .055 CrMo
2E STEM /BF MADE:BF Stem Riser, Adjustable for / Ahead,1 1/4" SVS
ACCESSORIES:Custom Engraved Name Plate. Optional: fenders, racks, kickstand, bell
BARS:MTB flat Kalloy 15degree flat bars,25.4 x 560mm
BB BEARING:111.5mm BF Sealed 68xEnglish
BOTTLE CAGES:Bottle Cage , Cateye Flexible
BOTTLES:BF 21oz. water bottle white w/black lid - black logo
BRAKE LEVERS:Tektro "V" style Brake Levers (TS360A)
BRAKES:Avid Disc Brake, MTB F/R BB 7 w/160 Cable
CABLES:Cable - Housing Black std w/ Decals Black or White
CASSETTE:Carbon drive, centertrack, 24 tooth cog for Nuvinci
CHAINRINGS:Carbon Drive Centertrack 60T 130BCD, Gates
CHAINS:Carbon Drive belt, centertrack, 115 tooth, Gates
CRANKS:Alloy single 170mm 130 53t crank w/chain guard
HEADSET, THREADLESS:1 1/4" BF Threadless cartridge, alloy, black
HUB FRONT:SRAM 406 32o front disc black
HUBS GEARED R:Nuvinci 32o, black (w/ shifter, disc brake) (135)
MISCELLANEOUS:BF Head Badge Brass -Yellow,Navy,White, w Gold trim
PEDALS:None supplied std. 
RIMS:Alex X-101 Alum (406) 32o 20 x 1.5" Silver
SEATPOST:Kalloy #243 Sil adjust post 28.6 x 350mm
SHIFTERS/CONTROLS:Supplied with hub
SPOKES:Spokes DT 14 ga. Stainless w/ brass nip 
STEMS F:BF 25.4 Ahead for Adj Riser(we will size w/ bike)
TIRES:Primo Comet 20 x 1.35" (406) 100psi Blackwall tire
TUBES:20x1.125-1.5" SV (406x32-37)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Brooklyn Bicycle Company Driggs and Willow

2014 Driggs 7-speed in matte black. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Bicycle Co.
2014 Willow 7-speed in Columbia Blue
These steel city bikes from Brooklyn Bicycle Company have an MSRP of $750.00. Hat tip to Ed for asking us to check out BBC.

The Driggs looks very Rivish with the elegant crown fork and double top tubes (note the resemblance to a Homer Hilsen), so it's interesting that Rivendell's Grant Petersen is on BBC's Board of Advisors. The 2014 models come with cream-colored tires, vegan leather ergo touring saddles, and vegan leather grips.

Here are the specs for the Driggs 7:

  • Size: M, L
  • Weight: 28lbs
  • Colors: Matte Black, Denim Blue
  • Frame:  Lightweight 4130 CrMO Frame with Brooklyn Bicycle Co's Signature Double Top Tube, rear carrier & down tube braze-ons
  • Fork:  Brooklyn Bicycle Co. custom steel crown fork with fender & front carrier braze-ons
  • Front Hub: Sealed Bearing Alloy 36H
  • Rear Hub: Shimano NEXUS 7 Speed internally geared
  • Shifter:  Shimano NEXUS Revo 7 Speed Shifter
  • Pedals:  Brooklyn Cruiser Alloy City Pedals
  • Bottom Bracket: Square taper BSA English threaded cartridge bottom bracket with sealed bearings
  • Crank: 3 piece alloy with replaceable chain ring & integrated chain guard
  • Chain: KMC Zinc and chrome treated to resist corrosion and rusting
  • Saddle: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Vegan Leather Ergonomic Touring Saddle
  • Seat Post: Alloy with integrated seat clamp and micro-adjust
  • Handlebar: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Custom Upright swept back alloy handlebars & 180mm alloy stem
  • Headset: 1” Threaded Alloy, Semi-sealed with weather seal ring
  • Grips: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Custom Vegan Leather Comfort Grips with Alloy Accents
  • Front & Rear Hand Brakes: Tektro Dual Pivot Caliper with Tektro Alloy Hand Lever
  • Tires: Kenda Kwest 700x35 Cream Tires
  • Rims: Double Walled Alloy, 36H with CNC Machined Brake Surface
  • Spokes: 14G Stainless steel
  • Heavy duty alloy center mount kickstand, full front & rear fenders color matched to frame, pollished alloy rear carrier with integrated tie down loops

Saturday, February 1, 2014


A New York City citibike. Credit:
For me, the biggest surprise of the last 6 years was the way that bikeshare took off in the Washington, D.C. region and how it has spread to New York City and other cities in North America. Bikeshare is the ultimate in Bikes For The Rest Of Us.

Here's a must-read: David's post about his father, who had not owned a bike in 37 years, trying bikeshare. With bikeshare, you don't have to own a bike to reap the benefits of bicycling as basic transportation.

Honorable Mention: Folding bikes can be very useful in this age of multimodal transportation. Read Tom's review of his Dahon Eco-3.