Category: Commuter Bikes

So your annual holiday is approaching and you’re wondering where to go. You usually lie in the sun, eat and drink too much on an all inclusive — then feel lazy or guilty returning home. You hop on your bike for some activity and wonder: why didn’t you book a cycling holiday in the first place? On a bike, you can enjoy unparalleled freedom, take in spectacular scenery, discover hidden gems, and face challenging ascents with exhilarating descents. Sold? Great. Now, where to go?

Tough choice — but Spain is one of most awe-inspiring countries, and it also offers cyclists a truly varied experience. Think: stunning mountainous road routes, flat-cycling through idyllic countryside, delicious authentic cuisine, and the option of luxury hotels or basic camping accommodation. The beauty is: on a cycling holiday, you choose the experience you want. And if you’re going to spend money on all the necessary cycling gear, you could invest in these Spanish cycling holiday routes:

Northern Spain – cycle like a pro

The north of Spain is known for its awesome cycling routes — it’s the setting of the famous La Vuelta a Espana race. Here you’ll find genuinely breath-taking scenery as you make your way through the Basque country, past the Cantabria mountains, towards the renowned Alto de L’Angliru — also known as one of the toughest climbs in Europe, and not for the faint-hearted! However, with over 8000m ascent available, this area of Spain also has thrilling descents!

Coast along coastal routes

malaga2

For a more laid-back cycle, the south of Spain and the Costa del Sol provides excellent stretches of road paths, which are adjacent to stunning beaches and can lead you to bustling villages like Torremolinos. There there is no shortage of restaurants and bars in which to re-fuel, whet your whistle or unwind. A popular route begins at Malaga’s beach promenade towards Torremolinos, taking in the local bird sanctuary, sandy beaches and bars. On arrival at Benalmádena town, you can opt to return via Metro train to Malaga. Spanning a largely flat route of 40km, you won’t be judged for taking a train back!

Urban cyclists welcome

If you enjoy the buzz of a city, you could cycle the Bilbao to Barcelona route. This is a fantastic path from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean coast. If you want to see panoramic Spain in all its glory — and in one journey — then this route is for you. Expect a dramatic Pyrenees backdrop, historical villages, family-run rural restaurants, natural canyons and a climactic, stunning view of Monserrat. Alternatively, the city of Seville recently enjoyed new cycle path upgrades. With 75 miles of (largely flat) segregated lanes, novice and seasoned cyclists can enjoy the city on their own terms. It’s worth investigating the Via Verdes — also known as Greenways.

So whether you’re racing up the Angliru, or coasting along the Costa del Sol, cycling in Spain is really one of the best ways to see a country filled with highs and lows — cycle paths, that is!

Minorca is known as one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations. However, it’s also a great place for cycling enthusiasts. From viewing the island’s impressive forests, to its beautiful bays; there are a variety of cycling routes that will allow you to enjoy the sights of the island to the full, for more information on what to do when on the island visit Saga Navigator.

Mao/South Coast

This is a route that will allow you to see the La Mola fortress in Mao, then the city’s bay and port, before heading on to Mao city centre. From there, you can take the opportunity to see more of the south coast of the island. This will include a visit to Cales Coves, with its notable caves, before you enjoy the lovely beach at Cala en Porter. After a trip to the ancient Torre d’en Galmes settlement the ride concludes in the centre of Minorca at Alaior. The whole ride will be around 25 miles in length.

Cap de Favaritx Area

This is a circular route, some 25 miles in length which wraps around the Northern part of the island, and has some of Minorca’s most spectacular scenery as a backdrop. Along this route you’ll see holm oak and pine forests, before the journey ends at Cap de Favaritx. Here, you’ll encounter not only a unique lighthouse, but the lunar landscape that surrounds it.

The Wild Coast

For riders looking to enjoy a wide range of interesting views of the island, this route will definitely appeal. On this 23 mile route there will be woods, lakes, dunes, lowlands, and eye-catching gorges to see, as well as pristine beaches and the cliff-face at la Vall; which is several hundred feet high. The natural harbour at Cala Morell, on the Ciutadella coast is noteworthy, as is the prehistoric burial site in the area.

Off-Road Tour

For the more ambitious cyclist, travelling all the way round the island is an option. Utilising the Cami de Cavalls is the best way of doing this, though using a mountain bike will be advisable, considering the sometimes rocky nature of the path. Mostly a coastal route, it does occasionally go inland. The whole route is over 150 miles long, and offers sights of coves and cliffs, although there won’t be any really steep climbs.

Image by MontanNito used under the Creative Commons license

Image by javimorenoe used under the Creative Commons license

If this is your first time reading about this bike, check out our initial impressions on the Dahon Mariner D7.

So the time has come… to tell you all about the hair-raising adventures I’ve had on the D7!

DSC_2106

You wish you had these skills.

And… that time is now over. Because there really weren’t any. Sorry… you can take another sip of your beverage now. And close your mouth, the popcorn’s about to fall out.

What I WILL say is that this bike has been rock-solid, and has introduced into my life the idea that maybe I should have a folding bike permanently. Because it’s been pretty sweet! It has continued to be easy to use (biking, folding, unfolding, lugging around) and hasn’t needed any maintenance to speak of. The only issues have been with fenders getting bent out of shape due to bad packing in the car (fairly easily bent back), and once when the handlebars somehow got spun all the way around and braking was wonky for a couple minutes ’til I realized what had happened. So… yeah, user error.

DSC_2058

Main folding mechanism and bottle bosses

Speaking of user error, in the initial review I said there weren’t bosses for a bottle cage. That was incorrect: there are, I missed them somehow, and they’re on the top of what would be the top tube if there were more than one tube. So ignore that complaint… it’s invalid!

Since the initial review, this bike has been in and out of cars, to the library, to the grocery store, and just generally wherever we need to ride. The one thing I haven’t yet done on this is take it on public transit… I simply haven’t headed DC-wards recently, so I can’t say how it is. I imagine it would work fairly well, but can’t 100% verify.

My wife and I both like it, and because it’s easy to hop on and go, it’s one of the first picks out of the garage. My wife also had the amusing experience of using it when she had to drop the car off for some maintenance – and seeing all the car repair guys watch in amazement as she pulled the Dahon out of the backseat, unfolded it, and rode off to do a couple errands while she was waiting. Apparently they’re not used to that!

Our very own Jack (Ghostrider) also got a ride on the Mariner D7… here’s what he had to say:

I really enjoyed my (short) time aboard the Mariner. I have a soft spot for folding bikes, although there’s not one in my bike fleet currently. For multi-modal commuters, or people who live in small apartments, a folding bike makes a lot of sense. And this Dahon really fits the bill.

I didn’t try my own hand at folding the bike, but Matt demonstrated the ease with which it folds up into a tidy package. One of the things I noticed during the folding was that the seatpost didn’t have reference marks etched into it; the lack of those marks means that getting your saddle height right the first time is a bit of a challenge. A strip of tape or a silver Sharpie marker makes short work of that omission, however.

As with most small-wheeled bikes, the Dahon accelerates quickly. It feels really nimble while riding around city streets and tight spaces, too. Gearing was adequate for around-town use — we didn’t get to try it on any monster climbs, but it handled the inclines of northern Virginia without too much effort. Standing up to pedal up a rise was, well, rather awkward…that’s the only time when the short wheelbase and compact fit were an issue. The overall fit and finish were excellent, and there weren’t any mechanical problems throughout the duration of our review period.

Overall, the Dahon Mariner makes a great choice if you’re in the market for a folding bike.

Did I mention we had a lot of fun riding it?

DSC_2122

You also wish you had these skills.

I was talking to a friend of mine from the UK who works for an online bicycle shop called Fat Birds. We got to talking about “commuter bikes” and what that all means to someone in the UK. Well he brought up the word “AUDAX.” Truthfully, I’ve never heard of such a term. Apparently Audax is basically a word that best describes a commuter bike. Here’s a definition on their website:

A Sportive or Audax bike is a bicycle that allows for mudguards and in most cases a rear rack it is lighter than a touring bike and the geometry is more racey (yet slightly more relaxed than a road racer). A Touring bike is a frame designed to handle bicycle touring, with mudguards and front and rear pannier racks (not all come with front racks as this is dependent on the fork).
Special features of a touring bike may include a long wheelbase (for ride comfort and to avoid pedal-to-luggage conflicts), frame materials that favor flexibility over rigidity (for ride comfort), heavy duty wheels (for load capacity), and multiple mounting points (for luggage racks, fenders, and bottle cages).

Oh yeah, did you notice the other word in there? “SPORTIVE.” In the US market, or at least in a few bike shops that I’ve been to, they have dubbed what our UK friends call a Sportive as a “fitness bike.” Basically it’s a bike that isn’t quite a sporty road bike, not as burly as a touring bike, but a bike you could use to commute with or take for a 15-20 mile bike rides and still be comfortable.

So are you wondering what a Sportive/Audax bike looks like? Well check out this beauty…”Kinesis Racelight 4S Audax Road Bike Silver; The versatile Racelight TK3 frameset gets a makeover and has a new name Racelight 4S (meaning Four Seasons).”
audax

Not bad right? I’m almost positive that the US Market will start to use those terms in the near future to introduce new commuter bikes to make them sound fancier.

This is the 2015 Giant LIV Alight All City commuter bicycle. What makes this a “commuter?” Well, based on years of running Bikecommuters.com and knowing what our readers consider what a “REAL” commuter bike is, this one takes the cake. For example, it has the ever so important set of fenders and rear rack. In addition it has 700c wheels. Further more the cockpit is equipped with ergonomic grips for added comfort.
giant liv alight all city
You can find all the SPEC info HERE. However, let me high-light a few things that we liked. 24speed drive train offers a wide range of gear selection. From fast flat terrain all the way up to the steepest climbs, you should be able to ride it with the Alight.

Hydroformed Aluxx-aluminum
bikecommuters liv giant
Frame and fork uses Giant’s ALUXX-grade aluminum. This allows the Alight to have a light feel to it. To be honest with you, we didn’t get to weigh it, but when it was picked up by hand to see how heavy it was, we were impressed.

The essentials of a commuter bike. Fenders and rear rack.
giant alight bikecommuters.com
The Alight was designed for the female commuter. Geometry set for this bike has women riders in mind. What does all that mean?

Liv bikes, apparel and gear are designed specifically for women. Liv’s team of female designers and engineers consider all aspects of a woman’s unique strengths and physical characteristics to create the only complete product collection designed solely for women. Examples of this include: Women’s-specific fit based on global body dimension studies Optimized stem lengths, handlebar width and drop, and crank arm length Shorter brake reach Comfortable saddle designed for female pelvis and hip shapes Liv ApparelFit System with multiple fit options.

giant commuter bikes

So what’s the price on this commuter friendly bike? Most Giant retailers will have it around $575, and based on our previous research, $500-$600 is what most commuting consumers would be willing to spend on a new commuter bike. But how does it ride? Like a dream! The 700c wheels make for a smoother and fast ride, while the 24spd drive train provides the rider a plethora of gearing choices. Shifting between gears are smooth, all thanks to the buttery Shimano gruppo Further more, the aesthetics of this bike is spot on. The color pops, yet it doesn’t scream LOOK AT ME!!!

Oh one more thing, just because this is considered a “women specific design” bike, it doesn’t mean that a man can’t enjoy it. I really did enjoy my time with the Alight All City. It’s a great riding bike and it really could serve a rider dual purposes. Use it to commute with and use it on the weekends to go on a long ride through the country side. It’s comfortable and fast, which happens to be a great combo!

Our FTC Disclaimer