Category: Bikes

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we took delivery of a Breezer Uptown 8 for testing. The folks at Breezer were kind enough to let us hang onto the bike for a couple months so we could really get a good feel for it. I’m not quite ready for the full review (that should appear here in a couple weeks), but I wanted to share some of my first impressions with you.

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Overwhelmingly at the top of my list is that despite the Breezer’s complexity — it is absolutely loaded down with every bell and whistle a commuter could possibly ask for — riding it is utter simplicity.

Say what? Look, it’s like this: this is a bike you simply jump on and go…no checking whether lights were installed or left on the kitchen counter at home, no running out of battery power midway through a ride, no rolling up pants legs or using one of those trouser clips, no funny “clickety-clack” shoes, no chain maintenance and no worrying about the delicate shifter parts getting gummed up or knocked out of place. Simply step through the frame, flip the switch to activate the generator-powered lights and off you ride! This is INCREDIBLY liberating…what was once a task of a few minutes getting any of my other bikes ready to go (lights, batteries, tires, lube, pants/cuff/shoes) has been whittled down to, “got enough pressure in the tires? Good enough.” I am sold on the concept of hub generators and since I started riding the Breezer, I’ve been fantasizing about equipping all my other commuter bikes with them.

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We’ve tested a number of bikes with internally-geared hubs on Bikecommuters.com in the past, so there’s nothing new to report with the Breezer and its Nexus Premium 8-speed rear hub. It works nearly flawlessly, can be shifted at a standstill or under load and allows Breezer to spec a full chaincase — not just a chainguard — to seal the chain away from the elements. I’ve heard tales of Breezer owners going for several years without ever servicing their chains.

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Riding the Breezer is comfortable and stable, with the upright stance typical of this class of city bike. Everything fits and feels just right. You won’t be setting any speed records aboard the Uptown 8, but then again it wasn’t designed for such riding. Things are looking good for the long term!

Please stay tuned for the full-scale review, which should be along shortly. In the meantime, check out Breezer’s urban lineup by visiting their website.


Meet the 2011 Redline 925. I’ve been testing this bike for the last few months and I’ve finally been able to compile my review below.

First impressions of this bike: beautiful styling, classic color mated with chrome and aluminum. Geometry provides a very comfy yet aggressive-ready ride (more on that later).
Redline 925 Brown
Specs:

Headset Threadless 28.6mm
Frt Der
Rear Der
Shifter
Crank Redline Alloy 42T W Guard
BB Set FSA Square taper 68 x 110mm
Cogs 16T Single
Pedal Alloy Track W Toe Clips
Rim Alex G 2000 Aero Double Wall 32H
Hub HI Flange SB Nutted
Spoke 14G Stainless
Tire Kenda 700 X 28
Bar Alloy Crescent
Stem Alloy Forged, 10 Degree
Saddle Redline Racing
Seat Post Redline Forged Alloy 27.2 x 350mm
Brake Tektro Dual Pivot Caliper
Brake Lever Tektro New Alloy Flat Bar
MSRP: TBD

Redline 925 Brown

The official name for the color used on the 925 is “Pearl dark brown.” Simply beautiful.
Redline 925 Brown

Classic toe-clips with leather strap. No need for special riding shoes or pedals.
Redline 925 Brown

Redline did a great job by pairing this bike’s color with aluminum and chrome parts which gives the bike a very distinguished look.
Redline 925 Brown

Best stopping power I’ve seen on any commuter bike I’ve tested. The Tektro Dual Pivot Caliper and Tektro New Alloy Flat Bar Levers can and will stop on a dime.
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Dual Pivot Caliper
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Fender mounts, radial laced wheel.
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Flip Flop Hub.
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Summary
The 2011 Redline 925 is a very smooth riding bike. Aesthetics wise, its a gorgeous bicycle and what makes it great is that it meets many of our reader’s requirements when it comes to what a commuter bike should have; fenders, chain guard, rack mounts and simplicity. One of the things I enjoyed about the 925 is the geometry. The crescent handle bar provided me with the right amount of relaxed riding position. However, when I needed to sprint or get up and off the saddle for more power to the pedal, the bike is very nimble and responsive.

During the testing period, I made sure I rode it through my pot-hole filled route and would, on occasion, jump the bike off curbs and over parking lot blocks. The wheels stayed true to their form. The frame took all the abuse that I presented and to no surprise, the bike rode as if it was brand new. It all comes down to this; I could not find anything wrong with the 2011 Redline 925. It is a well designed/built bike, the parts spec on it is perfect for commuting and I still can’t get over how awesome the stopping power is on this bike.

I have to mention that we’ve reviewed a Redline 925 before, and fell in love with the bike back in 2007. For each year they release a new model, it just keeps getting better and better. In fact this bike has been a Staff favorite for the past few years.

The Double Butted 4130 Chromoly frame
Redline 925 Brown


Review Disclaimer

What do we have here? Why, it’s a bike we received to test out and share with you…a Breezer Uptown 8:

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This bike checks off nearly everything on the commuter’s punchlist…fenders? Check. Dynohub and front/rear lights? Check. Internal shifting? Check. High-spoke-count wheels? Check. Full chaincase? Check. Carrier rack? Yep. Bell and kickstand? You betcha. About the only thing the Breezer Uptown 8 doesn’t come with is a waterbottle cage, but that’s quick and easy to add. Otherwise, it is a truly turnkey urban commuting machine — and I mean that literally because one of the other standard features is an AXA rear wheel immobilizer with a keyed release.

I unpacked and assembled this bike on Christmas Eve, and other than a quick Xtracycle trip to the grocery store and Sunday neoghborhood farmer’s market, this has been my sole around-town bike since then. In a few days we’ll put up our “first impressions” article with a comprehensive review a few weeks after that.

Why a step-through frame, you might ask? The folks at Breezer gave me the choice between a standard and this step-through version, and I chose the latter purely for kicks. Many Americans will wonder, “why’s that guy riding a girl’s bike?”…while more enlightened types will realize that no, this isn’t a girl’s model, but referred to as a “unisex” bike, or a “step-through” model, or “low step” bike, or simply just “a bike”. That being said, I’ve already been asked twice about it — once from someone who should know better.

Anyhow, stay tuned for more.


Meet the Urbana Current. This is a new Electric Assist model that Urbana Bicycles will be introducing in the near future. We had received this bike right at the beginning of November and we’ve been putting it through its paces since then. The demo unit sent to me came from another media outlet. So when it arrived at the BikeCommuters.com Test Lab, the bike was a mess! Not only was it dirty, but it was simply torn up! UPS didn’t help the situation either, the box was punched in on the corners and torn all over. In fact the UPS Driver even suggested that I refuse the package because of the condition it came in.

Well after bit of time in the lab, I was able to assemble, tune and clean the Urbana Current. The front fender was damaged during transit. Even though Urbana offered to send me a new front fender, I turned it down just because it rarely rains in Southern California.

As bad as the condition of the bike was at arrival, the Current was still in working order. The electronics (which I was really concerned about) fared just fine and once I charged everything up, it all worked! That in itself is a testament to the durability of the bike. But don’t worry, I was able to beat up the Current during the testing period.

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Let’s get a few things out of the way before I go on.

Suspension:The Current is a rigid frame, but you can definitely feel the “suspension” benefits of the large-volume tires.

Step-thru frame: Makes it easy to get in and out of the bike.

Rear Rack:RNR rack has to be the most unique design out there. Rated to carry 100lbs…it’s definitely beefy and I was able to utilize its hooks that allowed me to carry items without the need of panniers.

The three items I just mentioned can actually be found on a previousUrbana Bicycle Review that staffer Noah Dunker wrote a few months ago. With that in mind, I’ll won’t rehash some of the same things he’s already talked about.

The Urbana Current is equipped with a Bionx hub and battery pack. The control panel is user-friendly — so much so, a child can operate it.

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While riding the Urbana Current on full pedal assist, I was averaging about 15 miles per charge (your mileage may vary depending on your riding conditions) at an average of 15mph. This is a mixture of flat and hilly terrain. Keep in mind, I’m a big boy: 202lbs.
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During the testing period, I never experienced any problems with the electrical system. Charging the battery took a few hours. Basically as soon as I arrived in my office, I’d plug it in; by lunch time, it was 3/4 charged and by 2:30pm, it was 100% charged.

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The Current came equipped with Avid BB5 disc brakes. I’ve always been a fan of BB5s because they provide awesome stopping power for a fraction of the cost of their hydraulic counterparts.

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One thing I have to admit when riding the Urbana Current: it’s straight out fun! I’ve let about a dozen people, ranging from my kids, my wife, and all the way up to professional mountain bike racers ride the Current, and they simply loved the bike. It never fails to put a smile on people’s faces.

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Durability: One concern I had with this bike was its durability. Personally, if I were to spend $3299, I want to make sure this bike lasts. With that in mind, I put this bike through the wringer. Believe it or not, Urbana Bicycles told me…“We want you to try and BREAK IT!” WTF? Were they serious? They were, because when I asked them to repeat what they just said, they said it with more confidence and with a serious tone….“We want you to try and BREAK IT!” So I obliged.

For the durability test, I had about 5 professional Mountain Bike Super D Racers TRY and damage this bike while riding it through a Super D Race course. Granted, there were no jumps, but the terrain was pretty brutal even for mountain biking standards. One thing I have to say is, the wheels are bomb-proof! Even after the Super D course, they stayed true and I never experienced a flat tire. Another note I need to add, the battery pack stayed in its place the whole time. In addition, I left the bike out in the rain and guess what? The bike works just fine. The circuitry was untouched and moisture did not penetrated the LCD control panel.

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Since this was my second e-bike review, I have been asked “Which one do you like better? The OHM Urban XU700 or the Urbana Current?” To tell you the truth, they are both different in their own ways. For starters, the OHM has a front suspension fork, and a suspension seatpost which made potholes and other imperfections of the road more manageable. But the Urbana’s slack geometry was more comfortable overall. Though it lacked a suspension fork, the high-volume tires did make the ride more bearable. However, I think the Current can benefit from a suspension seat to smooth things out a tad more.

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If I may, one thing I’d like to see on the Urbana Current is a front light. The battery pack actually comes with a tail light, so they might as well as add one in the front, right? If that’s too much strain on the battery, perhaps equipping the bike with a Shimano Dynamo hub to power the lights?

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The items I suggested aren’t a deal breaker at all. The bike with its current spec sheet is fantastic: precise shifting, powerful braking and a wonderful geometry that allows riders from 5′ to 6’5″ to ride it without a problem. As much abuse as the Urbana Current has received, I’m genuinely surprised that it has survived this long. But what’s great about it is, the way it rides, you never would have guessed that it’s been through the wringer. The Urbana Current doesn’t disappoint and just keeps on riding!

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

I had received the OHM Urban XU700 to test a few months ago and this bike has probably seen the most abuse of any other bike I’ve tested. I’ll get into the test procedures later.

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My time spent on this bike is a mixture of bike commuting to and from work, errands as well as taking the occasional Saturday morning rides through town.

The OHM XU700 offers a variety of riding options:
1.There are 3 other levels of assist from this bike. 1 being the lowest amount of assist from the motor and 4, being the greatest amount. I spent most of my time on level 4, no pedaling required.

2. Regenerative braking. You read it right. Basically what this means is you can adjust your motor from the control panel to generate electricity and recharge your batteries while going down the hill. Regeneration also works by adding resistance to your pedal stroke. This allows your to pedal and recharge at the same time.

ohm specs

If you take a gander at the detailed spec sheet found HERE, you’ll see that the OHM XU700 is outfitted with some decent parts such as hydraulic Tektro brakes, Shimano Deore drivetrain components and many more. I do have to note that the Suntour NCX fork was pretty plush and when combined with the Suntour suspension seat post, this bike rode like a dream. Pot holes, bumps and any imperfections of the road or trail were quickly absorbed.

Power for the headlight and tail light was generated by the Shimano dynamo hub. Keep in mind that this is more of a “be seen” light rather than one to see with.
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Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the OHM Urban XU700. There are a few things that most people would want to know about an e-bike. I’ll break it down in various sections below:

Battery life between charges-I was averaging about 20 miles per charge. Keep in mind, that I was at the highest level of assist, meaning I barely pedaled while riding. So I relied heavily on its battery power to move my 206lb body.


How long does it take to recharge?
-Once the battery is fully depleted, I recharge it and that cycle takes about 5 hours. Typically what i do is when I arrive at my office, I remove the battery pack and charge it. By the time I head out to get some lunch, the battery is about 3/4 charged. Once I return, the battery is back on the charger. By the end of my day, it’s fully charged and ready to go.


How does it handle?
-There’s no difference in the way the OHM rides than any other bike out there. The geometry suggests a more relaxed stance and has a comfort bike feel to it.

How fast can it go?– On flats, I was able to take it up to 21mph.


How does it work?
-“In auto assist mode, the system automatically provides boost proportionate to the rider’s pedaling effort. The harder the rider pedals, the more the boost the system will provide. Alternatively, rider can use the throttle to propel the bike without pedaling. Note: throttle can only be engaged after 2 km/h.”

Stopping power?The hydraulic brakes make stopping on a dime easy.

Is it user friendly?-Yes, it’s very easy to use. Turn it on, set your pedal assist level, then ride!

Is the bike reliable? In a short and simple answer, yes. The OHM Urban XU700 has been down trails that it wasn’t meant to go on and I’ve tested its durability in more ways than one.

For starters, the bike did well on the street. Not once did I have any problems with it. The electrical system worked as designed and it made my commute easier because I hardly had to pedal. As far as testing its durability, I took this bike through various mountain bike trails as well as a Super D and Downhill course at the Southridge Challenge back in November. The photo below was taken moments before a downpour. I have purposely left the bike out in rain to see if that would cause any problems. To my surprise, everything worked perfectly. The drivetrain has never needed any sort of tuning or adjustments.

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In fact, when I rode it down the Super D and DH courses, people would stop and stare because they couldn’t believe that this e-bike was able to handle the abuse I was giving it. I tried to beat up this bike, but the only thing I did to it was a pinch flat and it caused the rear wheel to come out of true. Other than that, the bike is in great shape!

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I’ve gotta admit, the OHM Cycles Urban XU700 has me very excited. It’s an absolutely entertaining bike to ride. Everyone that has tried it simply falls in love with the pedal assist. During one of my Saturday morning, 15 miler rides with the OHM, I had stopped at the local 7/11 and a gentleman came up to me asking about the bike. He said that he was in the market for an e-bike, but had never tried one. So I offered him the OHM to ride in the parking lot. Much like the responses that people have when they ride the OHM, he too fell in love. He made it a point to write down the brand and model name.

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Fortunately, this bike does come with some accessories that a large number of our readers love: fenders, rack, and lights!

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In closing, the OHM Cycles Urban XU700 has been a very fun bike to test. It has taken me on some great adventures and its durability has been pretty stellar. But the question is, would I buy one at the price of $3299? If I had the cash laying around — yes, I would.

Review Disclaimer