25June2008

Comparison: Breezer Uptown 8 vs. Novara Fusion

Posted by todd under: Breezer Uptown 8; Novara Fusion.

Reader Brian B. asks:

I ride on a bike path that is not well-illuminated. In the winter, it gets dark early. Will the hub generator of the Uptown 8 cut it? Also, I am looking at the Novara Fusion. You mentioned Joe Breeze gave a point-by-point comparison. Could you post that or pass that on privately? What about the “hub brakes” on the Fusion. Do you think they are superior to the V-brakes of the Breezer Uptown 8?

Brian, thanks again for the questions. Breezer founder/owner Joe Breeze himself and I answered the question about the lights in an earlier post. The answer about the Fusion is a little more involved. Brian is referring to this post: I considered the Fusion before buying the Breezer Uptown 8, and e-mailed Breezer to ask for a comparison. Joe himself sent a specific reply.

I asked Joe whether it would be OK to publish his reply here, and he gave permission. Major caveat: Joe wrote this in December 2005 — the specs of the Fusion might have changed since then. From what I have seen online, they haven’t changed all that much. (It’s also worth mentioning that I have repeatedly e-mailed REI, over several weeks, trying to get specific specs for the Fusion, and they have not been forthcoming.)

I left out the last paragraph, which included prices that have changed. (These days, the Breezer Uptown 8 goes for somewhere around $960; the Fusion, for $749.)

Joe Breeze compares the Uptown 8 and the Fusion

Here is Joe’s response, from 5:24 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 2005:

Hi Todd,

I looked at the Fusion [right] a month or so ago. This is what I recall:

Breezer Uptown 8 ride (same frame as all our Town bikes): With medium-diameter aluminum tubing, 1.5-inch tires and Ø1-inch steering tube and tapered curved-blade forks, the ride is compliant, yet plenty stiff for a good sprint. The ride is important to me–I ride one.
Fusion: Deep draw seat tube and down tube, 1-3/8-inch tires and Ø1-1/8-inch steering tube with straight-blade fork. (I was considering leaving out further comment here, not being keen on a harsh critique, but on the other hand it’s important to let you know. Todd, all my experience points to this being a dreadful design, one that would most surely give a harsh ride.)

Breezer, Shimano Premium Nexus 8 hub (signified by red line around rear hub
shell): The Premium hub is 10 ounces lighter. It also has low-friction bearings in it.
Fusion, Shimano Standard Nexus 8 hub.

Breezer has Standlight feature,
so lights stay lit when you stop at a signal. No batteries to fuss with or throw away. And there is the Senso safety feature, so the lights come on automatically at dusk or whenever it is darker (dark clouds, underpasses, etc.)
Fusion: Requires batteries for that feature.

Breezer tail light: Protected by the rack Fusion tail light: Exposed. Also, attach a BOB trailer and after one harsh road transition the light might get scraped off.

Breezer, chainguard: The real deal
Fusion: Chainring guard only

Breezer, gearing: Plenty of room to customize gearing useful to most people.
Fusion, gearing: The 46×21 gearing leaves little room for a lower gear (23T is the biggest cog available).

Breezer, rear carrier: 14-inches long makes it a real useful rack. Includes spring clip.
Fusion, rear carrier: 12-inches

Breezer comes with a lock that can be very convenient for quick stops at stores, etc. For higher security situations, it means one less lock to hassle with.

The Fusion was shown at $749, and our Uptown8 MSRP is $909. I won’t disregard that $160 difference, but if $909 is beyond your budget, the Villager at $769 would get you a much better bike.

Best wishes,

Joe Breeze

11 

15June2008

How well doth it light the way?

Posted by todd under: Breezer Uptown 8.

Reader Brian B. passes along a couple of Breezer questions (thanks, Brian!):

I ride on a bike path that is not well-illuminated. In the winter, it gets dark early. Will the hib generator of the Uptown 8 cut it? Also, I am looking at the Novarra Fusion. You mentioned Joe Breeze gave a point-by-point comparison. Could you post that or pass that on privately? What about the “hub brakes” on the Fusion. Do you think they are superior to the V-brakes of the Breezer Uptown 8?

To take these one at a time: The Uptown 8’s light is more of a be seen light than a seeing light, in my opinion, if you’re going fast. At the speeds I ride (English country gentleman), it does just fine, and I ride home at midnight.

I asked Joe Breeze, owner/founder of Breezer Bicycles, for an answer to the question, and here’s what he said:

“I ride a Villager with the stock B&M Oval Plus with Halogen bulb. I’m fine with the lighting in unlit areas for speeds up to 20mph on pavement. Beyond that, I’m on my toes. New Breezer Uptowns have LED headlights which offers more visibility if not more lumens.”

I have the older-style Breezer Uptown, so I can’t say how well the new light does. If it’s brighter than the old one, I would feel pretty good at trusting it on a bike path at moderate to low speed.
I will pass along Joe’s info on the Novara comparison in a future post.

1 

29March2008

Going (in) GREEN

Posted by todd under: Clothing.

Infinity teeInfinity shirt closeup
Over at the Bicycle Forums, they’re going crazy for this shirt.

“Kelly” and “grass” are the names of the colors, btw — those words aren’t on the shirt.

It’s a clever design — “infinity” miles per gallon — and the price is OK at $15. And it seems to be selling pretty well, as several sizes are out.

Hey — this is a perfect shirt for all you fair-weather cycling wimps who are about to blow the dust off the wheels after a long winter of inactivity! 🙂

An aside. One thing that gets overlooked when discussing the relative costs of cycling versus driving: it’s expensive to keep a car, but it’s not cheap to keep that human machine powered up, either.

No connection with the seller, I do not profit from this endorsement although I did approve this message, etc., etc.

BTW, got any favorite cycling T-shirts? Send me the link.

1 

28March2008

Watch for what you’re not watching for

Posted by todd under: Video.

Typically, I did not notice — my wife did, though. Hat tip to Mike and Elizabeth!
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4]

1 

6March2008

Pleasant exchange(s!) with motorist

Posted by todd under: Riding.

Every commuting cyclist gets plenty of chances to complain about drivers — the ones who don’t look, the ones who don’t see, the ones who honk, the ones who don’t give you enough room, the ones who won’t pass, etc., etc.

So here’s something a little different.

The other day, at a stoplight in the middle of rush-hour traffic, while I was on my way to the plumbing-supply store to get a new valve for my kitchen faucet, a gent in a work truck rolls down his window and says: “I like your green jacket!”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah — it is really bright — it makes you easy to see!”

“That’s good!” I said. “The chicks don’t dig it — but I would rather be unfashionable than dead!”

Then the light changed. He and I went our separate ways.

Well, not so separate. I saw him at the plumbing-supply store.

He and I talked a little more while we waited at the counter.

Him (gesturing toward the window, through which wee could see my bike): “Is that one of those … new bikes?”

Me: “It came out in … 1977, I think.”

“Oh!” he says, and smiles.

Nothing too profound here. But there’s nothing too profound about most things, transportation in particular. We are all just trying to get where we need to go, for the most part, after all.

A harsh word will be remembered long after it is spoken. But a kind word, or even a hi-how-are-ya type of word, goes a surprisingly long way.

2 

28February2008

A $3,000 commuter bike? Discuss

Posted by todd under: Commuter bikes; Words from cycling sages.

The philosopher-kings over at the I-bob list are having a fascinating conversation about the Civia, a high-end commuting bike coming out next month. The list price is reputed to be $2,000 to $3,000 for for a complete bike; the frame is pictured at right. (A second thread has started in response to a reply from the manufacturer.)

Civia frameThe production and marketing of this bike is sparking all kinds of questions.

Will it sell? Who will buy it?

The answers that interest me most touch on whether such a bike is really necessary, when you can spend half to 75 percent as much and get the same results.

I won’t be buying one, and wouldn’t even consider it, but different strokes for different folks, I say!

The market will decide, and that’s as it should be.

I hope they sell a ton of Civias! And I hope I find one at a yard sale in a couple of years for 50 bucks. 🙂

0 

28February2008

The Man stayed in the saddle

Posted by todd under: Words from cycling sages.

Question: I’ve heard you don’t pedal off the saddle, that you sit down always. Is it true?
Answer: It is when I’m riding a multi-speed bike. It seems to me that standing up to pedal defeats the purpose of multi-speed gears. I don’t do it unless I run out of low gear on a climb, but this rarely happens to me. I think a lot of standing is the result of having the saddle too low, or the gear too high, or just to give the butt a break from one of those ubiquitous plastic saddles.
Sheldon Brown, in a Rivendell Reader interview, from Rivbike.com

0 

27February2008

Amateur weather forecasting

Posted by todd under: Riding.

Undeniable Truth of Bicycle Commuting No. 1:

If you ride the bike that has no fenders, it will rain.

0 

26February2008

Way cool Wald bars

Posted by todd under: Handlebars; Reviews.

Wald bars, upside down Wald bars, upside downI am loving the new look and feel that a set of Wald 8095 handlebars is giving my Raleigh Super Course. If you are having some trouble finding a comfortable setup for your commuting bike, or if you just want to try something a little different, check these out.

I saw these bars at Scheller’s Harrodsburg Road location here in Lexington, Ky. They are selling them for $15.99. (In comparison, a new set of Nitto mustache bars will set you back at least 50 bucks.)

Picture from Wald Web siteAdding to the coolness factor, locally at least, Wald is located right here in the bluegrass state — in Maysville. Wald has been around since 1905, when two brothers found success in Wisconsin by making and selling a tire-repair tool. They moved their operation to Kentucky in 1924. Wald’s Web site has a great page describing the history; the black and white picture in this post is from that page.

Wald is perhaps best-known for its baskets, which have an excellent reputation. I have never used a basket myself, but they fit nicely with any philosophy of practical cycling. (Incidentally, here’s a guy working on bags to fit in Wald’s baskets.)

But I digress …

I have a great Raleigh Super Course (from 1976 — in emerald green! Thanks for scanning the catalog, Sheldon, RIP!) that I hadn’t been riding much. I’d had it set up with flat bars and thumbshifters.

Wald handlebars on bike, back view Wald handlebars on bike, front viewI was thinking of converting the bike to a single-speed, but I was daunted by the price and/or logistics. After seeing the Wald bars, I decided to reconfigure the bike, and leave the gearing alone.

In a moment of trying to be cool, I installed the bars upside down. After riding the bike on several commutes I decided to leave them that way, and added some cork handlebar tape from Nashbar (this stuff is a killer deal at $5.99 per bikesworth, by the way.)

Wow, what a difference. The bars transformed the bike!

The Wald bars offer three great places to rest the hands: On the ends; on the bends; and next to the stem. I find that I get a most comfortable fit by gripping the bends.

I think the bars work so well because of this diversity of hand-placement options, and because the rise of the bars (or the drop, if you install them like I did!), combined with the spread, is just right.

But don’t just take my word for it (although you should, of course!). Jim Almgren, excellent mechanic at Scheller’s says he’s selling a good number of these bars to people who are unhappy with the way their bikes’ fit, and he’s getting great feedback.

Jim also has some of these bars on his singlespeed, and he likes the way he can get leverage while climbing by gripping the bars at the ends.

Some of you might have tried mustache bars. The Wald bars don’t extend as far forward, and they sweep back further.

I can’t vouch for them being lightweight, since I don’t know or care about that.

These are not widely available online, although I did find them here (can’t vouch for the seller), but your local bike shop can probably order them.

Very highly recommended.

1 

22February2008

New on the 2008 commuting bikes page

Posted by todd under: Commuter bikes.

I just added the Masi Soulville — a sexy number with a curved top tube, a leather saddle and cork grips (on a steel frame!) and the Redline R530 to the page, you will find pictures on the page.

I continue to be amazed at how the “commuter bike” segment has expanded over the last couple of years.  It’s a great time to be in the market — unless you have a hard time making up your mind. 🙂

3 

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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.

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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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