Saturday, March 12, 2011

Price Comparisons: All Things Considered

[images via Linus Bikes and Gazelle USA]

It's Spring again, and I am receiving more emails with questions regarding which new bike to get. I notice that lots of readers are comparison shopping, and that's fantastic. But when doing price comparisons, the key is to compare like to like - which is not always what happens. Take one of the emails I received this week, from a reader who was trying to choose between a Gazelle and a Linus. She wrote that she has a hard time "justifying buying a Gazelle for three times the price, when a Linus is a perfectly nice bike."

When I checked out the prices online, it became clear that the reader was comparing the $425 Dutchie 1 (Linus's single speed, entry-level model) to the $1,299 Toer Populair (Gazelle's 8-speed, deluxe model loaded with extras). But comparing the cheapest model from Brand X vs the most expensive model from Brand Y is hardly fair  - especially since these manufacturers offer more equivalent models: The Linus Dutchie 3 and the Gazelle Toer Basic (pictured side by side above). Both are 3-speeds, with the Gazelle toned down a bit and the Linus fitted with some extras, somewhat leveling the playing field between them. The cost of the Linus Dutchie 3 is $589, whereas the cost of the Gazelle Basic is $849: a difference of $260. Still unjustifiable? Let's see what each bike offers at those price points.

[image via Gazelle USA]

At $849, the Gazelle Toer Basic offers: a lugged frame, enclosed drum brakes front and rear, dynamo lighting, a full chaincase, a matching rear rack with huge load capacity, dress guards, and a wheel lock.

[image via Linus Bikes]

At $589, the Linus Dutchie 3 offers: a welded frame, rim brakes, no dynamo lighting or battery lights, a partial chainguard, a rear rack with lesser load capacity, no dress guards, and no wheel lock.

Even if we leave frame construction and ride quality out of it, the Gazelle's extras alone are worth over $500, which more than makes up for the $260 price difference. Are lower-end bikes a bargain? The only way to determine that is to do the comparison fairly: Have a look at all the models available, choose equivalent models for the comparison, and make a list of all the features included in each.

68 comments:

  1. Note that the Toer has a coaster brake, much more relaxed angles, a longer wheelbase with larger wheels, and much higher weight than the Dutchie. So while they may indeed be not so very far apart in price, no test ride will leave anybody unsure of which they prefer.

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  2. It's true that the handling and geometry are different, but I'd venture to say that most choose between Linus vs Gazelle on the basis of affordability. Otherwise, they'd get a shorter wheelbase, lighter weight bike such as a Velorbis or a Retrovelo.

    Also, there are no "budget bikes" in North America that offer the same geometry as a Dutch bike (unless you count Flying Pigeon, but those are not commonly available and bikes hops sometimes refuse to work on them), so Linus is probably the closest there is.

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  3. As a recent model gazelle owner my advice for a that particular shopper is to determine their primary interest in type of riding. I would no more take my gazelle on routes I ride my hillborne or other road bike as with only 3 speeds and the extra weight, it would be pretty miserable. If it's the look of Dutch they like but want to use it for more versatile riding I recommend something less weighty, either Linus or the public bike with 7 gears. If they truly want all the bells an whistles of a gazelle, there's no substitute. And as a side note, I have no idea of actual mathematical figures but the hub generator light on my toer populair significantly slows the bike down. Just one more consideration, sometimes I wish it were battery operated.

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  4. Indeed, although somewhat similar, the big difference between the bikes is available sizes, length, and weight. In my experience, dutch bikes can feel "big and heavy" to some people - precisely why the LINUS bike is a worthwhile consideration. Small size, lighter, shorted wheelbase.

    Although we do not sell Gazelle we do have Batavus and their Favoriet model is probably the equivalent to the Toer Basic. Its a great bike and offers lots of value. However many of our "petite" customers found the bike to be just too big in every way.

    We have added LINUS to our product offering to address these customers directly. Now, I am not saying the bikes are equivalent because we all know they are not - but they will give someone an option for a stylish city bike at an affordable price.

    The reality is that a LINUS is probably more than enough bike for the average city cyclist. Lights and locks can be added and simply adding a rustbuster chain to it as well would give it more all weather durability.

    Have a great weekend!

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  5. ann - What kind of dynamo hub do you have? I've not had this problem with any modern (past 20 years) bike I've tried; could be defective! After experiencing dynamo lighting I can never go back to battery lights.

    BikeBike - Is it just the chain rusting, or other parts as well? In Boston it is year 2 now that I am seeing Linus bikes on the streets, and I am seeing rust on the frames. It is especially visible on the cream ones.

    Anyhow, I can honestly say that literally no one has written to me saying that they are choosing between a Dutch bike vs Linus based on ride quality; it is always a matter of "I cannot afford a Dutch bike, so what do you think of Linus?"

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    Replies
    1. My Linus started to rust after one month its a poor quality bike the paint is chipping just from my basket the seat is uncomfortable after a longer ride the tires deflate every month...it was still close to 800 dollars basically I wish I had done a little more research.

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  6. I've never seen a Flying Pigeon in person but hear people make sort of disparaging comments. Are they really that bad, hard to find parts for or what?

    One person compared riding one to driving a Model T Ford and wondered how they could even give them away. If they are anything like a Model T in personality and willingness to go outside and spend all day playing in the mud and climbing trees than I think we all better go get one.

    Spindizzy

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  7. I've never ridden either of these bikes so have no idea of how they compare in ride or longevity. I do agree with those commentators who suggest that the bike (primary purpose, comfort, price) rather than the "idea of bike" is the real key in determining its value to an individual.

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  8. I was going to write something along Todd's points but realized these two bikes have nothing in common except for loop frame styling.

    The Linus is a hybrid with a fancy frock, the Gazelle is a classic that needs no other descriptors.

    The Viva Juliette is more Dutch than hybrid in proportion, more hybrid than Dutch in weight. Very pretty and expensive, tho I understand the owner went awol with owed funds.

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  9. Ah, but this is where Bike Price Creep sets in. I remember shopping for a quick-hop fixed gear a few years ago. The cheapest model was the SE Draft-- but for $60 more I could get the Lager, which had a three piece crank (instead of one-piece) and a chro-moly frame (instead of hi-ten). But for that price I could get a Schwinn Cutter, which had road bike components where the SE's mostly used BMX. And then half an hour later I'm looking at Raleigh and Bianchi bikes thinking "$800 isn't too bad."

    I agree a good bike matters, but sometimes that extra $100 leaves you eating ramen for a week. And nearly ALL production bikes are cheaper when you spec out their component prices. I had a friend who bought an $1100 Masi, when he did the math it had over $1500 in components before he included the frame.

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  10. Velouria, I hear you that the Basic has a price:feature ratio not unfavorable to the Linus. My guess is that your correspondents are internet shopping, not test riding. It's not their fault of course that probably they have no opportunity to ride both. My point is that comparing specifications and very vaguely similar loop-framiness only gets one so far: not far enough!

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  11. Velouria said...
    " But when doing price comparisons, the key is to compare like to like - which is not always what happens. Take one of the emails I received this week, from a reader who was trying to choose between a Gazelle and a Linus. She wrote that she has a hard time "justifying buying a Gazelle for three times the price, when a Linus is a perfectly nice bike." "

    In other words 90% of newbie/returning riders are ignorant of what the various features/components are , and how they work,on a bicycle as well as the various reasons for the bicycle types.

    The public sees a bicycle as a thing with two (or three) wheels that was fun to ride as a child with no understanding at all of adult bicycles. The are "bicycle undereducated" ............

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  12. for still less money than the Gazelle one can get a Linus 8 which has a chromoly frame and fork along with the 8 speed internal hub. more to consider when comparing.

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  13. Spindizzy,

    The Flying Pigeons are heavy and made from very poor quality materials, I have had my hands on one briefly and was not overly impressed. It reminded me a bit of a Huffy from around 1970, but the Huffy was better built. Parts are available but not readily so.

    Aaron

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  14. I know that some bike shops (even ones with classic 3-speed and rod brake experience) refuse to work on Flying Pigeons, because the parts and components tend to be a bit off and replacements are not easy to source. Same with the Indian roadsters.

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  15. yes totolly. I was telling a friend about public bikes which I think are afforable for what they offer and my friend was still shocked by the 7-800 pricing vs some 4-500 dollar bike. Now those bikes had nothing in common either but when I broke down the extra things like fenders and chain case and so on I explained why it cost more not even mentioning different type of bike and brake/ gear system and even type of ride etc. Most people see a bike and it's price and think it compares to any other bike and price..... Not so much.

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  16. Vee - Yes, that was exactly what I meant. It can be difficult to explain about differences in geometry to beginners, because to the untrained eye these bikes look nearly identical. But things like "this one includes lights and a lock, for a total retail value of $300" are more immediate and easier to understand.

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  17. The problem with adding lights to a bike that doesn't have any is that it both requires skills and costs more than it does for the manufacturer to include the lights. And if you're getting a bike shop to do everything, add more labour costs.

    Let's pretend for a second that you're not getting a bottle dynamo:

    1. wheel rebuild (could be $40 labour + $40 parts)
    2. dynohub ($50 or more)
    3. headlight ($25 or as much as $125)
    4. taillight ($25 or so)
    5. misc brackets, wires, odds & ends and your mistakes (let's say $0 to $50)
    6. alternatively bike shop labour ($50? who knows)

    I am not going to add it up, but you can see that it's not trivial. And if you go top of the line, quite a chunk of money.

    No, lighting is not cheap.

    If you go with a bottle, you usually have a less-than-elegant solution unless your bike has a fork bottle braze-on. And if it does, it probably already has a bottle and lights there. (Some people say it's possible to put a bottle on the rear wheel more-or-less well without a special braze-on. Don't have experience with that.)

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  18. I've seen lots of upside down dynamo bottles on rear wheels in Europe and a couple here in Boston (on old bikes). But I doubt that this is the solutions any North American bike shop will suggest when a customer asks "how much to install dynamo lighting on this Linus?" $300 for a wheel rebuild + dynamo hub + the lights themselves is about what one should expect.

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  19. It seems to me that Linus as well as Public Bikes as well as BikeDirect's 'city' offerings, are aiming to be 'light roadsters' in the vein of Raleigh Sports. I wonder if a comparison review can be made between these bikes and the original Raleigh Sports.

    The Gazelle on the other hand is an out and out roadster which compares with its vintage equivalent by having better braking and lighting.

    I think that these are two related yet quite different types of bikes, and in North America, the light roadster sold better than the full sized roadster during the bike boom.

    Maybe a sound idea would be to offer a modern equivalent to the Raleigh Sports Superbe, a better equipped version of the basic 3-speeds equipped with the addition of dynamo lighting and other nice to haves. This would bridge the gap between the current modern 3-speeds and the luxuriously loaded Gazelles and other modern roadsters.

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  20. So here's a noob question. When they talk about seat post angle in the geometry section of the specs, how do they actually measure it? I was trying to compare the seat angle on the junker I want to rebuild to the dealer specs on the "comfort" bike I bought and can't afford to replace now that I know it isn't comfortable on long rides. I can see the specs on the new bike, but I don't know how to figure it out on the old one.

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  21. of Florida - No, I would not say that the Linus is similar to the Raleigh Sports at all; totally different geometry and tubing (I used to own one).

    The problem is that when it comes down to it, all these bikes are different. Gazelle handles a bit differently from Batavus and from Azor/Workcycles, even though all three are classic Dutch bikes. Pashley handles differently from the vintage Raleigh, even though both are English roadsters. Abici handles differently from Bella Ciao, even though both are zippy Italian bikes. Well, you get the idea!

    All this is to say, that I think the Linus and Public loop frames are a category of their own. Not sure how they came up with geometry, but it is not a copy of the Raleigh Sports. I wish...

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  22. Erin - Try just using a protractor. There are more accurate ways to calculate it, but it's complicated. Also, keep in mind that you can slacken a seat tube angle by getting a seatpost with "setback" and moving the saddle back on the rail a couple of cm.

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  23. Thanks Velouria. My hubby dug out his digital protractor and although the Giant (that doesn't fit well) has officially a 73 degree seat post angle, I can only measure it as 70 degrees. The junker that fits measures as 62 degrees.

    Now that I have started to watch for frame geometry, I can see (or at least think I can see) the difference in seat post angle between the Gazelle and the Linus. Based on my experience, that better angle alone is worth the extra $260. If my Giant fit better (more comfortably), I wouldn't be selling it and taking a big hit of depreciation.

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  24. Hmmm.... 62 degrees can't be right. Are you measuring it here?

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  25. Re: dynamo hubs. The price has come down but relative to an inexpensive, astoundingly bright clip-on I really don’t see the point, particularly if you ride multiple bikes.

    “All this is to say, that I think the Linus and Public loop frames are a category of their own. Not sure how they came up with geometry, but it is not a copy of the Raleigh Sports. I wish...”

    In the case of Public, the frames are basically based upon hybrid geometry. Good designers, prototypes made, tested in the real world. A decision is based upon which one works best in the given environment.

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  26. Velouria/of Florida--The Linus might not be the same geometry or tubing as a Raleigh (or associated brand) Sports (aka the classic British 3 speed), but maybe it's going for the same type of market niche?

    Aw hell, they just need to get it over with and bring back the classic British 3 speed! (More updated and without the funky threading, please.)
    Raleigh, you listening?

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  27. actually, seat post angle is relative to the ground with equal sized tires and wheels, given that the top tube might not be level. For example: I measured the seat tube on my road bike. The angle from the ground is 73 degrees, but I got that angle by measuring 17 degrees from a plumb line hung from the seat as 90 degrees (perpendicular to the ground) less 17 degrees (measured angle) is 73 degrees.

    Here's another way to measure the angle.

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  28. I should have just use the iPhone app to measure. I didn't know there was an app for that. The mixte junker is about 66 degrees. It is not a racy bike, it's a cute womens twin stay bike by a low end 1960 manufacturer.

    I was trying to measure like the "C" arrow shows here

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  29. I have to say that I like what Public and Linus are doing. I would call these lifestyle bikes and I hope they are getting non cyclists onto bikes.

    I think that both of these brands have bicycles with handling characteristics (hybrid) suitable to new cyclists.

    We were in Copenhagen a few years ago and we had a garage with 30 years worth of bikes. When we took a non cyclist for a ride they always liked to look at the classic 'dutch' bikes but ended up preferring newer lighter bikes with more upright seat tubes, and head tubes.

    I've ridden the Linus bikes and I thought they behaved well. However as some one who used to do visual welding inspection I would not buy a Linus for my self nor for anyone in my family. To my eye the weld quality was very poor and there was enough that couldn't be hidden by paint to make me worry what was hidden by paint.

    I would like to like the Public bikes more but you have to like the colors or be willing to bid on the short run colors that they auction individually. Also I don't think the Public fenders are adequate for riding in wet weather or through puddles unless you wear rubber boots (which Public sells as accessories)

    If anyone one wants a cheap internal gear hub utility bike I would recommend a Torker T-300. I think they are less than $400 I suspect the frames are made by Kinesis in Taiwan.

    After the Torker I would say the Trek Bellville WSD IGH 3spd front dynamo hubs front and rear racks all for less than $600

    Compare it to a Giant Via 1 which really looks good up close, but less well equipped then the Trek for $550.

    For my daughter we ended up with a Specialised Globe Live 1 which we got nearly new for $250 and we are converting to IGH. I'm no big fan of aluminum bikes because of the way they ride and I usually keep my bikes for a long time, but the Live 1 (no longer made) rides quite well.

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  30. Velouria - we are not sure about the rusting Linus' you're seeing in Boston. Where we are in Calgary it is a semi-arid area so hoping rust doesn't become a big issue. Also the majority of people here do not leave their bikes outside 24/7, however if they do we definitely would suggest a Batavus over anything else.

    As some others have mentioned, comparing the two bikes is not fair because they are so different - precisely why we added them to our range instead of another dutch brand like Gazelle. Our feeling is the Linus bikes will appeal to those who are of less economic means (cannot afford a dutch bike) or those who want a lighter, smaller, nimbler bike - or both.

    Have a nice weekend everyone!

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  31. i am guilty of this as well, getting overly bogged down by price, but more in terms of the second example of comparisons. i wrote off more expensive bikes that came with a rack and fenders, because i thought i would be a fair-weather rider who would use it for commuting only. now i ride in light rain and snow and use it for errands as well. i ended up getting buying fenders and a rack and paying labor to install them. and it came out to virtually the same price. and then i chose the cheapest rack possible, not considering that rack had no bungee attachments or attachments for lights. i think people need to think about what they want to use their bikes for and actually test ride them! don't just order them online! it may look like a pretty bike and be high-end, but if it's uncomfortable then you're not going to ride it.

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  32. Jim - I don't get the point you're trying to make. The "astoundingly" bright battery lights that I've seen have terrible battery life and aren't even quite as bright as good dynamo lights. Have you come across any that transcend the laws of physics?

    Also, you write:

    "In the case of Public, the frames are basically based upon hybrid geometry. Good designers, prototypes made, tested in the real world. A decision is based upon which one works best in the given environment."

    I'm stunned that you've managed to fit "hybrid geometry", "good designers", and "works best" all together into such a little space. Hybrids are just about the worst, failed bike design ever conceived. (Unless you put "Comfort Bikes" into a separate category.)

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  33. lyen--I own a Princeton Tec EOS headlight that is battery powered and is pretty damn bright. Also Planet Bike is making a 2 watt Blaze light:
    http://ecom1.planetbike.com/3045.html
    They also make the Blaze available for dynamo hookup.

    Though yes, batteries do die, so that's where dynamo lighting has it beat. But they are perfectly valid options for lighting that aren't dyno lights.

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  34. adventure! - No. I'm sorry, but the Planet Bike 2W has a less than 5 hour battery life, which means I would have to change batteries every other day to use it in the winter. I don't think that makes for a very "valid" option.

    Besides, if a light can't light up the road, it's not sufficiently bright. You're not going to light up the road with three AAA batteries.

    Again, the unaccommodating laws of physics insist that you can only squeeze so much light out of a given battery. And it's not much.

    BTW, at 25 cents per battery, the Planet Bike 2W costs about $8/month to run in the winter, which is not insubstantial. If you assume that decent generator lights cost as much as battery powered lights (reasonable assumption) and that you don't pay for labor (the bike comes with the lights installed), then generator lights pay for themselves in less than two years. This is ignoring their superior functionality and reliability.

    So yeah, it's stupid to buy a bike without generator lights, if they're available as an option.

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  35. adventure! - I'm aware of the PB dynamo Blaze. It sucks. Since it's one of the worst generator lights available, and it's expensive, I would hardly recommend it to anyone.

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  36. lyen, what don't you understand? "The price has come down but relative to an inexpensive, astoundingly bright clip-on I really don’t see the point, particularly if you ride multiple bikes." Pretty clear and self-explanatory. With rechargeable batteries and periodic switching life isn't a problem. Thanks for the sarcastic comment BTW.



    I could get into a geo frame war with you, but will just say because a moniker of hybrid is hung on a bike doesn't mean all bikes have the exact same geo. You tweak an angle here, a tubing selection there, a rake, a chainstay length and can come up with something that works.

    It's all well and good to flame one another over the internet when you don't understand something. Take the snideness out and we can have a civil conversation. This isn't a pissing match.

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  37. To those who prefer battery lighting - enjoy. But as I said, I can never ever go back once I've tried dynamo lighting, not on a bike that I use seriously. As far as bang for the buck goes, I especially recommend the Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ LED Cyo Senso Plus that I have on 2 of my bicycles.

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  38. brothersterno said...
    "actually, seat post angle is relative to the ground with equal sized tires and wheels, given that the top tube might not be level"


    You can do it that way, but it is easier to do it against the virtual top tube. I am guessing Erin's frame is a step-through anyhow, so the top tube would be virtual anyway.

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  39. To clarify my bike situation: I have 5 bikes that get rotated and are ridden in all conditions, anything from a cargo bike to a full-on road race bike. Lighting needs to be portable as wheel requirements for these are different.

    Not anti-dynamo per se, just pro-versatility.

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  40. I have 7 bikes (oh no, do I really??), 4 of which get used regularly and in a way that necessitates lighting. On those I have dynamos. Hubs on 3 and bottle on the 4th.

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  41. Jim,

    "With rechargeable batteries and periodic switching life isn't a problem."

    Well, I think it's a huge problem. Decently bright lights have to be recharged every 5 hours. I find recharging, remembering to charge, worrying about dimming lights an enormous hassle. Planet Bike lights get dimmer and dimmer as the batteries discharge. What if you forget to charge? Oh that's right, you'll need a back up lights. There goes another $XX dollars.

    A decent, reliable battery set-up will cost you $$$ anyway. You can't escape that. All in all, you'll probably spend only $100 or so less than for an aftermarket generator system.

    As to hybrid geometry, sure, maybe you can "tweak" it and "come up with something that works." But it usually doesn't and I think it's not a great starting point.

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  42. lyen - I pretty much agree with your take on battery lighting 100%. The 3 bikes of mine that don't have dynamos get ridden almost exclusively in the daytime. On a bike that sees use at night, I find it especially stressful not knowing when my tail light goes out when using battery lighting.

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  43. There are some bright battery lights, but they require daily-to-weekly charging. I suppose it can become a routine--you plug in your phone and your lights. As far as weight, serious battery lights cost and weigh as much as dynamo lighting. I don't have five bikes, although together with Velouria we probably have that many per person, and all of our serious bikes (or planned bikes) have dyno lighting. Moving lights + bags and other crap from bike to bike kills the enjoyment of owning multiple bikes. They have to be ready to go.

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  44. Speaking of taillights--I think a redundant system is best: dyno taillight + battery light in the rear. The batteries on rear lights last forever.

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  45. lyen,
    "Well, I think it's a huge problem. Decently bright lights have to be recharged every 5 hours. I find recharging, remembering to charge, worrying about dimming lights an enormous hassle. Planet Bike lights get dimmer and dimmer as the batteries discharge. What if you forget to charge? Oh that's right, you'll need a back up lights. There goes another $XX dollars."

    Yes, it does require maintenance and forethought. I plug in my phone and switch out the rechargeables every morning and have a fresh set every day, something I do while half dead to the world.

    "A decent, reliable battery set-up will cost you $$$ anyway. You can't escape that. All in all, you'll probably spend only $100 or so less than for an aftermarket generator system."

    See above comment re: multiple bikes.

    re: hybrid geo--I debated whether to call it that. Unfortunately it got the reaction that hybrid bikes in this country usually get, but it's the most accurate term to describe what Public used on each style of frame, whether it's called a mixte, diamond, loop or whatever. The numbers vary according to size, as it should be, but having ridden one I have to say it's an, um, amalgamation of traditional road bike, with a longish top tube and medium-long chainstays, and a hybrid with it's more vertical seat tube. It rides like both because of the short, high stem on it.

    Geo questions are always touchy--I had to fight tooth and nail for 4 months to get the head tube length and tubing diameter I wanted from my custom frame maker.

    All the spreadsheets in the world won't tell you how a bike performs on the terrain you ride, at the speed you go.

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  46. V said "I have 7 bikes (oh no, do I really??), 4 of which get used regularly and in a way that necessitates lighting. On those I have dynamos. Hubs on 3 and bottle on the 4th."

    I'd love to have a heavy-duty dynamo hub for my cargo bike, a carbon/titanium one for my race/training bike, and "normal" ones for the rest. It just adds up to a silly amount.

    I have friends who own multiple Schmidt E3 Supernova systems on their randonneurs and commuters. Overkill but strangely covetous...

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  47. Well on 2 of the bikes, the dynamo lighting came stock with the bike. On the other two, it was indeed expensive. But to me more worth it than splurging on other components. I think it really comes down to what's important, what's a priority. I cannot see myself spending money on those expensive brake lever/shifter combo thingies, which cost as much as rebuilding a wheel with a dynohub and buying lights, yet more than half of the cyclists I know have them.

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  48. "expensive brake lever/shifter combo thingies"

    ;)

    I spent the money on them so I can be somewhat competitive to compensate for the genetic gifts I lack.

    Maybe I should give up racing and put dynamos on all my bikes...

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  49. Jim,

    Well my situation is the opposite of yours. I only ride one bike. I have another for emergencies (it's barely rideable) and one which I use as a parts bank. (I'll borrow its rear wheel if I need to take my to the shop, etc.)

    I'm a person of habit, and extremely absent minded, so I try to simplify a lot of stuff for myself. My cell phone is really old, so its battery goes on forever. (I have a day to charge the battery when it runs down.) I don't plan to buy a road bike, since I do about 7000 miles a year commuting and running errands. If I had a cargo bike, I would probably ride it exclusively anyway.

    So yeah, I guess we have very different habits when it comes to cycling. But when it comes to advice I would give to a novice rider, it would to treat their bike like a car: invest in a single vehicle which is very reliable and will allow you to commute and go grocery shopping in all weather with peace of mind.

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  50. Velouria - It's not really that expensive, it only feels that way because you're wasting money on rebuilding the wheel. But even still, a good, basic set-up will cost you about $200 with labor, which isn't much for something you rely on everyday. I mean, a goddamn pair of men's dress shoes costs $300 these days if you want one made out of real leather.

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  51. I cannot see myself spending money on those expensive brake lever/shifter combo thingies

    Do you mean brifters? Have you tried them? I can't say for sure you would like them, given that my component preferences match up with pretty much none of yours, but for sport riding, I can't recommend them enough.

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  52. Yes, I mean STI or Ergo "brifters," I'm just being cute.

    I've tried them briefly and liked them. But I also like my bar-ends quite a lot, and my curiosity about the brifters is not worth $300 to satisfy. I am not saying that they are not worth it in general, only that value is subjective. I'd rather equip any one of my bikes with a dynamo set-up than brifters.

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  53. Just as a point of information for all dynamo fans, Velo Orange has just started selling a switchable dyno hub (can be turned off to reduce drag). I don't know how much drag there is on a normal dyno, so I can't comment on the relative value of this feature. VO also offers dyno hubs on pre-built wheels in both 650b and 700c sizes. I believe that these are reasonably-priced. I imagine that they will also offer such on the new switchable hub. Steve in MD

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  54. I ride a great deal in the dark and have used both dynamos and rechargeable battery lights and while I am aware that significant advances have been made with dynamo hubs in the five years or so I have been away, I am very happy with rechargeable lights and certainly won't be thinking of changing.

    I live in England and ride every morning, year round, from 4:30-6:30 am, about 30 miles, and mainly on dark unlit country lanes. Given our latitude - about 50 degrees north - I need lights at some point in my ride for about 8 months a year, and for about three months a year I go out and come back in the dark. I use German made Lupine lights - their Betty 7 model. Very expensive, but utterly reliable and at 1850 lumens about three times as bright as the brightest lights available on dynamo set-ups. About as bright as a good car headlight. Burn time is about three hours on peak setting (I've got a three-step set-up, 700 lumens, 1100 lumens, and 1850)

    This would probably be overkill for three mile commutes in Boston etc, but if you are riding long miles in seriously dark, wintry and often treacherous country lanes, I'd much rather have these. THey are very well engineered, give a nice beam spread and light colour and as I say, are utterly reliable.

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  55. lyen--Yeah, I realize that Planet Bike isn't necessarily the best option to throw out there (my experiences have been mixed), so that's why I threw out the Princeton Tec EOS light, which throws quite the wide beam, is waterproof, and made in the US of all things. But batteries don't last (even rechargeables) and a dynohub will always provide power without worrying about fresh or recharged cells.

    Battery powered light technology is getting better, but it's still batteries. For some people it works fine. Just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean that it doesn't work for others. And it's a worthy option for many cyclists.

    I'm a firm believer in the practicality and usefulness of dyno lighting systems. I just got one built for the Wayfarer, and will get one on the LHT, my two primary bikes. But the only reason I'm getting it done to the LHT now is that it needs a new front wheel, so I'm taking the plunge. There's other things I should be saving up for, but it's now or never in regards to the new wheel.

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  56. As to why someone might not choose to get a bike equipped with dyno lighting if its an option (or why someone would go for a different, lower-cost bike that doesn't have dyno lighting as an option), I think a lot of it has to do with education. Most non-bicyclists don't know about it, and the few that do may have bad memories of old bottle generators of yore, so they avoid it.

    For example, a friend of mine was going to look at an '80's Miyata 610 on Craigslist for $280. Besides all the typical touring bike bells-and-whistles, it had an Alfine dynohub and lighting setup. He liked how it looked but was thinking about trying to haggle on the price. I told him $280 was a screaming deal on a bike like that that already had dyno lighting set up. (A bike I would want to get if it wasn't too big for me!) His response? "Isn't dyno lighting supposed to be bad?"

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  57. The Gazelle had me at drum brakes. Is it bad that one of the main reasons I don't like rim brakes is just because I find them ugly and I don't like all the extra cables? Totally prejudice, I know. But it's true...

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  58. The Gazelle Basic is great. I just rode one today again. It has all the comfort and geometry of the traditional dutch bike with some minor draw backs that would never be an issue. Negatives- plastic pedals, This can easily be switched out to steel pedals for about $30. Old fashion pedestal stand--this stand looks great but not as balanced as a hebie center stand. I have seen bikes blow over in the wind with this stand. Would prefer schwalbe tires instead of the CST tires it seems to always come with.
    I am a normal rider who appreciates the importance of having a strong and durable bicycle yet low effort and maintenance bicycle.
    I of course own a bike store but more important I am a female rider and a mom and If you are not the hard core extreme bicyclist-- it is worth knowing a few things if you plan to by a commuter/city bike.

    Lights: you need lights, why bother with installing a bottle dynamo light or rebuild a wheel when there are bikes out there that already have it perfectly stocked this way. Saving money on this will not be worth it.

    Internal hub: This is the way to go. Sealed hubs mean less maintenance, means less money in the long run No Derailleurs!!!

    Steel frame: Lugges is nice! Yes a bit heavier but if you dont live on top of a hill you should be good to go. The ride is comfortable and bike will last...less waste since the bike actually could outlive you.

    Fenders/skirt guards: Yes why would you choose not to have these? We dont want to get dirty or have anything including kids feet get caught in the wheel.

    Chain guard: Yes You can stay perfectly clean and your chain will last longer with less less maintenance since it is protected form the elements.

    Wheel lock: This is great. its just another added deterrence to keep the thief away. Even if you dont buy a dutch bike you can usually get one of these installed on your bike.

    Added safety note: All Dutch bikes are required to have reflectors on the tires which is a nice bonus.

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  59. Has anyone tried the above mentioned Gazelle? What did you think?

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  60. Thank you for the comparison, for keeping things fair and for keeping things in perspective. I saw the Linus at a shop in DC and, to be honest, it looked better in pictures (but, that's just my opinion). Plus, why must everything be made in China...ARGGHHH!!?. I wish I could find a local shop that sells the Gazelle and other classic European bikes that are actually made in Europe. When I finally found a shop that was able to order my Pashley I felt like I hit the jackpot...the $1,500 almost seemed incidental at that point.

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    1. i have a Linus bike and within two months it started to rust and the tires deflate every month its alot of hype and actually expensive for a poor quality bike not to mention the paint has been chipping off just from my basket.Also i bought a linus market bag and it also looks terrible lost its shape and the snaps are so cheap that one has fallen off...not worth it.

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  61. I test rode the Gazelle Basic today and I think I might have to get it. I currently ride a cheap-o eastern European bike that came with all the components (fenders, basket, skirt guard, rack, bottle dynamo, partial chain guard) though unfortunately said components tend to rattle against one another and the bike feels like it might fall apart at any moment. The Gazelle felt completely different. No amount of obsessive (attempted) wheel truing could make my bike glide like that.

    One thing to note is that, like the Pashley, only the front light is hub dynamo-driven. I don't know why they do this. The man in the bike shop said wiring the rear light was complicated -- but I have a suspicion that the rear light is battery operated in order to make you consider the more expensive Toer Populair, which has hub-driven front and rear lights (sometimes - depending on the model - others strangely have bottle dynamos). Though I love the idea of all the lights being dynamo-driven, I could buy a lot of double A batteries before matching the extra cost of a Populair.

    I currently live in the UK, where the bike runs a little cheaper (Dutch bikes are probably the only thing cheaper in the UK than the US) at £455 ($733). According to the salesperson, it also is less likely to be stolen than a Pashley, which are relatively common in London and huge thief magnets. British bike thieves apparently don't know much about Gazelles. Hopefully they remain ignorant.

    I do have one question though, which will probably reveal my complete bicycle ignorance. Do you have to oil the chain on the Gazelle/how would you do this if you needed to? I didn't look closely at the chain guard while in the shop today, but in pictures it looks like it completely covers the chain (which is great -- but does that then eliminate the need to oil it regularly?). There's surprisingly little on the internet about how to maintain a hub geared bike with a full chain guard.

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  62. If only price was the one deciding factor. Weight is my primary concern, as I must store the bike down a flight of narrow and steep stairs. In Brooklyn, where I currently live, the ease of street parking is absent. (My beloved 1977 Gitane Mixte is almost trashed after a winter outside, it being too heavy to carry up and down stairs.) Many of us live in buildings where basement access is denied, or where landlords won't allow bikes to be parked in front of their buildings (insurance reasons in case of injury to passers-by... don't get me started!) We must carry our bikes up and down multiple flights: in my case, to the 3rd floor of an apartment too small to house the bicycle, or down one flight of precarious basement stairs. I choose the basement. I like upright city bikes, but this setup rules out a heavy Gazelle or Pashley unless I want to compromise by taking a subway to a lot/garage where I could pay $22 per month to store the bike. So a month ago I purchased a Linus Dutchi 3 speed simply because it is lighter in weight than the other Dutch-style bikes. (The Abici was in the running, but a combination of budget, coaster brake and fear of theft leaves me wary. Bella Ciao not yet available here in NYC but I have alerted my local shop to them, thanks to your excellent coverage :))
    I'm not thrilled with the Linus. Already the bell has fallen off (!) and my bungee has entangled itself in the rear sprocket due to the only partially enclosed chain case (and perhaps the bungee itself, a Jandd meant for rear racks). In 10+ years of cycling this has never happened on any other bike. Very dangerous and scary.
    My 7 years of Boston living allowed me to keep my bikes securely locked outdoors with a simple U-lock- unbelievably true. NYC is not so forgiving. What do you say to those of us who long for the comfort of a Dutch upright but lack the ease of storage and security?

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  63. i am very reluctant to even ask this question ... but... is it possible to convert a single speed gazelle into a 3 speed? i am looking into purchasing a used single speed gazelle that i have fallen in love with but have always rode a 3 speed bike.. its it a sin to do such a thing? and can it even be done? i am new to this whole bike loving life.. and enjoying it tremendously. thanks so much for any input.

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  64. I bought a tour populair 3 months ago after riding a much cheaper bike (mongoose hybrid) every day for 2 years (in gas saving alone, I paid back the cheap bike at least twice over).

    At that point, I knew (from my aching back) that I had to get a comfort geometry bike. I agree with the author. When I compared like to like, there was no real comparison. I needed 8 gears (Los Angeles is more hilly than you imagine) and I really wanted hub-generated lighting (I'm sick of battery lights dying in the middle of a long ride at night).

    I can't believe I never had a wheel lock before and now I'm spoiled.

    As for very steep hills, I can make it. It's harder than on the much lighter cheap bike I used to have, but that just contributes to my workout.

    And, after a few months, I can now stand/lift my ass out of the seat (if I need to) for extra steep grades.

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  65. you may want to check out bikesdirect.com they have quite a few cro molly frame bike ready to ride co$t half the price of linus or electra they also come with kendra tires n 700c al rims also bikerbuyer.com you can get a nice road or fixer at from 239 to 399 and save yourself paiding to much money for the linus or electra bike in which they start at 450 for a linus or the other bike go check it out

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  66. Why doesn't anyone just buy an english 3-speed from Craigslist? I see them by the dozens weekly here in Boston. They cost under $200 and come in more than two sizes. They are not made in China.

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