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 versatilityâ€”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.
Alex’s Review of Detroit Bikes’ A-Type commuter bicycle:
A bike built for urban useâ€¦
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 canâ€™t avoid, and it doesnâ€™t leave your arms feeling like theyâ€™ve been through the wringer. Itâ€™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 6â€™ might have some issues with the short cockpit and high riding stance that flows from the adaptable design.
Itâ€™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 opinionâ€”I tried to move them as hard as I could, but no diceâ€”but do offer a nice big area to sneak a cable lock in there to secure the seat.
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 didnâ€™t play with it, thereâ€™s enough tweaking to be doneÂ within the confines of these gearsÂ to suit everybodyâ€™s riding style. And thereâ€™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, itâ€™s a single speed, and thatâ€™s such a nice solution for urban use.
â€¦ 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 downâ€”losing serious powerâ€”and thatâ€™s when you notice that the metal studs on the seat (they donâ€™t have to be there, seriously) are really, really, really uncomfortable. Bummer.
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. Itâ€™s rough, abrupt and an old school complement to such a nice gearing set. The single front side-pull caliper brake doesnâ€™t do much. Itâ€™s inadequate for effective brakingâ€”if you use it for fine tuning, you end up mashing on the coaster, which is all around startling and not slick. Itâ€™s understandable that the coaster brake presents a nice, compact solution for urban use, but only if it actually works well. It doesnâ€™t. It offers two braking modes: notÂ and full on. Which is only great if youâ€™re into flying off your bike. Or maybe I just suck at using coaster brakes, letâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t break the bank (no pun intended) any more than the current setup. Less sleek yes, but I like stopping.
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 lastâ€”but it may not be the best choice for hilly locales.Â You may purchaseÂ Detroit Bikes’ A-Type Commuter Bicycle for $699Â directlyÂ from Detroit Bikes onlineÂ orÂ through a local retailer.
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