BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: bicycle commuter

Review: Detroit Bikes’ A-Type Commuter Bicycle, Part 2

Yesterday, I posted my review of Detroit Bikes’ steel frame commuter bicycle, the A-Type. One of the main selling points of the bike is its versatility—the frame comfortably fits riders from 5’3″ to 6’3″. I decided to test this out by asking my bike enthusiast friend, Alex to borrow the bike for a few days and give me a full report on his experience. He was more than happy to oblige. Read on for Alex’s review of the A-Type.

IMG_0307

Alex’s Review of Detroit Bikes’ A-Type commuter bicycle:

A bike built for urban use…

The A-Type’s outstanding quality is the frame. It looks great, sleek, without being too flashy and standing out to potential bike thieves. The steel absorbs the bumps and shocks of urban cycling with brio. It never feels like it might fold in half when you run over that pothole you just can’t avoid, and it doesn’t leave your arms feeling like they’ve been through the wringer. It’s a frame that inspires confidence.

The bike is built to adjust to a wide range of rider sizes and I have to say it did so pretty well for me. Although the seat was a bit of a pain to adjust (and thus way harder to steal), it went high enough to allow for a comfortable riding position. If I had to guess though, anybody over 6’ might have some issues with the short cockpit and high riding stance that flows from the adaptable design.

IMG_0314

It’s tricked out with nifty little features that make it great for putting around town. The fenders are nice (having gone through a puddle of what was suspiciously probably not water) and the rear basket-carrier-thing fits a standard size milk crate just great with the help of a couple bungee cords. The springs on the seat are superfluous in my opinion—I tried to move them as hard as I could, but no dice—but do offer a nice big area to sneak a cable lock in there to secure the seat.

IMG_0308

Finally, the gearing on the bike is superb. All thanks to the Shimano Nexus 3-speed internally hubbed gear set. Just perfect for urban use, it shifts effortlessly and smoothly, even going up hills. Although I didn’t play with it, there’s enough tweaking to be done within the confines of these gears to suit everybody’s riding style. And there’s no external parts to steal, bang up, or get caught in your pants. As far as everybody (a.k.a. potential bike thieves) knows, it’s a single speed, and that’s such a nice solution for urban use.

… just maybe not San Francisco.

All of these nice attributes tend to fall apart when you hit a hill though, except for the gearing. The stance suddenly feels high and exposed. And while the curved handle bars maximize adaptability, I would have preferred straight bars to help optimize cockpit length. This issue is particularly evident on hills, especially for someone taller like me. The shorter length forces you to sit down—losing serious power—and that’s when you notice that the metal studs on the seat (they don’t have to be there, seriously) are really, really, really uncomfortable. Bummer.

detroit-bikes_saddle-ls

And to cap that off, the braking systems on the bike are not the best. The coaster brake reminds me of the bike I had when I was four and learning to pedal for the first time. It’s rough, abrupt and an old school complement to such a nice gearing set. The single front side-pull caliper brake doesn’t do much. It’s inadequate for effective braking—if you use it for fine tuning, you end up mashing on the coaster, which is all around startling and not slick. It’s understandable that the coaster brake presents a nice, compact solution for urban use, but only if it actually works well. It doesn’t. It offers two braking modes: not and full on. Which is only great if you’re into flying off your bike. Or maybe I just suck at using coaster brakes, let’s not discount that. Either way, a single, front mounted disk brake would be more than enough braking for this bike in urban situations and wouldn’t break the bank (no pun intended) any more than the current setup. Less sleek yes, but I like stopping.

– Alex

Thanks for that, Alex. Personally, I think you might just suck at using coaster brakes. However, I also found the coaster brake to be tricky at first, but once I got the hang of it, the breaking system was adequate for my needs.

Alex and I both agree that the A-Type is well designed, beautiful bike equipped with fantastic gearing and a frame that’s built to last—but it may not be the best choice for hilly locales. You may purchase Detroit Bikes’ A-Type Commuter Bicycle for $699 directly from Detroit Bikes online or through a local retailer.

Our FTC Review Disclaimer.

 

 

 

How technology is changing the face of bicycle commuting

Here’s an interesting article that appeared in our Google News Feed the other day — from Fast Company, folks who know a thing or two about technology and new businesses:

Bicycles, with their gears and pedal power may seem like the Luddites of the transportation family, but the technology available to improve your ride is out there, it’s growing, and it’s helping more Americans consider bikes as a method of transportation than ever before.

If you’re a cyclist, or have friends who prefer two wheels to four, you are aware of how passionate people can be about bicycles, and specifically their enthusiasm for bike evangelism.

Tyler Doornbos, of Bike Friendly Goods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, chatted with me about some of the “barriers to entry” for getting more people on bikes, and how new technologies are addressing some of those issues. I’ve taken his advice and put together this short guide to digitizing your bike commute.

Read the full article by visiting the Fast Company page here. The article serves as a rundown of emerging new tech and devices to make your commute safer and easier. You may have heard of some of the technology already, but there were a few products in the article that were completely new to me, and I try to stay abreast of the trends in the industry. The article is worth a look, in any case.

2011 Redline 925 Review


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.
Redline 925 Brown

Dual Pivot Caliper
Redline 925 Brown

Fender mounts, radial laced wheel.
Redline 925 Brown

Flip Flop Hub.
Redline 925 Brown

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

Urban Commuter Expo: Nice Pannier!

We met a nice fella at the expo that showed us his nice home made panniers. It’s a wonderful idea that doesn’t cost more than a bucket of detergent.

He basically took some old detergent buckets (rectangular shaped) and cut the handles bent them and latched it onto the rack.

The lip of the bucket keeps them secure.

The owner said that its pretty easy to remove but it won’t come off when he’s got load in it.

We thought it was a pretty brilliant idea…and he recycled his trash. We even joked with him about painting it to match his bike and get some bullet hole stickers on the side to add some character.

Quick Review:Trek Soho S


Product: Trek Soho S



MSRP:
$549.00


Specs:

Sizes 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5″
Frame Alpha Black Aluminum
Fork Cro-Moly w/lowrider mounts
Wheels
Wheels Alloy flip flop high flange hubs; alloy rims
Tires Bontrager Race Lite, puncture resistant, 700x28c; 60 tpi
Drivetrain
Shifters n/a
Front Derailleur n/a
Rear Derailleur n/a
Crank Bontrager Nebula 44T w/chainguard
Cassette Shimano 17T freewheel/16T cog
Pedals Nylon body w/alloy cage
Components
Saddle Bontrager Select City
Seat Post Bontrager Satellite Nebula
Handlebars Bontrager Crowbar Sport, 25mm rise
Stem Bontrager Soho, 15 degree
Headset Aheadset Slimstak w/semi-cartridge bearings, sealed
Brakeset Alloy dual pivot w/Tektro alloy levers
Extras Chainguard

Sweet chain guard to keep your slacks free of grease.

I really dig the matte/flat/gloss finish. Gives it character and makes it less of an attention whore for thieves.

First Impressions:

The Trek Soho S retails around $549…not bad for this kind of bike. It’s a single speed/fixie with the flip flop hubs. The setup of the Soho S reminds me of how I’ve set up my Redline 925. I’ve never been a fan of drop bars, and flat bar road bikes have always been my favorite because of the geometry and overall riding position that tends to be more comfortable. One of the comforting aspects of this bike is the Bontrager Race Lite tires that are puncture resistant. I HATE getting flats and having these type of tires not only peace of mind, but it will also prevent you from being late to the office because you didn’t have to hassle with a flat tire.

The sidepull Tektro brake and levers provided enough stopping power without any strain on my hands.

One of the other small details that I liked about the bike was the bar ends. Check out how they have a reflective sticker on it. I thought that was pretty cool. Oh and the bell is an added bonus!

The gearing ran at 44/17t on the freewheel and it was easy enough to start at a dead stop and get on cruising speeds within a few seconds. I rode with the fixed gear for a bit, but when I did try it, the lock ring slipped. I quickly fixed that but rather than riding it as a fixed, I opted for the freewheel since my knee has had problems from stopping fixed gear bikes.


Summary:

I actually liked the Trek Soho S. I rode a 17.5, which made it just right for my height, 5’7″ on a good day. The bike felt comfortable, I didn’t feel that I was leaning over too much or had that aggressive race geometry. But don’t get me wrong, the Trek Soho S can dish out some good speed. Just a few pumps of the pedals, then this baby is hauling.

trek soho s

There was one thing I didn’t particularly care for about this bike, its the pedals. They had these weird open cage design that felt like my foot was falling off. I think a good pair of platform pedals or even clipless pedals(even better) would have solved this issue. Other than that, the bike is fun to ride, it would make a great commuter and is relatively priced low.

Beautifully designed, affordably priced canvas and leather bicycle bags.