Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bikeshare

A New York City citibike. Credit: citibikenyc.com
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.

Linus Roadster 8


Linus Roadster 8 and Linus Mixte 8. Credit: linusbikes.com
In that first post, that manifesto, I expressed a yearning for "bikes with function and style." Linus has answered the call.

Linus based its designs on French bicycles of the 1950's and 60's. They are simple and utilitarian, but what makes them stand out is that they are elegant.  Tom wrote about Linus in this 2010 post. He noted that the "sweetheart of the bunch is the mixte," which at the time was not available as an 8-speed. Now it is (I did an update on the Roadster 8 in 2011).

I should also point out that Linus does mixtes the right way, perhaps due to that French influence. The Linus mixte meets Sheldon Brown's definition of the term.

Honorable Mention: Public Bikes. Also striving for elegant and utilitarian.

Handsome Devil

Complete Handsome Devil build. Credit: handsomecycles.com


The guys who started Handsome Cycles were inspired by Grant Petersen, who runs Rivendell and who worked for Bridgestone USA from the mid-80's to early '90s.  In particular, the Handsome guys were inspired by Petersen's 1993 Bridgestone XO-1, which they now offer a replica of called the Handsome XOXO.   

The mainstay of Handsome Cycles, though, is the Handsome Devil, which debuted in 2009 and which I wrote about here. Tom now owns a Devil.



Why did Tom choose a Handsome Devil over the Surly LHT and other bikes? He wrote about that here. Recommended reading.

Honorable Mention: Grant Petersen's Rivendell Atlantis, which I wrote about here. In his recent article "What bike should you buy?", Hiawatha Cyclery's Jim Thill wrote: "The Atlantis taught me a lot of what I now believe to be important characteristics of any bike that fits my needs and personality."


Yuba Boda Boda

Yuba Boda Boda LUX. Credit: yubabikes.com


A bike that can carry stuff is a useful bike.  A bike that can carry a whole lotta stuff is a whole lotta useful. The Yuba Boda Boda is a whole lotta lotta useful.

Cargo bikes are well-established as a great option for those who wish to live carfree. The problem with cargo bikes is that they’re heavy. You wouldn’t want to lug them up and down a flight of stairs. Yuba tackled the flight-of-stairs problem with the Boda Boda by making the frame from lightweight aluminum and more compact than the typical cargo bike. In 2012, Outside Magazine named it the best $1,000 utility bike.

Oh, and we can add the Boda Boda to Edwin's list of bikes that come with dynamo lights.  The Boda Boda LUX comes with Shimano dynamo-powered Spanninga LED headlights and taillights.

Here is my 2013 write-up on the Boda Boda.

Honorable Mention: Yuba Mundo.  The Mundo is a full-fledged cargo bike that David wrote about back in 2008, and Tom did an update on in 2010.

Breezer Uptown 8


2014 Breezer Uptown 8. Credit: breezerbikes.com
In the beginning, there was Breezer.

When I first started Bikes For The Rest Of Us, Breezer was the U.S. company that stood out from the crowd. The first bikes I wrote about back in 2008 were Breezer's 3-speed Citizen and 8-speed Uptown. The Breezer Uptown 8 easily qualifies for my Pick Six.

If you look at the pictures, it's obvious why the Uptown stands out:

full chaincase!

fenders!

rear rack included!

internal gear hub!

But there's something else that distinguishes Breezers. Do you see it?

With Breezer transportation bikes, dynamo lights are standard. The Uptown has a Shimano 3W front hub that powers Busch and Muller headlights and taillights. So, when Edwin did his Lights for the Rest of Us piece on bikes that come with dynamo lights, Breezer really stood out.

As E. Williamson commented: "Breezer -- whatever model you like, for their lone promotion of dynamo lighting within the American market."


Beginner Cycling agrees:


You should also read Tom's test ride review in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Breezer Uptown Infinity.


Surly LHT

Surly's Disc Trucker. Credit: surlybikes.com
If you had to classify it in the wild, you would call Surly's Long Haul Trucker a touring bike. It is, in fact, one of the most versatile bikes on the market today and easily makes our Pick Six list.

As David wrote in 2010, the LHT is "a good jack-of-all-trades bike: reliable transportation, fitness machine, social lubricant, and access to power." 

Surly has actually improved the LHT since 2010 by providing more options. You can choose between canti or disc brakes, and Surly now offers a wider range of frame sizes that will take 26" wheels. 

In telling us about her LHT a few months ago, Sally wrote: "Boy, talk about a practical bike. Wide 26" wheels, front and back racks, disc brakes (did I mention it rains in Oregon?) and built to haul almost anything."

The LHT was one of the first bikes that came to mind when I decided to do this Pick Six project and, not surprisingly, it was quickly nominated in the comments and on twitter.

Rev. Dick of Church of the Sweet Ride commented: "I nominate: whatever you got. If you don't got nothing, I nominate a Surly Long Haul Trucker. Value and options."

And here's the coffeeneur (of Chasing Mailboxes):




Jim Thill, co-owner of Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis, recently blogged on the topic of "What bike should you buy?" He called the LHT (as well as the Cross-Check) "classic picks." I can no longer find it on the internet, but Jim once recommended that we all stockpile LHTs for the coming oil shortage apocalypse. I can picture it: All those LHT owners riding past abandoned SUVs and cars on the expressways.

Honorable Mention: Surly Troll. Also extremely versatile.  I wrote about the Troll when it debuted in 2010.




Six




Today marks the 6th birthday of Bikes For The Rest Of Us. During those six years, we’ve posted about bikes that are useful and meet certain loose criteria set out in the first post on February 1, 2008.

Since that time, I’ve often been contacted by people seeking recommendations.  My response is always to ask them questions: What is your budget? Where are you going to ride? Is it hilly or flat? Wet or dry? What do you want to carry? (we once had an inquiry from someone who wanted to carry something very old and delicate). In those conversations, many of which you can browse through here, I was reluctant to make specific recommendations.  In my view, bicycles are a matter of personal preference. Everything from handlebars to saddles to frame geometry really depends on your preferences.

So to be clear, what I’m about to do here is entirely subjective. I am going to point out six bikes from the last six years that I thought really stood out from the rest.  I have considered your nominations in the comments and on twitter. I hope the conversation does not end here. Let me know whether you agree or disagree with the six I’ve chosen.  And always, let me know about bikes for the rest of us.

Here we go. Six bikes…