Suburban Assault

Archive for the ‘Cool Bikes’ Category

Three Well-Priced Urban Bike Sources

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People often ask me where they can find a good, cheap bike. The answer to that question is always subjective, because there are so many types of bicycles as well as so many different types of riding. When I ask what kind of bike they are looking for, the typical answer is, “Well, I’d like something that I can ride around my neighborhood or town, but I’d like to be able to take it off-road as well.”

I believe the reason for this reply is because they haven’t been on a bike for a while and aren’t sure what type of riding they will feel most comfortable doing. Until they can figure that out, these folks typically want a bike that can do everything. Finding that bike is quite a challenge. I am more than happy to help out because I’m glad to hear that folks still have that spark to ride a bike.

I try to steer new people in the direction of something more universal and recommend getting a simple bike that can get them from point A to point B.

I also try to steer them away from discount store bikes. I love Target and Walmart type stores for many things, but not for their bicycles – which are, typically, badly made from poor materials. That being said, if that’s your only option, then go for it. Any bike is better than no bike.

My next recommendation is to check out their local bike shops. There is no better place to find quality bikes, built and maintained by skilled bike professionals, than at your local bike shop. Occasionally, you’ll find a bike at a great price. Plus, it’s always good to support your local shops.

But, even that isn’t the right fit for some folks. This brings me to the point of this post – to showcase some different sources for some well-priced bikes found online. I decided to focus on “Urban” utility bikes to articulate that there are nice, alternative solutions that look good and won’t break the bank. Here are three companies that have done a great job at getting some attention in the blog and social networking circles:

© Republic Bike - Please Visit Their Site

Republic Bike:
Republic is a Florida based company who was one of the first to start offering customizable urban bikes at a really low price. From their site: “At Republic Bike, we decided to shake up familiar aesthetic conceits and expectations of what a bike should look like.  In fact, we decided to leave it up to you. The only tools we offer here are those to let your creativity go for a ride. You pick, choose, swap and decide, and we’ll build it, box it, and ship it out. It’s a bike we design and build together.  It’s built by us & you. (more) ” Early criticism pointed out the low quality steel used in their frames. Since then, they started offering some nice Chromoly solutions at a slightly higher price. They offer fixed gear/single speed models as well as Dutch inspired bikes with up to 3-speeds. Prices range from $399 to $499.

© State Bicycle - Please Visit Their Site

State Bicycle Company:
State is based in Arizona and also offers inexpensive urban bikes. Unlike Republic, State’s bikes aren’t as customizable. Their niche is offering bike models for a limited time before ‘retiring’ them. This gives you a chance to own a limited edition bike at a low price. From their site: “Our goal is to bring the most attractive, high quality, and smooth riding fixed gear/single speed bicycles to the market at the lowest price possible. We currently offer 13 different color combinations, 3 handlebar styles (bullhorns, riser bars, and drop bars), and 4 sizes (49cm, 52cm, 55cm, and 59cm). Each bicycle model that we offer is available for 3 months to a year before it is “retired” and we release newly designed models to replace it — when they’re gone, they’re gone. (more)”  Keeping it simple, they offer basic components with one type of Chromoly frame model that is single speed. Price is $429 with free shipping.

© Public Bikes - Please Visit Their Site

Public Bikes:
Public is a San Francisco based company. Although higher in price, they offer up a wide variety of well-designed, European-inspired bikes. From their site: “We design and sell urban bikes, along with accessories to make riding more enjoyable, practical, and chic. Our European-inspired bikes ride like butter. They come in single and multi-speeds in all sizes. You can dress in casualor business attire, and wear pumps, tennis shoes, or flip flops – just about anything – while riding our bikes. And we have baskets, bags and other gear to go along with them. These bikes will make you feel like a kid again, and this is every bit as important as anything else. (more)” Unlike the more messenger/fixed gear type bikes featured by the other companies, Public offers more bikes that keep their riders upright and comfortable. They’re not as customizable, but provide great design that’s accessible with most budgets. Frames range in steel quality, with the Chromoly bikes at a higher price. You’ll find gearing options from 1 to 8-speed. Prices range from $550 to $995.

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Written by dickdavid

June 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Street Ready Redline Monocog 29er

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Redline Monocog, Single Speed 29er

Stock 2008 Redline Monocog 29er

I was looking for an off-road bike back in late 2008, and decided to go with a single speed 29er. After reading some great reviews in Mountain Bike Action Magazine, I narrowed my choices down to either a Haro Mary SS or a Redline Monocog 29er – both reasonably priced, good performers. Unfortunately, my local bike shops had trouble keeping them in inventory, so test rides were hard to come by.

I finally stumbled across one in early 2009. Richardson Bike Mart happened to have a 2008 Redline Monocog 29er on clearance and was priced to sell quickly. The frame size was actually large and I’m, borderline, sized to fit most mediums – I took a test ride anyway. Sure enough, it fit in both length and height and I immediately fell in love with the ride. It was mine.

Little did I know that my intent to get back on the trails would dwindle as my love for street riding grew. The fate of my new off-road bike was that it never actually got off-road. I still enjoy riding it around town, and with a few tweaks over the years, I finally turned it to a nice street bike.

Drivetrain
The first thing that I had to change was the gearing. Since it was an off road bike, it was geared for low-end torque to power through rough terrain and rocky climbs. The stock set-up was a 32-tooth chainring paired with a 20-tooth cog. This sucker was slow on the streets with a 1.6 gear ratio. My first thought was to put a 48-tooth chainring on the front to bring it to a 2.4 gear ratio, but my bike shop guy talked me into a much cheaper solution – replacing the cog from the 20 to a 15-tooth. This brought it to the current set up to 32/15, a nicer 2.13 ratio. Still slow, but for the price of $15, I can live with it for a while.

Update: scroll down to the bottom to see the newest update to the chainring.

20 to 15

Handling
The next change was the handlebars. The stock bars on the Monocog are wide – which I guess is standard for mountain bikes ( This is what the stock bars looked like). I prefer a narrow bar to give me quicker, more responsive turns. Instead of buying a new bar, I opted to just take a hacksaw to the stock one. With a little over an inch and a half off of each side and some new Lizard Skin lock grips, my turn was greatly improved.

Update: Scroll down to see how I’ve updated – somewhat reverted –  back to some wider bars.

Riding The New Bike Lane

Mounting
I’ve changed out the pedals several different times. The first switch was from the stock pedals to clipless, Shimano SPD pedals – which are my default choice for mountain biking. Since I never got this bike off-road, I found clicking in and out at every stoplight quite annoying. Not wanting to completely give up on SPD, I tried a hybrid Campus Pedal from Performance, giving me a flat pedal on one side for quick mounts.

I would have been happy staying with those pedals, but I was lucky enough to win a pair of really awesome VP-Components, VP-001s. Read my review on the pedals to see how much I love these things and why they’re my final choice.

VP-001 on the Redline

Gripping the Road
The Monocog still wasn’t completely street smart, so my next big upgrade was the rubber. The Monocog’s stock WTB knobbies, which were designed for some serious off-road traction, did not perform well on the street. Unfortunately, finding fat 29″ street tires in my local bike shops was next to impossible. I eventually found these Serfas Drifter City Tires at my local REI at a nicely discounted price. I was immediately impressed with the improved performance and traction of these tires. Also, their beefy 2.0 width keeps the pavement cracks and potholes from rattling my bones.

Rubber

Street Converted Monocog

That’s it for now. Slowly, I’ve managed to get this off-road beast converted to a slick, suburban assault machine.  If I were to make more upgrades in the future, I might look into a bigger chainring and a fancy saddle.

Street Converted Monocog Goodness

Street Converted Redline Monocog 29er

Click here to see all the pics of my Monocog.

UPDATE:

Through some wheeling and dealing (via sales, coupons and Team Performance points), I was able to obtain a Brooks, B-17 Saddle for quite a bit under suggested retail. Admittedly, at first, I wanted the Brooks because they look pretty cool. But it didn’t seem very practical having one on a utility, street scooter like this – but rather some fancy, expensive, custom built frame. Plus, having never sat on one, I couldn’t imagine anything built without a pad could even be comfortable. However, everybody that owns a Brooks, swears by them. Because of that, plus the incredible amount of heritage and craftsmanship that goes into their products, I had to take advantage of that special price and try one out.

The B-17 is one of the best upgrades that I’ve ever made to any bike. I was wrong to think that such a nice saddle should only be attached to just nice bikes. This saddle looks good, and improves the look of ANY bike – new or old. The styling is classic and timeless. Also to my surprise, the comfort of the B-17 is amazing, and is expected to get better as the saddle wears in over the years. I expect to upgrade all of my bikes – even the ones that I don’t own yet – to a Brooks Saddle, as soon as I can afford them.

Redline Monocog

Monocog With Updated Brooks B-17 Saddle

ANOTHER UPDATE:

Wanting to get more speed, I decided to upgrade my drivetrain again. This time I switched out my chainring from the stock 32T to a 36T. This will bring my gear ratio from the original 1.6 (32 front, 20 back) to a 2.4 (36 front, 15 back). Here is my write up on the not-so-fun experience ordering the part, as well as the unexpected problem installing it.

32 to 36

New Chainring

36T

ANOTHER UPDATE:

I was able to pick up another pair of the VP Components, VP-001 pedals – this set in black. Now, Monica is looking like a slick ninja. The old pair of VP-001 pedals went to my other bike.

Redline VP

Ninja Monica

ANOTHER UPDATE:

During last year’s work commute, I noticed that my hands were getting numb because of extended periods of time keeping them in the same position. I added some old bar ends back to my other bike, and having multiple places for different had positions seemed to help. Unfortunately, when I ‘trimmed’ the bars on THIS bike, I made them too narrow to add bar ends. I had to get a new handlebar.

I ended up getting a cheap Ritchey Comp riser bar. In spite of the instructions that came with it (see pic below), it was quite easy to install. I’m keeping the really wide stock width for now, but I may end up trimming them a little bit down the road. The new bars, along with some cheap bar ends, definitely gives me more hand position options.

Installation Instructions

Check out the installation instructions that came with these. Wow!

Wide Stance

Put The Old Bar Ends Back On

U.S. Pricing For Cooper Bikes

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I’ve been following the release of Cooper Bikes, and now that they are available in the United States, I decided to do some digging to find out availability and pricing. So far, 4 models are available in the States, T100 MonzaT100 SebringT200 Championship 50 and T200 Reims. The only place that you can get one is Prestige of Mahwah, in New Jersey.

I’ve been trading emails with the folks at Prestige, and they are in the process of setting up a dealer network in the U.S. Hopefully, there will be one near us soon.

I’ve also been given prices. Given the fact that these are imported, ’boutique’ bikes, I wasn’t expecting anything cheep. With their reputation for high quality and attention to detail, Cooper is known to charge a premium for their products. These bikes are no exception:

T100 Monza $1175.00
Available: 52cm, 57cm, 61cm

T100 Sebring $1175.00
Available: 57cm, 61cm

T200 Championship 50 $1600.00
Available: 57cm

T200 Reims 5spd $1700.00
Available: 57cm, 61cm

Not actually, seeing or riding the bikes, I’m going to hold my judgement on these prices. Sure, there are several comparable bikes out there for a lot less. The Cooper Bikes, however, have been getting a lot of great press and are starting to develop a good following. I would personally pay this premium if the bike holds true to it’s brand reputation. Hopefully, I’ll be able to test ride one to find out.

Written by dickdavid

November 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm

You Can Get A Cooper Bike In The US

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Image From Cooper Bikes. Please Visit Their Site.

Being both a bicycle and MINI Cooper enthusiast, the Cooper Bike has become one of the many on my wish list. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been available in the US since it’s release a year ago. According to the Cooper Bikes site, there has been a US representative in New Jersey. Through email, I discovered that they were still expecting inventory. Bike pricing wasn’t available, but the quoted shipping price was very expensive. I decided to wait until one was available closer to me before pursuing it any more.

Now it looks like Cooper Bikes is making more of an effort to push it through the States. This blog post has made me optimistic about them eventually making it to north Texas. Perhaps I’ll see a Cooper Bike on my next MINI rally. Perhaps the excitement will be enough to encourage more distribution in the U.S.

Fingers crossed.

Written by dickdavid

October 29, 2010 at 5:48 am

Posted in Cool Bikes

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Madsen Rolls Out Updated Utility Bikes

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I’m a big fan of the utility bike and even a bigger fan of Madsen Cycles. Today, they announced the release of their updated 2011 utility bikes. This version is based on feedback that they’ve gotten from current owners.

Here’s a gallery of the upgrades.

Here’s a video of the upgrades.

Written by dickdavid

September 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

Posted in Cool Bikes

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In The Mood For Some Utility

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For some reason, utility bikes have captured my interest. Having a the ability to haul stuff around gives me a great alternative to taking the bike instead of the car.

Even though there are a bunch of great options out there, here are a couple of bikes on my radar lately.

CIVIA Loring:

Trek Bikes (From the Gary Fisher Collection) Transport:

Written by dickdavid

July 9, 2010 at 8:32 am

The Only Reason I Like Yard Sales

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I typically hate yard sales. Every time my wife sees a sign and calls it out, I usually pretend I don’t hear her until we miss the turn. It’s an ongoing joke, because she knows how much I loath the idea of spending my hard earned cash on somebody else’s junk. I’ve got plenty of my own junk. Sure, there’s the occasional gem, but those are too few and you have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat the yard sale pros. Well, I ran across one of those gems.

My neighbors were having a sale this weekend. As I was walking the dog, I noticed a pretty interesting bike parked out front. At first, I thought it would make a nice ride for my wife (to compliment her cruiser). But upon closer inspection, I noticed the size was a bit smaller. It was a 24″ Murray kid’s bike.

I wasn’t sure how old it was, but the styling was retro. My neighbor asked if I was interested and I replied with a question, “how much?” She said $20.

My first instinct was to decline. IF I were interested, it would be for my daughter – but I wasn’t sure if she would like it.

I finished walking the dog, jumped on my bike and did a small ride. When I arrived back home, my kids were finally awake. I told my daughter about the bike I had passed up and assumed that, by now, it had been sold to one of those yard sale pros – just minutes after me passing it up. For kicks, I popped my head out the front door to double check. Sure enough, it was still there.

She asked if we could take a closer look and I agreed. Seeing the fake leopard skin seat covers and cool purple paint, she immediately fell in love with it. As we were inspecting the bike closer, my neighbor walked up an gave me a newer price, $15. Still hesitant, I insisted that my daughter take a spin on it. She loved it and so we ended up taking it home.

It’s got some surface tarnish on the chrome, and it’s in major need of a tune-up. I can do most of it myself, but I will need to have a pro inspect and adjust the 3-speed drive train. My first step was to clean it up and get it rolling again, but eventually, I’ll replace the rubber and the pedals. Even if it doesn’t end up being a great bike, we’re only out $15.

Murray

Written by dickdavid

June 27, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Cool Bikes

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