Monday, July 30, 2012

Raleigh Clubman Mixte

2013 Raleigh Clubman Mixte. Credit: Raleigh USA
For 2013, Raleigh is offering its Clubman as a mixte.  At this point, the price is TBD (check with your local Raleigh dealer).

Back in 2008, when this site was just getting underway, Raleigh USA decided to recapture Raleigh's glory days by producing some steel models.  Every year since then, Raleigh has come out with a "new" steel model.  In 2010, it was the Clubman, a name that harkens back to the all-steel era of Raleigh.  (Peter Kohler has an article on the original Clubmans here.)

There are many vintage Raleigh Clubman mixtes still on the road, and in a quick internet search I found a few for sale.  The old Clubman mixtes were quality bikes, as demontrated by the fact that they're still around after 50 or 60 years.  Nevertheless, when Raleigh decided to reintroduce the Clubman, it did not offer it as a mixte.  That oversight will be corrected in 2013.

We talk a lot about step-through bikes, but the term "mixte" has a more technical meaning.  Here's how Sheldon Brown defined "mixte":

A style of lady's frame in which the "top tube" consists of a pair of small diameter tubes running more-or-less straight from the upper head lug, past the seat tube, and on to the rear fork ends. A mixte frame thus has 3 sets of rear stays, instead of the usual two. A variant on the mixte uses a single, full sized top tube running from the upper head tube to the seat tube, but retains the middle set of stays. A lady's type bike that lacks the middle pair of stays is not a mixte.
Mixte frames are stronger than conventional lady's frames, particularly in resisting the tendency of the seat tube to get pushed backward in the middle when ridden by a heavy rider.
In French, "mixte" is pronounced "MEExt", but normal U.S. bicycle industry pronunciation is "MIX-ty".
The 2013 Clubman MEExt has some nice retro stylings, such as a lugged fork, matching painted fenders, and a Brooks Swift saddle.  Given the retro-cool vibe I think Raleigh is going for, I'm a bit surprised that it comes with STI levers.  I would have gone with something more retro (what's wrong with downtube shifters?), but I'm sure that places me in the minority.  In any event, as I said before, you can still find vintage Clubman mixtes if that's what you're after.

Here are the full specs on the 2013 Clubman mixte:

Sizes: 50cm XS, 53cm SM, 55cm SM/MD, 57cm MD/LG , 59cm LG, 62cm XL 

Frame: Reynolds 520 Butted Chromoly Tubing 

Fork: 4130 Chromoly Lugged Road  

Cranks: Shimano Tiagra FC-4650 2pc 50/34t 

BB: Shimano Outboard Bearing 

F.Derail: Shimano Tiagra FD-4600 

R.Derail: Shimano Tiagra RD-4601 

Shifter: Shimano Tiagra ST-4600 10spd STI, Shimano SP41 Shift housing  

Br.Levers: Shimano Tiagra STI 

Brakes: Tektro R539 Dual Pivot Long Reach w/Cartridge Pads 

Gear: Shimano Tiagra CS-4600 10spd (12-30t)  

Rims: Weinmann TR18 Double Wall 

Tires: Vittoria Zaffiro 700x25c 

Pedals: Steel Clips w/Leather Straps 

Handlebar: Classic Aluminum Drop 26.0 

Stem: Alloy 3D Forged Ahead 26.0 

Seatpost: Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2x350mm 

Seat: Brooks Swift w/Chromoly Rails 

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

Colors: Ivory
Chain: Shimano Tiagra CN-4601  

Hubset: (F) Shimano Tiagra HB-4600 QR 32h (R) Shimano Tiagra HB-4600 QR 32h Cassette   

Spokes: 14g Stainless MAC w/Alloy Nipples 

Grips: Gel Tape 

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

Note: Specifications are Subject to Change

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TransIt Cameron

2010 Transit Cameron. Credit:Performance Bike
In this guest post, Adam Zipperer gives us his first impressions of the 2010 TransIt Cameron, which was on sale at Performance Bike for $549.  He had been considering the Torker Graduate "for the hub, non-rim brakes, and price." He felt that the Cameron might have a better hub.  Here is Adam's report:

Alright just got it in and immediately took it for a 10 or 12 mile ride.

At this price, the competition in my mind include the Torker Graduate and the Breezer Downtown.

The Transit Cameron features the following:

SRAM iMotion 9 IGH with grip shift Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes (the left brake lever has an integrated bell, cool!)

Full set of plastic fenders Chain guard Mount points for rear rack (I think a front would have to share the rear/bottom holes with the fenders, or mount with the skewer)

Adjustable angle stem

Performance has these on closeout right now for $550. I also considered the Graduate, but not the Breezer because it has rim brakes. I was really looking for something that was weatherproof. I think I'd prefer the Torker's drum brakes to these discs, but I can't pick too much.

So the pros and cons on my admittedly short first impression.


inexpensive (especially considering the hub)
semi-weather-proof brakes
pretty light frame
Comes with a bell
Comes with a chain guard, just a metal bar on the top part of the chain
Good gear range
Good upright riding position
Adjustable stem


Disc brakes make noise (when not braking). I'll try adjusting them to see if they do any better. I'm really not impressed with the braking power of the discs, they may get better with break in though

It has fairly wide tires (700x38), but the fenders just barely cover them width wise. We'll have to see with some rain how good they do.

The leather saddle looks neat (like a knock-off Brooks). It's REALLY hard now, and from what I hear, I can't expect much break-in

The black leather "grips" are cheesy, they slip and slide around

The bars are a bit too swept back for my taste, but I may get used to that.

The frame is stiff. Maybe it's just the stiff saddle, but I swear its the stiffest bike I own

In summary, I'm going to give the bike a few more days to convince me, but I think I may be returning it for a Torker Graduate.

Thanks, Adam. We look forward to an update!

Update from Adam:

After riding the Cameron a few more times, I decided it was not the bike for me. I'm not saying it's a bad bike. It's just not quite what I was looking for. As luck would have it, the LBS that sells Torker happened to have a Graduate on the floor and it happened to be my size (they haven't had a single Graduate since I've been looking for ~5 months). I'm very happy with it, excited in fact! It fits me better and that's important to me. 

There is no question in my mind that the SRAM 9 speed IGH on the Transit Cameron is a superior hub to the Sturmey Archer 5 speed on the Torker Graduate. The SRAM hub shifts smoother and has a wider gear range. They're also closer together making it easier to find the "right" gear. However, in my opinion, the Cameron needs probably a few hundred more dollars in parts and upgrades to provide the out-of-the-box goodness that the Torker does. For example, it would immediately need a new saddle and grips. 

Also, the disc brakes were pretty lousy. The drum brakes on the Torker Graduate are buttery smooth and provide superior confidence when riding in traffic. The Torker frame/wheel/tire/saddle combination is also significantly more comfortable as far as vibration is concerned. That could be entirely related to the better saddle on the Torker than the one I complained about on the Cameron, but I liked being able to buy a bike and immediately ride it (and plan to for months if not years) without making any changes whatsoever. Well, other than a Wald basket for "groceries" (and by that I mean exclusively beer).

I'd like to make a couple comments on the Torker Graduate, as I'd read a good many reviews before deciding on that bike. Firstly, I love the bike. It is awesome and makes commuting an enjoyable experience and not just a chore before getting to work. It's very comfortable, great upright (but not too upright) riding position. The bars are the perfect width, rise, and sweep for my style. The brakes are quite good, I can't wait til it rains so I can appreciate the lack of wet-rim-brake-squeal. 

I'm sold on the idea of IGH's for commuting bikes, shifting at a stop light/sign is just so nice. The only complaint I have about the bike is the Sturmey Archer 5 speed shifter. It shifts well, very direct and obvious engagement. But, the travel is a bit long, and mine is somewhat difficult to get into 1st gear. Just needs a little more effort than the others. That could just be the one I've got, or it could go away with break-in, time will tell.

All in all, for those on a budget, I would say the Torker Graduate makes the ideal commuter.

I'll leave you with this question: why don't more commuter/town/urban bikes have drum brakes? They seem perfectly suited for that application, but I really don't see them on any bikes!

Happy Riding,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Novara Transfer

REI's Novara-branded bikes have a reputation of being tough and reasonably priced.   The Transfer is one of their "fully dressed" transportation bikes. The bike includes fenders, rack, dynamo-powered lights, chainguard, etc. -- pretty normal for a bike sold in say, Germany, but rare in the US.

Not much has changed in this model since we mentioned it back in 2010.  This year they've added a single-speed option, Transfer One, with a coaster brake at a lower price.

I had a chance to ride a Transfer this spring.  I found the ride to be surprisingly upright and can be adjusted via the honest quill stem.  The internal hub is an older Shimano 7-speed but it's well suited to the bike and the shifts were solid and quick.  The 35mm tires were more narrow that I would have preferred, but least they have a reflective strip and are puncture resistant.   The frame has an unusual love-it-or-hate-it step-through shape, is made of steel and comes in three sizes.  As you may know I have a thing for step-through frames so naturally I love the Troll-like shape.

Monday, July 2, 2012

All City Space Horse

All City Cycles is reportedly selling its new Space Horse for $550 as a frameset or $1350 for the complete bike.

Nick, a new reader, brought the Space Horse to our attention. He said he discovered it in his search for a good all-around bicycle "to replace my racey road bike and bridge the gap between it and my mountain bike, consolidating down to a single cycle." It sounds like Nick has found The One.

According to All City, which also makes the popular Nature Boy, the Space Horse "is the most versatile bike in the AC lineup. It can handle front and rear racks, fenders, and has clearance for 42c tires. It also has our new custom semi horizontal dropouts which allow it to be set up geared or single." Hmmmm... perhaps it is The One.

Here is a review by Prolly is not Probably. And here are the specs:

Frame | All-City Space Horse 100% full 4130 ChroMoly steel. Double butted down, top, and seat tubes. Externally tapered, ovalized, and dimpled chain stays, tapered seat stays 130mm rear spacing, 1 1/8th headtube, English bottom bracket, 27.2 seatpost

Fork | All-City Space Horse 100% 4130 ChroMoly tapered fork blades, lugged crown and matching dropout.

Headset | Cane Creek S-10 Silver

Stem | Kalloy Silver, four bolt, 1 1/8th threadless, 31.8 clamp

Handlebar | Kalloy Silver, Classic bend, 31.8

Tape | Velo Cork Black Shift

Brake Lever | Shimano Tiagra 4600 10 speed

Front Derailleur | Shimano Tiagra 4600

Rear Derailleur | Shimano Tiagra 4600

Brake | Tektro R520 Silver

Crankset | Shimano Tiagra 4600 Silver, 50-34t

Bottom Bracket | Shimano

Seatpost | Kalloy Silver, 27.2mm

Saddle | All-City Gonzo Black

Cassette | Shimano Tiagra 12-30t, ten speed

Chain | Sram PC-1031 Silver

Hubs | Tiagra Silver

Rims | Alex DA16 Silver, 32 hole

Tires | Continental Contact 700 X 37c, steel bead

Tubes | Cheng Shin 700 X 32 Presta Valve