Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Globe Daily 2

Brand: Globe/Specialized
Model: Daily 2
MSRP: $610

This bike is pretty darn good. Easy and not complicated. "Just a bike, ma'am."

It's got these great things:
  • Eight gears, plenty for most around-town riding, and a simple derailer drivetrain.
  • Long fenders. Really long. Really fabulous. Feet stay dry. Bike stays clean. Bike works better. Parts last longer.
  • Nice upright bars. The stem should be flipped so the bars a bit higher. An easy adjustment.
  • Cute rear rack.
There are a few things I would change/add:
  • The bell is ok, but I prefer "ring, ring" to "ping, ping." It should sound like the ice-cream man.
  • Add a basket in front. Does your suitcase have little wheels? Right, it's just easier. Baskets are easy.
  • Bolt-on lights, front and rear. Battery or dynamo, either way.
  • An alarm that sounds and gives the rider an electric shock when the bike is ridden against traffic. Y'all know this is the absolute most dangerous thing you can do on a bike, right? It is.


UPDATE: Wondering what the 2012 model looks like?  Montrose Bike Shop has an aptly titled youtube video:


Monday, December 20, 2010

Batavus Fryslan


Batavus produces many modern bike models with aluminum frames and components, but in North America, their classic Dutch style bikes have made the strongest impression. The Old Dutch model, which we previously mentioned, has striking good looks. But the coaster brake and single-speed set-up were not for everyone. In response to requests for a classic-looking bike with more versatility for hill American cities, Batavus designed the Fryslan, based on the Old Dutch frame, but upgraded with classic glossy black and gold paint, cream tires, roller brakes front and rear (operated by hand levers), and a 5-speed SRAM internal gear hub with a twist shifter. 

Like the Old Dutch, the Fryslan includes everything you would expect on a traditional European city bike: a solid galvanized steel frame, chromed steel swept-back handlebars, a vinyl chaincase and coatguard, steel rear luggage rack and kickstand, painted fenders, and a sprung saddle. It even has a rear wheel lock, a bell, and an elastic strap for the rear carrier. The gold details on the glossy black paint combine nicely with the cream tires and chrome handlebars. 

Surprisingly, the traditional-appearing lights are LEDs operated by batter, rather than by a dynamo. This is probably what most people expect in Canada and the USA, but its somewhat disappointing in this price range. The brakes and SRAM hub and twist-shifter are also modern and functional, but not as traditional appearing as the rod brakes on a Gazelle, or the drum brakes and thumb shifter on the Pashley. SRAMs 5-speed hubs have wide steps, similar to those on a 3-speed hub, which results in a total range from top to bottom which is similar to a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub, and should be adequate for moderately hilly terrain.

Batavus Fryslan - Classic
By Rain City Bikes
Generally the Fryslan is priced at $950, compared to about $825 for the 3-speed Old Dutch. This is more than what you will pay for a modern-styled, aluminum, made-in-Taiwan bike with these components. However, it is several hundred dollars less than the price of a Gazelle or Pashley in this style. Batavus keeps the price lower by using cheaper components, and by partially welding the frame and fork, instead of using labor-intensive lugwork as on more expensive steel bikes. Lovely Bicycle has an detailed post about these aesthetic compromises on the Old Dutch (which shares the same frame).


The Old Dutch 1-speed or 3-speed, the Fryslan 5-speed, the Favoriet (3-speed with hand brakes), and the 1-2-Have (3 speed with coaster brake) can be seen in this catalog by Fourth Floor Distribution catalog, the most official source I've seen. But note that this year the Old Dutch is a 3-speed, and there is no photo of the Fryslan, only a sketch:



Specifications:

Josef at Flying Pigeon LA was kind enough for confirm the components, which changed a little from the catalog. Right now, the Fryslan step-thru is on sale for $850 at his shop.


Frame:  Galvanized High Tensile Steel
Fork:  Hi Ten Steel, unicrown [Sorry, Lovely Bicycle]
Rims:  28" Van Schothorst stainless steel, 635 mm
Tires:  Cheng Shin Traveller Puncture Resistant [Cream]
Spokes:  Stainless steel
Front hub:  Shimano hub for front roller brake
Rear hub:  SRAM Spectro P5 [5-speed internal gear hub, with coaster brake]
Shifter:  SRAM 5-speed twist shifter
Handlebar:  Chromed steel, Dutch-style
Stem:  Chromed steel
Grips: Batavus comfort
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano Front roller brake, rear coaster brake
Saddle:  Paddled plastic sprung saddle
Seat post:  Chromed steel
Chainguard:  Full vinyl and steel chaincase
Kickstand:  Single
Fenders:  Painted steel
Rack:  Painted steel rear luggage rack, 60 lbs capacity
Lights:  Battery powered LED headlight and taillight
Extras:  Rear wheel lock (Trelock RS420), Bell, vinyl coat guard / skirt guard
Colors:  Black with gold highlighting
Sizes:  Step-thru 50 cm (20") and 56 cm (22"); Classic 60 cm (24")
Weight: 19.2 kg (43 lbs)
Price: $950 ($850 on sale)

With addition of Brooks leather saddle
Photo by Adeline Adeline

Frame Geometry

The Fryslan has the same frame as the Old Dutch, which copies the classic Dutch omafiets and opafiets (grandma and grandpa bikes). The seat tube and head tube angles are both around 67 to 69 degrees, which puts the seat far back from the pedals and leads to very stable handeling. The handlebars very high and far back, facilitating a bolt-upright seating position The wheels are 28" tall (635 mm) and heavy steel, and the frame is also large, leading to a smooth and steady ride. Shorter riders may be put off by the 56 cm "small" frame, which is more of a "medium" size, but riders as short as 5'2" should fit the smaller step-thru frame. Tall riders over 6' will be happy with the imposing 60 cm classic frame.


These are bikes meant for riding moderate distances in the city, in all kinds of weather, where good visibility, comfort and stability are more important than weight, twitchy steering or rapid acceleration. They are quite the opposite of a modern (racing) road bike. 

Reviews

Los Angeles Cycle Chic compared the Gazelle Toer Populair vs the Batavus Fryslan
Cecily Walker bought and reviewed the Fryslan, and has nice photos too. She also wrote a second review 2 weeks later .

Please leave any other reviews in the comments, and I will add a link or post here.

Gazelle (Front) and Batavus (Rear)
By Cosmo at Los Angeles Cycle Chic


Someone at Fourth Floor Distribution, the North American distributor, needs to take better photos of these bikes. In the meantime, check out Josef's Flickr page for a few more shots.


This one is nice, but a simple drive-side studio photo would be great:

Batavus Fryslan Classic
Bespoke blog, Fourth Floor Distribution

Friday, December 17, 2010

Novara Fusion

Novara Fusion - 2011


The Novara Fusion, designed and sold by REI exclusively, has been significantly updated for 2011. It is the high-end commuting and utility model, above the more moderately-priced Novara Transfer. When it was last reviewed in 2008, the Fusion had an 8-speed Nexus hub, roller brakes, and a dynamo-powered halogen headlight, on a diamond-shaped aluminum frame. Now the Fusion has a steeply angled frame, almost a step-thru design, made of 4130 chromoly steel, the hubs have been upgraded to a Shimano Alfine 8-speed rear and Alfine dynamo front, powering Basta Pilot LED lights, and the brakes have changed to mechanical disks. 

Oddly, a chain tensioner is included, which gives the bike an appearance of a derailer set-up, but the gears are internal. The steeply sloping top tube and the short accessory tube in front of the seat are unusual, but have the practical effect of allowing a low stand-over height and easy boarding, without appearing too much like a "ladies bike". 

This bike is still the complete package, with fenders, a chainguard, kickstand, and a well-designed rear rack, and at $949 it has a very reasonable price, considering the Alfine-group components, and the usual 10% discount available to REI members. A cheaper option is the Novara Transfer. In practice, after including a $20 membership, the bike costs $879.


Specifications:

Frame:  Chromoly 4130, TIG-welded, steeply sloped top tube with low-standover
Fork:  Chromoly pinpoint,  uni-crown, curved
Rims:  700C - Weinmann SEC-16 Alloy double wall
Tires:  700x35 Vittoria Randonneur, with reflective sidewalls and puncture guard
Front hub:  Shimano Alfine Dynamo, 36h
Rear hub:  Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal gear hub, 36h
Shifter:  Shimano Alfine RapidFire trigger shifter
Handlebar:  "Lee Chi" alloy, all-rounder bar
Stem:  Kalloy quill
Headset:  FPD threaded
Grips: cork-style
Crankset:   SR, 42t
Bottom bracket:  SR square taper
Rear Cog:  Shimano, 20t
Chain:  KMC Z99
Pedals:  FPD alloy platform
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano BR-M416-L, mechanical disc
Brake levers:  Tektro
Saddle:  Velo plush (foam paddled)
Seat post:  Kalloy
Chainguard:  Alloy, plus chainring
Kickstand:  Single, center-mount
Fenders:  Novara (Alloy)
Rack:  Alloy rear rack
Lights:  Basta Sprint dynamo-powered LED headlight with standlight capacitor, and Basta battery-powered LED taillight with sensor
Extras: Integrated bell
Colors:  "Coastal Gray" (blue-gray)
Sizes:  xs/s, s/m, l/xl


Frame Geometry


Frame SizeSmallMediumLarge
Height range5'3" - 5'7"5'7"-5'11"5'11-6'3"
Seat Tube Center-Center15.71820.5
Effective Top Tube21.522.423.6
Standover272828.5
Rear Center17.517.517.5
Wheelbase42.242.844
Fork Offset1.71.71.7
Head Tube Angle (degree)707070
Seat Tube Angle (degree)737272

The Fusion is a little more "relaxed" than standard North American "hybrid" bike geometry, probably with a 73 degree seat tube angle, 70 degree headtube angle, large fork rake, and medium-long chainstays. I would expect this bike to have stable handling, and it should be appropriate for a partially-leaned-forward riding position, but not a fully-upright position (without changing the stem and handlebars).  The design of the rear rack and the long chainstays should position panniers (saddlebags) far enough back to prevent heel strike. 

Sizing: Based on REI's usual sizing standards, the smallest frame should fit riders as short as 5' 3" and perhaps even shorter (if an upright riding position is desired), while the largest size should fit riders up to 6' 3" tall.

Reviews

There are few reviews of the Fusion for 2011, but many reviews of the previous model are available.
Wired Magazine has reviewed the 2011 Fusion
Let's Go Ride A Bike also had a test-ride in 2009
Commuting Cyclist bought a 2009 Fusion
The 6-Miler compared the Fusion with the Breezer in 2005; out of date but interesting

Has anyone tried out the new 2011 model? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kettler City Bikes

Kettler Nena - Blue


KETTLER is a German manufacturer of aluminum exercise items and furniture, including patio furniture, table tennis tables, kids toys, exercise machines, and bicycles. This bike, the Kettler Nena, is a good example of their line, and is currently on sale for only $760 with shipping, in the "Blue Nova" trim. (Regular price is $960)


Like all of the KETTLER bikes, the frame is aluminum, made in Germany(!), and the bike is designed for city use, with an upright seating position, a sturdy rear rack integrated with the frame, a 7-speed internal gear hub with coaster brake (in addition to front and rear v-brakes), front hub dynamo powering front and rear LED lights, and fenders, chainguard and kickstand. 


Although integrating the rear rack with the frame can cause problems, this one looks right, and should work for most panniers as well as truck bags and cargo on top of the rack. The front suspension fork and suspension seatpost are probably unnecessary with the wide tires, but the extra weight can be forgiven.


Another interesting feature is the KBS "Kettler braking system", which allows a hand-operated rear v-brake to be used with a rear back-pedal brake. There is only one hand brake, on the right-hand side, which operates both front and rear rim brakes. According to Kettler, "KBS prevents the rear wheel from locking when the back-pedal and rear-wheel rim brake are activated at the same time. The brake force is transmitted unevenly to both rim brakes. This prevents the second rim brake from taking full effect". 


While there are only a few retail stores selling these bikes in North America, several of the models are available directly from the manufacturer's website, or from online sellers such as Commuter Bike Store. Surprisingly, these aluminum alloy frames are made in Germany, and it appears the whole bike as also assembled there before being shipped to the warehouse in Virgina Beach. Bikes arrive partially assembled in a box; they claim all that is needed is to "turn and tighten down the handlebars, attach the pedals, adjust the seat and make sure there is enough air in the tires and you are ready to go", but we would recommend taking the box to a local bike shop for safe final assembly and a tune-up before riding.

Specifications:

Price: $960 shipped (Blue on sale for $760)
Frame: Aluminum 7005-K1 frame 47cm Step Through
Fork: Suntour CR 8V adjustable suspension fork
Shifter: Shimano Nexus twist shifter 
Rear Hub: Shimano 7-speed Nexus internal gear hub with coaster brake 
Front Hub: Shimano DH-3N20 dynamo front hub 
Crankset: Kettler Alloy 3-piece
Rims: 28" Alloy Rodi Hypno rims with 2mm Stainless steel spokes 
Tires: 28"Continental City Ride Tires [About 37 to 47 mm wide]
Saddle: Selle Royal Rio saddle [Foam padded plastic]
Seat Post: Kettler ALU RAD patented aluminum suspension seat post
Handlebars: Kettler Moon Cruiser handlebars [Alloy]
Stem: Aluminum adjustable stem [threaded]
Headset: Aluminum 1 1/8 semi-integrated headset 
Brakes: Front and rear Kettler V-brakes with KBS braking system, plus rear coaster brake
Pedals: Non-slip Kettler aluminum City pedals 
Kickstand: Single, center-mount
Rack: Integrated alloy rear rack [Welded to frame, painted]
Fenders: SKS thermoplastic fenders, with mud flaps
Chainguard: Resin, full-coverage
Lights: Front Basta Sprint LED headlight, Basta Riff tail light with standlight (capacitor)
Colors: Blue [on sale], Black, (Yellow, Green, Red - in Europe?)
Size: 47 cm only

Kettler Nena - Sun

Frame Geometry

Kettler does not list geometry, but it appears to have a moderate seat tube angle around 71 to 73 degrees, and a head tube angle around 70 to 71; the frame has extra room in front for a suspension front fork. Unfortunately, the Nena is only available in 47 cm size, which may fit men and women as short as 5' up to 6' (150 cm to 180 cm), but taller riders may be cramped. Taller riders might consider the Kettler City Cruiser, a similar bike with a diamond frame and slightly higher-end components. We will have details shortly.

Reviews:
The only review we have found is in German, but it is a very extensive review
Here is the English translation from Google, which is somewhat intelligible.
If anyone knows of other reviews, or had ridden this bike, please leave a comment.