Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Breezer Uptown 8

Breezer makes a line of fully dressed commuter bikes. The Uptown 8 has a Nexus red-band IGH with 8 speeds, fenders, rack and dynohub. It even has a full chaincase for trouble-free commuting. The frame is aluminum with a sloping top tube. 

I like that the B&M lights are both wired to the dynohub and have standlights (stay on after you stop). How many other bikes can you find that come stock with a ring lock, too? Oh, and thank you for making this bike with a proper quill stem so I can adjust it more than once.

I found this Uptown at my local Breezer dealer, Bikes@Vienna.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Workcycles Fr8

Fr8, the family version. Credit: Workcycles.
The Fr8, from Workcycles, is available from Clever Cycles for $2200, without racks or child seat.

The Fr8 is the "do-anything bike" at its finest.  Here's how Workcycles describes it:
The Fr8 (pronounced like "freight") is our modular, city-utility bicycle system.  It can be configured and outfitted for many heavy-duty purposes: delivery, industry or carrying kids and groceries.  Thanks to an enormously stiff, low instep frame, robust construction, sophisticated geometry and special carriers it does it all with ease.
According to Workcycles, the load capacity is 250 kg, or "one parent, up to 3 kids, and lots of groceries."  In other words, the Fr8 may be able to replace your minivan.

The Fr8 has been mentioned and photographed by EcoVelo and Brooks England. Also, here's a great write-up by Fr8 owner mamafiets.

Here are some specs:

• "Adaptive Seat Tube" quickly adjustable for riders of about 160-200cm

• TIG welded Chro-Mo frame and fork

• Heavy duty wheels with aluminum rims, 13g stainless spokes

• Vredestein Moiree or Schwalbe Big Apple tires w/ Kevlar antiflat belts

• Shimano front roller brake

• Hub dynamo, halogen headlamp, LED taillamp with standlight

• Fully enclosed chain-case, painted stainless steel fenders

• Wide double leg centerstand

• Stainless steel handlebar, stem and all hardware

For options, Workcycles says there are too many to list.  Here are a few important ones: Shimano Nexus 3-speed or 8-speed internal gear hubs; coaster or hand rear brake; Brooks leather saddle; city front carrier; long rear carrier; lock box; child saddle on frame behind handlebar; Trelock defender wheel block; bell.

In other words, Workcycles took everything useful and put it all on one bike.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Short Take On The Disc Brake

Is there a rotor in your biking future? Credit:
Disc brakes are the hot new trend for 2012 bikes for the rest of us.  For example, the 2012 Felt Verza City 1 comes standard with disc brakes, front and rear. 

The Verza City 1 - it's got all the latest gadgetry. Credit Felt.

Many other '12 models, especially cargo bikes, come with front only disc brakes (your stopping power is in the front).  And for the first time, Surly is offering its venerable Long Haul Trucker with disc brakes - the Disc Trucker.

A look at the Disc Trucker's rear rotor. Credit: Surly.

Of course, disc brakes have been around for awhile now on mountain bikes.  But for transportation bikes, this is something new.  In the midst of this change, Tyler at Bike Radar has raised some important questions, one of which is whether the trend toward disc brakes is driven by consumer demand or actual performance gain.  Interestingly, in introducing the Disc Trucker, Surly said it was responding to consumer demand, and said nothing about improved performance over rim brakes.

Here are a few reasons why, even though you've been getting along just fine all these years with ordinary rim brakes, you might want to consider a bike with disc brakes:

1. You ride in a place with a wet climate. Ordinary rim brakes don’t work as well when wet.

2. You ride in a place with hilly terrain. Disc brakes should help you stop better on a steep descent. "Should" is the key word. More on that in a moment.

3. You ride quite a bit off-road.  Mud and dirt can come between your rims and brakepads and diminish caliper brake performance.

4. You will be carrying heavy load and could use help bringing your fully-loaded rig to a halt. This is why we've been seeing front disc brakes on 2012 cargo bikes.
OK, but what about safety? That brings us back to Tyler at Bike Radar, whose disc brakes failed on a steep descent (scratch off reason #2, above?).  The first thing you'll see when you click the link in the next sentence is a photo of Tyler lying in a ditch with 5 broken ribs.  So...  Read Bike Radar first.  Then decide if disc brakes are for you.