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.”

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 chainguard, 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.