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Tag Archive: utility bike

Redline R530 — First Impressions

The other day, our friends at Redline Bicycles sent their R530 to me to test. This is Redline’s version of a European city bike, and it comes packed with lots of features, comfort and utility.

Redline R530

Here’s a quick rundown of the bike from Redline’s website:

-Lightweight 6061 aluminum frame that is specially designed for utilitarian use.
-Shock absorbing Suntour front fork with 50mm of travel.
-Quiet, “maintenance free,� easy shifting Shimano Nexus 7 speed drive train & highly efficient roller brakes.
-Easy fit handlebars & stem adjust for comfortable upright riding positions.
-Sturdy aluminum double wall rims with stainless steel spokes, with flat resistant tubes for trouble-free adventure.
-Comes fully dressed with fenders, rear cargo carrier, full chainguard, & shock-absorbing seatpost.
-MSRP $589.99

As mentioned in my first article about the bike, this machine comes with a couple of components not usually seen on commuter bikes…namely, the Shimano roller brakes. In addition, this bike comes stock with a rear rack, fenders and even a handlebar-mounted bell! Apparently, someone at Redline is listening to what folks want in a city bike. Styling-wise, the bike has a very European flavor, with full chainguard and a very upright and commanding rider position. I can hear it now, though: our European readers are probably thinking, “no, it just looks like a bike!”, but to our American eyes, it has a different attitude and aesthetic than a lot of similarly-equipped bikes on the U.S. market.

upright
Very upright riding position

Folks concerned about a harsh-riding aluminum frame need not be worried…this bike is packed with comfort features! In addition to the suspension fork and shock-absorbing seatpost, the saddle and grips are gel-filled and very cushy. The suspension fork may appear to be somewhat gimmicky (I can’t think of too many other city bikes that have one), but it does the job: taking the sting out of rough roads.

fork

About a mile of my commute is over cobblestones and the rest is on Tampa’s legendarily bad streets, and whatever roughness I encounter is pleasantly muted. One of my neighbors, upon returning from a round-the-block test ride, exclaimed, “it rides like a Barca-Lounger on wheels!

The Shimano Nexus seven-speed hub works exactly as expected: totally awesome. It’s relatively foolproof, smooth and provides plenty of gearing range for all but the very steepest hills. The roller brakes seem (for the most part) pretty spectacular, too. They have most of the benefits of disc brakes (good stopping power in sloppy conditions) but without the maintenance and setup hassles, and can be well-modulated from the brake levers. I found the rear brake to have tremendous stopping power, but I’d have to agree with the late Sheldon Brown’s assessment of the front roller brake…it isn’t all that great. Although it does help slow the bike down, it doesn’t feel particularly strong or confidence-inspiring.

front roller brake
the front roller brake

One potential drawback of using roller brakes and internal hubs on a commuter bike is the additional complexity of removing a wheel for a flat. In the front, a minimum of two tools are required to release the wheel from the fork: a 10mm wrench for the brake cable pinch bolt and a 15mm spanner for the axle nuts. In the back, add a screwdriver to the list in order to dismantle the chainguard and get the wheel out of the frame. Granted, many commuters carry a decent selection of tools, but this whole process can be kind of fiddly, especially if you’re running late to work. Perhaps this is why Redline specified tough tires and thorn-resistant tubes with the bike?

In any case, stay tuned for a complete review in the next few weeks. I’ll get some more saddle time on this bike and report in more depth. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this…so far, this bike is a blast to ride — ideal for short- to mid-distance rides where you want to arrive in style and comfort!

sweeet!

Check out the specs on Redine’s website.

Yuba Mundo is HERE!

The Yuba Mundo arrived at the BikeCommuters.com World Headquarters a few days ago and I took a few snap shots of the frame. The Mundo arrives practically in pieces, but somehow they all managed to fit it all in one box. We received the 6 speed model and its blue, my favorite color!
yuba mundo

I’ll be building this bike up and once its done I’ll post some photos.

We’ll be reviewing this bike and testing the cargo capacity of it…so I’ll need some volunteers to be my passenger.

Another Take on the European City Bike

We’ve all been thrilled and fascinated by Russ’s transformation of his old Trek into a versatile city bike and his “reverse fixed-gear conversion“. Both of these bikes really embody the European utility bike, both in function as well as in aesthetics…shellaced cork grips, swoopy upright handlebars, ability to haul loads, etc.

I’ve been kicking around a project just like this, too….except mine is more on a budget (using salvaged parts). The concept behind what I’ve been referring to as “Jack’s Patented Grocery Gitter” is that I really needed to develop a European-style errand bike, something with utility in mind but something that also has little monetary value. I don’t want to have to worry about this bike being in the rain or getting chewed up by substandard bike racks. Most importantly, if someone were to steal this bike, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.

So many errands can be completed within just a couple miles of my house…trips to the bank, the drugstore, the grocery store, the post office, etc. With any of the current bikes in my stable, I’d often worry about them getting damaged or stolen, and that made me more reluctant to do these kinds of quick trips by bike. With this elegant “beater”, I can lay those fears to rest and start saving even more gas than I’ve been!

The first step was to “devalue” the Belgian-made French Astra I’ve been using as my weekend commuter. Basically, this means putting a pair of crappy 700c wheels I’ve had in my shed on it, removing all the other decent parts and swapping them out with old stuff gathering dust in my spare parts bins.

I managed to find the original chromed handlebars for this bike in my shed, so I slipped them back on with a longer stem and some MTB brake levers.

Astra frontend

I had a pair of all-weather BMX grips, too, so I stuffed them on the ends of the bars. Now I can channel the spirit of our very own RL Policar whenever I ride it:

RL in the HOUSE!!!

The next steps are to convert the singlespeed drivetrain into a 1×6 setup, run cables to the brakes and derailleur (and pray the left-hand Shimano shifter works to push the rear derailleur far enough — I can’t find the right-hand side thumbie) and slap some grocery baskets on there. I am favoring a chrome Wald front basket with struts to sort of match the folding wire rear pannier/baskets I’m planning on installing. It ain’t no CETMA rack, but I think it will suffice for my purposes…

Stay tuned for more!