Showing posts with label IGH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IGH. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Benno Ballooner

Benno Ballooner Men's and Women's 8. Courtesy: Clever Cycles
The Benno Ballooner is available with an 8-speed derailer or internal hub and comes with fenders and disc brakes. Clever Cycles in Portland, Oregon has it for $1,000. You can also find Benno bikes at Conte's in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

Benno Baenziger co-founded Electra in 1993 (along with Jeano Erforth), which produced cruisers at a time when very few cruisers were available on the market.  In 2014, Electra was bought by Trek.  It's now apparent that Baenziger was not finished designing useful bikes for the rest of us.

The Ballooner, of course, gets its name due to its wide tires (26 x 2.35). Baenziger writes: "Personally, I am not a big fan of skinny tires. I believe that bigger tires provide for a better and more controlled ride."

You can read more about Benno bikes on the Clever Cycles Blog.

Benno offers the Ballooner in both derailer and internal hub versions. Here are the specs for the IGH version:

Frame6061 Aluminum Alloy Frame
ForkCRMO Fork with Investment Cast Lug Crown
Rims/wheelsDouble Wall Aluminum Rims
Tires26”x 2.35” Balloon Tires (60 TPI)
CranksetRetro Aluminum Crankset
Rear derailleurShimano Alfine Internal 8-Speed
BrakesShimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes
PedalsRetro Aluminum

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bobbin Hummingbird

2017 Bobbin Hummingbird. All photos courtesy: Bobbin Bicycles Facebook Page

Bobbin has introduced two new 8-speed models for 2017: The Hummingbird (pictured above) and the Kingfisher, a diamond frame model.  It's available for preorder for £645 (about $839).

Bobbin, based in London, was founded 10 years ago and is cocky enough to call itself a "utopian brand."  Bobbin offers many attractive and practical bikes, and most come standard with racks, a chainguard or full chaincase, and fenders. 

The Hummingbird and Kingfisher come with front and rear battery-powered lights, Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal gear hubs, and hydraulic disc brakes. The frame is made from an alloy that Bobbin claims (in an instagram post) is a "MUCH lighter alternative to those serious German/Dutch commute bikes.").  Apparently, that means it's slightly under 30 pounds.  In "midnight blue sparkle," this is a beautiful bike.

The gears are inside.

The specs aren't available on Bobbin's website yet, but you can requeest more information by emailing Bobbin at

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


The Chief from Heritage Bicycles. Courtesy

The Heritage Chief "City Edition" goes for $1,000.

The idea behind Heritage was to combine handcrafted bicycles, bike repair, apparel, and good coffee all in one shop located on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.  By all accounts, it's been a hit.  In fact, according to CNN, fans of Heritage bicycles include Beyonce, Jay Z, and Jack Dorsey.

Most Heritage bicycles have a simple, utilitarian design.  My pick is the Chief "City Edition", which is available as a singlespeed or with a 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub. It comes with a Wald rear rack.

Here are the specs:

Frame: Heritage Chief
Fork: Crowned Chromoly
Headset: FSA Duron X, ISO
Bottom Bracket: Sealed alloy, 68 x 110.5
Crank: Alloy, 44t
Pedals: Wellgo City
Rims: Alex DM18
Spokes: Sapim Leader
Tires: Schwalbe Delta Cruiser, 700 x 32c
Front Hub: sealed alloy, 36-hole
Rear Hub: KT Coaster, 36-hole
Chain: KMC 410
Stem: Alloy, 25.4mm
Handlebar: Velo-Orange Milan, 25.4m
Grips: Natural Cork
Brake levers: Velo-Orange City
Brake Calipers: Tektro R559
Rear Rack: Wald Chrome
Saddle: Velo-Orange Plush
Seat Post: Alloy, 26.2mm

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Biria CitiClassic Series

Biria Classic i3 (top) and Sport i3 (bottom). All photos courtesy:

These 3-speeds from Biria's CitiClassic series go for about $615.

Biria is... different.  Biria produced the only shaft-driven bike that you will find on these pages. The flagship Biria model is the Easy Boarding, which looks like it's half bike, half scooter.  And Biria puts out a road bike with 20" wheels.

A few years ago, however, Biria noticed that American cities were actually putting in bike lanes, so they produced a really nice, functional city bike, which Joseph wrote about here. The CitiClassics are basically the same model, but look at all that sleek nickel chrome.  The CitiClassics come with fenders, chainguards, rear racks, and internal gear hubs.

Here are the specs for the Sport i3:

Chromoly and Hi-ten Steel
Steel Crown
Double wall aluminum
700 x 35
Shimano Nexus 3, free wheel, with grip shifter
Aluminum Tektro Caliper
Fenders, Aluminum rear rack, chain guard, kickstand
Size and Color
46 cm (18"): Nickel Silver
55 cm (21.5"): Nickel Silver

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Priority Eight

The Priority Eight is a belt-driven 8-speed. Photo courtesy of

The Priority Eight has a "pre-sale" price of $800.  Priority anticipates that the bikes will be available by April 1.

According to Priority, the purpose of their bikes is "to make cycling more simple." Their first models were belt-driven "Classic" 3-speeds offered in a  diamond or step-through aluminum frame. Priority marketed these models as "low-maintenance" bikes available in black or white.

Since launching those classic models, Priority says it has received overwhelming demand for a bike with more gears, hence the Priority Eight.  The Eight, like the Classics, has a Gates carbon belt and an internal gear hub for a clean, low-maintenance ride.  It also comes with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.

There has been some hype about the release of the Priority Eight.  You can read about it at Gizmodo and Bike Rumor.

The Priority Eight is available in three sizes: 17", 19" and 21.5". Here are the specs:

Component Description
Frame Ultralite 6061 T6 Aluminum
Fork Ultralite 6061 T6 Aluminum
Rims Double Wall Alloy, 36h
Front Hub Priority Alloy Sealed
Rear Hub Shimano Nexus 8 Disc
Spokes Black Stainless Steel
Shifter Shimano Nexus 8 Twist
Brakes Tektro HD-M330 Hydraulic Disc Dual Piston
Crankset Gates by FSA
Front Chainring 50t Gates CDN
Rear Cog 24t Gates CDN
Pedals Alloy
Bottom Bracket Sealed Cartridge
Seat Post 27.2 Alloy Microadjust 350mm
Belt Gates Carbon Drive, CDN
Saddle Velo dual density
Handlebar Stem Alloy
Handlebar Alloy, 31.8, 6 degree rise, 630mm
Headset Neco Alloy
Tires Continental Puncture Resistant 700x32
Fenders Alloy Paint Matched
Color Matte Charcoal Grey
Sizes 17", 19" and 21.5"
Weight Approx. 26lbs

Monday, November 30, 2015

Breezer Downtown 8

Breezer Downtown 8. Photo courtesy of
The Breezer Downtown 8 has a MSRP of $609.

We've talked a lot about Breezer's Uptown models.  They are fully-dressed aluminum commuter bikes that come standard with a full chaincase, fenders, rear rack, internal gear hub, and even dynamo lights.  So it would be hard for Breezer to top that.  Unless...

Unless you really like the feel of steel.  Downtown is Breezer's classic chromoly steel town bike.  It comes with a chainguard, fenders, rear rack, bell, and Shimano Nexus 8 IGH.  The only thing missing is the lights.  It would be even better with lights, but you can add your own battery-powered lights.

Here are the full specs:

SizesS (48 cm), M ( 52 cm), L (56 cm), XL (60 cm)
Color(s)Gloss Red w/ Cream
Main frameBreezer Chromoly Steel, Dual Water Bottle Mounts
Rear triangleBreezer Chromoly Steel
ForkBreezer Steel
CranksetBreezer Aluminum, 38T
Bottom BracketVP-BC73C Cartridge-Style
PedalsAlloy Body, Chromoly Axle
Front derailleurna
Rear derailleurna
ShiftersShimano Nexus 8 Revo-Shift, 8-Speed
CassetteShimano, 18T
WheelsetBreezer Aluminum Front / Nexus 8 Rear 36H Hubs, Vera DPM18 Aluminum Double-Wall GSW Rims
TiresVera CityWide, 700Cx35 w/ Puncture Protection
Brake setBreezer Aluminum Linear Pull, Cold-Forged, Stainless Hardware
Brake leversBreezer Aluminum, 4-Finger Ergonomic w/ Kraton Grip
HeadsetFSA Sealed, 1 1/8", Threaded
HandlebarBreezer North Road Aluminum, 25.4, 26mm Rise, 590mm Wide, 33° Sweep
StemBreezer Aluminum, 25.4, Quill-Style
Tape/gripBreezer Perforated Comfort
SaddleBreezer Comfort
Seat postBreezer Aluminum, 27.2mm
FendersSteel, Stainless Hardware
Rear CarrierBreezer Tubular Aluminum w/ Spring Clip
AccChainguard, Kickstand, Bell
Weight, kg/lbs15.37 kg / 33.81 lbs

*Spec subject to change without notice


S (48 cm) M (52 cm) L (56 cm) XL (60 cm)
Seat Tube / Center To Top A
480 520 560 600
Top Tube - Effective C
590 600 610 630
Head Tube Length D
140 155 170 190
Seat Tube Angle E
72.5° 72.5° 72.5° 72.5°
Head Tube Angle G
71.5° 71.5° 71.5° 71.5°
Chainstay Length H
457 457 457 457
Wheelbase I
1071.1 1081.8 1092.5 1113.3
Bottom Bracket Height J
271 271 271 271
Fork Offset K
45 45 45 45
Standover Height O
774.8 791.8 824.6 851.2
Stem Length

80 80 100 100
Handlebar Width

590 590 590 590
Crank Arm Length

170 170 170

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Schwinn Brighton and Allston

Schwinn's Brighton 1 (top) and Allston 1 (bottom).  Photos courtesy of
Schwinn's Brighton 1 and Allston 1 are steel bikes with fenders, chainguards, and rear racks that go for about $660.  Both bikes have Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal gear hubs.

This is a very practical bike at a decent price.  In terms of elegance and function, it's comparable to the Linus Roadster 8.  Schwinn says the fenders and rear rack "make a utility and fashion statement."  Yes, we agree - we've been saying that since 2008 and hoping for more bikes like these.

Schwinn also says that these models are available "exclusively" at Schwinn signature independent bike shops.  That's a positive development and a show of support by Schwinn for local business owners.

Here are the specs for the Allston 1 (the Brighton 1 has nearly identical specs):





Schwinn steel classic step-thru Dutchi


Schwinn rigid steel



Alloy 3-piece 38T

Bottom Bracket



N/A (F), N/A (R)


Shimano Revoshift

Cog Set






Weinmann ZAC19 alloy 36H


700 x 38


14G stainless


Kenda K-192 700 x 38



Schwinn Bow Tie


Alloy caliper

Brake Levers



Alloy classic riser, 25.4


Alloy quill, 25.4


1" threaded


Classic lightweight springer saddle


Alloy 25.4 x 300 mm



Classic stitched grips, fenders, rear rack

Monday, August 10, 2015

Detroit Bikes

Detroit Bikes offers an A-Type (top) and B-Type (bottom). Photos courtesy
Detroit Bikes A or B models go for about $700 + whatever accessories you choose.

Two years ago, after we did a post about Shinola, I received an email recommending that we check out Detroit Bikes.  And so, a mere 2 years later, I checked out Detroit Bikes.  I found two simple, attractive cruisers that come with fenders, chainguards, and internal gear hubs.

Detroit Bikes says its "mission is to encourage cycling by making an accessible, enjoyable bicycle while continuing Detroit’s legacy of quality manufacturing and design."  In a recently-released video, they state an additional goal: to double the number of bikes made in the USA.  It's hard not to root for these guys, especially when they create jobs with a livable wage and health care benefits.

A few specs:

Frame: 4130 chromoly, tig-welded
Brakes: coaster
Gears: Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal gear hub
Tires: Kenda Kwest 700 x 32
Rear rack: 35 lb capacity

Monday, August 3, 2015

Giant Simple Three W

For 2016, a "lifestyle" cruiser from Giant. Courtesy:
Giant offers the Simple Three W, an aluminum 3-speed cruiser, for around $490.

Here's a large bicycling company, truly a giant in the industry, marketing to women. This is something we've seen again and again (for example, the Trek Cocoa ad campaign), because women are the bicycle industry's major untapped consumer market.  Some women-specific models have been successful, like Giant's Suede, others a bit ridiculous, like the Trek Lime (discussed here).

Giant's "Liv" campaign (on twitter it's @Livgiant) features images of competitive female athletes, as well as regular women riding "lifestyle" bikes like the Simple Three W.  The "W" is apparently there in case you had any doubt that the model was being marketed toward women.  By the way, if you'd like to read a fun rant about women-specific bikes, here's a good one by Amanda Batty.

Marketing is one thing; bicycle design is another.  As Velouria, the Lovely Bicycle blogger, put it: "We are women, we are wonderful, and we need bicycles designed for us." I think the industry needs more women designing bicycles.  Sure, there is Sky Yaeger (of Bianchi, Swobo, and Shinola fame), but "bike designer" remains a male-dominated profession. 

The Simple Three is inexpensive and basic.  In short, it's cheap transportation, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!   Comes with chainguard, fenders, kickstand, and a front basket.  Here are the specs:


SIZES One Size Fits Most
COLORS White/Blue, Red/Purple
FRAME ALUXXgrade aluminum
FORK Chromoly


HANDLEBAR Women's Steel Cruiser
STEM Alloy quill
SEATPOST Alloy, 27.2mm
SADDLE Liv Comfort Cruiser, w/ SuperSoft foam
PEDALS Nylon, Antislip platform


SHIFTERS Shimano Revo, Twist
BRAKES Shimano, Coaster brake
CASSETTE Shimano 22T, 3speed internal
CHAIN KMC Z410, Rustproof
CRANKSET Giant alloy 3piece, 44T
BOTTOM BRACKET Threaded, Sealed


RIMS Giant Alloy
HUBS [F] Alloy, [R] Shimano Nexus, 3speed
internal, 36h
SPOKES Stainless steel, 14g
TIRES CST Cruiser, 26x2.125


EXTRAS Front Basket, Fenders, Kickstand

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Swobo Novak

Swobo Novaks are internally geared three-speeds. Photos courtesy:

The Swobo Novak is a steel 3-speed with an internal gear hub that costs around $650.

We haven't talked about Swobo since the days of Tim Parr and Sky Yaeger.  If you're unfamiliar with those names, I'll wait here while you get acquainted through google.

Back in 2008, we discussed Swobo's Sanchez, Folsom, and Otis models. Since then, Parr got bought out by Santa Cruz Bicycles, which is best known for making gnarly mountain bikes like the Tall Boy.  Santa Cruz was co-founded by a guy named Rich Novak, so it wouldn't surprise me if this model is named for him.  (By the way, Santa Cruz was just bought by Dutch cycling company Pon Holdings BV, which also owns Cervelo.) In any event, Swobo still offers updated versions of its Sanchez and Folsom.

And now they also have the Novak, the 3-speed models pictured above, as well as the 8-speed Fillmore models that go for about $900.  The Novaks and Fillmores come with Shimano Nexus internal gear hubs, hammered fenders, and a bell. They come in 5 sizes, ranging from a 48 cm seat tube to a 60 cm.  You can see the Novak in action in this youtube video.

Additional Novak specs:

  • Frame and fork: TIG welded Swobo Chromoly
  • Crankset: Samox outboard bearing with chainring bashguard
  • Hubs: Swobo branded (F)/Shimano Nexus 3spd (R)
  • Wheels: 700c/36 hole/Alex DA22 rims/14g Stainless spokes
  • Tires: Kenda Kwick Trax/700x32c/Puncture resistant with reflective sidewall
  • Brakes: Tektro forged dual pivot caliper
  • Seat/post/stem/bars/grips: Swobo branded
  • Extras:  Brake lever integrated bell, fenders.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sun Fritz and Skylar

The Fritz 5 and Skylar 5 have internal gear hubs and go for about $540.  The Fritz 8 and Skylar 8 have rear derailers and are around $480.  Photos courtesy of

Miami-based Sun Bicycles offers the Fritz and Skylar as its "Dutch-inspired" models. They have upright handlebars, fenders, a rear carrier, and a bell "for a true Dutch experience."

Sun makes a wide variety of fun bikes, including cruisers, tandems, recumbents, and even unicycles.  They also offer a cargo bike that we've previously discussed.  They've apparently discontinued two solid models that we've featured here: the Cayne Uno and the Cayne Cykel.

The Fritz and Skylar are tig-welded steel bikes.  The Fritz 5 and Skylar 5 have Sturmey-Archer internal gear hubs and twist grip shifting.  The Fritz 8 and Skylar 8 have Shimano Acera 8-speed rear derailers.

Here are the specs for the Fritz 5:

FrameHigh Tensile Steel w/Chromoly Main Triangle, TIG Welded
Fork1' Hi Tensile Steel, Curved Legs, Double Eyelets
HeadsetSteel, Caged Bearings, 22.2 x 30 x 27mm, Sealed, CP
HandlebarAlloy, 610mm Wide x 66mm Rise x 25.4mm Clamp City Bar
StemAlloy, 22.2 x 180mm Quill x 80mm Ext. x 25.4mm Clamp, 30� Rise
GripsClassic Style, 128mm L, 92mm R, Custom Stitching
Brake LeverAlloy, 4-Finger Lever
Front BrakeAlloy, 61-78mm Reach, Dual Pivot, Nutted
Rear BrakeAlloy, 61-78mm Reach, Dual Pivot, Nutted
Rear ShifterSturmey-Archer TSC50 R5, 5-Spd Twist Shifter
SprocketSturmey-Archer 18T 1/2" x 1/8" for RX Hub
Seat ClampAlloy, 28.6mm I.D., with Bolt, Silver
Seat PostAlloy W/Integrated Clamp, 25.4 x 300mm, Silver
SaddleClassic Style, Coil Spring with Chrome Rails
Crank Set3-Piece Alloy, 170mm x 46T
ChainwheelSteel, 46T x 1/2: x 1/8", (5-Bolt x 130mm BCD)
Bottom BracketSealed Cartridge, 68 x 118mm
ChainK.M.C. Z410, 1/2" x 1/8", 102 Links
Chain GuardSteel, Painted
PedalsAlloy, 9/16", Slip-Resistant Top, Blk
Front HubAlloy, 36H x 14G x 3/8" Bolt-On Axle
Rear HubSturmey-Archer RX-RF5, 5-Spd Internal W/Freewheel, 36H x 14G
Rims700c x 36H x 14G, Alloy, Double Wall, CNC
Front Wheel700C x 36H x 14G, Alloy-Commuter, Bolt-On
Rear Wheel700C x 36H x 14G, Alloy-Commuter, W/Sturmey-Archer RX-RF5spd
Spokes14G Stainless Steel with CP Brass Nipples
Tires700 x 35C, Black Wall
KickstandAlloy, Center Mount, Silver
Fender SetSteel, F&R, W/Single Struts, Painted
Rear RackCustom Alloy
AccessoryBell, Alloy, Chrome Plated
Weight33 Lbs.
Weight Limit250 Lbs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Electra Loft

Loft 7D, top, and Loft 7i, bottom, are nice-looking, affordable modes of transportation. Courtesy:
Electra, which calls Encinitas, California its homebase, describes the Loft series as "modern day classic."  The 7D, so named because it has a 7-speed derailer, goes for about $550.  The 7i, which has a 7-speed internal gear hub, is around $710.

We've already talked about Electra's Ticino series, its Amsterdam 8i and Fashion 3i which you can get with dynamo hub-powered lights, the Townie Balloon 8i, and of course the Amsterdam Classic. Needless to say, you can count on Electra to produce attractive and useful bikes for the rest of us.

The Loft series offers comfortable, upright rides with aluminum frames.  In fact, the 7i is brushed aluminum, a pretty cool look.  The 7D has a Shimano Acera rear derailer; the 7i has a Shimano Nexus IGH.  Both have caliper rim brakes. The rear racks, chainguards, and fenders (also on the 3i) complete the bikes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Civia Twin City

Civia Twin City 7-speed. Credit: Civia
Civia Cycles' Twin City models range from $450 for a single speed to $800-1,000 for a 7-speed with an internal gear hub.

QBP (the Minnesota-based company that owns Civia, Surly, Salsa, and All-City, among other brands) has revamped Civia so that it now offers affordable steel bikes with racks, chainguards, fenders, wide tires, and internal gear hubs.  The biggest change at Civia is the new affordability.  

Civia previously stood out with its thoughtfully designed, lightweight all-purpose bikes such as the Loring and Hyland. While I'm sad to see the retirement of those high-end models (as well as Civia's really cool cycletruck, the Halsted) it's nice to see QBP's commitment to offering useful, affordable steel bikes.  QBP describes Civia as "devoted to creating bicycle designs for everyday living."  That's what we call "bikes for the rest of us."

Photo credit: Civia Cycles.

Here are specs for the Twin City 7-speed Step-Through:

Frame: 4130 CroMoly steel with hi-tensile top tubes and welded rack
Fork: CroMoly 1" steerer
Brakes: Tektro linear pull, BR-530
Chainguard: Civia Twin City for 38 tooth
Cog: Shimano 21T
Fenders: Civia alloy, 35mm max tire width
Handlebar: 24.5 diameter, 560 mm width
Hub (rear): 7-speed Nexus SG-7R50, 32H
Kickstand: 2-legged stand
Rack (front): Civia Market
Saddle: Civia sprung with steel rails
Shifter: Nexus Revo shifter
Tires: Kenda Kwest 700 x 35mm

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Internal Geared Huhs?

An introduction to the ever-mystifying internal geared hub 

by Keith Couture

You are biking on a cool, Autumny, but bright day; a perfect day for a ride. You take the route to your favorite flat stretch of road and, feeling inspired, you decide to really push yourself this time (well, more than you usually do anyway). Just as you reach a comfortable yet brisk pace, you're passed by another bicycler on a bike with only one gear! The rider's legs push the cranks in a slow revolution. You think to yourself With a gearing that high, they'll never make it up the hill just around the corner. You grin, satisfied that you'll get to fly past the gear-less bike on the hill and watch the rider struggle to push so big a chainring with no low gear. But as you approach the hill and start spinning, you notice the other rider has started spinning, too! In fact, you don't pass the other bicycler on the hill, and for the rest of the day you are left wondering. The premise of your wonderment is What looks like a single- speed, but isn't?

Not Actually A Single Speed

The answer is a bicycle with an internal gear hub. On such bikes there is only a single chain-line pulled taut with no derailleurs, just like a single speed. However, all the shifting occurs inside the hub. A common reaction to this news is an eyeroll accompanied by grumbling about dumb trends in bicycling technology. “It'll be the new BioPace Chainring” or “Everyone will forget it ever existed in a few years, just like Shimano's Positron and FFS system.” But the truth is internal gear hubs have been used for around a century, and their invention is roughly contemporaneous with any of the current derailleur-based gear shift technology. They have proven themselves as effective and durable for many decades. So why aren't they more common today?

Bicycling in the U.S., specifically race biking and race bikes, became much more popular in the 1970's. Because of the high demand for race-worthy machines and lightweight technology, derailleurs became the order of the day, and internal gear hubs were relegated to bikes that certainly weren't flying off shelves.

Internal gear hubs are heavier mechanisms than derailleurs, particularly on a bike's rear wheel, so they aren't conducive for racing. They are also more expensive and they make it more time- consuming to remove a wheel (to replace a tube for instance). As race technology trickled down to the average consumer who, decidedly, was not racing, derailleurs began to phase out internal gear hubs on the majority of bikes. However, this has already begun to change in the U.S., where a renewed interest in bicycling not for sport or speed but for practicality and commuting has increased demand for durable, low-maintenance machines.

Internal gear hubs are precisely more sensible for urban, daily-use bikes because the gears are hidden from view. That the mechanism is contained within the hub shell is the reason for their durability and longevity. Whereas derailleurs, at the very minimum, probably must be adjusted once a year, internal gear hubs are more of a “set and forget it” system. A simple barrel adjuster can change the tension on the shift cable, a task that the rider can easily be taught how to do. Furthermore, when using a bike daily (and depending heavily on it) there are so many risk factors and variables that you simply can't always be protected from: locking a bike to a bike rack, moving it in an out of a garage, house, or apartment, having children tug on it and knocking it over, etc. Better to have a bike without a fragile (comparatively) appendage dangling that can be maimed in any number of ways. Even if you are able to account for and prevent damage to a couple of derailleurs, the chain, the cassette, and even chainrings may all have to be replaced over a few years (depending on how often and how far you ride). While this is also true of an internal gear hub, it is far cheaper to buy a replacement single speed chain, a single chainring, and a single speed cog!

This stuff gets pretty expensive to replace.

Perhaps the most mystifying thing about the internal gear hubs (and a question I am asked frequently) is how they work. It is nearly impossible to describe this technology without a diagram. I will provide both a diagram and a summary of the inner workings. At its most basic, an internal gear hub is a hub, inside which there is a single driver axle with a small “sun gear” attached (why it's called a “sun gear” will make sense soon). Around the sun gear there are three or four “planetary gears” (see the blue gears in the diagram below?) that interact with the teeth of the sun gear. The planetary gears are kept equidistant from each other by being affixed to a planetary cage. Outside of the planetary gears there is a gear ring (in red) with teeth on the inside that interact with the teeth of the planetary gears. Now, imagine the sun gear is spinning clockwise. It spins, and the planetary gears spin counterclockwise to tango around it (but the planetary gear cage still rotates clockwise), and the gear ring spins around the planetary gears in the same direction as the sun gear, only slightly slower. This is the important thing to understand. Confused? That's okay. Here is a great video illustrating the mechanics at work:

An epicyclic (planetary) gear diagram. Courtesy: wikipedia

Included within this hub is a driver which is affixed to the cog on the outside of the hub, and a clutch, which can engage one of three points of contact at a time. The clutch can link the driver (driven by the cog, via the chain, via the chainring, via the pedals, etc.) to the gear ring while simultaneously the hub shell (driving the wheel via the spokes) is linked to and driven by the planetary cage. When this happens the bike is in first (or low) gear. Depending on a particular hub's design and the ratios therein, this means the cog spins 4 times for every 3 times the wheel spins. When in high gear, the clutch links the driver to the planetary cage while the gear ring is linked to the hub shell. Thus the wheel spins 4 times for every 3 turns of the cog. Lastly, the clutch can link the driver to the gear ring while linking the gear ring to the hub shell. In this position there is a 1:1 ration of cog spinning to hub spinning. Of course, a video always helps, and although you will have to sift through the cheesy promotional content, here is one from Shimano that shows its 11 speed Alfine internal gear hub:

And another from Sturmey-Archer:
Couldn't have said it any better myself! Lastly, if you have an interest in internal gear hubs (or bicycle maintenance and mechanics in general) I cannot overstate the usefulness of the eternal Sheldon Brown:

Internal gear hubs are an inventive and smart technology. I think they almost represent something more powerful though, which is a change in the way we (in the U.S.) see bicycling. The greater numbers of internal hubs out on the road today come as harbingers of a new bicycling culture in the U.S. We are developing a culture that is based on bicycling for transportation and pragmatism, not solely for exercise and environmental preservation but still maintaining the benefits of the latter in pursuit of the former.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Legacy Rambler

When we last talked about Legacy Frameworks (it was last year), the Chicago framebuilder had put out two thoughtfully designed complete bike models - a diamond frame and a step-through. Now Legacy has refined those models with the Rambler series, which includes a step-through, a diamond frame, and a disc brake model. They go for around $1,750, but you should contact Legacy for details.

Rambler Step-Through.

Rambler Diamond

Rambler diamond with disc brakes. All photos courtesy of Legacy Frameworks.
There are some nice touches here. The following come standard: belt drive, full fenders, drum or disc brakes, rack options, double-walled rims and (are you there Edwin?) hub-generated lighting.

Busch and Muller LED headlight. Taillight also included.
Check out that powder-coated finish. Legacy offers these as singlespeeds or with up to 15 gears with internal gear hubs.

Nice looking bikes, and they're designed, manufactured, and assembled in Chicago.

Friday, May 9, 2014

BULLITT Cargo Bike

While a number of North American designers have developed "longtail" cargo bikes, where the kids or freight are carried in back, the Dutch and Danish prefer keeping things up front. LARRY VS HARRY, a shop in Copenhagen, designed the BULLITT to be a relatively light-weight and speedy way to transport cargo and children.

Most of the models come standard with a 7 or 8-speed internal gear hub in the rear, disc brake in the front, a custom kick-stand and fenders. Derailleur gearing and e-assist are also available. The riding position is somewhat leaned-forward, especially for taller riders, and there is no step-thru frame option. The modern-looking aluminum frame is meant to be extra stiff, to prevent twisting even with heavy loads.

I had a chance to test-ride this bike alone and with kids in the front (in a version that has an added kid seat); the handling is similar to a road bike, with responsive (or twitchy) steering which takes a minute to get used to. Disc brakes are a good idea on a bike meant to carry weight at high speeds.

These bikes have been reviewed by:
Josh Volk
Lovely Bicycle
Momentum Magazine

Many of the Bullitts in the USA are sold by Splendid Cycles in Portland, Oregon, but they are also available in a few other cities. The bike comes as shown, but most people pay for a child seat or cargo box to be added, and an electric bike version with a lithium battery pack is also very popular. A frameset costs $2350 alone. The complete bike with Alfine 8-speed hub is $3500. The e-bike version with a BionX rear hub is a grand more, $4500. Dynamo hubs and lights are an option.

Due to the relatively narrow cargo deck (no wider than the handlebars), one child can fit easily, but only small kids can double up.  Winther, another Danish bike company, makes an adaptation of the Bullitt frame called the Wallaroo, which has a wider child carrier included, to fit two kids side-by-side. However, there is only one current USA dealer, JC Lind in Chicago.
BULLITT Specifications (ALFINE 8 version):

shifterAlfine 8 speed
rear drivetrainAlfine 8 speed
bottom bracketAlfine
chainSRAM 9-speed
brake leversAvid
brakes frontAvid BB7
brake rearAvid BB7
rotorsShimano centerlock
HeadsetFSA Pig
stemCivia Midtown 25.4
gripsCivia Ergo
pedalWellgo Platform
fenders20″ front/26″ rear black
tire frontSchwalbe Marathon 20×2
tire rearSchwalbe Marathon 26×2
tube frontSlime tube 20″
tube rearSlime tube 26″
rim stripSchwalbe rim liners
wheel frontAlfine/Alex DM24 rim/stainless spokes
wheel rearAlfine/Alex DM24 rim/stainless spokes

BULLITT Geometry:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Kinn Cascade Flyer

Kinn is new company with 1 model of family oriented bike in Oregon. The frame, wheels and many other parts are made locally.

The Cascade Flyer is part of a new class of bikes called "mid-tails", shorter and lighter than a "long-tail" cargo bike, such as Yuba Mundo or an Xtracycle, but long enough to carry a kid plus a couple of panniers. And it comes with everyone you need, except for lights: integrated rack, fenders, chainguard, dual kickstand, 8-speed internal gear hub, disc brakes and a leather saddle.

The designer wanted a bike that was sturdy and long enough to carry his grandkids along with a couple of bags of groceries, but short and light enough to ride to work and around town. It also is just short enough to fit on a bus rack for bikes, with the front wheel turned backwards: this explains the curve in the down-tube. The geometry is designed to handle similarly to a modern hybrid or city bike, with 72 degree frame angles, and full-size 700c wheels (built by hand in Portland).

Front wheel twists so the bike can fit a standard bus rack
The 8-speed Alfine IGH version costs $2350 for a complete bike as shown. A 27-speed derailleur option is the same price. Unfortunately, there is no small size; riders shorter than 5'2" are out of luck, but medium to tall people should fit.

This can be a good option for a person who wants a made-in-the-USA, fully equipped bike that can haul groceries and a kid, and also serve as a commuter bike and city bike. I wish the complete build included dynamo lights. Considering that the wheels are hand-built locally, it may be possible to add this on to the order for an additional cost. If not, the front wheel should sell easily on Ebay.

You also get some fancy extras, like the bamboo rack top with hidden lockbox:

This bike has been reviewed by Lovely Bicycle and covered by Bikeportland

Hand made in Portland Oregon from heat-treated Cro-moly steel tubing. Fits tires up to 1.75″ wide (700x42mm) with fenders.
Fork has eyelets for front rack at dropout and mid-blade.
Regular  (5’2”-5’10”)  or  Large (5’8”-6’4”)
Three Colors
Sardinian Sea, Red Earth, Clean Slate
Built-in Rear Rack
Rated for 130lbs (60kg) to easily carry a child and groceries.
21″ rack with bamboo deck.
Child Transport
Built-in Yepp EasyFit window for direct child seat mounting.
Integrated footpeg mounts.
Cargo Capacity
Pannier rails fit standard panniers even with a Yepp child seat attached
Shimano triple 44-32-22
Kinn 36t Aluminum Crankset with Ring-guard
Shimano 9 spd 11-34 Cassette.
Shimano Alfine 8-speed Internal hub
with 20T cog
Shimano Alivio 430 trigger shifter
Shimano Alfine Trigger

Hand-built in Portland by Sugar Wheelworks
Rims & spokes
Alex DM-18 700C silver rims, with 36 14G stainless steel spokes
Shimano SLX  or Shimano Alfine hubs
700c x 35mm, with reflective sidewall and puncture guard
Brakes & Levers
Avid BB5 mechanical disk brakes for all weather stopping power
Tektro 3 finger levers
VP-560 silver alloy platform pedals
Handlebar, Grips & Bell
Alloy touring/city bar and lacquered cork grips and classic brass bell
Velo comfort saddle
Silver alloy 27.2mm x 350mm
Polished aluminum stem. 90mm (small) 110mm (large)
Alloy full coverage fenders with mud flaps and rear reflector.
Chainguard, double kickstand, footpegs