Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vienna Deluxe, by Specialized

Remember the S.A.T.? Trek is to Coke as Specialized is to Pepsi. Just as good. Maybe better. But not quite as popular.

The Vienna series is Specialized Bicycle Compenents' Bike For The Rest Of Us, and it's a good'er. The base model is the Vienna 1, offering:
  • A relaxed but sporty riding position,
  • More gears than you'll ever need,
  • Full fenders,
  • Rear carrier,
  • Bell (of course),
  • Kickstand, and
  • Front and rear lights, powered by a dynamo hub!
The dynamo hub is part of the front wheel, and contains a small electric generator that powers the headlight and taillight. No batteries needed, ever. No more taking-your-lights-with-you-so-they-don't-get-stolen. No more stolen lights becasue you forgot to take them with you. No more stolen lights at all! The taillight has a stand-light, which means that even when you stop, the light will stay on for several minutes. This is handy when you stop for traffic lights and stop-signs... You do stop for those, don't you?

Here is the step-through version:

I think it's got nice lines. The "diamond-frame" version too, which is distinctly not diamond-shaped, has a fine aesthetic sensibility. I'll stick with "relaxed but sporty."

If you've got the dough, the Vienna Deluxe 3 is a terrific upgrade. The biggest change is that the external drive-train of the Deluxe 1 is replaced by a Shimano 8-speed internal gear-hub. You don't have as many gears, but you DO have a virtually maintenance-free gear system with enough gears for almost any purpose, a single shifter you can use anytime (stopped, coasting, or pedalling), and a full-coverage chaingaurd. Other upgrades include:
  • Puncture resistant tires with reflective sidewalls, very cool,
  • A slightly nicer saddle, maybe some other bits here and there, and
  • Double wall rims.
Teachable moment!

Here's the difference between a single wall rim and a double wall rim:

On the left, single wall.
On the right, double wall.
On the left, weak.
On the right, strong.


Ted said...

These bikes are sexy. Good on Specialized for jumping on the bandwagon but finding a styling solution that makes their bikes stand apart from the crowd. At the very least you're buying into some aesthetic distinction at that price point, and not just another Raleigh/Schwinn 3-speed homage; not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's always good to have choices.

That's a big leap in price from the typical derailer versions to the internal hub model. Still, I think it's the nicest looking of the three.

Stewart C. Russell said...

Since these bikes have rim brakes (ack! ptui!), the single/double wall may not be the limiting issue. Pad wear on the braking surface - especially if ridden in the wet, using modern aggressive brake compounds - will often cause rim failure before single/double wall strength becomes an issue.

ly said...

(just fyi, your analogy is wrong--you mean "trek is to specialized as coke is to pepsi".)

ethan said...

oh that's a nice one.

Mace said...

I was ecstatic to see this listed here-I first considered a Kona Africabike but after trying one out I wasn't excited about the weight. The helpful guy directed me to the Globe Vienna series and I was smitten. They didn't have the Deluxe ones there but I got a catalog and was immediately convinced I wanted one. However, after some research (a lot done on this site-so thank you much) I am not sure whether a Raleigh Roadster, Bianchi Milano Parco, or this Vienna Deluxe is better. The other option to keep price down (I don't want to spend more than $500 if I can help it) is getting the Vienna 1 and adding the things I want like fenders and what not.

I am feeling rather overwhelmed and want to pick wisely so I am looking for any suggestions. I live in Los Angeles so I want a bike that will be suited for the climate and terrain here. Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...


The Vienna bikes look great, but they seem to be out of your preferred price range. The Milano Parco is lovely, but the three-speed hub gives you a very narrow gearing range.

The 2008 Raleigh Roadster runs for ~$500 from what I've seen, but for about $200 less you can get the Pake Urban 6-speed which has a slightly wider gearing range (albeit with fewer steps) and comes with a chainguard. Otherwise, it's essentially equivalent to the Roadster.

I had the Pake Urban 6-Speed for a while (before it got stolen -- grrr) and thought it was a great bike for the money.

David said...


Thanks for the correction. I think I initially wrote, "If Trek is the Coke of the bike world, then..."

David Hembrow said...

Double wall rims are nice, and they can be stronger. However, they are not necessarily stronger. I know of a cargo bike which is fitted with a particular single wall rim not as a cost saving measure but because they, to the surprise of the designer, were the strongest rims he could buy.

In any case, wheel strength and reliability depends on a lot more than just this one design feature.

It's a shame you're still not seeing full chaincases. A partial chaincase saves your clothes from being made messy, but does nothing for low maintenance due to extended chain life.

Reflective sidewalls are a standard feature here.

David said...


Re: rims
Thanks. Sometimes I forget my own council. Single-wall rims are just fine for many of us, and virtually all of the rest of us.

Re: reflective sidewalls
Please, no rubbing anything in anyone's face. While your comment isn't expicitly negative, it is an implied jab. It's not undeserved, but it is misdirected when posted here. This site is all about positivity, what we're doing right, despite the fact that it comes in sputtering fits and starts.

If I'm being overly sensitive, I apologise. I grew up with way too much negative thinking.

Anonymous said...

So, wait, does the Vienna Deluxe 1 come with a chain-guard or does it not?

As for this bike vs. the Bianchi Milano, the "features" may be similar, but the two bicycles feel quite different from each other.

David said...

Anon, how would you characterize the rides of the Milano and Vienna?

Dawn Truelsen said...

Hello, After researching (only reading, not testing), I decided to buy the Vienna 3 Deluxe. My commute is very flat and I maybe use three speeds, but only if there is a big hot headwind when I'm riding home, so I thought the 8 would be good. I liked all the other built-in features.

So far I'm pretty happy with the bike. There is a huge range in the 8 speeds which was nicely surprising. And it is really smooth. So if I do encounter some hills elsewhere, this bike will be great there too.

The only negative is that the Vienna 3 Deluxe I couldn't find in any store. Seems nobody carries them so they are a special order you have to pay for in advance. The handlebars are totally different from the other Vienna models I tried in the store. They are more like a stylized retro cruiser handlebar and I'm not knocked out about them. Maybe I'll get used to them. It makes the bars closer to the saddle -- if that makes sense, and there is no way to change the height or adjust the angle unless you buy a new riser, etc.

It is a beauty and I do love the gearing/lights/fenders/rack. Might have to mess with the fit a bit, we'll see after I get some more miles on it.

Anyway, just wanted to mention that the handlebars are very different from the other Vienna models, so test beforehand if you can.

gitarzan said...

Just got the Special Weiner 1 Deluxe. (That's what I am calling it) It's nice bike. Loaded. All it needs is a couple of water bottle clips and a computer.

Pedals are bottom dollar types. They may get changed out soon. Paid $579

Brian said...

For what its worth here is my experience with the bike. I coomute over easy roads (fairly flat and smooth pavement) 60 miles round trip. I bought the bike June 13th and my first ride was the 15th. I have used it four times a week since. It is now August 2nd. This is the same commute I have done for 4 years.
Pros: FENDERS!! These have been a blessing. THe weather has been terrible this summer and of the first 30 rides (15 days) 5 were rain free, four were done in sunshine.
LIGHTS: Its wonderful having the dynamo and the lights. I start at 4:00 AM and it is dark. The lights provide sufficient light to see (on these roads). THere are no streetlights here in NH for the entire length of my ride. I do have a Cateye and Planet bike 1-watters for extra kick in fog and heavy rain.
RACK: Finally the pack came off my back and now sits on the back rack.
BIGGER TIRES: My fear of flats is greatly reduced.

CONS: WEIGHT. Adds 10 minutes each way to the commute.
HANDLEBARS: I need a dropdown for the long commute. After 10 miles the upright position is just not comfortable anymore. I find myself gripping the middle of handlebars and not the ends. It is somehow easier and more efficient for power delivery.
RELIABILITY!!! After 9 days (on the morning of my 10th commute to work the front headlight went out.
After 14 days a spoke in my rear wheel broke (I have never had a spl=oke break before and the road is nice and smooth).
Into bike shop for free repair and replacement of light and spoke. 3 weeks later my rear light went out (an LED) and second spoke broke. The pedals (made of some hard rubber) were both splitting and coming off. Back to the bike shop for a replacement of the rear light, steel pedals, and a complete replacement of the rear wheel spokes with heaveir gauge spokes. All still free. The bike it not even two months old yet.
In all my years the pedals have always outlasted the bike.
I do not understand this at all and am very disappointed in these problems. It would have cost me a fortune for these repairs. I dont know what I am going to do if this bike keeps falling apart at this rate.
Otherwise, the concept is great (if it were reliable). Fenders, lights, rack, dynamo in a bike in the US. But when I buy a new bike, I dont expect to even think about repairs and fixes for at least a year.