Showing posts with label Urbana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urbana. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Urbana Bike sans NASCAR

Most of the bikes in the US have some sort of racing heritage, born from downhill dirt races or circular tracks or high-speed races through the countryside. We have a NASCAR culture where it's not how we get from x to y, but how fast we get there. We want to make our bikes faster and lighter, creating compromises to eek out performance.

Here's where the Urbana comes in to the equation. This probably isn't the first time you're reading about the Urbana. If you've been reading Cyclelicious, Commute By Bike, or Lovely Bicycle you know it's a tough, fun alternative to your run-of-the-mill hybrid or mountain bike. So you want to know if it's heavy or fast, right? 



The Urbana is the first bike from the company of the same name out of Montreal, Canada. The key to the bike is the tough as nails frame that allows tires 2.6" wide to fit on the bike --with fenders. It's a step-through design out of aluminum with a love-it-or-hate-it look. The dropouts are modular for future upgrades to belt drive. The headset is threadless and the steerer is mated to a BMX-style 4-bolt stem. The handlebar is, again love it or hate it, a BMX type. Need to raise your handlebars? Just swap out the bars for ones with higher rise. If your 6 ft and like the bars a little higher than the saddle you'll likely need an 8" riser bar.


The components of the Urbana vary by model. My test bike had a Shimano red-band 8-speed Alfine IGH, a roller brake on the rear wheel and a cable-actuated disk on the front wheel. It's also equipped with an SKS Chainguard, and SKS thermoplastic fenders (would Bikes For The Rest Of Us ride it any other way?). The Urbana also had a tough rear rack with integrated grocery-bag hooks to make any disposable bag into a pannier.

How does it ride? Smooth. My regular commuter has 2” wide tires and a sprung saddle and the Urbana blows it away. The Nid de Poule (apparently a French term for pothole) Sidewalk tires soak up the bumps as you glide off of curbs or traverse gravel. Interestingly the tires don’t seem to sap my pedalling energy like I expected. The bike has some momentum to it but never feels slow.

What can you do with the Urbana? Take it grocery shopping, give a friend a ride (the rack can take it), commute to work or just cruise along your favorite gravel path or bumpy sidewalk. When equipped with fenders, chain guard and hub brakes there’s really no excuse to hop on a have some fun, regardless of the weather. I think one of the best uses would be bike camping along the C&O Canal towpath here in the DC area. The Urbana would just float over the gravel trail and let you enjoy the scenery. Besides, are you really in that much of a hurry?

Photos: Tom Wyland

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


An Urbana and a limo, both looking sharp, both illegally parked. Courtesy Urbana.

My first thought after checking out Urbana is that it looks a lot like the Capital Bikeshare ("CaBi") bikes, which I believe are also made in Canada. This observation is intended as a compliment - CaBi bikes aren't sitting unused in someone's garage. They are outside in the elements and are ridden by multiple riders on multiple trips every single day.

Haniya from Urbana has been after us to test ride an Urbana, and I promised I would, but I haven't had time recently. The fact that she is urging a test ride is a good sign; it means she thinks the bike will sell itself. Urbana is now available in the United States; in D.C. you can find them at the relatively new bike shop Bicycle Stations (which should not be confused with the CaBi bike stations).

While we have not given the Urbana a full test ride, it has been tested by other bike bloggers, including one of our favorites -- "Yokota Fritz." He has written about Urbana on Cyclelicious and Commute by Bike. He gives it high marks, and in fact he's commented that if he had to be limited to just one bike, it would be the Urbana. You can also find a review at Cycling for Beginners.

Here are some promotional materials and the specifications that Haniya sent to my co-blogger Tom:

Specs. Click for big. Courtesy Urbana.

If you have an Urbana or have tried one out, let us know your thoughts in the comments.