Interbike 2011: Urbana Bicycles

I met up with Urbana Bicycles at the NuVinci booth to check out their redesigned bike. First thing they added was a NuVinci hub.
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Then they beautified their frame by smoothing out the welds.
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Their famous RNR rack is still on the Urbana, by the way, this rack is rated to carry heavy objects, as much as an adult.
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They outdid themselves by going with the reliable Gates Belt Drive.
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The rear drop out had to be redesigned to make the belt drive serviceable.
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I noticed something on the frame and I asked what it was supposed to be. Turns out they’re working on a front rack that connects to the frame. Unlike most front racks that are connected to the fork, this design promises to be more stable.
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Another thing I noticed was the bike itself looked shorter. Turns out the Urbana engineers tweaked the head tube angle and brought it in closer. I forget the exact numbers, but the shorter wheel base will help the Urbana become more nimble and easier to handle.
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17 Comments

  1. tim September 19, 2011 8:17 am 

    Looks interesting. Those are some monster-fat tires.

  2. BluesCat September 19, 2011 9:14 am 

    What kind of seat comes standard on that Urbana, RL?

  3. RL Policar! September 19, 2011 9:18 am 

    BC,

    I’ll find out for you.
    Thanks

    RL

  4. Elizabeth September 19, 2011 9:18 am 

    Mr. Dottie (spouse of one of the LGRAB duo) just got a belt driven bike. I’m curious about the durability of such a system in the winter (and ice/snow). Kind of disappointed in no fenders. But I’d love to try it… assuming it’s not too hefty.

  5. RL Policar! September 19, 2011 9:19 am 

    E,

    Fenders are an option.

  6. Tom September 19, 2011 9:44 am 

    I would love to see more bikes with the front rack mounted to the frame. Sounds like a winner all around. I have a say it’s looks a little naked without fenders. The drivetrain is really in the line of fire for any debris kicked up by the front tires.

  7. Ghost Rider September 19, 2011 9:44 am 

    I haven’t seen any winter reports, but I would think a belt-drive is superior in cold weather…no shifty bits to clog up with slush, no worries about road salt attacking the chain. And, if a similar belt can handle 100+ horsepower on a motorcycle, the output of our puny legs (by comparison) should be no match for the Gates drive.

  8. harry krishna September 19, 2011 9:55 am 

    great. the kind of innovation i like to see. about the only thing my breezer uptown infinity doesn’t have is a gates belt. time for a belt breaker. and the possibility of a frame mounted front rack is intriguing. back in my touring days, i put the weight up front.

  9. RL Policar! September 19, 2011 10:41 am 

    Here’s what Urbana said:

    “Bike comes with an Urbana Saddle. It has Urethane shock absorbers…the suspension is more controlled since Urethane has built in damping..(Its better than steel springs cause its lighter and less noisy.)

    There was another comment about belt-drives. We have tested the original belt here in Canada.
    For Wet weather in the city…Belt is great since its dosent need re-lubrification.???(not sure if this is a real word but you get the point). However, when fine dirt piles up in the teeth, that greatly increases the tension of the belt. When there is too much tension on the belt, there is too much pressure in the crank and hub bearing…..and that could damage the hub bearing…..although that has never happened to us.
    For snow only, its great…but if there is wet sand you might pack up some “ick” in the belt. (Is that a real word?)

    The new Centre track belt (which you saw on the new frame) appears to be more tolerant to dirt as in the new design there is open space b/w teeth. We have NOT tested the new belt in crazy dirt conditions but will do so this winter!!!”

  10. Ghost Rider September 19, 2011 10:57 am 

    Dirt should be easily removable from the belt…just hose it off and go. That’s WAY better than washing, degreasing and re-lubing a chain.

  11. BluesCat September 19, 2011 11:31 am 

    “Urethane shock absorbers.” Interesting. My experience with those foams is that they break down and collapse pretty quickly, so my only reservation would be the longevity of the saddle.

    The dust in Phoenix is really a fine grit, so I’ll bet a belt drive would be ideal: as the belt flexes it would shed the dirt. None of my rides have fenders (the most roadway water I’ve ever run into is when a construction crew was purging/sanitizing a new waterline via a fire hydrant), so I think fenders are an unnecessary option for me.

    It’s good looking bike.

  12. Ghost Rider September 19, 2011 12:28 pm 

    Urethane is the same stuff skateboard wheels and body-suspension mounts for racecars are made of…the stuff doesn’t break down the way rubber does.

  13. BluesCat September 19, 2011 12:41 pm 

    You’re probably right, GR. I was thinking of the lighter foam products … the stuff with the density not much greater than Styrofoam.

    (chuckle) NOW I’m wondering if the stuff would be compressible ENOUGH to be as comfortable as springs! I know, I know: picky, picky, picky; but if *I* don’t cover my derriere, who will? (Pun intended.)

  14. Ghost Rider September 19, 2011 4:20 pm 

    I think it’s a tried-and-true solution…there are several saddles on the market with elastomer dampers where the rails attach to the saddle shell.

    Gotta say that I like the idea of urethane parts rather than creaky bedsprings!

  15. Richard Masoner October 10, 2011 3:37 pm 

    Elizabeth asked about belt drives for winter use. Gates is known for their *snowmobile* drive belts. They also make motorcycle belt drives, automotive engine belts, and industrial power transmission belts. The engine belts are supposed to be replaced every 50,000 miles. The bike drive belts are a piece of cake compared to any of those other applications.

    The Gates people are in Denver and many of them are avid year round bike riders.

  16. Tinker November 2, 2011 10:24 pm 

    We did not get any rain this year until October, and now the Bradford Pear trees in the neighborhood are all blooming, apparently triggered by the 2″ of rain. So I have been hauling fenders around for no good reason,all year. There ought to be a law…

  17. Xander November 12, 2011 11:30 pm 

    I’ll be testing this bicycle in the winter through the salt, slush and snow. Not sure if it will have a belt drive but I hope it does.

    I’ll post my findings on my site.

    I’ll be searching for some serious potholes.

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