Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Biria Easy Boarding


Biria Easy Boarding Superlight 8

Biria imports reasonably-priced city bikes, designed in Germany and manufactured in East Asia.  This distinctive bike, with a very low, step-through aluminum frame, was one of the first models exported to North America, called the Easy Boarding series.

Through the use of a single, oversized aluminum tube for the front half of the frame, the Easy Boarding bike manages to have a "standover" height of only a few inches. The top of the frame is lower than the pedal in the horizontal position! 

Although not everyone appreciates this distinctive styling, the lack of a high bar, or even a regular "step-over" top tube found in a classic women's frame, means this bike is easy to get started even for people who have difficulty bending their hips or knees. The low frame and adjustable stem make it possible for most people to fit this bike, even though it is comes in only two sizes, though riders who are over 6' may need a taller seatpost and stem



Biria Easy Boarding Top 3

The series includes basic 3-speed "Top 3" for under $500, and the 8-speed "Lite 8" Shimano Nexus hub version for under $750, as well as a top-of-the-line "Superlight 8", which adds a front dynamo hub and a full dynamo-powered light system for about $840, one of the better prices for a bike with these features. There is also "easy 7" Shimano derailler version and a single-speed "cruiser," both under $400, which still include a partial chainguard and rear rack, and an Electric version, with a 3-speed Shimano Nexus rear hub, lithium battery pack, and 220 watt brushless front hub motor

Biria Easy Boarding - Easy 7
The components of the top-of-the-line Superlight 8 are below:

Specifications:

Frame:  Aluminum 7005
Fork:  Hi-Ten unicrown
Rims:  Aluminum, double-wall, 26"
Tires:  26x1.75
Front hub:  Shimano dynamo hub [Superlight 8 only]
Rear hub:  8-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear hub
Shifter:  Shimano nexus twist shifter
Handlebar:  City cruiser [Alloy]
Stem:  Adjustable Aluminum alloy
Grips:  Brown
Pedals:  Platform, rubber
Front & rear Brake:  Linear-pull cantilevers [Rear coaster brake on Top 3 and Cruiser]
Saddle:  Brown, with springs
Chainguard:  Full guard
Kickstand:  Single
Fenders:  Silver
Rack:  Rear alloy rack
Lights:  Front and rear dynamo-powered [Superlight 8 only]
Colors:  Aqua Blue, Black [Superlight 8];
Sizes:  40 cm (15.5"), 46 cm (18")
Weight:  36 lbs [claimed; single-speed is 30 lbs, 3-speed is 31 lbs ]
 
Biria Easy Boarding Electric

I look on this bike fondly, because it indirectly got me into commuting by bike. My boss bought the Lite 8 after a bike tour in Europe, and started riding it the 4 miles to work. I was shocked to see it in her office, but after hearing her explain how fast and easy it was to ride to work, I decided to try it myself and am now a daily commuter.

We have also previously reviewed two other bikes by Biria: the Newport 3, a shaft-drive 3-speed, and the Classic Dutch (sadly no longer available, though some dealers may have one in stock.)

The Easy Boarding Top 3 was reviewed by Bike Commuters in 2008, and it appears the 2011 model is unchanged.
Ding Ding Let's Ride had a test ride of the Top 3 in August 2010.

Biria Easy Boarding bike at the Grand Canyon

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bianchi Volpe

2011 Bianchi Volpe. Image by Bianchi USA.
The 2011 Bianchi Volpe, MSRP $1099.

In 1997, Sheldon Brown was so taken by the Volpe that he devoted a web page to it. “I don’t know anything in the price range that can touch it,” he wrote. Years later, he labeled the page “obsolete,” explaining that “nowadays there are many more nice touring bikes available from a variety of manufacturers.”

The Volpe may no longer be unique, but count it as a positive development that it has survived at a time when there has been doubt about the future of Bianchi steel.

The Volpe has been categorized as a touring and a cyclocross bike, but the reason it’s a bike for the rest of us is because of its quality build and versatility, the latter due to its geometry and the double eyelets for fenders and front and rear racks.

Here are the 2011 specs:

MODEL VOLPE
CODE Y1BC3
COLOR Cream
SIZES 46-49-51-53-55-57-59-61-63
FRAME Bianchi Cr-Mo, TIG weld
FORK 1-1/8” CrMo
HEADSET 1 1/8" threadless
SHIFTERS Shimano TIAGRA
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano TIAGRA
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano TIAGRA
CRANKSET Sugino XD 500T SQ, 48/38/28
CHAIN SRAM PC 951
SPROCKET SRAM PG-950, 11/32
BRAKES Cane Creek SCX-5
BRAKE LEVER Shimano TIAGRA
WHEELS
REAR HUB Shimano FH-4500
FRONT HUB Shimano HB-4500
RIMS WTB DX23
TIRE WTB All Terrainasaurus
STEM Kalloy alloy
HANDLEBAR Alloy
BAR TAPE Crok Tape
SEATPOST Kalloy SP-600
SADDLE Velo VL-1166

If you have a Volpe from any year, please leave some feedback.

UPDATE: Urban Velo had a review on 2/6/12.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Raleigh Detour Deluxe 2011

Raleigh Detour Deluxe 2011
The Raleigh Detour Deluxe was featured here two years ago, but deserves a repeat look.

Totally redesigned for 2011, with a new frame and different components, the Raleigh Detour Deluxe is a big change from the other bikes that go by the Detour name. The Deluxe has a different frame, based on the frame of the Raleigh Alley Way, with an interesting integrated rear rack, and a tall headset and high handlebar position, which allows a partially upright riding position despite the threadless stem.


Raleigh also includes an Alfine Nexus 8 speed Shimano internal gear hub (Corrected based on spec of Alan's review bike) and the slick Alfine trigger shifter (supposedly much more precise than the usual twist-shifter), and a front generator hub. Paired with the midrange Shimano rollerbrakes (which look a little like disks due to large cooling fins, and are supposed to work better on long downhill grades or with heavy loads), these hubs mean the shifting and lighting systems are completely enclosed and integrated. Other nice touches include an eccentric bottom bracket, which allows chain tension to be adjusted with the replaceable vertical drop-outs, and internal routing of wires thru the frame and rack for the rear light.


And what's this? Could that be a "O-lock" on the rear wheel, which allows you to lock the wheel to the frame, or prevent ride-off theft for short stops? It is, and it's not a $10 Chinese lock, but a $50 Axa Defender.


Unfortunately, the aggressive-looking rear rack is too low to use as a platform or support for a trunk bag or saddlebag, and despite being designed for panniers, there is not attachment point for a lower hook or latch. Don't plan to replace it; the rear rack is welded on. Front rack eyelets on the fork ends, and braze-ons in the middle of the fork would make it easy to add a good front rack or basket, however.


Raleigh's contracted factory in East Asia is able to assemble this bike cheaply enough that it is listed for only $800 at REI. By comparison, the Breezer Uptown is an aluminum alloy bike made in Taiwan, but costs a couple hundred more for similar components. The Raleigh is made with classic chromoly steel, and has the pricier Alfine level components, compared to the Nexus parts on the Breezer.. If that's what you are in to, this bike will be hundreds less than the nearest competitors, and even less than assembling the same components on a vintage steel frame; the front and rear hub and shifter alone will set you back $500.

Specifications:

Frame:  Reynold 520 Butted Chromoly steel w/CNC Dropouts, w/Integrated Pannier Rack 
Fork:  4130 Chromoly steel, straight blades
Rims:  700C; Weinmann XC260 Double Wallalloy
Tires:  700x35c Kenda K1053 w/Kshield and Reflective Sides
Spokes:  14g Stainless Steel
Front hub: Dynamo hub
Rear hub:  Shimano Alfine Nexus 8spd (Corrected; the Alfine is only for disk or rim brakes; the Nexus works with roller brakes)
Shifter:  Shimano Alfine 8spd Trigger (Yes, the Alfine trigger shifter works with the Nexus hub)
Crankset:   Forged Aluminum 42t w/Alloy Guard
Bottom bracket:   Sealed Cartridge 
Rear cog:  20t
Pedals:  Wellgo M21, Alloy Body/Cage
Front & rear Brake:  Shimano Roller Brake, BR-IM50
Brake levers:  Tektro Comfort Alloy
Handlebar:  Alloy flat bar, 27 degree sweep
Stem:  Threadless, 2D Forged, 17 degree rise
Headset:  Ahead 1-1/8"
Grips:  Avenir Comfort
Seat post:  Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2x400mm 
Saddle:  Avenir City 100
Chainguard:  Partial, with chainring
Kickstand:  Single
Fenders:  Painted alloy
Rack/Basket:  Rear pannier rack welded to frame
Lights:  Basta Sprint Steady Front/Rear Riff Light w/ On/Off/Steady modes
Extras:  Axa Defender rear wheel lock ("O-lock")
Colors:  Silver
Sizes:  S 16", M 17.5", L 19.5"


The frame geometry is what you would expect from a "steel hybrid," as Raleigh calls it. The seat tube and head tube angles are fairly standard for this style bike, fitting with the "aggressive" look of the rack, frame, saddle and handlebars. But this is somewhat counteracted by the relatively high handlebar position, and a reasonably short top tube length, which allow a fairly upright riding position. And the 71 degree headtube, plus a small fork offset, mean the steering should be stable enough to ride "no hands."


Unfortunately, the shortest riders may not be satisfied with the small frame, and those over 6'6" will find even the "XL" frame to be too cramped. A smaller version with 26" wheels (perhaps with a step-thru frame?), and a larger "XXL" frame would be nice additions, but are uncommon in this price range.

Frame Geometry

SizeSMMDXL
Seat Tube Length 405mm445mm495mm
Standover Height760mm792mm826mm
Top Tube Length 580mm600mm620mm
Head Tube Length180mm200mm220mm
Head Angle717171
Seat Angle737373
Wheel Base1082mm1103mm1123mm
Chain Stay Length465mm465mm465mm
Fork Offset45mm45mm45mm
BB Drop80mm80mm80mm
Stem Length100mm100mm100mm
Handlebar Width700mm700mm700mm
Crank Length170mm175mm175mm
Seat Post Length400mm400mm400mm


Since this is a new bike, there are no outside reviews, yet. Hopefully it holds up well to real world use. If anyone has real-life photos or reviews, please let us know in the comments.


Update 12/12/10: Alan at Ecovelo has a bike on hand, and has photos and a mini-review. He will be putting up a full review in a month or two. He also confirms that the rear hub is a Nexus 8 speed, not a more pricy Alfine.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Norco Corsa 1


Norco also makes the City Glide. The Corsa is a similar 8-speed internal gear hub bike at a similar price.

The Corsa features a 8-speed internal nexus hub, V-brakes, a suspension fork, an alloy frame with internal cable routing, a rack, a dual kickstand and a full chainguard. Compared to the City Glide, it has a steeper geometry, with a 74 degree seat tube angle commonly found on hybrid road bikes. However, the chainguard is more complete than that of the City Glide, and it still has the dual kickstand and nice rear luggage carrier found on the other bike. The Corsa is listed at $660.

The women's version looks particularly nice, and has a rear rack instead of a basket, in this case. The men's version is similar:

Norco Corsa 1

Specifications:

Frame:  Frame7005 alloy frame with internal cable routing 
Fork:  Suntour CR-8V-V2 Suspension fork
Rims:  Double wall alloy black 36 hole
Tires:  Innova city tire 700c x 38c
Spokes:  Black stainless w/ brass nipples
Front hub:  Formula silver alloy hub w/ nutted axle 36h
Rear hub:  Shimano SG-8r31vsa 8spd IGH 36h [non-premium Nexus 8 speed hub]
Shifter:  Shimano Nexus SL-8520 revo shifter 
Crankset:  Shimano Nexus FC-NX75 38T silver 
Bottom bracket:  Cartridge
Rear cog:  Shimano 18T Nexus cog silver 
Chain:  KMC Z-408RB 1/2” x 3/32” 
Pedals:  Comfort pedals resin body w rubber inlay
Front & rear Brake:  Tektro 837AL V-brakes black
Brake levers:  Tektro comfort levers w/ integrated bell 
Handlebar:  Alloy 30mm riser bar black 
Grips:  Brown cork 
Stem:  Adjustable stem black
Headset:  Semi-integrated threaded w/ water seal
Seat post:  Suspension seat post black
Saddle:  Norco City Comfort 
Chainguard:  Full guard
Kickstand:  Dual kickstand
Fenders:  Alloy, painted
Rack/Basket:  Rear pannier rack
Lights:  No
Extras:  Fork stabilizer spring, Bell
Colors:  Cream
Sizes:  15 / 17 / 19
Weight: 36.1 [claimed]

There is also a lower-priced derailer version, the Corsa 2, for $490
Besides the drivetrain change, the kickstand and fork are downgraded. But Norco even managed to put a nearly complete chainguard on the 21 speed derailer system:

Norco Corsa 2

Frame Geometry (Step-Thru)

FRAME SIZE
Seat Tube
Top Tube
Head-T Angle
Seat-T Angle
Head Tube
Fork
Length
Chain stay
Front Center
BB Height
Wheel base
ST - 15
381
560
69.5
74
160
460
457
643
290
1094
ST - 17
432
575
70
73.5
160
460
445
646
290
1098
ST - 19
483
590
70.5
73
175
460
455
650
290
1102
L - 20
508
605
70.5
72.5
180
460
457
659
290
1111
XL - 22
558
625
71
72
190
460
457
667
290
1119

The geometry is fairly standard for hybrid bikes, and steeper than most city bikes in the seat tube angle, thought the head tube is fairly lax on the step-thru versions.
Norco Corsa 2 ST


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Norco City Glide

Norco City Glide 8
Norco is a major Canadian distributor, and also makes a number of good bikes. Unfortunately, they have few dealers for complete bikes in the United States, but there is probably a shop that can order one of these bikes in a major city. Canadians may be able to try one out in person, and get slightly better prices. They may also be found in the UK and Australia.

The City Glide 8 stands out with an 8-speed internal nexus hub, roller-brakes front and rear, and by including a double-kickstand and front fork spring, making it easy to load up a front basket or rear rack. It has a sensible geometry, with 72 degree angles sufficiently slack to get a toe down at stoplights. Unfortunately, the chainguard is not paired with a chainring, so snagged clothing is a slight possibility (though less risky than with most bikes), the gearing is set a little too high, and no lights are included. But at a suggested price of only US$ 665 , you should have a few dollars left to make those changes.

The women's version is less aesthetically successful, to my taste, but has a nice front basket, instead of the rear rack, and otherwise has the same specifications:

Norco City Glide 8 W

These specifications and geometry are for the City Glide 8 (men's version), similar to the women's version:

Specifications:

Frame: 7005 Alloy City Glide Frame 
Fork: Chromoly with threaded steerer
Rims: 700c Double wall alloy - Black 
Tires: 700x37c Continental TownRIDE w/Breaker 
Spokes: Black Stainless w/brass nipples
Front hub: Shimano HG-IM40 Roller Brake hub 36hole 
Rear hub: Shimano SG-8R31VSA 8-speed IGH 36hole [Regular 8-speed, I believe, not "red band"]
Shifter: Shimano Revoshift SL-8S20 
Crankset: Alloy 44T - Black 
Bottom bracket: Cartridge BB
Rear Cog: Nexus 20T
Chain:  KMC Z610H
Pedals:  Alloy pedal with non-slip tread 
Front & rear brake:  Shimano BR-IM41 Roller Brake Front and Rear
Brake levers:  Ergonomic brake lever w/integrated bell 
Handlebar: Alloy city bar - Black
Grips: Cork grips - Dark Brown
Stem: Alloy quill stem - Black 
Headset: CH-903SW black threaded waterproof
Seat post:  Alloy - Black, average set-back
Saddle:  Norco City Comfort 
Chainguard:  Partial, without chainring [unfortunately]
Kickstand:  Dual-leg, fold-back
Fenders:  Powdercoated Alloy
Extras: Bell, Rear rack w/ low pannier hook, Front stabilizer spring [Women's has a basket instead of the rear rack]
Colors:  8: Army Green - 8W: Light Blue - 3:
Sizes:  S-18 / M-19 / L-21
Weight: 34 lbs claimed


The 3-speed version costs $140 less, or about $525, and are similarly equipped otherwise (but lacking a dual kickstand, and with calipers instead of rollerbrakes): 



Frame Geometry

FRAME SIZE
Seat Tube
Top Tube
Head-T Angle
Seat-T Angle
Head Tube
Fork
Length
Chain stay
Front Center
BB Height
Wheel base
S-17
432
585
70
72
160
410
457
637
285
1087
M-19
583
600
70.5
71.5
180
410
457
641
285
1091
L-21
533
615
70.5
71.5
180
410
457
656
285
1106
WS-16
406
575
69.5
71.5
180
410
457
627
285
1078
WM-18.5
470
590
70.5
71.5
180
410
457
630
285
1081

The geometry is similar to a Breezer Uptown, with sloping top tubes, reasonably long chainstays, and moderate but not-too-low seat and head tube angles. The bike should be stable and easy to ride hands-free (based on the low amount of rake on the fork, and the slack head tube angle), and it should be relatively easy to get a toe on the ground at stoplights without hopping of the saddle, if you need to, without setting the saddle low.

The Norco City Glide also comes in a Shimano Altus 21-speed derailer version, for $370, lacking the kickstand and rack:

Norco City Glide (Derailer)


If you know a local shop in your city that stocks these bikes for test-rides, or if you have ridden a City Glide yourself, let us know in the comments.