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As promised a couple of weeks ago, here’s the full review of the Breezer Uptown 8 bike that the folks at Breezer (thanks Paul and JT!) were gracious enough to let me borrow for a few months.
Here’s a good look at the specs from Breezer’s website:
Sizes: (17.5″), M (19.5″), L (21.5″), XL (23.5″) Low-Step: XS (15″), S (17″), M (19″), L (21″)
Color(s): Black Satin/Mineral Brown, L.S.: Black Satin/Cobalt Blue
Main frame: Breezer Custom Aluminum, Single Water Bottle Mount
Rear triangle : Breezer Custom-Tapered Aluminum, Horiz-In Dropouts
Fork: Breezer CrMo w/ CrMo steerer, V-Brake Mounts
Crankset: Shimano Nexus FC-NX75, 38T
Bottom bracket: VP-BC73C Cartridge Style
Pedals : Wellgo CO21 Aluminum Body w/Kraton top and CrMo Spindle
Front derailleur NA
Rear derailleur NA
Shifters: Shimano Nexus Revo, 8-speed
Cassette: Shimano, 18T
Chain: KMC Z-51
Wheelset: Shimano Dynamo 3N20 6V-3W Front Hub, Shimano Nexus 8 Premium Rear Hub, Alex DH19 36H Rims
Tires: WTB Freedom Cruz Elite w/Reflex, 26×1.5″
Brake set: Tektro 857AL V-Brake
Brake levers: Tektro CL530
Handlebar: Breezer Aluminum, 26mm Rise
Stem Breezer Aluminum, Quill Style
Tape/grip: Breezer Open End Ergonomic Kraton rubber
Saddle: Breezer Comfort Saddle
Seat post: Breezer Suspension Aluminum 40mm Travel, 350×27.2mm
Fenders: Polycarbonate w/Integrated Lighting Conductors
Headlight: Busch & Muller Lumotec Fly LED w/Standlight Feature
Taillight: Basta Riff Steady LED w/Standlight Feature
Rear Carrier: Breezer Tubular Aluminum w/Spring Clip
Other: Axa Solid Ring Lock, YWS Chime Bell w/Black Anodized Chime
Breezer packs a lot of features into a bike set at an MSRP of $999.00 — everything a dedicated commuter could possibly want. This is truly a turn-key commuter bike…no scrambling to purchase and install needed accessories because it comes stock with ALL OF IT!
The frame is configured in step-through fashion (the Uptown 8 also comes in a more traditional top tube model). I chose the step-through to test because I haven’t spent any time aboard one since my wife’s Biria was stolen lo those many years ago. I wanted to a) try a little something different and b) see if I noticed any flex or unusual handling without a top tube. With the stout aluminum frame and reinforcing crossbar down at the bottom of the step-through, I noticed nothing untoward in the handling behavior of the bike. Nor did the bike feel chattery or dead as many aluminum frames can. I attribute this to the fairly wide tires that come stock on the bike. Breezer thankfully avoided putting a suspension fork on this model, bucking the unfortunate trend of other manufacturers adding in the unneeded complexity and substantial weight of a “boingy” fork.
Breezer does include a suspension seatpost, but frankly I didn’t notice anything positive or negative about it. It sure didn’t “travel” under my skinny hindquarters, even with the notoriously rough roads of Tampa’s urban corridor. The stock saddle has enough cushion to absorb road chatter. Breezer could consider skipping this seatpost in future models — saving a few ounces along the way.
The wheelset was nothing fancy — perfectly serviceable Alex rims and high-count spokes, just the way a commuter bike should come. No silly paired spokes or low-counts here…the Breezer wheels are designed to take the punishments typical of urban commuting, and they did so without a whimper. Obviously, the hubs are rather special: a Shimano 3N20 dynohub up front and a Nexus Red-Band “Premium” 8-speed rear. We’ve discussed the Nexus hub at length in other bike reviews here and they’re a familiar sight to many commuters…it’s just about a foolproof system and doesn’t require a lot of fiddling to perform flawlessly. The front hub is Shimano’s basement-level dynohub, and it shows in that it feels “draggy”, even with the lights switched off. A smoother, less drag-prone dynohub is a lot more expensive, though, so Breezer chose this one to keep the final price out of the clouds. Despite the drag, it was easy to set up and it worked without any hiccups — pumping six volts (or three watts? I’m no electrical engineer) to the included head- and taillights every time I turned the pedals.
The braking comes courtesy of some Tektro V-brake arms. One might wonder, “why wouldn’t Breezer spec disc brakes on an all-conditions commuter like this?” and the answer would be “price point”. A disc-compatible dynohub is a pricey thing indeed…and the only disc-ready IGH is the substantially more expensive Alfine. I’m willing to sacrifice the benefits of disc brakes in trade for avoiding sticker shock, and I think many commuters would agree. Besides, disc brakes might be overkill in some conditions. Take a look at our friend Doug’s well-reasoned argument against discs in the following article on MN Bicycle Commuter.
The lights that come with the Uptown 8 are bright and stable — both with “standlight” feature that keeps them illuminated for a couple of minutes once they’ve built up a bit of a charge. That’s a great feature. Breezer didn’t skimp on the lights — sure, there are stronger dyno powered lights on the market, but we’re talking about urban commuting where there is usually some additional lighting available to the rider (in the form of streetlights and the like). The Busch & Muller headlight neatly split the difference between “to see” and “to be seen” lights — I could negotiate my route at a reasonable pace with the illumination provided. Both front and rear lights had built-in reflectors, too, which is a nice touch. Gotta stay legal!
Did I mention the chaincase? This thing is n-i-c-e. Breezer brand manager JT Burke told me that he hasn’t had to service his bike’s chain in over three years because the chaincase deflects crud like a champ. It’s sealed on both sides, with a small removeable “window” at the back to allow simple adjustments of the Nexus hub. I dig this chaincase — no greasy pant legs or silly trouser clips when riding this bike.
One other really cool feature about the setup on the Breezer was its conductive fender arrangement. Rather than a continuous wire running from the front hub to the taillight, the Breezer’s rear fender serves as the conductive path. Two buttons at the front of the fender and two buttons at the rear clip to wire ends and the aluminum stiffener inside the fender itself carries the electricity. Neat!
The bike’s handling is stable and upright — perhaps a little too upright for my personal taste (decades of riding road bikes builds in a lot of muscle memory that is difficult to overcome). You’re not going anywhere fast with this bike…but as I mentioned in our first impression of the Uptown 8: this bike isn’t designed for speed or serious distance. It’s a point a to point b bike, predominantly for short-haul urban commuters. Have a long distance to travel and a limited time to do so? This probably shouldn’t be on your short list of bikes to consider. Do you want a bike you really don’t have to think about — simply get on and ride around town to errands, the workplace or social events? Then the Uptown 8 might be right up your alley.
Overall, the Uptown 8 provides a ton of commuter-friendly options at a reasonable price point. If you’re the kind of rider who lives in an urban area and you’re looking for an all-conditions machine to serve you, this is a great choice. If it were up to me, I’d be willing to pay a bit more for a less-draggy front hub, but that’s the only real gripe I have with the Breezer. Breezer successfully avoided my other “commuter bike pet peeves” — eliminating the gimmicky and questionable add-ons and specifying this bike with pretty much everything an urban commuter could ever want. Bravo, Breezer!
Now, would you please consider developing a “go-fast” version with many of the same features — something with drop bars and a more aerodynamic stance but with the cargo-hauling and low-maintenance attributes some of us crave? I’ll be first in line if you do.
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