3 December 2007

Why I bought the Breezer Uptown 8

Posted by todd under: Breezer Uptown 8; My bikes .

[[Find more about the Breezer Uptown 8, including a ride report and more about the bike’s features and benefits.]]

When I first started bike shopping about seven years ago (because the Specialized Milano bike I had been riding to work was stolen — right out from under my carport), I knew exactly what I wanted:

A vehicle.

My wife and I had sold one of our two cars, and I needed a way to get to work. No big knobby tires required, no racing anticipated — just give me a solid, dependable companion for the daily grind of carrying a load and helping me stay safe and comfortable during 6 miles of riding.

What I didn’t want was to fool around mixing and matching accessories. Having little confidence in my mechanical abilities, I wanted everything on the bike, out of the box — including lights, fenders and a rear rack.

As it turned out, I would have had more success finding the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t find the bikes I was looking for. I could — online. It would have been perfect … if I lived in Europe. You couldn’t buy them in the United States, even though they were manufactured by the big boys, such as Giant and Trek. I called one of these manufacturers to find out whether we could work out some kind of a deal. Sorry, they said. There’s just not enough of a commuter market in the USA.

German flagI even called a German bike shop at one point to explore the feasibility of getting a fully-equipped commuter shipped over here. (Not feasible. Of course.)

Since I didn’t want to buy something brand new unless it met my requirements, it was off to yard sales in search of something that could be adapted. Then it was time to buy and install my own accessories.

I mixed, matched, and made do for several years — until I found the Breezer Uptown 8. (I’m riding one in the photo across the top of the page.)

The Uptown 8 is made in the USA, but it’s loaded like the European commuter bikes I had seen only in pictures. It came (and still comes) tricked out with fenders, rack, lights, a shock-absorbing seatpost — even a bell.

It also features a chain guard. Mine covers only part of the chain, which is still shown on the company Web site, but Breezer has since come out with a full chaincase for the Uptown 8.

Novara FusionI compared the Uptown 8 to everything else I could find online near the end of 2005. By that time there were more commuter-bike options. I narrowed my search to the Trek L300 (no longer offered, but referred to here), and REI’s Novara Fusion (pictured at left). I was seriously considering the Fusion and sent Breezer an e-mail asking if they could give me a comparison between the Uptown 8 and the Fusion.

To my amazement, I got a response from the founder of the company, Joe Breeze himself — on Christmas Eve, no less, and a follow-up on Christmas Day. Mr. Breeze sent a concise, nine-point comparison and contrast between his bike and the competition’s, including the superiority of the curved fork over the straight fork, the measurement of each bike’s rear rack, and a brief primer on gearing.

Joe Breeze(Breeze obviously knew what he was talking about, and his bio shows why; go here and click on “Read about Joe Breeze and the history of Breezer bikes”; also here. Breeze is one of the fathers of mountain biking — that’s him at right in the early days in a photo from the Breezer Web site — and he’s now pushing my kind of riding. Incidentally: If you like theological discussions, check out the one about who invented the mountain bike.)

I test-rode the Uptown 8 at Pedal the Planet, a great local shop. When they got my size in stock, I bought it for around $960. (That might seem like a lot for a bike. It is, if you think of a bike as a toy rather than as a vehicle. I don’t — so I compare the cost of the bike to the cost of a second car. Guess which is cheaper?)

I have not been disappointed.

[[Find more about the Breezer Uptown 8, including a ride report and more about the bike’s features and benefits.]]


Since then, I have added another great commuter bike to the stable: A 1992 Bridgestone XO-1. The backup is a 1977 Raleigh Super Course 10-speed. Another wonderful bike, a Fuji S-10-S, did not survive a rather spectacular crash two blocks from my house (but that’s another story). The sagas of each of these bikes might give you some ideas about what would make a serviceable commuter bike for you, or how you can make your own, so I will tell about them in future posts.

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.



Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!




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