Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dutch Bikes - Delivered?



More Local Bike Shops are offering practical transportation bicycles with classic styling in North America every day. There are now many US brands that offer practical transportation bikes, but for some there is no substitute for an imported fully dressed Dutch Bike. US Shops like Clever Cycles, Dutch Bike Co, and Adeline Adeline are importing Dutch Bikes to the US and providing a high quality retail experience to go with them. Unfortunately most of us don't live within driving distance of these shops.

What if you could get Dutch Bikes delivered right to your door? There's great risk it buying a bicycle sight-unseen, but perhaps if you've had a chance to ride one elsewhere you'd be more willing to take the plunge.

Two direct-ship Dutch Bike suppliers, And Dutch and Dutchie Bikes offer such direct-to-consumer services. In addition to a line of contemporary city bikes, kids bikes (including kids classic styles), chainless bikes and folders, And Dutch offers Burgers brand classic town bikes starting around $700 (with free shipping). The best part is that they have a variety of sizes, styles and gearing combinations (up to 8 speed). These bikes have all of the standard features like locks, lights, chaincase, steering stabilizer, racks, coatguards, etc; And Dutch assures me that these bikes include front brakes (not shown in photos). It seems reasonable that you'd want to swap out the front wheel for a dynohub/drum combo at some point, though.

And Dutch Bikes - Burgers Cargo Gents (below), Burgers Nostalgia Basic (above):

Dutchie offers two models starting at $600 (shipping starts at $49). You can choose between a loop frame and diamond frame, with single speed or 3-speed gearing. In the diamond frame you can get any color and size you want as long as it's black and 57cm. Dutchie bikes are equipped with dynohubs and front rim brakes.

Dutchie 'Chic' model:


What about quality? We can't speak to the quality of these bikes, but maybe we can get some models to test and post a full review. If you mail order you won't be able to take the bike to a local dealer for a post-purchase tune-up. What are your thoughts about the availability of fully-dressed city bikes in your area? Would you buy Dutch direct?


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas BFROU Toys

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Bikes For The Rest Of Us! Wishing you many bikey gifts this season. In my case, it's a Velo Orange gift certificate and some Smartwool shirts and socks. Woo Hoo! Time to go take a ride on the Urbana!

I also like this BFROU toy spotted by Cyclelicious!



Made In Bali

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hardworking Bicycles of Singapore

These photos were shared by reader Austin C. who captured them while in Singapore. You'll see headbadges for Phoenix, Unicorn, Golden Lion and Flying Pigeon in the slideshow below.
Austin is a former bicycle mechanic who has spent some time wrenching on Bridgestone bikes in the 1980s. I'm hoping he'll share some photos of his own bike fleet with BFROU.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Felt Verza

The 2012 Felt Verza City 1, MSRP $1,149. Credit: Felt bicycles
A few years ago, Felt caught my attention with its “Cafe” bikes, which we talked about here.  This year Felt introduced its Verza City bikes.  For 2012, the Verza City 1 is back, but Felt has also greatly expanded its Verza line.  

Before we go any further, I have to ask: What does "Verza" mean?  It sounds Italian, but according to google translator, “Verza” is Italian for “savoy cabbage.” See if you can figure out what Verza is all about after watching this cabbage-free silent promo ad from Felt:




For 2012, Felt is offering three types of Verza bikes: Path, City, and Regency. The Path bikes are aluminum hybrids with suspension forks. Enough said about that. The Verza City and Verza Regency bikes are much more worthy of our attention.

The City 1 is a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame with a Shimano Alfine internal gear hub, disc brakes, fenders, and a rear rack that matches the frame. The MSRP is $1,149. Here are the specs:

• Frame: Felt Verza-City design, 6061 aluminum, hydroformed TT, double butted TT/DT, rack braze-ons, IS disc brake mount w/integrated kickstand mounting holes and replacable derailleur hanger

• Fork: Felt alloy unicrown and legs w/ 1-1/8"" Cr-Mo steerer, IS disc brake mount, low-rider braze-ons and fender eyelets

• Drivetrain: Shimano Alfine IGH rear hub w/Rapid Fire shifter, Felt forged alloy crankset w/chainguard, Sram 8-speed 11-30T cassette

• Components: Shimano mechanical disc brake, Felt Verzatile handlebar, Felt MTB oversized 3D-forged design 7 dregree rise stem, Felt Alloy post, Felt Verza City design saddle

• Wheelset: WTB Double Duty XC doublewall aluminum 36H rims, Shimano Centerlock disc mount w/QR front hub, Shimano Alfine IGH w/Centerlock disc mount rear hub, Stainless 14g spokes

• Accessories: Rear alloy rack

• Finish: 1) Warm Putty

• Sizes: S (16""), M (18""), L (20""), XL (22"")

• Weight: Not disclosed


The Verza City 2 comes with a rear derailer instead of an IGH, but still has front disc brakes, fenders, and a rear rack. The MSRP is $749.

2012 Felt Verza City 2.  Credit: Felt bicycles.

The Verza City 3 is a basic hybrid for $600.  I would definitely splurge and get a City 2 rather than City 3.

Our readers who are fans of Dutch bikes and style (if you're unfamiliar with the Dutch bikestyle, check out our friend Amsterdamize  ) will be interested in the 3-speed Verza Regency , which are “based on the traditional Dutch bikes that are popular throughout the Netherlands...” These bikes are all steel, baby, and come with fenders, rack, and a chaincase! Some nifty extras: saddlebag, safety bell, and mounted cup holder. The women’s model comes with a straw basket!

Felt Verza Regency step-through. Credit: Felt bicycles




Both men’s and women’s versions are MSRP $699. Here are the specs on the men’s bike:

• Finish: 1) Gloss Black

• Sizes: L (21""), XL (23"")

• Weight: 33.08 lbs

• Frame: Dutch geometry w/Cr-Mo main frame (HT, DT, TT), hi-ten rear triangle (CS,SS), hi-ten Lugs, kickstand mounting plate, water bottle braze-ons and integrated seat post clamp

• Fork: Cr-Mo steerer and oval shaped curved legs for 700c w/double eyelet dropout

• Headset: Traditional non-integrated 1"" steel headest w/CP finish

• Stem: Steel quill type stem w/220mm long and 30 degree rise, CP finish

• Handlebar: Steel w/CP finish, 46 degrees of sweep and 66mm of rise

• Grips: Felt super soft rubber, 2-piece twist shifter grips

• Bar Ends: Felt Bottle Cap bubble-tech bar end plugs

• Shifters: Shimano Nexus SL-3S35E Revo twist shifter for 3-speed IGH Shimano hub

• Crankset: PRO-B36 w/1/2"" x 1/8"" steel ring and alloy arms with no chainguard

• Chainwheel: Steel 38T 1/2"" x 1/8""

• Bottom Bracket: Sealed cartridge 68mm bottom bracket

• Pedals: Cruiser/comfort design, CP steel body and cage w/black rubber tread blocks, 9/16"" Boron axle and loose ball bearings

• Chain: KMC Z410 1/2"" pitch x 1/8"" width

• Freewheel: Shimano sprocket for internal hub 18T, black

• Brake Levers: Dia Compe alloy brake lever for caliper brake

• Brakes: Alloy single pivot side-pull caliper front brake and coaster brake rear

• Cables: Felt slick cables

• Saddle: Felt Dutch style comfort saddle w/coil springs, custom rivets and steel rails.

• Seat Post: Felt alloy single bolt head, 25.4 X 300mm

• Seat Post Clamp: Integrated into frame

• Rims: Single-wall aluminum, 700c, 36H

• Front Hub: 5-window alloy hub w/cap nuts, 3/8"" threaded axle

• Rear Hub: Shimano Nexus 3-speed w/coaster brake

• Spokes: Stainless 14g w/Brass Nipples

• Tires: Kenda 700 x 36c tires w/reflective strip on sidewalls and puncture protection, Schrader valve inner tubes

• Fenders: Full coverage Dutch style alloy fenders

• Kickstand: Alloy two-leg adjustable height kickstand

• Accessories: Rear alloy rack, saddle bag, full coverage w/stamped detail chaingaurd, safety bell and Felt handlebar mounted cup holder

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dahon Eco 3 / Traveler Front Rack



This is a review of both the Dahon Eco 3 and the Dahon Traveler Front Rack. The Eco 3 was on my bike wish list because I wanted something that was easier to tote around in the car but substantial enough to carry my near 200+ lb commuting load to work (15 miles round trip). My other bike is a Torker Cargo T which doesn't ride in the car anywhere. Sometimes the social rides or bike events I want to attend are closer to the city, so the Dahon extends my range by allowing me more multi-modal trips in from the suburbs. In practice I've used the Dahon for a charity ride, bike light giveaways, commutes to work and making Redbox runs at the beach
.
The Eco 3 is the budget model for Dahon and was priced at about $380 in 2010. It has a 7-speed and a chunky-looking aluminum frame that doesn't have chainstays. It comes equipped with plastic fenders, v-brakes, a straight handlebar (proprietary) with comfortable grips. The bike folds in half, which isn't a tiny package; however, the 20-inch wheels with 1.75 width tires smooth out the ride. I can't imagine have skinner tires or smaller wheels without some sort of suspension. Then again, my other ride has fat tires and a sprung saddle.

The biggest challenge was finding a way to carry stuff on the Dahon. I know, being a pack mule is not the prime purpose of the bike, but I really don't care for backpacks. I also found the backpack put too much weight to the rear of the bike. I wanted a way to carry a load on the front of the bike. There are Other Dahon models have a block on the front of the frame to accept a luggage truss. I really wish my Dahon had this feature, as seems less of a compromise for carrying a load. I looked into the Rixen & Kaul quick-release luggage (suggested by Richard at Cyclelicious), but I couldn't find what I wanted at a decent price. I settled on the Traveler Rack, since it's made for the bike and can carry small panniers.

The Traveler Rack is made from tubular aluminum. The bolts that shipped with the rack did not
fit in the recessed holes (head was too wide), and were too short to thread into the frame mounts (shared with the fenders). The mechanics at Bikes@Vienna found some bolts that worked and installed it for me. Note that the front brakes need to be completely disconnected as they thread through the rack. I wouldn't say the rack interferes with the brakes, but it makes the cable routing a little awkward. It's suboptimal. As you can see the rack fits a set of compact panniers, holding them low and forward of the center of the wheel.

In summary, the Dahon is a great entry-level folding bike. The 20" wheels give it a ride more like a hybrid bike, but the fold isn't as fast and compact as a 16"-wheeled bike. Adding a rack makes it a great commuter, if you don't mind the somewhat low gearing of the 7-speed. I'll also note that keeping a folding bike in your cube is a great way to get people talking about bike commuting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Terry Burlington

The Burlington from Terry Bicycles made its debut recently at the 2011 Interbike. Want to have a better look? Velouria of Lovely Bicycle has a nice photo of the Interbike display bike here. The Burlington is expected to be available in stores in late December and the MSRP is $749.

The Burlington (Terry is based in Burlington, Vermont) looks like a class act... it comes with fenders and a rear rack, both painted to match the frame. It also includes a kickstand, matching 26 x 1.5 tires, and a bell. Terry opted to go with a Shimano Altus 8-speed rear derailer rather than an internal gear hub. Here are the specs (click on the photo to make it big):


Essentially, The Burlington looks to be an upright, comfy, steel city ride. Terry's slogan for The Burlington is "Ditch the car and go green on our new commuting bike." The bike itself is green, deep evergreen, but it will also be available in pearl.

Georgena Terry founded Terry Bicycles as a brand of bikes that fit women. Women, on average, are smaller than men, and Terry typically offers smaller sizes. The Burlington will be available as small as 41 cm. Nevertheless, men can ride this bike, too, although they may want to swap the Terry Liberator saddle for something else (Terry is famous for its saddles that accommodate women's anatomy, but they sell men's saddles as well).

Still, it's great to see commuter bikes marketed specifically to women. There really aren't that many (Metaefficient had a nice roundup in 2010). Just as there is a gender gap in the sport of cycling, and there's a gender gap when it comes to riding bicycles for transportation. Elly Blue has an interesting commentary on the subject. With The Burlington, Terry is offering an answer of its own.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Locking Up Your Beloved Bicycle

I recently asked a friend who started bike commuting back in May how it was going. Not so well, it turns out. His rear wheel was stolen weeks ago and he hasn’t replaced it yet due to the cost. I asked him how his bike was locked. Apparently, he had a single U-lock through the front wheel and inside the diamond frame, secured to a sign post. I see bikes locked this way all over town, essentially securing the front wheel and frame but leaving the valuable rear wheel and hub (especially valuable if it’s an internal gear hub) up for grabs.

Similarly, a reader recently related to us how his bike was stolen:

The front tire was U-Locked to a bike rack and the frame cable locked to the U-lock and the whole set up was in the basement of my apartment building which is supposed to be locked all the time. Somebody got in somehow, cut the cable, stole somebody else's front tire and left me bike-less

This was an even worse lock-up job than my friend's, even though the reader used two locks! So before I talk bike locks, I implore everyone who loves their bike to brush up on how to secure it by visiting Sheldon brown’s “lock strategy” page.

Sheldon Brown Lock Strategy

Here’s a quick summary. You need two locks, a mini U-lock and a short cable. Here's Sheldon Brown's explanation:

The cable lock will secure your front wheel to the frame and any convenient object, and the U-lock will secure your rear wheel and frame. If you have a quick-release seatpost bolt, replace it with an Allen head bolt, and stop worrying about having your saddle stolen.

The U-lock can be a mini because it only needs to go around the rear rim and tire. It does not need to go around the frame as long as it is somewhere in the rear triangle.

Sheldon Brown demonstrates how to lock a bike. Credit: Sheldon Brown.

U-lock/Cable Lock Combos

I recently tested an Onguard lock that includes a mini U-lock and a cable.

Tested lock. Credit: onguardlock.com


Let’s concede up front that this is not going to be as good as two separate locks. Unless you bring a padlock for the cable lock, the thief only needs to defeat the mini U-lock. But most thieves don’t even mess with U-locks because, as the two incidents above illustrate, there's much easier prey to be found and bolt cutters are the tool of choice. Here's my Raleigh fixed gear, secured with the Onguard lock combo:

Secure: Neither wheel can be stolen without first defeating a lock. Click for big. Credit: freewheel

It was the only bike on the rack with both wheels secured!

I like the fact that Onguard is selling the mini U-lock/cable combo. It’s an acknowledgement that Sheldon Brown, as usual, was right, and it makes it convenient for the consumer to get what they need in a single purchase. If this becomes the industry standard, I think we’ll see less wheel thefts and fewer discouraged newbie cyclists.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Worksman NYC Dutchie Commuter

Worksman bicycles are made in NYC in a solar-powered factory. The NYC Dutchie Commuter is built to order with multiple colors, fenders, front drum brake, bell, you name it. They are now building them with the Duomatic 2-speed Kickback Hub, 3-speed or 7-speed IGH.
These are tough and simple bicycles. Most people don't really need a lightweight road or hybrid bike for daily commuting. The heavier the bike, the less you notice when you strap you laptop to the rack. Do you really want to "feel" that extra weight from the bottle of wine you picked up at the store? No, you don't.
Price is $299 in base (no fenders) single-speed configuration. A 7-speed with front drum brake, front basket, and fenders is about $700.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Advice: ISO New Bike After Last 2 Were Stolen

From the bikes4restofus@gmail.com mailbox, another request for advice.  You can advise, too, in the comments.

Hey guys,

Quick story: I'm a student at American University in DC (looking at your blog it looks like you're in the area too). Last Summer I decided it was time to ditch my old Giant Mountain Bike that I'd had since I was 14 and get something better suited for the area. I didn't, and still don't really, know a lot about bikes but I'm a patient, thorough shopper and I looked all over the place. I went to Big Wheel Bikes in Georgetown and also the bigger store in Arlington. I went to that other Georgetown bike shop I don't remember the name of. I went to Hudson Trail in Tenleytown. I went to the Bike Rack on Q st. And I went to District Hardware on L st.

Even though I didn't know much about biking, I quickly figured out what I wanted. I wanted a chainguard, backrack, and fenders. And I needed it to be able to get up Mass Ave because AU is at the top of the hill that is DC. I almost bought a Breezer for $900 but ended up buying the Raleigh Detour 3.5 for $370 from District Hardware.


Raleigh Detour 3.5. Credit: Raleigh USA

I added the backrack and fenders and the guys at DH were even able to put on a chain guard on it despite it being a 21 speed. I didn't even know that was possible. That got it up to $575 which was still a great deal. So that was a pretty great bike.

It was stolen last night. The front tire was U-Locked to a bike rack and the frame cable locked to the U-lock and the whole set up was in the basement of my apartment building which is supposed to be locked all the time. Somebody got in somehow, cut the cable, stole somebody else's front tire and left me bike-less (as a side note, I had my old Giant stolen last Summer too from the same basement but at least I already had the new bike. Fool me once...).

So I need a new bike or CaBi [Capital Bikeshare] membership. Any recommendations?

I know I still want the backrack, chainguard, and fenders. I'd like a light for nighttime but can add that myself. I'm indifferent about handlebars but I like to stand up while biking up hills sometimes (I remember one bike I tried made that really awkward).

Also, since many of my friends do not have bikes of their own, what are your thoughts on passengers on the backrack? It seems pretty common in Europe and I'd love to be able to have a pretty lady along for a ride. But the backrack I had wouldn't have been solid enough. So if you can consider that in your recommendation it would be greatly appreciated. Of course, if it is stupid and dangerous just tell me.

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work on the blog,

Ben

********************

Ben,

My condolences on the theft of your bikes. It's especially a shame that you lost your new Raleigh Detour. Unfortunately, bike thefts always seem to be more prevalent around campuses. For that reason, I usually recommend beater bikes to college students.

However, I like your idea about getting a CaBi membership even better.

CaBi is still expanding. A map of bike stations is available on the CaBi website.


I don't see how you can go wrong. You won't have to worry about storage or theft. After you dock the bike at a CaBi station, it's no longer your problem. There is a CaBi station in Ward Circle. While you're riding around on your CaBi bike, you can think about what bike you'd like to invest in for the long term, including your post-college days.

As for your last question, about having passengers ride on your back rack, that one's easy. Absolutely not. Even the sturdiest racks available, which are made for loaded touring, only have a weight capacity of 75 lbs. (regular racks can hold about 50 lbs). So unless your lady friend is an elf, you don't want to carry her around on your rack. Use your new CaBi membership to rent her a bike so she ride along with you.

Best of luck,

freewheel

p.s. - if you want more advice on your options, I can post this and you may get some helpful advice in the comments.

********************

Hey,

Thanks for the response. I would like to see if there is any more advice in the comments. Also, a quick update: it looks like I have about $1000 to spend and so far the bike I like best is actually the Raleigh Detour Deluxe. Kind of funny if I end up getting a better version of what I already had.
Ben

********************


My advice remains the same.  You can leave your suggestions for Ben in the comments.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Raleigh Port Townsend

Ready to roll. Credit: Raleigh USA.
The Raleigh Port Townsend is currently selling for $880 at REI.  There are many things to like about the Port Townsend: its retro, butted steel tubing, fenders are included, front rack is included (it has braze-ons for a rear rack), 9-speed bar end shifters, and cantilever brakes.  Basically, it's Raleigh doing the types of things that made Raleigh a well-respected name in bikes.

Here are the Port Townsend specs:

Sizes: 50, 53, 55, 57, 59cm

Frame: Reynolds 520 Butted Chromoly Tubing

Fork: 4130 Chromoly Cross

Cranks: Shimano Sora 2pc 34/50t

BB: Shimano Outboard Bearing

F.Derail: Shimano Sora

R.Derail: Shimano Sora

Shifter: Shimano DuraAce 9spd Bar-End

Br.Levers: Tektro R200 Aero Road

Brakes: Shimano BR550 Canti

Gear: Shimano HG50 9spd (11-25t)

Rims: Weinmann TR18 Double Wall

Tires: Vittoria Randonneur Touring 700x35c

Pedals: Steel Clips w/Leather Straps

Handlebar: Classic Aluminum Drop 26.0

Stem: Custom Chromoly Single-Bolt 26.0

Seatpost: Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2x350mm

Seat: Avenir Classic Road

Headset: Ahead 1-1/8" w/Alloy Cup

Colors: Black

Spokes: 14g Stainless MAC w/Alloy Nipples

Grips: Gel Tape

Extras: Fenders, Front Rack, Rack and Fender Mounts, Water Bottle Mounts, Cateye Reflector Set, Clear Coat, Owner's Manual

There have been some early reviews by the Bicycling Times (reviewer Adam Newman took it out on the C and O trail) and at EcoVelo.  It has also shown up in the 2011 gear guides put out by Momentum Magazine and Outside Magazine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Advice on Buying A New (Used) Bike

A treasure trove of used bikes at the Phoenix Bike Co-op in Arlington, Va. Credit: Phoenix Bikes.

Now that we've got our email address out there, we've been getting lots of mail requesting advice on bike purchases.  I'm always reluctant to get overly specific with bike-buying advice, because bikes preferences are so subjective.  In fact, that's one of the things I love about bikes -- there are so many options.

Here's something that may be surprising: When I respond to these emails (I can't help myself, I love talkin' bikes), I rarely recommend any of the bikes featured on our blog.  The fact is, there are so many used bike bargains out there.  Imagine, for a moment, that you're in the market for a car, you respond to an ad on the cars/trucks section of craigslist, and you have the following conversation with the owner after checking out the car:

Buyer: Wow, your car seems to be in mint condition.  It looks like it's never seen the outside of your garage!

Seller: Actually it's been out a few times, but only for short drives around the block.  But then I got busy with ping pong and other hobbies and lost interest in driving, so it's been sitting in my garage ever since.  At this point, I just want it out of here.  How does $50 sound?

Buyer: I'll take it!

A very improbable scenario for a car purchase, yet in the world of used bicycles, this conversation happens all the time.  I know, because I've been the buyer in that scenario way too many times.

Because these bargains are out there, I often ask people who are in the market for a new bike whether they would consider getting a used one.  Here's a recent email exchange I had with Eric from Indianapolis.  He's given permission to share, and maybe you'd like to chime in with your own wisdom in the comments.

**********

Hello,


I stumbled across your blog yesterday and have found it very useful and interesting! I could use some help in putting a bike project into action. I have a basic understanding of bike styles but am a little foggy on which direction to go. Here's what I'm after; a commuter bike that will be mostly on pavement, but could go off road on grass, dirt, or possibly even easy trail, something I would have to be afraid of being a little aggressive with. Here's a few parameters...

*My commute to work is 18-20 miles one way

*I want the bike to be as simple as possible in form and function

*The least amount of gears to handle a few moderate hills

*Able to be aggressive (mildly... no drops or jumping of logs!) off the pavement, as in cyclocross?

*Trying to avoid a suspension fork

*29's or 700c?

*Able to bear some weight, ie light touring

*I love flat black or gray! I would love to customize it as much as possible

*I have about $700 on the top end to put towards it, so I'm a little limited
So, If you think you could offer some pointers or stere me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate your advice!
Kind Regards,
 
Eric in Indiana
 
**********
 
Hi Eric,


Thanks for following our blog!

There are so many directions you could go based on your criteria. The first thing I would need to know is whether you are willing to consider a used bike. If so, you have many more options and your $700 will go a long, long way. For example, and this is just an example, you could get a rigid steel mountain bike from the '80s or '90s like a Stumpjumper or a Bridgestone MB-1. You could put on 26 x 1.50 slicks and it would make an excellent commuter.

Other questions:

What's your handlebar preference? Do you like drops, riser bars, flat bars? Do you want to ride upright or a bit lower?

How fast do you want to go? 18-20 miles is a lot of ground to cover; a sport tourer might be an option for you to consider.

Are you planning to ride in all types of weather?

How "moderate" are those hills? (I know Indiana is mostly flat, but I recall a few immoderate hills in places like Brown Co.)

Are you going to carry stuff on your bike? How much stuff?

I realize I haven't give you any answers, but I hope this helps you narrow in a bit more.

Regards,
freewheel
 
**********
 
Hey freewheel,


Thanks for the reply! I was hoping we could get a conversation going about this. I open to any option.. whatever will get me the best bike for the most efficient use of my limited cash! I am sure open to a used frame/fork and put a little more money into better components. I looked up the Bridgestone MB-1... that looks great. Now if I can just find one around here reasonably.

I'm thinking riding somewhere between low to upright, but closer to low. I've had drop bars on a bianchi road bike I had recently and I really enjoyed it, though for this one, I'm thinking more upright, but not cruiser up right. Does that make sense? I want to be comfortable but efficient. I'm leaning toward a flat or riser bar. Open to suggestions

As for the hills, I'm in Indianapolis. The hills that I would ride through are not to the level of Brown Co. hills, but a gear or two would be nice! I've been looking at single speeds a lot and I really like the simplicity of it, but I think a 3-5 gears would be prudent.

I'll cary some stuff. I'm a firefighter so when I go to work, it's for 24hrs. I can fit more overnight stuff in a back pack easily enough. I doubt I could fit my turn-out gear in any bag though! Luckily, I don't often have to transport that. I see a rack on the back and that's probably all I'd need. I'm thinking I'd put a milk crate on the rack to put the back pack or a water proof bag in, in case I don't feel like wearing the backpack, or to put a couple bags of groceries in.

Thanks again and talk to you later,
Eric

**********

I just found a bridgestone mb5 for $100....good bad or ugly?

Eric

**********

Eric,


Now I'm getting a clearer picture. You want to carry stuff, and you're going 18-20 miles. Based on that, I'd recommend a bike with a rear rack, and maybe a front rack as well. So you'll want to look for a bike that has braze-ons for the rack, or one that already comes with the rack attached (but avoid rear racks that attach to the seatpost). There should also be eyelets in the fork and in the rear for attaching a rack. In fact, the best set-up would be double eyelets front and back -- then you could run fenders and racks.

If it were me, I would invest in waterproof panniers and attach them to the rack. I wouldn't want to ride 18-20 miles carrying stuff on my back. That takes some of the enjoyment out of the ride. Here's a recent post by Tom called Bags for Bikes.

Also, I recommend investing in some lights so that you're visible in Indy traffic.


OK, so if you're looking for a bike that will take fenders and racks, or will come already set-up that way, that should eliminate quite a few bikes right there. A carbon fiber racing bike is lightweight and designed to go fast, but most of them are expensive, won't take fenders, won't allow for fatter, cushier tires, and aren't designed to carry stuff.

There are a lot of older steel road bikes that would work, but again, make sure you can attach a rack. Some of the so-called "entry-level steel bikes of the 70s and 80s don't even have pegs for a water bottle, which is another thing you'll want to carry along on your 18-20 mile commute.

Here's our post on buying a used bike, which was really just an excuse to re-publish Gene Portuesi's excellent article on the subject.

An MB-5 or something like it might work - I can't remember the details of an MB-5 but I'm pretty sure it will take a rack. You can replace the handlebars with whatever you want, including drops. There's some work involved, because you will need to recable the bike once you have the new handlebars in the position you want them.


One final piece of advice - test ride whatever you're thinking of buying and make sure it fits you well. There are a lot of bikes that will work for what you want to do, but a poor-fitting one will take the enjoyment out of riding.

Hope this helps. Let me know what you end up with!

freewheel

p.s. if you're OK with it, I could put our discussion up on the blog and you'll get a whole lot of free advice in the comments!

**********
Great!  Thanks, and please do put it up.  I'm sponging up info!  Eric

**********

OK, now it's your turn. What would you recommend for Eric?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Year and a Half with the Torker Cargo-T


Back in 2009 I was looking for the perfect transportation bike. I needed something that I could ride to work, a 7+ mile ride one way that's fairly flat. I wanted to be able to commute in my work clothes, so it had to have full fenders and a decent chain guard. Another requirement was a grocery getter since we have three grocery stores within a 3 mile radius. I ended up with a Torker Cargo-T ordered from a local Torker Dealer. 

The Cargo-T is a copy of the Batavus Personal Delivery Bike minus the galvanized frame, chaincase, wheel lock, dyno hub, rear roller brakes and other Dutch goodies. The Cargo-T was a discounted 2008 version that came with a Shimano 3 speed and coaster brake with a front roller brake.

What's worked:
  • The lack of rim brakes is great for the rain (and those lazy with bike maintenance). The front brake can lock up the wheel and just requires a little grease every 6 months or so.
  • I've thought about swapping out the 26x 1.95 Kenda tires, but they've held up well, soaked up bumps and are generally forgiving
  • I'm completely spoiled by the headset lock (keeps the front wheel fixed when parked)
  • The front and rear racks are beefy and they're used to carry adult passengers in Europe, so they shrug off bags of ice and gallons of milk.
  • The step through frame is great for mounting with a full load. I guess I'm spoiled now by being able to do sidesaddle moving dismounts.
Components that were replaced:
  • The double kickstand failed on the first use. Torker sent a beefier-looking replacement and has worked flawlessly since.
  • The pedals that came with the Cargo-T were plastic with a nubby rubber surface. The nubs were ground to a pulp after a few months. Apparently they were not made to withstand hiking boots in 20 degree temps.
  • The plastic rim tape was installed incorrectly that caused a flat. I've been meaning to replace the tape in both wheels but haven't gotten around to it.
  • The rear wheel was missing a spoke nipple. I'm told this *never* happens, but yep, I was missing one.
  • The chain guard has cracked so now the bike is missing part of it (see photo). It looks, um, not so great, but it works. I would like to replace with a full chaincase if possible.
Things I've added that work well:
  • I got the ultralight mirror after seeing it on Dotties Rivendell.
  • The tiny black bell that came with the bike is now on my folder. I've added a proper Crane brass hammer strike bell that really is louder with a nice long sustain.
  • I was excited that the Cargo-T has frame mounts for a wheel lock; however, I had to zip-tie my Velo-Orange wheel lock in place because it's too narrow for the mounts. Wheel locks are great on a big heavy bike like this one. I can't image fetching carryout with a U lock.
  • The bike now has three baskets... a Wald mountless basket zip-tied to the front and two Wald folding baskets on the rear rack. All are zip-tie mount. I can carry 4 bags of groceries now.
  • The MKS RMX pedals look great and do a better job of gripping tennis shoes than rubber-topped pedals.
  • I used the light mount on the front rack and some stainless hardware to make a Planet Bike Blaze mount.
  • The sprung vinyl saddle that came with the bike worked OK, but was a little, ah, swampy in the summertime. I'm (still) breaking in my VO Model 8 saddle. It's a little squeaky at this point but it looks fantastic.

Two questions I always get: "How much does it weigh? Isn't it slow with the three speed?" OK, so it's heavy, about 50 lbs with the current array of baskets. It isn't particularly slow unless your climbing. I've had people on road bikes, after catching up with me after a stop, comment on how I was riding "faster than expected for the bike." They may have meant "for someone not wearing lycra" but I'll let that go. I like the three speed, but have often wished for a 7 or 8 speed. You'll just be in a sub-optimal gear sometimes and have to push harder... not the end of the world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Urbana

An Urbana and a limo, both looking sharp, both illegally parked. Courtesy Urbana.

My first thought after checking out Urbana is that it looks a lot like the Capital Bikeshare ("CaBi") bikes, which I believe are also made in Canada. This observation is intended as a compliment - CaBi bikes aren't sitting unused in someone's garage. They are outside in the elements and are ridden by multiple riders on multiple trips every single day.

Haniya from Urbana has been after us to test ride an Urbana, and I promised I would, but I haven't had time recently. The fact that she is urging a test ride is a good sign; it means she thinks the bike will sell itself. Urbana is now available in the United States; in D.C. you can find them at the relatively new bike shop Bicycle Stations (which should not be confused with the CaBi bike stations).

While we have not given the Urbana a full test ride, it has been tested by other bike bloggers, including one of our favorites -- "Yokota Fritz." He has written about Urbana on Cyclelicious and Commute by Bike. He gives it high marks, and in fact he's commented that if he had to be limited to just one bike, it would be the Urbana. You can also find a review at Cycling for Beginners.

Here are some promotional materials and the specifications that Haniya sent to my co-blogger Tom:




Specs. Click for big. Courtesy Urbana.



If you have an Urbana or have tried one out, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ye Olde English 3-speeds

Meet Binnie. Courtesy: Mark.
Binnie is a 1930's Raleigh 3-speed that belongs to Mark in Charlottesville.

Most English 3-speeds were built with fenders and chaincases or chainguards, and an internal gear hub that can withstand the wet English weather.  They were built for transportation, and they were built to last. That's why so many of them are still around.

Nice touch - Binnie has a pump holder. Courtesy: Mark.

For more on English 3-speeds, check out Sheldon Brown's website, or better yet, listen to his September 25, 2005 podcast.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Linus Bags

While we're on the topic of Linus, did you know they also have a chic line of bike bags? 

This is from their 2011 catalogue:

From the 2011 Linus Catalogue. Click for big. Courtesy Linus Bikes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Linus Roadster 8

Linus Roadster 8. Courtesy Linus Bikes.
Linus Bikes has added this 8-speed roadster to its lineup up of simple and elegant bikes inspired by the French bicycle designs of the '50s and '60s (see our previous post about Linus here).

Full specs from the 2011 Linus Catalogue. Click for big. Courtesy Linus Bikes


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gran Royale

Sometimes readers write to us about bikes that might interest us. Daniel recently emailed to let us know that "Gran Royale has added two new and refreshingly basic-looking bicycles, the Union Flyer and Cogsville, to complement the Aristocrat they introduced last year I believe."

Gran Royale is an affiliate of Eastern Bikes, the BMX brand. Gran Royale has indeed been making the kind of bikes we're interested in: simple, inexpensive, and eye-catching. They remind me of the old Schwinn 3-speeds.

The Aristocrat is a 3-speed with a Shimano Nexus hub, coaster brakes, rack and bottle mounts, chainguards and fenders. It's currently offered on amazon.com for $550. Here's a look:




Click for big. Credit: Gran Royale website.
As Daniel mentioned, Gran Royale is now offering another 3-speed, the Cogsville.

Gran Royale Cogsville. Credit: Gran Royale website.
The Cogsville is all steel, and like the Aristocrat, it comes with a Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub and coaster brake, rack and bottle mounts, chainguard and fenders.  According to the Gran Royale website, it comes in black, yellow, red, blue or green, and in "medium" or "large" sizes.

Then there's the one-speed Union Flyer:

Gran Royale Union Flyer. Credit: Gran Royale website
The Union Flyer has the same features as the Cogsville, except it's a single speed. Gran Royale aptly refers to the Union Flyer as their "working class hero" bike.

In addition to these models, Gran Royale also has two fixed gear (or freewheel, your choice) models: the Lurker and the Creeper.

The Gran Royale Lurker and Creeper. Credit: Gran Royale website.
I think Gran Royale has done its marketing research. People love colorful bikes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Giant Escape City


I saw one of these in my local bike shop last night, but only one. If you go to a bike shop in Canada you'll see rows of similar bikes for sale. Most of them have an aluminum frame, triple front chain rings, 700c city tires, fenders and racks. The geometry is more hybrid than city bike, but in the case of the Giant Escape City it's pretty well equipped and comes in 4 sizes (and a women-specific model as well). It even includes decent platform pedals and a bell --just don't expect to jam huge panniers on that rear rack.

Specs: