Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fuji Nichibei Series

New for 2016, Fuji offers Sagres (top), and Cambridge (bottom)
For 2016, Fuji is offering this line of "retro-inspired steel bikes that pay tribute to Fuji's Japanese-American heritage."  Both the Sagres and Cambridge have an MSRP of $249.

Apparently, "Nichibei" translates to "Japanese-American."  Fuji actually started as the Nichibei Trading Company in 1899.  For more fun facts about Fuji's history, check out classicfuji.com.

The Sagres and Cambridge are cheap steel 7-speeds with fenders, chainguards, and wide 700 x 35C tires.  The styling is fairly elegant as well.  There is a third Nichibei model, the single-speed Sport, that's less interesting but still good basic transportation.

The Cambridge should not be confused with the Fuji Cambridge that we talked about here back in 2009.  That was a beautiful steel bike with an internal 8-speed hub. I hope Fuji will bring that one back even if they have to rename it.

Sagres specs:

SIZES17" (43cm), 19" (49cm), 21" (53cm)
COLOR(S)Forest green
FRAMEHi-ten steel city
FORKHi-ten steel
SHIFTERSRight/ Shimano Tourney Thumb shifter
CASSETTE14-28T freewheel, 7-speed
CHAINKMC 7-speed
WHEELSETAlloy rims 36H / nutted hubs
TIRES700 X 35C city
BRAKE SETAlloy caliper
HANDLEBARSteel slight rise city
STEMAlloy city
TAPE/GRIPStitched vinyl
SADDLEPadded city
EXTRASSteel fenders, kickstand

Cambridge specs:

FRAMEHi-ten steel step-through city
FORKHi-ten steel
SHIFTERSRight/ Shimano Tourney Thumb shifter
CASSETTE14-28T freewheel, 7-speed
CHAINKMC 7-speed
WHEELSETAlloy rims 36H / nutted hubs
TIRES700 X 35C city
BRAKE SETAlloy caliper
HANDLEBARSteel slight rise city
STEMAlloy city
TAPE/GRIPStitched vinyl
SADDLEPadded comfort
EXTRASSteel fenders, kickstand

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Soma Wolverine

The Soma Wolverine frameset includes fork and Tange IRD stainless steel sliding dropouts. Photo courtesy of Soma Blog.
The Soma Wolverine frameset is available from Soma Fabrications for $620.

We once had a commenter -- our resident curmudgeon, really -- who called himself "Al in Philadelphia." Whenever we posted about a bike like this one, Al would exclaim: "Why is this THING being reviewed on a site that calls itself 'Bikes for the Rest of Us'?"  I'm not even paraphrasing. Check out Al's comments on the All City Space Horse.

So for Al and anyone else who wonders why I consider this THING a bike for the rest of us, let me explain.  It all comes down to one word: VERSATILITY.

This Wolverine will take racks and fenders. It can be built up with an internal gear hub.  It is compatible with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive.  But best of all, it accommodates really wide tires.  According to Soma, it will fit 700 x 45 tires with fenders.

A Wolverine with racks and fenders. Courtesy: Soma Blog.

Bike tires are shock absorbers.  Skinny tires might make sense on racing bikes, but they make for an uncomfortable ride in the real world. Wide, fat tires are great for riding on unpaved surfaces as well as roads that are paved but strewn with potholes and bumps.  Wide tires are also useful when hauling cargo.  So get with the cush.

One more thing about this bike: the color.  We never talk about the color here, even though, let's face it, many bicycle (and car) purchase decisions are made on color alone.  The Wolverine is pumpkin orange, which brings to mind the bike that set the standard for versatility nearly 25 years ago: the 1993 Bridgestone XO-1.

By the way, there is a great review of the Wolverine on reddit: Soma Wolverine vs. Surly Straggler. It's recommended reading if you're interested in this bike

Here are the specs:

- Tange Prestige heat-treated CrMo front triangle; butted CrMo rear end
- Clearance for 700x45c tires w/ fenders
- Rear hub spacing:135mm
- Gates Carbon belt drive compatible
- Matching lugged flat crown fork Tange Infinity CrMo steel fork; double eyelets pannier rack and mini rack mounts (mini rack mounts not pictured)
- Braze-ons for rear rack and fenders (disc brake-compatible racks only)
- 1-1/8" size headtube
- Sizes:50, 52, 54, 56, 58. 60, 62cm
- 4.79 lbs (frame); 2.3 lbs. (fork, uncut steerer)
- Color: Pumpkin Orange
- Compatible with Paragon Machine Works "flat/flanged sliding dropout" replacement inserts (Rohloff, Single Speed, Direct Mount, Thru Axle)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Viva Juliett

The Viva Juliett is a Danish-made 7-speed.

The Viva Juliett is currently on sale at Nashbar for $970.  Viva is a small Danish company that was started in 2006 by Lars Andersen.

First I was struck by the beauty and elegance of this bike: the intricate design on the chaincase, the spokes on the rear fender where, traditionally, the skirt guard/coat protector would be, the rear carrier which appears to be wound with bamboo.  Then I was impressed that it's available for less than $1,000.

The Juliett comes with dynamo lights and roller brakes (which should make Mr. Hembrow happy). Here are the specs:

CRANKSETViva Classic
CHAINRINGS42 t alloy
CHAIN COVERViva Signature alloy cover
BOTTOM BRACKETCartridge bearing, allen bolt
PEDALSViva classic pedal
RIMSViva 700c alloy
FRONT HUBSturmey Archer drumbrake/dynamo
REAR HUBShimano 7 speed Rollerbrake or 3 speed coaster
TIRESchwalbe Delta Cruiser. Kevlar on Entry model
INNER TUBEPresta valve
SADDLEGyes leather saddle. Vinyl on entry models
SEATPOSTAlloy 26,2 mm
CARRIERViva design alloy

Monday, January 4, 2016

RoadAir Mini Pump

The RoadAir Mini Pump is currently available on amazon for $30.

RoadAir sent me this pump to test out and review.  Before I get to my review, I'd like to rant a little about pumps and bikes for the rest of us.

We here at Bikes For The Rest Of Us have high expectations when it comes to what should come standard on a bike.  Not long ago, Joseph started a list: fenders, chainguard (or chaincase), baskets and racks, gears, lights, brakes, lock, kickstand, bell.  I would add to that list a pump and pump peg or holder.  That used to be a standard feature on English bikes and it should be standard today. Car buyers would be dismayed if their new car did not come with a spare tire, jack, and tire iron. Why do we allow bicycle manufacturers to get away without providing the basics to deal with flat tires?

Back to reality: Most bikes sold in the USA do not come with pumps or even a pump peg to hold a frame pump.  So the essential flat tire kit for your bike bag should include a spare tube, patches, rubber cement, and a mini-pump.

I have tried out many mini-pumps over the years and eventually settled on one that was made by crankbrothers (they don't appear to make it any more).  I tested the RoadAir pump against the old crankbrothers pump.

Crank Brothers vs. Road Air. Both are less than 10 inches in length.

There are certain issues that a designer of a mini-pump has to confront.  First, there are two types of tube valves -- presta and schrader -- and the pump has to work on both of them.  My crankbrothers pump dealt with this issue with a dual head, with one side for presta and the other for schrader. You just rotate the pump head and lock it onto the corresponding valve type.  The RoadAir has a standard schrader head, but comes with a presta valve adapter.  The presta adapter is stored inside a compartment in the handle, along with a tapered nozzle and a pump needle.  This is a nice touch.

A compartment inside the pump handle holds a presta adapter, needle, and tapered nozzle.

Another issue for mini-pumps is their miniature nature (both RoadAir and crankbrothers are less than 10 inches long). Their short pistons can only pump so much air, so typically it takes a lot of work to re-inflate your tube after it's been patched.  I liked the crankbrothers pump because I could get a comfortable grip on it.  The RoadAir pump has a feature that I haven't seen before: there is actually a hose inside that you pull out and connect to the tube valve. This allows you to pump without having your hands between the spokes.  I had no trouble getting to 80 PSI (on amazon, RoadAir states that its mini-pump can inflate to a maximum PSI of 90-110).

A flexible hose pulls out from the RoadAir pump, making it easier to reach the valve.

For what it's worth, the RoadAir is lighter than my crankbrothers pump. On the other hand, the RoadAir does not come with a pressure gauge or a protective case, so that lessens the weight.  I plan to continue using the RoadAir to test out its durability and will update this review at some point.

In the comments, tell us about your pump and why you like it (or don't).

Monday, November 30, 2015

Breezer Downtown 8

Breezer Downtown 8. Photo courtesy of breezerbikes.com
The Breezer Downtown 8 has a MSRP of $609.

We've talked a lot about Breezer's Uptown models.  They are fully-dressed aluminum commuter bikes that come standard with a full chaincase, fenders, rear rack, internal gear hub, and even dynamo lights.  So it would be hard for Breezer to top that.  Unless...

Unless you really like the feel of steel.  Downtown is Breezer's classic chromoly steel town bike.  It comes with a chainguard, fenders, rear rack, bell, and Shimano Nexus 8 IGH.  The only thing missing is the lights.  It would be even better with lights, but you can add your own battery-powered lights.

Here are the full specs:

SizesS (48 cm), M ( 52 cm), L (56 cm), XL (60 cm)
Color(s)Gloss Red w/ Cream
Main frameBreezer Chromoly Steel, Dual Water Bottle Mounts
Rear triangleBreezer Chromoly Steel
ForkBreezer Steel
CranksetBreezer Aluminum, 38T
Bottom BracketVP-BC73C Cartridge-Style
PedalsAlloy Body, Chromoly Axle
Front derailleurna
Rear derailleurna
ShiftersShimano Nexus 8 Revo-Shift, 8-Speed
CassetteShimano, 18T
WheelsetBreezer Aluminum Front / Nexus 8 Rear 36H Hubs, Vera DPM18 Aluminum Double-Wall GSW Rims
TiresVera CityWide, 700Cx35 w/ Puncture Protection
Brake setBreezer Aluminum Linear Pull, Cold-Forged, Stainless Hardware
Brake leversBreezer Aluminum, 4-Finger Ergonomic w/ Kraton Grip
HeadsetFSA Sealed, 1 1/8", Threaded
HandlebarBreezer North Road Aluminum, 25.4, 26mm Rise, 590mm Wide, 33° Sweep
StemBreezer Aluminum, 25.4, Quill-Style
Tape/gripBreezer Perforated Comfort
SaddleBreezer Comfort
Seat postBreezer Aluminum, 27.2mm
FendersSteel, Stainless Hardware
Rear CarrierBreezer Tubular Aluminum w/ Spring Clip
AccChainguard, Kickstand, Bell
Weight, kg/lbs15.37 kg / 33.81 lbs

*Spec subject to change without notice


S (48 cm) M (52 cm) L (56 cm) XL (60 cm)
Seat Tube / Center To Top A
480 520 560 600
Top Tube - Effective C
590 600 610 630
Head Tube Length D
140 155 170 190
Seat Tube Angle E
72.5° 72.5° 72.5° 72.5°
Head Tube Angle G
71.5° 71.5° 71.5° 71.5°
Chainstay Length H
457 457 457 457
Wheelbase I
1071.1 1081.8 1092.5 1113.3
Bottom Bracket Height J
271 271 271 271
Fork Offset K
45 45 45 45
Standover Height O
774.8 791.8 824.6 851.2
Stem Length

80 80 100 100
Handlebar Width

590 590 590 590
Crank Arm Length

170 170 170