Choosing a new bike

May 9, 2008

Constraints include: black, no stupid name/decorations, fat (2.3″) tire clearance, fenders, rack, chain guard, dropped top tube (“ladies” bike), enough gears.Nothing works out of the box, but bike work is easy enough. Painting the frame is hard, finding an aftermarket chain guard is tricky, fitting a tire where there is no room is impossible. The candidates (all decent commuter bikes) include:

  • Breezer Uptown 8 U frame, steel fork. ($660)

    A complete package, but no room for the fat tires. Also not black.

  • Biria Easy Boarding 7 ($570)

    A complete package, not clear the fat tires would fit. The excessively practical step-through might be a fashion issue.

  • Electra Amsterdam Balloon 8 ($650)

    This was almost a winner, but for the pedal-forward position. I’ve tried it, it’s not bad, but it’s not great. Also needs fender, chaincase, perhaps a rack.

  • Kona AfricaBike ($300)

    A nice choice, we might even have gone with it, but it wasn’t available in too many shops (2 carry Kona within 25 miles of our home, and the one we visited did not have it in stock. We saw one on the street in NYC, my better half did not allow me to give it a full exam.

    It needs fenders, chainguard, and rack, and it is black, and it is even steel. It’s probably very heavy (so we hear) and comes with at most 3 speeds, which might be ok, but we have a few icky hills.

  • Jamis Commuter 3.0 ($550)

    A very nice-looking bike, needs a rack and chainguard, but lacked adequate tire clearance.

  • Retrovelo Paula ($2000)

    Lacked only rack, chainguard, and affordability. Not black, but very stylish.

  • Gary Fisher Simple City ($550 3-spd/$880 8-spd w/ rack)

    Another nice-looking bike, needing only a rack (in 3-speed model). 8 speeds includes rack, but neither has adequate tire clearance.

  • Novara Flirt ($399)

    Needed fenders, rack, and chainguard, but had tire clearance. Was decorated with icky flowers and a great big “Flirt” logo. Yuck.

  • Giant Simple ($300)

    We ended up getting this bike. It needs fenders and a rack (rack already purchased) but it has tire clearance, it’s black, it’s easy to work on. It has 7 exceedingly cheap speeds that I expect I will be replacing if the bike gets any serious use at all.

This just in

(too late for purchase):
Biria Classic Dutch

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