Last year my goal for the year was to ride 1,500 miles. I didn’t reach my goal. This year I upped my goal to 2,000 miles and I reached my goal early. Here’s a short vlog about it.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, I’ve been wanting a new bike for the new year. I figured something new would get me more excited about riding bicycles. So I started looking around for a CycloCross Bike, or some may call it CX bike.
I’ve always loved 700c wheeled bicycles for commuting. To me they just ride smoother and faster than 26″ wheels. So that meant a CX bike would be a great addition to my stable. I’ve had my share of CX bikes in the past and I love them. This time around I want to focus in on a bike that is going to be budget minded. I really don’t want to, nor have the funds to get a fancy bike.
So a few choices came to mind. The first one is the Liberty CX available only through BikesDirect for about $399.99.
The next choice was to go single speed with the State Warhawk which retails for about $579.
Anyhow, if things go as planned with selling off my body parts and services, I may be able to get this new bike soon. We’ll keep you updated on the progress.
So about 10 years ago when I started to commute to my jobs I was really into the whole idea of less is more. This meant that my bike was a fixed gear with one brake, messenger bag and small blinky lights. Each year that progressed I noticed I found that the things I thought were “goofy” at one point, were grabbing my attention.
Let’s take for example rear racks and panniers. I used to think they were for “old people.” Well, as I got older I see that they are way more practical than I had ever imagine. But before I got into the pannier thing, I actually ditched the messenger bag for backpacks. I figured it was better for my shoulders and there were a ton of companies that made some great bags. But that too went by the wayside as I didn’t like showing up to places with a wet back and sore shoulders.
Now that I’m 10 years older I’d like to tell you what I now prefer when it comes to bike commuting. Ready for this?
-rack with at least 2 panniers
-big lights! Minimum of at least 600 lumens on the headlight and 2 blinkers in the back. I like to place them on two different spots for added visibility.
-T-shirts. I used to commute with only cycling clothing. Now I just grab t-shirts and regular shorts.
-I stopped riding fixed gears…arthritic knees.
Perhaps its with time that I started seeing things differently as I did when I was younger. But one thing I’m grateful for is the choices available that the bicycle industry makes for its consumers. Let’s face it, each company has to cater to it’s various demographics to remain competitive and that’s good for us, young and seasoned riders.
What about you? Were there things you’ve changed through out your commuting career? Do you now do things that you didn’t think of when you were younger? It’s like a young married man saying “I’ll never get a mini-van.” Only to find himself at the dealer a few years later falling in love with a new van with built-in DVD player for the kids.
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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