The forecast is for seasonably cold weather in the next little while, so it was time to prep the winter beater bike. I used the occasion to photograph the four bikes that I use for commuting.
Why four bikes? One of the recurring themes on the BOB list is the concept of one bike that can do it all. Ironically, many people that discuss this philosophical point are
picky precise enough about what they want in a bike that they could not possibly have just one bike. I’ve narrowed my commuters down to four. I won’t go into how many bikes are in the garage at the moment, but in my defense, some of them belong to the wife and kids.
For three seasons, my go to bike is a Rock Lobster Alfie in shocking pink, equipped with a full Alfine (8-speed) group.
The colour comes from the fact that the bike was built as an Alfine concept bike, and auctioned off to support a women’s cancer survivor’s network. It rides like a dream, and even though I’ve put a rack, fenders, a kickstand and a very heavy lock on it, it is still light for a cruiser styled bike. The only thing that could improve this bike is if it had an eccentric BB. The long horizontal dropouts on the bike make it problematic to mount a fender close to the tire, and so you can see that I’ve compromised by cutting away the section that should be along the back of the downtube.
The winter beater is a vintage lugged steel Novara that I’ve equipped with an Alfine 8 speed hub. This used to be my full time ride, until I finally broke down and decided to ride a nicer bike in the summers. This way, I don’t have to deal with swapping the studded tires off this bike. I’ve written about this bike several times before.
Both the Rock Lobster and the Novara have an Alfine generator hub, and a Shimano Nexus headlight. I know that there are better lights out there, but the Nexus unit is fine in the city as a be seen light. Since it doesn’t have a standlight feature, I supplement the headlight with a Planet Bike Blaze 2W.
The other two bikes are more specialized. The third bike is my Xtracycle. This is actually the bike that I ride second most. I use it much more than I ever imagined, for shopping, taking kids to summer camp, etc. Click on the cargobikes tag (in the Category Cloud to the right, or at the very end of this post) if you want to see the many things that I’ve said about this bike.
The last bike in regular rotation is a folding bike by Peregrine Bicycle Works, which is a one man shop in Chico CA. I don’t believe that Hugh makes these anymore.
When I bought this bike, it was a choice between PBW and Bike Friday, and Hugh seemed to be more willing to do the custom work that I wanted. I ended up with a bike that I think is stiffer than a Friday. I usually have fenders on it, but I haven’t remounted them since a trip to Nevada this fall. This bike is handy on days that I’m going to do part of my commute on the subway, which happens every once in a while. If I had to spec this bike over again I wouldn’t go for disc brakes. They look cool, and generally work well, but the cable adjustment is finicky, and they can get a little out of adjustment when folding. Also, I have to remove the discs when I suitcase the bike, which almost doubles the time to break down or build up the bike.
Update: an abbreviated version of this post is up on Ecovelo.