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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Guest Article: The Tour de Troit

Longtime reader and contributor Ann Rappaport sent in the following coverage and photos of her recent experience riding the Tour de Troit. Take a look — this event looks and sounds like a blast!

Saturday was the 10th annual Tour de Troit. This was my first chance riding in it and I can’t wait for the next one. It’s a leisurely paced/avg 10 mph ride with police escort and road closures. The route explores some of the city’s historic areas. Early registration gave me a great ticket price of $35 which included a nifty tee-shirt and all the other goodies a rider could want. On site the tickets were $50 but no tee-shirt included. You had to spring for an additional $10 to get one. At the end of the day you got your money’s worth and more.

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Tour De Troit was founded by Edward Potas and Mike Kiewicz. They started out with a bike trailer, a cooler, a pump and some tools. In the past 10 years, the event has raised nearly $100,000 specifically for the biking community. Profits go to the Southwest Detroit Greenlink which, when completed in 2011, will connect Corktown, Mexicantown and S.W. Detroit with 17 miles of bike lanes. Detroit is starting to look a little like Chicago as bike riding is becoming common. The city has over 400 miles of bike lanes planned in the future.

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Two rides were offered, the primary ride which included Belle Isle, a 5 mile loop, for a total of 24 miles. Actually riders could choose to omit this and take a break at the entrance; relax and recharge with drinks, fruit and power bars and then continue with the group. The second option was a metric century (62 miles) at a faster pace/avg. 15 mph.

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After the ride, there was food, drink and music at Roosevelt Park; located in front of Detroit’s old Michigan Central Station, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and 14th Street. If you know Detroit I need only say that Slow’s Bar B Q had two selections (vegan or meat) and you know just how tasty the other 5 food choices were. Riders got 2 food and beer tickets. Beer…..yes beer was also part of your reward provided by MillKing It Productions brewery. The lines were long but you could turn in your beer tickets “en masse” as long as you could carry it away- it was yours. Top it all off with souvenir photos, live bands and it was a truly perfect fall day.

Tour De Troit 6420

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Bookmark this site for 2012:
http://www.tour-de-troit.org/

For further information about biking in Detroit and the surrounding communities:
http://www.m-bike.org/
http://www.wheelhousedetroit.com/
http://thehubofdetroit.org/
http://corktowncycles.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/71297671024/
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=251386061561481