Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High-Vis Rainbike, Anyone?

The past couple of days were rainy and dreary, and I've been sick in bed. Still, I managed to crawl to the door when the bell rang, and take delivery of an enormous package from Urbana Bikes - a Canadian manufacturer that has asked me to review this unusual creation. I opened the box and nearly jumped back from the burst of colour that greeted me. I'd requested a bike in "olive," which on the manufacturer's website looks like this. In person it resembles an exotic poisonous mushroom. "Oh boy, I should have asked for black!" was my initial thought. But as I continued to stare, the neon shade began to grow on me. At least it offered a cheerful contrast to the dark gray skies and pelting rain outside. I dragged the bike outdoors for some quick snapshots, half-hoping the rain would mistake it for the sun and stop... and believe it or not, it did, if only for a few minutes.

The Urbana bicycle is a rather extraordinary cross between a BMX bike, a mountain bike, and a Dutch transport bike with large hauling capacity. But I will elaborate on all of that once it's time to review it. What struck me today, was how remarkably vibrant the "poisonous mushroom" colour looked in rainy weather. I walked away from the bike, stood to the side, turned around partially - but as long as it was even peripherally in my field of vision, it commanded attention. I look forward to comparing my experience in traffic on this "hi-vis" bicycle, to my own, neutrally coloured bikes.

We are still in the process of adjusting the bike's components and I was not in a condition to cycle yesterday anyhow, but I will share my impressions once I begin to ride it. This is the first time I'll be reviewing a bicycle that isn't mine beyond a single test ride, so it should be interesting. I am still ironing out the logistics with the manufacturer, but after my review the Urbana will go to a new home.

Normally I am not a fan of hi-vis anything, but I make an exception in inclement weather and I think that neon bicycles would make good "rainbikes." How many of you ride brightly coloured bikes - either because you prefer the colours, or for the sake of visibility? And do any of you have dedicated rainbikes?

85 comments:

  1. The first time I was in England, 30 years ago, I found it interesting that in that perpetually-gray place, people's bikes and bike accessories were no more colorful than the skies, for the most part. I noticed the same thing in Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, I was riding with high-visibility orange panniers and a yellow handlebar bag. If I had wrapped myself in the Stars and Stripes, I could not have made it more obvious that I am American.

    (Actually, the panniers I used were made only in orange, and of the colors in which the handlebar bag came, yellow seemed to go best with the orange panniers and my bike.)

    Interestingly, about a dozen or so years later, I noticed that the Europeans had the brightly-colored bags and accessories. And I came in black.

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  2. Today that is less the case. When I was in London last summer there were more colourful bikes than I remembered from 2001-2005. And in Germany in particular, hi-vis panniers seem to be very popular for touring.

    And off topic, but after much searching I found an Ortlieb pannier in a subdued classic olive colour. Sadly it is still a bit too techie for me and I will most like try to resell it unused.

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  3. That bike isn't my cup of tea, style-wise, but it may well be good for certain tasks. I look forward to reading the review. It looks enormous. About how heavy is it?

    I am in Malaysia for a month and have seen very few people on bicycles. It would be difficult to arrive anywhere without becoming soaking wet in this climate and the work places I have seen don't look like the kind of places with showers.

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  4. Actually I don't mind the colour - but it's not a colour that would suit a more refined, ladylike Lovely Bicycle. It's funky and fun and so is the bike concerned. I think it would be an advantage to ride something this colour in a climate where rain was a regular on the menu.

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  5. Velouria,

    Shorten those cables -- they're massively long! It will shift and brake better with proper length cables.

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  6. I cover the 'whitetail' area of my rear fender with reflective high-vis yellow tape, for much the same reason some countries [used to?] require white paint on the same spot, on my bike with the best rain brakes; but that's as high-vis as I'm willing to go. Still, I have absolutely no faith in the bright yellow giving any significant improvement to my visibility. It's the reflective part that helps.

    For most bikes I don't buy the notion that brightly colored frames make the bicyclist significantly easier to see. Bicycle tubing is not terribly visible in split second situations. If someone want's to go the high vis through coloration route, they should wear a brightly colored jacket or have brightly colored panniers. The human on top of the bicycle frame dominates the visual field. A high vis frame isn't going to make wheels/fenders/handlebars/baskets/panniers any easier to see, and the human plus wheels/fenders/handlebars/baskets/panniers are the overwhelming majority of that visual field. Granted, the bicycle above has really fat tubing, which makes it more significant than on most bikes, but still, it doesn't compare to the human torso.

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  7. I'll be intrigued to hear the reviews...I have to admit that my first thought is--color aside--that is the ugliest bike I've ever seen on this site. Wow. Wow, do I hate that bike. But maybe it has some mysterious redeeming qualities?

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  8. I use lights when it rains...
    It reminds me of this fad of the late 70's, when german automakers were issuing lime green, orange or bright yellow cars (including mercedes benz sedan...) because insurance companies were giving cheaper rates to owners of hi-vis neon colored cars. They were supposed to be less accident prone.
    They didn't last long, both the rebates and the orange Mercedes.

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  9. Velouria, I am just glad you moved on from yesterdays subject :) Not that it was bad just that it was a bit one sided is all. Anyway back to this subject when I was getting my bike I was asked if I wanted it in grey or blue and I chose blue and told the sales man that I wanted to be seen and not match the pavement.

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  10. My Brompton is bright sunny yellow.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10938860@N03/3779173464/in/set-72157621203392481.
    I get comments all the time on how cheery/visible (delete as appropriate) it is. From time to time I've wondered how useful this may be in dim conditions but it hasn't yet been the deciding factor in which bike to ride (the others being a black roadbike and the metallic green Puch mixte you already know about).

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  11. I think I like that bike. It looks like fun. Or maybe because after winter its pothole season and the Urbana looks like it tackle anything up to Grand Canyon. Also, something about that bike says you should get it in a loud color. Not sure why. Looking forward to the review.
    Anyway, at the moment my bikes are gray and black. I'm not sure how much the frame color helps as it doesn't cover as much visual space as say a pannier or a bright-colored jacket. Since I merge into traffic quite often I make it a point of having something hi-vis on the bike beyond the dynamo lighting. Something about the rain that makes more things mono-tone and I've noticed from driving that other drivers have a harder time with perception (including gray cars without daytime running lights and pedestrians all in black) that I tend to get brighter colored rain gear for walking and riding. At the moment I have a blue rain coat and a bright orange cycling jacket. The rain covers for my bike's bags are also bright yellow but most bags, even non-bike bags, seem to default to bright yellow for the rain cover.

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  12. If this were going to be my "rain bike", it would have to have longer fenders, perhaps with a large mudflap at least in the front. Those fenders are not *quite* full coverage, in my opinion.

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  13. That bike has a face that only a mother could love. I think you should call him Igor.

    Seriously, though, it does incorporate some novel features, and I'm curious how they will stand up to scrutiny. My first impression was that a man's version has the makings of an ideal platform for a winter bike in balmy NE- it just needs better fenders (PB's Cascadias are highly recommended for their fantastic coverage and seeming unbreakability) and some disk brakes might be nice as well. Well, to my surprise, two things- (1) it can be equipped with disks, and (2) it's intended as a unisex frame. Ima pretty secure guy, but rockin' an Italianate loop frame? I dunno 'bout that.

    BTW, I'm really curious to see what you think of the the balloon tires when the bike is subject to that uphill momentum quandary. This might be a good platform to play with some radically different tire sizes for comparison's sake.

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  14. Re whether this bike is "lovely":

    I wasn't sure what to expect with this bike, but having received it I find that I like it. It is not intended to be an elegant, classic, retro, or lady-like bike. It is intended to be industrial and robust, something that can take a beating. Also, it is meant as a unisex bike.

    The proportions of the frame are well done, though for a tall rider I imagine the handlebars would become problematically low. I like the ultra-low stepover and the unusually wide tires. The specially designed rack can handle 120 lbs weight.

    My 2 points of criticism so far, are that the brakes are proving unusually difficult to adjust, and that there are no provisions for lights. I've also read reviews complaining about the short front fender. But I don't have a problem with the looks: the design is intentional and I think the "ugly" aesthetic can work when it is done well and with a sense of purpose. Like the Pugsley.

    I need to feel better before I can properly test ride this bike, but it should be interesting!

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  15. I kinda like it. I definitely try to be Hi-visible when I ride. My current bike is blue (cause it was that or black, not much choice) but I always ride in red or yellow shirts/jackets to be visible, so I’m fine with the color. Something else I becoming interested in is the loop frame. At 56 (almost 57) I’m getting tired of slinging my leg over a “mans” bike, esp. now that I’ve put a rack on the back and carry a gym bag on top of it. A step through is absolutely in my future. And since I don’t “race” to get where I’m going, I ride on bigger more comfortable tires (currently using a 32 mm tire). So yeah, all in all, I kinda like it.

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  16. Here in Seattle every bike is a rain bike.

    Given this fact it's amazing how many bikes can be seen without fenders. Of course it's the spin-back splash from the rear tire that is the real torture of a fenderless bicycle.

    I see many cyclists wearing those huge reflective road sign triangles on their backs or packs... since often it's so gloomy it seems you need headlamps even in the middle of the day.

    I'm not sure which is worse though... rain or snow. At least we rarely get snow.

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  17. JohnnyK said...
    " I am just glad you moved on from yesterdays subject :)"


    Don't worry men, I wasn't planning to dedicate the entire blog to yesterday's subject from here on! (just imagine that...)

    arevee - It is 43lb and has a wheelbase that is somewhere between a touring bike and a Dutch bike. The angles are quite relaxed, too: seat tube angle looks like it's <70 degrees.

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  18. I like that bike because it's not lying. Totally agree that he is Igor.

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  19. 43lb??!! Without lights or bell? Yikes.

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  20. Oh I hope you love it! It appears very similar to my beloved bright orange Helkama Jopo. It also "has a face only a mother could love" (love that!), but after one test ride at the shop, I was bewitched. It's the most fun bike I've ridden! I aim for potholes on it because they're fun.

    Due to a recent reduction in my need for simple, tooling-around-the-city bikes, I've actually sold my gorgeous Abici, and only after the fact realized that I could have kept it and sold the Jopo. But I just can't quite let it go . . .

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  21. The "poisonous mushroom" color is kind of growing on me the more I look at it. As I believe someone stated above, purposeful ugliness has its appeal. I'm just glad you didn't get the black. For some reason this bike in black calls to my mind images of Nazi Germany. *shudder*

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  22. somervillain said...
    "43lb??!! Without lights or bell? Yikes."


    Yup. Though to be fair, that weight includes the front and rear reflectors that I did not install, and an elaborate rear hub brake which my model does not have. So maybe mine is more like 41-42lb. When I pick it up, it feels somewhat, but not too much, lighter than my Gazelle.

    neighbourtease - exactly!

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  23. "43lb??!! Without lights or bell? Yikes. "

    No kidding. I can hear the DL-1 and the Hercules Sports laughing out in the garage.

    It is a sort of purposeful ugliness,isn't it?
    I am wondering if the very slack headtube angle will be offset by the low CG, and that bike will be easy to lean into tight turns at lower speeds.

    I am also curious about how fast it will accelerate, and what the mean cruising speed ends up being for you. It'll be interesting to compare your experience wit the Urbana to that of the DL-1, Steyr Waffenrad, and Gazelle.

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  24. kiwigem said...
    " ...I'm just glad you didn't get the black. For some reason this bike in black calls to my mind images of Nazi Germany. *shudder*"


    The bike reminds me of a vintage motorcycle, so that could explain the association.

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  25. When you write this review, will you test its stability when carrying a heavy load? This bike seems potentially great for someone with a 'messy' job like mine--as a farmhand. I don't usually bike to work because of all my excess baggage, as well as the potential for taking home a box-load of delicious veggies. That, and all the dirt. But if something like this could make for a comfortable ride in that setting...then maybe that's a kind of elegance. Not my favorite aesthetic though.

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  26. I really need to see a person on or beside this thing for some perspective re: size.

    Something about the pics make it look so small -- like something for a 10 year old. But it might be the BMX style handle bars that give that impression.

    As a Canadian reader I am glad to see you reviewing a Canadian company. Canadian bike builders/designers don't get the same kinda love and attention as Americans it seems -- though maybe Naked bicycles picking up the NAHBA peoples choice award will through a little love north of the border ;).

    There is a great company based out of Ottawa that you might want to look into called Steelwool Bicycles that specializes in lugged steel bikes. They only make a couple of frames: a really classy fixed/single-speed frame and a swiss-army knife do-it-all commuter/tourer.

    Looking forward to the review!

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  27. It looks like a worker. I like, but I like ugly.

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  28. My rain/snow/ice bike is a neon-green 2009 Torker Cargo-T. With the addition of a tire dynamo, lights, large rubber mudflaps, and various other mods, it fends off the weather well. But it's another one of those so-ugly-it's-cute bikes.

    And the color? I would have preferred the gray, but the green one was deeply discounted. Sunlight has begun fading the paint to quieter tones. I think the huge racks and bright lights have more to do with any respect I get in traffic than the color.

    As to the loop frame, young men in baggy pants and jacked-up trucks love it. They mention their BMX days, commenting that the low top tube would prevent racking their man parts. If they only knew how heavy it is -- over 50 lbs now and definitely not a good BMXer.

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  29. Daniel - here's one, and another here. I will probably raise the saddle on mine by another inch once I start riding it, but it seems that both of the women in the links above are taller than me. It's the low handlebars and big tires that make the bike look small.

    whiskeyoflife said...
    "will you test its stability when carrying a heavy load?"


    I'll do my best. I do not usually carry anything too heavy or bulky on my bikes, but I'm sure I can find a reason to! Plus the Co-Habitant will ride it with me on the rear rack.

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  30. funny, I think I just saw one of these parked in my building the other day. It had two huge panniers attached to the rack. I was very curious to know more about it.

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  31. My Retrovelo is orange. I love it. It was my 2nd choice, but has grown on me.

    I would name this Urbana bike Dwayne. And I love it! Yeah, it's utilitarian-looking. But it is also UTILITARIAN. And for everyone who thinks 43 pounds is astonishingly heavy -- I routinely pass people on climbs who are riding road bikes while I'm on my Retrovelo. It's not the only stat worth considering.

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  32. I agree that 43lb is not heavy for a hauling bike with heavy-duty wheels and massive tires. The bike can carry 3 times its weight in cargo.

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  33. I avoid all neon and flourecent bike stuff! I´ve even heard motorist say all cyclist should have to wear hi viz vests, so it will be easier for them to avoid us (avoid smearing their cars with our blood prolly). And I would not be surprized if it was made a law with the help of market lobbyist so they can sell more stuff! And besideds it look stupid (allthough I do wear a cat eye on the bike since its law and practical)

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  34. I kind of like it! In yellow it seems cheery, yet bad ass. Like it's giggling as it plows through someone's flower garden. I'll be interested to read your ride report.

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  35. "... 43 lb. is not heavy for a hauling bike..."

    Indeed not, and that weight makes it more useful for hauling.

    My Torker routinely hauls 40 lb. sacks of birdseed, 5 gal. gas can for the lawnmower, heavy packages, toolboxes, loads of groceries, etc. It's not unusual for me to haul 60 or more lbs, and not only am I in complete control of the bike, I can ride surprisingly quickly.

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  36. correction from the manufacturer: the rear rack can take up to 150 lbs in dynamic weight. Apologies, I got the original figure I stated from a review.

    Also to add that the principle design engineer of Urbana bikes is Jerome Roy, who is known for his downhill and mountain bikes.

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  37. Jeez, I was going to save my comments until your review. Better to get it off my chest now, I suppose.

    Mad because it's a poseur cargo bike, designed to do nothing well and look a certain way.

    Sad because it could be a truly useful bike with minor tweaks.

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  38. Jim, mad and sad are really strong words... how's it a poseur? It's simple, inexpensive and useful as is.

    Could you spend more to hang more useful stuff on it? Sure. Lights, mudflaps, and maybe more gears come immediately to mind. But not everybody wants/needs/has the cash for all the "minor tweaks".

    Sometimes it's easier to buy a bike like this, then upgrade parts later as needed. That's what I did, and couldn't be more happy.

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  39. It's a large bike, slightly shorter than the really long Gazelle when placed side-by-side. The wheels are not road-bike light, but then there is a lot of rubber in there. The rack is really hard-core. No doubt the strongest rear rack I've ever seen on a regular bike. No idea how much it weighs. The lack of light bracket on the rear of the rack is puzzling.

    It would be really neat if a similarly heavy duty front rack was available as an option. The fork has eyelets for it and the crown is not being used for anything, so it could go right on, with a second pair of supports going to the brake braze-ons.

    To those complaining about weight: I don't see how you could decrease the weight by more than a few lbs while maintaining the very low step-through element, this kind of rack and not going with skinnier rubber. So, it is what it is.

    The fenders are SKS, so it's not like the manufacturer has a choice in making the front fender longer. I am sure they would if they could order it. Nothing is stopping you from adding a mud flap.

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  40. I like the colour, tha look not so much. I like the fact that it is made for carrying heavy weights.
    badmother

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  41. Kirsten, they are strong feelings elicited by this bike, sure.

    Is it a bmx bike? No, it's too heavy to be fast and nimble.

    Is it a mountain bike? No, see above.

    Is it a cruiser? Yes, with big fat tires and relaxed seating. Cue style points. I do like the way the bike looks.

    Is it a transport bike? Could be, but the distances would have to be short and relatively flat for most riders.

    Is it a cargo bike? Kinda. This is where the sad comes in. It appears to be overbuilt to withstand heavy useage, but despite the rack's ability to haul 1+ Velourias it's too short and the chainstays are too short. Any attempt to put that much weight even slightly rearward would result in a massive wheelie and subsequent falling on your ass.

    I'm referring to minor tweaks as being geometry- and fundamental design-related. Your Torker is a much better manifestation of this; the minor tweaks can make the Urbana function like a Truly Useful Bike.

    It's pretty obvious Jerome is a mtb/downhill/bmx guy. Maybe that's his strong suit but cargo bikes aren't.

    As a visually distinctive bike it's pretty good. For a more evolved version see the Breezer Uptown + Xtracycle: http://clevercycles.com/2010/11/19/breezer-uptown-xtracycle-step-through-a-most-popular-build/

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  42. The fenders are SKS, so it's not like the manufacturer has a choice in making the front fender longer. I am sure they would if they could order it. Nothing is stopping you from adding a mud flap.

    Not true. It is easy for a small bike mfr to spec longer fenders from either SKS or Planet bike. Rivendell did it with SKS. Or, they can specify it to have a mudflap. Planet bike even sells them separately.

    Sure, one can add a mudflap, but one can also add lights, bell, and other things that a bike needs to be a legal vehicle. Or different saddle, or bars, or tires, or brakes that are easier to adjust. The point is, the bike is being supplied a certain way and should be reviewed as such.

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  43. Velouria, What you have here is a "Canadian Cruiser" in Hi vis colors.

    Oh yes, regarding Hi vis colors......I told you so!! :^))

    On the other hand.....I really like the overall look of this bike.

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  44. Re the "cruiser" comments: Technically speaking, it is not a cruiser, in that the geometry and handling are those of a mountain bike with a touch of BMX and Dutch transport bike. Different lineage.

    Walt - Well, I wouldn't own a hi-vis bike as my only bike or even as my main bike. But sure, I think it's fun, and useful in bad weather.

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  45. It's not to my taste, but I could see where it could be a very useful bicycle for somebody; all the same I'd be curious(skeptical?) to know how well it rides and handles.

    As to colour that's not to my taste either, but then to each their own. I would say though that it would seem to me to be a complete waste of time to select a frame colour based on its supposed visibility in bad weather and low light. From behind, a frame, of any colour, is virtually invisible to a motorist - they are seeing the slender tyre, and the body of the cyclist; ditto from the front. Yes, sure, the frame will show up from the side but be nowhere near as eye-catching as the form of the actual cyclist (whose legs will even then, from the side view, obscure much of the frame)

    Lights, blinkers and Hi-viz clothing, absolutely; bright panniers with reflectives, sure. But the frame? Won't matter. Go for what pleases you

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  46. I meant cruiser as a colloquial expression for slow, cushy, relaxed riding, 'merican style. Like cruisin' on a Sunday afternoon.

    BTW there is a subculture that turns 26" bmx/dirt jump bikes into what's know as cruisers, same gist.

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  47. GR Jim - In that sense sure, but I mean it's not a beach cruiser and not a bike that is meant just for leisurely rides.

    See this review for pictures of the guy cycling over logs on off-road trails and down a flight of stairs!

    Roff - Why do you think the frame doesn't matter? For me it's a matter of convenience. All that reflective wear/carry stuff has to be donned/removed/attached/detached. A neon bike on the other hand is just there.

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  48. That's not a log. It's a twig. Stairs? Done them on my Xtracycle and road bikes. No big.

    From that review: "I didn’t understand the lack of a place to mount a water bottle cage, but now I get it: If you will be out long enough to need hydration, you probably want to think about taking a different bike."

    Sad.

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  49. I don't understand the lack of provisions to attach even battery-operated lights (the rear rack has no light mount), but the water-bottle stuff doesn't bother me. Attach a bag or crate to the bike and keep gallons of water in there if you like

    I cannot go over logs/twigs or down stairs on any of my current bikes, but I'll give it a try on this bike. If you don't hear from me again, blame Urbana.

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  50. Well, speaking for myself my rain gear is highly visible and I would be wearing that anyway. At night - and i do ride a lot at night - I would be putting on hi-viz vest no matter what my bike looked like. So I guess I am starting from a position where I would be wearing it anyway.

    I just think that compared with the person astride it, a frame is nearly invisible - no matter what the colour. Do this experiment - next time you drive up behind a cyclist, try to guess the frame colour.

    The only time a driver would ever actually be able to see clearly the frame colour is viewed side-on, in which case the mass (and humanity) of the cyclist will still catch the eye far better than a few lengths of 28mm tubing. He/she will notice the cyclist, not the bike; it's the person our eyes would be drawn to. Yes, if the bike was especially garrish that might be the second thing you'd notice, but it would be that instant first glance that would be where it all matters, accident wise.

    I honestly don't think - as regards safety - a bicycle frame's colour matters in the least.

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  51. That's just it--to do stairs and logs you definitely don't want any more weight than necessary on your bike, particularly moving weight like a massive amount of water. One or two waterbottles are ok, allowing drinking while moving. Hydration/freeride packs are good too.

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  52. Velouria said...

    "Don't worry men, I wasn't planning to dedicate the entire blog to yesterday's subject from here on! (just imagine that...)"

    Don't get me wrong the reason I started lurking here is because I am the father of 3 young ladies and I have been trying to get my oldest to start running errands via bicycle since her husband works all day and she is at home with my grandson and was saying she wished they had another way of getting around. With that said I really appreciate you and your blog here. It has been a very enlightened experience this simple man creature.

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  53. >How many of you ride brightly coloured bikes

    I have always had dull coloured bikes
    but my latest one is bright orange.
    It attracts alot of attention
    and the comments are very polarised.
    I think it looks happy and cheerful
    and it is my wife favourite colour :)

    John I

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  54. I must admit that as a Portlander, the idea of a separate "rain bike" is amusing. All my bikes are rain bikes, because it rains so much. Even the Raleigh, which really *shouldn't* be a rain bike because of the old-fashioned steel rims--emergency stops are near-impossible. And yet, I ride that bike in the rain, too. (I did just get a new front wheel for that bike--with an old-school dynamo hub!--that will provide a better braking surface.)

    I mean, most (if not all) of my friends leave fenders on their bikes year round. Why go through the hassle of taking them off when it'll just rain again at some point? I think the only months it doesn't rain are July and August, and for the rest of the year, you just have to assume it will probably rain at some point.

    I suppose some people here have separate bikes for when it's raining...but those bikes probably get ridden more than the non-rain bikes!

    --aprillikesbikes

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  55. About high-vis colors: Nearly the last word, I think, was said by Jobst Brandt someplace. He prefers high-vis colors like bright yellow or orange because of the safety factor... one can more easily detect cracks in forks or frames at an early stage. Against these colors, small cracks appear as sharp clear black lines.

    leo

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  56. The more I learn about this bike the more interested I become.

    I will explore a possible purchase as I have time since I really like to step through frame which will help me as my hip joints get more fussy about throwing a leg over my Cruiser.

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  57. I'd like to know where it's made, assembled, etc. Perhaps the manufacturers can chime in?

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  58. I kind of like it. I mean, it isn't something I would buy but as long as the components are of good quality and it does what it was designed to do, which appears to be durability, performance under rougher conditions (I am basing off the heavy duty looking tires), I think it can be classed as a good bike.

    As for the weight, I think it is kind of unavoidable with a heavy-duty sort of machine made to carry large loads. Personally, I wouldn't want to be carrying up to 125lbs on a lightweight bike, not to mention the problems one might encounter with uneven loads, etc.

    And, lastly, the color grows on me. I think black would look kind of dull and wouldn't distinguish this bike from other products out there. This one is kind of unapologetic about what it is and I like that. Slap some lights and better fenders on there and assuming everything else is of good quality, you'll have a pretty nice - and useful! - bike. :)

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  59. "The Urbana bicycle is a rather extraordinary cross between a BMX bike, a mountain bike, and a Dutch transport bike with large hauling capacity."

    I don't care about the colour/color.

    I think it's an igh swan-frame cruiser with a rack. It's heavy. I don't mean to diss the out of hand and I hope they sell many of them.

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  60. Rode the bike today despite being sick. Went to get coffee, groceries, then made an "urban loop" around some of the places I usually go to. The bike handles like a mountain bike, plain and simple. Not like a beach cruiser, not like a Dutch bike, but like a good quality MTB with slick-ish but very wide tires. I felt like I was in high school again, only on a better quality ride and with super-low stepover.

    Walt - the stepover is 2" or so lower than on a traditional loop frame bike. I like this aspect of the construction a lot. I wish "drop frames" were possible to execute on a lugged bike.

    Anon 7:20 - It's a "U-frame", a Swan frame is more like an S-curve, with the downtube curving in parallel with the front wheel.

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  61. Oh, okay it's a "U-frame."

    Anyway, check out Kona Africabike Three and Kona Bike. They might be okay for levelish cities. They only come in two colors, white and black respectively and so are unlikely to cure ill people. They price-point at $479 and are probably of better quality and support than Wal-Mart bikes.

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  62. "Plus the Co-Habitant will ride it with me on the rear rack."

    Velouria--please get a photo of this.

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  63. A dedicated rain bike is pretty much essential...and it goes without saying here in Seattle. As far as rain vs. snow....i'll take the snow any day, at least it's dry. Today it hovered around 39 degrees and I was caught in a rain/snow/wind/hail storm...and during the times it was snowing/hailing, I was actually pretty happy. And dry.
    You really need lights here at all hours of the day. Noon in Seattle looks like 8pm anywhere else. Lots of people also use those reflective triangle doohickeys too.

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  64. Poseur? No way, that bike is about as honest as they get. If you think about this bike as less of a "car" and more of a "Utility Company truck" it starts to make more sense. I don't mind the color, it's sorta Dept. Of Transportation dont'cha think? And the tires are just what you need to carry a good load, high capacity and configured to be as low rolling resistant as possible. The rack is what clued me in first. That thing is a MONSTER, I've built a few racks and I wouldn't be surprised if it's stronger than some frames. A real pick-up bed.

    Ground Round, You don't think that bike would do stairs? It looks ready to roll down a freaking FIRE ESCAPE to me. Long wheelbase, big grippy tires and room to hang off anyway you want. I'm sure I'm not the worlds foremost stair jumper anymore but I've been doing it since the Carter administration and I'd drop it down any up-escalator you care to show me. I bet you couldn't break it riding it over curbs, stairs, whatever. Though at fortysome pounds I doubt if I could bunny hop it over a newspaper.

    Spindizzy

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  65. Looks like a bike you'd use to get around in an industrial complex.

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  66. An OSHA inspector in a yellow helmet and safety vest would ride this.

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  67. my newest is a beautiful orange peugeot 10-speed with north roads. the color grabbed onto me and wouldn't let go!

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  68. Spindizzy, Yeah I pushed the magic button before I could edit. I think the Urbana is ideal for stairs. I was responding to Velouria's hypothetical of carrying massive amounts of water on the rack.

    The rack is a truck bed. A truck bed designed for a matchbox-sized bike. If you go to the website you'll see a picture of a mountain of computer and other crap stacked on it. The center of gravity is somewhere close to the moon's orbit. I carried a futon once on my alu Blackburn rack, but it doesn't mean it was a good idea.

    A slightly longer wheelbase coupled with this I can get my head around: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mydutchbike/5413197207/

    Or a longer version of this: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/yhst-3773699254952_2153_21962239

    The step-through frame almost suggests a long rear end.

    So yeah, it's poseury.

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  69. That came from Canada? my apologies! It's the colour of a banana slug! I can see it would be useful in a city with long winters, badly maintained roads....um nope I didn't need a bike that overbuilt even in the longest winter slogs.
    I will have to check their website though.
    I wish i had a winter bike, still dreaming of one. For me it's all about salt, grit, gunk and endless rain.
    Good luck with that.

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  70. Okay, I have looked at website. weird! No specs. The company is based in Quebec and I can understand building something like that pour la belle provence d'hiver. beaucoup beaucoup de neige. It sure looks burly.

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  71. Ground Round Jim, I think that racks most likely going to be used with panniers or bigass baskets where the center of gravity is a little closer to earth. I get what you mean though. It's not a great bicycle if you want it to excel as a bike. But for a mule it's probably great. I don't know why so many people buy pickup trucks when most of the time a car does EVERYTHING better. But when you really need a truck, the fact that it can't turn, stop, or go worth a hoot compared to about any car stops being a problem. Same here.

    Spindizzy

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  72. "That came from Canada? my apologies! It's the colour of a banana slug!"

    Young lady, I'll have you know that some of my closest neighbors are in fact, Banana Slugs.

    -haughty sniff-

    So the Urbana feels like a mountain bike. How is the lean-steering compared to the fork-steering, Velouria?

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  73. Spin - re: racks. I like a good Boss Hogg rack as much as the next dude, but it's kind of like jacking up your 4 x 4 to go to the mall if the design will only allow a basket and panniers. I can't imagine the contents of those would amount to more than 75 lbs.

    Longtails are bikes AND mules: http://www.ridingthespine.com/gallery.html

    Speaking of which, the Urbana would make an excellent donor frame for an Xtra.

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  74. Round- Agreed.

    Spindizzy

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  75. I find that bike fascinating and about as poseur-y as this one, which is to say, not at all. It's not easy to bridge the gap between marketability, functionality, and non-hideousness. And it probably does way better in an elevator than any longtail.

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  76. Eric, I'll respond since it looks like this is directed at me.

    "It's not easy to bridge the gap between marketability, functionality, and non-hideousness."

    I agree. I like bikes that are sui generis.

    The bikeshare bike doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is--simple transportation with a front rack for things. I can see riding it for short distances, as that is its intended design. In an earlier post I said the Urbana can fulfill the role of a transport bike. When you try to meld something into a do-all bike it has to have smart design parameters. The Urbana just misses on some fronts, as is natural.

    Longtails are NOT easy in a tiny elevator! But at the same time my longtail, without all my crap in it, weighs 46 lbs., only a few pounds more than this bike.

    I'll get off shilling for longtails. For now.

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  77. I gotta say, I'm not crazy about that color on the entire frame at all, especially combined with so much black. One of my friend has bright yellow fenders, though, and I think that's a good set up for being visible, but not overwhelmingly neon.

    For rain, any bike with fenders is good enough and roller or disc brakes are a huge plus, so stopping power is not affected.

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  78. Jim/Eric/Spindizzy/Others -

    For what it's worth, this bike does not ride like a "bikshare bike" or a casual commuter. So I cannot say that it is like one of those, only with faux cargo/MTB capacities attached to it.

    Rather, it's sort of the opposite. It feels/handles like a mountain bike, but has the visual features of a commuter bike. Is that necessarily any better than the above? I am not ready to make any conclusions yet. But the two concepts are not the same.

    And about the weight again... My decrepit high school mountain bike is in the basement and it weighs about the same. They did make mountain bikes this heavy back in the day, even without the cargo capacity.

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  79. Longtails like the Surly Big Dummy or Yuba Mundo are better equipped to haul anything you can think of. They're the ultimate cargo machine on two wheels.

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  80. I think it looks pretty neat. This weekend I went out to Meerwijk with my bridgestone and she did pretty well over compacted dirt, but we had some walking to do over sand. This bike would have gone through all of that no problem.

    One thing I've noticed lately is that I dont find cobblestone streets too comfy. I have to chose between the staadfiets which is comfy but slow as Christmas or my Bridgestone mixte which can feel every little bump but goes so much faster. I usually pick faster :P

    As for low step through-- one of these days you should review one of these babies: http://www.sparta.nl/NL/Fiets/ION_Entree I see them often around our village. They look so easy to use.

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  81. LOL - I don't know whether to hurl or howl but that is one ugly piece of kit!

    Looking forward to your roadtest though, with those huge tyres it must be comfortable.

    Apart from no hub brakes & lights, the only only thing I really dislike about it for a town bike is the the Aheadset.

    The geometry looks nice & laid back, and the bike has an air of fun about it which is no bad thing :>)

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  82. NormanF said...
    "Longtails like the Surly Big Dummy or Yuba Mundo are better equipped to haul anything you can think of. They're the ultimate cargo machine on two wheels."


    Of course, and so are Bakfietsen. But they are not "normal bikes" and not everyone feels comfortable riding them.

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  83. I love this bike. It looks like a bicycle given to us as a beautiful present when we were children. Yellow and red are colors that fit the best.
    Nicolas (Brittany)

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