Review: Breezer Uptown 8

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
Headset: VP-H692W
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.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.


  1. Janice in GA

    I saw a version of this bike at a LBS last fall and was impressed by it. I was looking for the wires to the rear light too, and that’s when I found out about the conductive bits in the fenders. Very clever, I thought.

    The LBS didn’t have one in my size, so I ended up with a touring bike from REI. Oh well.

  2. JonP

    Between the IGH and the full chain case, I would think fixing a flat on the rear would be a pain. Any insight on that?

  3. Matt

    I believe the go fast version is their Finesse model. No drop bars but mini aero bars mounted on the mtb handlebars give you an aero position. Only problem is that its way more $$$ and I don’t think you get that sweet chaincase which is too bad.

  4. harry krishna

    janice in ga: i’m in ga also. i’m into my second week with the uptown infinity. after a less than enthusiastic response from an atlanta shop, i used commuterbikeshop. the price was right, the response was quick, and the shipping was free. for me, the nuvinci was the deal maker.

  5. Steve A

    Too bad the bike isn’t available with no wheels at all. A better front dynohub and the close ratio Sturmey Archer S3X hub would be much quicker for most people. Perhaps better yet would be that combo on a Finesse frame.

  6. Ghost Rider

    @JonP…yes, it is a tremendous pain in the ass, especially the tiny screws that hold the chaincase “window” into place and the tight cable that actuates the IGH. If you know what you’re doing, it only takes a few extra minutes (at best).

    This is why most bikes equipped like the Breezer come with sturdy flat-resistant tires. That’s a good option to have — avoiding flats is better for everyone but even more so with people running chaincases and these hubs.

  7. Ghost Rider

    @Matt — thanks for the tip on the Finesse. I hadn’t noticed that one. Throw some drop bars and Versa shifters on there and we’d really have a “go-fast” on our hands!

  8. dwainedibbly

    Thanks for the review. This looks like a nice bike, at a good price point. That $1000 level is hard for a lot of people to cross, especially if they’re new to cycling. A few thoughts:

    Hopefully Breezer will consider dropping the suspension seatpost and substituting in a better dynohub next year.

    Flats are a real PITA, but with flat-resistant tires, chain maintenance is probably more of an issue. The chain case sounds like a good trade-off to me.

    The Nexus/Alfine 8-speed hubs are tried & true, but I hate the gaps between gears, one of which is 22%, if I recall. Surely Shimano can do better than that. I think it’s time for an update! I’d love to see them do an 8-speed version of the Alfine-11, but the price would probably be an issue.

  9. Ghost Rider

    Or a cheaper 11-speed (Nexus 11!). Surely adding a couple of extra planetary gears or whatever’s inside the Nexus hub couldn’t be that much more expensive, could it?

  10. Raiyn

    @ Ghost
    “lo those many years ago. ” *snicker*

    I do believe that particular post has my first couple comments on this site. As I recall you were none too pleased with me at the time….

  11. Murali

    If I were to buy a new bike for the commute, this would probably be the one. I have always felt that a commute bicycle should be set up so that a rider could just jump on it and go with minimal thought. No “did I charge the batteries” or “did I cuff my pants leg”. If getting on and riding were as thought-free as sitting down and driving, it’s possible more people would do it.

    Of course if the rider wants to play act as a racer on the way to the office, well, this the wrong tool for the job. But for must of us who just want to get to the office and then back home (with maybe a quick stop at the store), I doubt this setup could be beaten.

  12. Jennifer S.

    I like the chain case, too. Do you think that is something you can purchase on it’s own? Is that possible?

  13. 2whls3spds

    @Jennifer S.

    I emailed Breezer…twice, no response so far. I am trying to source a similar chain case from the NL. I believe it is actually a stock item from some manufacturer. Just have to locate one. My Redline R530(no longer made) appears to have the front side of a chain case similar to the Breezer. Just need to figure out the backside.


  14. Eastsacgirl

    Just got my 2011 Uptown 8 last week. So far, I think it will suit my needs. Mainly do midtown riding for errands/pleasure but have yet to take it out on the bike trail. Should be OK since our trails are pretty flat with just a few mild rises. Little worried about the steps between gears but only time will tell.

    Sure is a sharp looking bike!

  15. domotion2011

    Can anyone comment on the static hand position and the shifter? Is that a twist shift? Seems as if this tool for commuting has short distances in mind, what do users say? My commute is over 20 kilometers each way and I personally want an upright riding position with a handlebar with multiple hand places to grip.

  16. Ghost Rider

    @domotion2011 — this review clearly states that the Breezer is designed for short-haul commuting. The single hand position didn’t bug me over distances of 10 miles or less, but I want drop bars for anything over that.

    An upright position with flats means getting creative…barends, trekking bars or like the Breezer Finesse (noted above in the comments, but no longer available on Breezer’s website that I can find), a clip-on aerobar.

  17. Adam

    I have had an Uptown 8 LS for 6 years and it has been a rock solid commuter bike with very little maintenance. I opted for the U-frame in part to jump out at cross walks when needed, but it also served me well in an accident. The bike went out from under me on some black ice this winter, and I just walked right through the frame as the bike went down without a scrape. Needless to say, I went out and bought some studded tires. However, I will never go back to a diamond frame if I can help it.

  18. Carlos

    Firstly, thanks for the lenghty review! How easy would it be to replace the slower/draggier dynohub with a nicer smoother one? I am sure I wouldn’t mind a bit, but my wife is a less capable rider and as I understand it dyno hubs, make the wheel a bit draggy/requires slightly more watts to pedal?

  19. Ghost Rider

    Carlos, it would be easy enough to swap the dynohub by rebuilding the wheel around a smoother one. You’d need new spokes and a dynohub, plus the skills to do so (or a competent shop).

    The fact of the matter is that ALL dynohubs have some drag, even the really expensive ones. And the expensive ones are truly expensive…hundreds of dollars.

  20. Mark

    I have owned a Breezer 8 for 3 years now, the third bike in the stable. I’ve got a super nice road bike (custom Felt) I use for going faster/longer, and a Raleigh mountain bike that my son rides more than me. Frankly, the Breezer is my go to bike 90% of the time. I’ve got a couple of different panniers (the large grocery bag and the brief case), so I use it to commute to work, go grocery shopping, run shorter errands (<10 miles). You just can't beat its comfort, utility and ease of use. The shifting is smooth, the brakes are good (not great) and the fenders keep you dry! Lighting is also good (not great), and I don't really notice the drag of the dynamo at all. Other than light maintenance every few months such as cable adjustments, the bike is rock solid. I would recommend this bike to anyone that does light commuting and errands.

  21. svannah

    Has anyone notices a difference since Breezer was sold to Fuji and is now imported? My uptown8 (2008) was one of the last bikes out of California. I liked the idea of supporting a small homegrown company and was a little bummed when learned of their sale.

  22. Ghost Rider

    @Svannah — it is entirely possible that at least some of the Breezers were being made offshore long before their sale to ASI. I’m not sure of the timeline or their production details. Does your Uptown have a “Made in U.S.A.” sticker?

    Sadly, “American-based company” means so very little these days, when most or all of the production occurs elsewhere.

  23. Sholto Douglas

    I have had one of these for 18 months now and my recommendation is to NOT get one. Jack points out some very useful features, like the ‘conductive’ rear mudguard. However I think the downsides negate the ups:
    1) Chainguard – yes a nice feature for a commuter. However it is a BITCH to take off and put back. Even at the bike shop they complained about it. Small protruding slivers of plastic break after a while, leaving no attachment points. For most of its life it was held together by string. I finally removed it and put on a Hebie Chainglider instead. They should have done this in the factory.
    2) Brakes – the ones that come with the bike are hopeless el cheapos. I was forever having to adjust them as one side or the other would migrate off center and rub on the rim. I had to replace them, and have had no trouble since.
    3) Light – it comes with a very nice Shimano dynamo on the front wheel. However the rear light is by Basta – I don’t know if this is what Shimano provided, or a cheaper replacement by Breeze. It too is hopeless – the metal strip connectors from the power wires to the bulb unit frequently lose contact with that unit. I have had to get a battery powered rear light to supplement the dynamo one – I never know when the latter will die on me.
    4) Low bottom bracket – any tight cornering risks the pedals scraping the ground as you lean. I have to remember to stop pedaling in these situations.

    So all in all, it appears to have all the required bits and pieces in the shop, but they fall down when you have to use it.

  24. Sholto Douglas

    In my previous submission I forgot to mention what is probably the WORST irritant, the wheel design.
    Where each spoke attaches to the rim, there is a deep pit. All the punctures I have had in the rear wheel have been on the inside of the tube (facing the rim), not the outside (facing the road). The pits cause the tube to ‘hernia’ into a blister which presumably stresses and stretches the lining till it develops a hole. Don’t bother applying a patch to this hole – it NEVER works! The only fix is to replace the tube, which is laborious with hub gears. I put an extra rim tape in there to shallow out the pits, and this has reduced, but not stopped, the leaks.

  25. TexInst

    How much does the bike weigh (including the rack and all accessories)?

  26. Ghost Rider

    @TexInst — we don’t weigh the bikes we test…there’s no point to it for us, as bike weight has almost nothing to do with how commuteable it will be (this coming from a guy who sometimes rides a 70+ lb. cargo bike to work).

    The Breezer “felt heavy”; that’s all I’ve got. Breezer may publish the weight on their website.

  27. Zorba

    What? No skirt guard?

    Nice looking bike – I currently have a Biria that I love, but this one looks like a good contender. I had to install a skirt guard on the Biria too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *