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3 practical bikes

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There is no doubt that we are going to see many more commuter/ shopper oriented bike designs on the market in the near future. In just the past few days, I have run across the new designs that are pictured here. Expect to see many more as tradeshow season approaches.

The Soulville from Masi is pictured to the left. I like this bike, especially the glossy black version, because it reminds me of the 70’s and 80’s city bikes from classic Italian brands. The flat aluminum fenders, cork grips, and embossed brown riveted leather saddle are all nice details. Here in the U.S., we are generally used to seeing just racing bikes from those classic European brands, but if you walk around the streets of Treviso, Italy, you are likely to run into an old lugged steel Pinarello with fenders and upright handlebars. This bike carries on that tradition of classic city bikes from brands with a road racing heritage. I think it makes a great addition to the Masi line. Nice job Tim.

Pictured top right is the “Scout” from Jorg and Olif. You are probably already familiar with the Jorg and Olif “Original”, their premium Dutch city bike. This new no-frills version, which is made in Belgium, is 15 pounds lighter than the Dutch made Original. It has a lot of the features that you would expect like fenders, lights, a chainguard, and even a traditional Dutch chrome bell. Though the styling is similar to that of the Original, the Scout retails for a lot less. A one speed will go for $495 (US) and a three speed will set you back $595. The new bikes come in 2 frame styles and 4 colors. Check them out on Jorg and Olif’s website.

Last but not not least, I want to mention the Gary Fisher Simple City, shown in the bottom right section of the above picture and also below this text. You may have already seen blog posts about this bike here, here, or here. It is spreading around the web pretty quickly and I think for good reason. The prototype bike, which features a nice optional front basket for shopping, was first shown at Trek World last week. In a Cyclingnews article, Trek product manger Chad Price said: “We wanted to create a bicycle that was unique and featured the best of two worlds; useful for transportation and shopping, but lighter and faster than the conventional city bike. Simple City says it all; a simple city bike that has the best features, like the unique geometry we created so the ride is stable and comfortable under load and the adjustable front dropouts that support the optional ‘two bagger’ front rack”. Everyone is curious about this bike, so I will let you know a little more about it next week.

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  1. Fritz August 24, 2007 at 5:34 pm -  Reply

    I really really like that Simple City and I like the direction Masi is taking. So many cool new bikes, so little time and money!

    I’m signed up for Interbike; I’ll be focusing on commuter / utility bikes so be sure to watch my Flickr stream. I intend to upload a few hundred photos (if the Internet connection at Interbike holds up).

  2. Tim Jackson- Masi Guy August 24, 2007 at 11:44 pm -  Reply

    Thanks! That’s pretty decent company to be in.

    I can’t wait to unveil the rest of the line… there’s more very cool stuff brewing up.

  3. Frank August 25, 2007 at 7:53 pm -  Reply

    Unless my aesthetic tastes are wrong, I’m doubtful the market is going to be enthusiastic about these classic looks. People will think they’re just buying an old bike at new-bike prices.

    Can we use car design for comparison? Sure there were great classic cars. But most new cars are sleek and sporty. Even quintessential commuter cars, like a Corolla or Civic, look racy.

    Perhaps to bring back a “classic” design to market, you have to update the looks to today’s expectations. The resurrected Mustang comes to mind. So, a design that borrows fromt he past but says, “this is made in 2008.”

    But I’m not sure what to do. I think the best areas to work that kind of magic would be handlebars and baskets.

  4. Nathan August 26, 2007 at 1:13 pm -  Reply

    I agree with Frank. I personally like the classic styles, but we’re living in the Ipod epoch. I think Giant makes some cool commuter bikes, like the 26″ Tran Sport (which has front and rear racks, lights and fenders) and the 700c Tran Send (just a rear rack and fenders). They don’t have the classic style of the Euro bikes, but they have the gritty utilitarianism of an old Jeep in a new package.

  5. Andrew August 27, 2007 at 11:05 am -  Reply

    These are exactly the types of bike my girlfriend wants to buy. We have had a hard time finding one. I, myself, ride a mountian bike and love it. She wants something simpler, though.

  6. mike August 28, 2007 at 9:59 pm -  Reply

    Its great to see these ‘city bikes’ coming to market. For folks that want to use their bikes to get to work, groceries, drop the kids, etc. there are starting to be real options.

    I disagree with Frank – some of the classic Euro city bikes are time tested designs. I think they need just a bit of updating for the stateside market – one of the keys is offering (as many importers do) a wider range rear hub for folks that live in hilly areas. Many of the classic bikes are also very different to ride than the typical crop of hybrids, mtn bikes, and cruisers. There’s a big difference in riding position between a Dutch City Bike and a Trek ‘commuter’. Part of this has to do with culture and another with seat angles, geometry, and design.

    There’s nothing like cruising around on my bakfiets, even with the extra weight and the large wheelbase – it simply rides like no other. It gets the nod even when I run errands and do not need all the cargo space. Throw city bike into the mix and I could see myself mothballing my whiz bang Titanium wonder machine for the majority of my everyday rides.

    If you are looking for ‘updated’ design, check out some of the Gazelles and other Euro makers – I’ll take classic or retro retread over the ‘modern’ look any day.


  7. jim August 31, 2007 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

    Just noticed some more pics of the new Simple City bikes on the web site of the Bike Gallery here in Portland. Looks pretty solid stuff to me.

  8. Anonymous September 3, 2007 at 5:39 am -  Reply

    I don’t get the coaster brake thing. They’re not great brakes, and the most effective crank position for stopping is bad for getting started again.

    At least the Simple City has real front brake. The $800 Masi doesn’t!?!

  9. Dr. Logan September 20, 2007 at 9:40 pm -  Reply

    Wholeheartedly disagree with Frank – the simple city pictures spread like wildfire because people are so eager to be able to buy a bike like this complete. Until now those in search of a light utility bike have had to build one from the ground up: surly/kogswell/soma frame, then add everything piece by piece (including hard to find/expensive front racks), which is much more costly and time consuming than buying one stock. Internal gears are also in hot demand – they’re often sold out. Compound the above by the latest gas prices and you have a winner.

  10. doctorpat September 22, 2007 at 3:52 am -  Reply

    I’m with Frank. I use my bike for commuting, and I find that commuters end up at work. Now at work, most people aren’t into bikes. You might impress other bike people with your $595 three speed with a basket, but everyone else will laugh at you.

    I personally want a commuter bike that lets me do 20 km on the motorway and up and down hills, without leaving me sweaty and tired all day. So I want something light, with many gears. And if I want to look fashionable, it should have some carbon fibre and weigh about 5 kg. Basically a lightweight touring. Unless I go home through the bush…

  11. Freddy May 18, 2008 at 1:17 am -  Reply

    i love these retro city bikes .. but its rather hard to get bikes like this in my country (singapore)

  12. Mike Hoffman September 24, 2008 at 9:47 pm -  Reply

    For an instant motherlode of images of the bona fide Dutch city bikes, both classic and contemporary in styling, with the complete standard feature set, use Google Images search on Dutch-brand + fiets:

    batavus fiets

    gazelle fiets

    sparta fiets

    union fiets

    You can go into any bike shop in Holland and easily get a "normal" bike filled with integrated, properly designed-in features:

    o full chainguard
    o hub gear (no derailleur)(even a NuVinci hub)
    o light system (dynamo hub, front and rear lights)
    o stable, non-twitchy steering (curved fork, angled vertical tubing)
    o upright handlebars that support hanging shopping bags and a lock
    o O-lock to prevent someone riding away and to secure the back wheel when frame is secured
    o skirtguard/coatguard
    o integrated rack
    o integrated fenders
    o non quick-release seat & non quick-release wheels
    o 1 1/2"-wide 700c tires with puncture-proof and reflective band
    o non-slip platform pedals
    o hub brakes or roller brakes
    o bell
    o kickstand

    This is all normal, standard equipment on Dutch city bikes, and literally impossible to find on bikes in the out-of-touch American bike shops. Look to the specifically Dutch version of city bikes (fiets) to get the definitive example of the full contingent of integrated, designed-in equipment.

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