Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Test Riding the Breezer Uptown 8

Breezer Uptown 8
Since the start of this blog, I've received more requests to review the Breezer Uptown than any other city bike on the market. I have not done so earlier for two reasons. First, availability: Until now, I had not seen the Breezer for sale in any local bike shop. After a break of several years Harris Cyclery now carries them again, which is how I came across this one. But additionally, I was reluctant to review a bike that I was unenthusiastic about: the Breezer has never appealed to me, and I have no interest in it other than general industry curiosity. However, I would have said the same about Seven Cycles a year ago, and trying one of those (in response to readers' requests as well) had a profound effect on me as a cyclist. I also unexpectedly liked the Urbana, which I tried for no reason other than the manufacturer's urging. In short, you never know and it's good to keep an open mind. That is how I approached my test ride of the Breezer Uptown.

Breezer Uptown 8
The Uptown is Breezer's fully equipped commuter model, available in 3-speed and 8-speed variants. The bike includes fenders, a chainguard, a rear rack, a kickstand, an integrated rear wheel lock, and front and rear dynamo lighting.

Breezer Uptown 8
The welded aluminum U-frame has "unitube" construction. Steel unicrown fork. The 26" wheels are fitted with 1.5" wide tires. I tried the 17" sized frame. There are other sizes and also a diamond frame version. Please see here for full specs. 

Breezer Uptown 8
The colour is a deep, sparkly forest green, with contrasting silver panels on the chainstays, near the bottom bracket, and on the fork. The two-tone paint job gives the bike a sporty look that strikes me as being at odds with its purpose as a commuter. But the dominant green colour is pleasant.

Breezer Uptown 8
As far as functionality, it must be said that this bike is excellently equipped for commuting. Front and rear dynamo lighting seems to be of good quality and is internally routed, exiting through the rear fender for the tail light.

Breezer Uptown 8
The rear rack's tubing will accommodate a variety of pannier systems. 

Breezer Uptown 8
The tires are wide. The fenders provide full coverage and include small plastic mudflaps. 

Breezer Uptown 8
There are braze-ons for the shifter and brake cables, so that nothing is hanging loose, and there are waterbottle bosses. 

Breezer Uptown 8
The wide range Shimano 8-speed hub could be attractive for hilly areas. The shape of the handlebars provides a sufficient gripping area despite the twist shifter. 

Breezer Uptown 8
The handlebars are mildly swept back. The brake levers are comfortably placed, and the front and rear v-brakes provide strong stopping power.

Breezer Uptown 8
All of these features, for a retail price of $980 (or $720 for the 3-speed model), make the Breezer Uptown look undeniably good "on paper." This is the kind of commuter bike you are likely to find in a mainstream European bike shop today - modern, affordable, fairly lightweight, designed to be ridden in everyday clothing, and fully equipped - and it's great to see the same available in the US.

Breezer Uptown 8
Having said that, I did not like this bike on a number of levels. From an aesthetic and emotional standpoint, I found the Breezer to be "unlovable." The huge welds, the hollow feel of the aluminum tubing, the athletically-inspired colour scheme -  it all feels so generic and impersonal.  I like a bicycle with some warmth to it, with some evidence of a human touch, and I just don't feel any sense of this from the Breezer. It's not just about lugged vs welded and steel vs aluminum, but about the very essence of how the bike feels to look at, to touch and to ride. This is truly the vacuum cleaner of bicycles - and while for some that's a good thing, for me it's uninspiring. 

Breezer Uptown 8
But more importantly - and more disappointingly - the Breezer's ride quality did not work for me. I rode it for about 3 miles and already felt the sort of strain in my knees that I've experienced on bikes with the infamous "comfort" geometry. This could also be because I would consistently end up in a gear that was too high: I found that being in too high of a gear was the only way I could make the bicycle go at the speed I wanted. In a gear where my cadence felt appropriate, the bike would not move fast enough for my liking.  

Additionally, something about the relationship between the seat tube angle and bottom bracket felt "off," and after examining the frame geometry online I still do not know what. Subjectively, it felt as if the seat tube angle was extremely steep - almost a straight drop from the saddle down to the pedals - which contributed to the knee discomfort, but, oddly, failed to add to pedaling efficiency. According to the frame specs, the seat tube angle is actually 72 degrees, which is entirely normal for a city bike. I do not know how to explain my subjective sensation of steepness in light of this. 

Aside from these issues, I thought the bike felt rather harsh going over bumps and potholes. Not horrible, but definitely not great. Even on smooth terrain, I felt road buzz through the handlebars, which became painful for my (overly sensitive) hands fairly quickly. Maybe wider tires or a suspension fork would help here.

Breezer Uptown 8
On a positive note, I thought the Breezer Uptown was solidly put together and truly functional, unlike other bikes that only play at being fully-equipped commuters. It was also stable and well-balanced, and there was no toe overlap on the 17" frame. This bike should be easy to handle for a novice transportation cyclist.

When it comes to impressions of ride quality, everyone is different, and I urge you to take that into account when reading my earlier feedback. I know there are people who love this bike and commute on it daily, so obviously it is possible. The manufacturer's history is also quite interesting (lugged mountain bikes!), and worth looking into. Would I buy a Breezer Uptown for myself? No. But if the ride quality works for you and you find the bike attractive,  I agree with those who call it a good value.

53 comments:

  1. Looks like the st angle is 71: http://www.breezerbikes.com/bikes/specs/uptown_8

    It's fair not to like the bike for the reasons you list but the knee pain one stands out.

    You have to not only look at the st angle, but seat post set back, the amount of rail available for saddle adjustment , and the type of saddle.

    If the published st spec is off then, with all the above, it can put you over the bb too much resulting in the knee pain and necessarily giving it a harsher ride.

    I'd be inclined to dial in the ride more but understand it was a short ride, possibly with little adjustment opportunity.

    And Joe Breeze is a God.

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  2. GR Jim - I agree in theory. But looking at the saddle's position (in person after riding the bike, and also in pictures here), it seems well within the range of normal to me. The "steepness" sensation I felt was so dramatic, that I don't think it can be explained by the saddle's positioning. I've ridden bikes with 74-75 deg st angles and did not experience this.

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  3. I read your comments with interest, because at Bicycle Quarterly, we tested a Breezer Uptown 8 a few years ago. We found it to perform very well, but then we tested the "Men's" version. I suspect that the "unitube" frame has a very different flex characteristic and feel.

    Regarding the lack of speed and the harshness, you don't mention the tires. They look like Schwalbe Marathons in the photos, in which case your comments would not surprise me. Different tires could make a large difference.

    How long will you have the bike? I could send you a set of the new Compass 26" x 1.75" tires (assuming they fit), and you could see whether they make a difference.

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  4. A side shot of you would be telling. The saddle is all the way back already. I'll bet the st is 73-75 degrees.

    Could also be sloppy manufacturing.

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  5. "Looks like the st angle is 71"

    I was confused by this and followed your link. You are looking at the men's geo; the ladies' is here.

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  6. Oops, male-centric world view.
    I'd think the women's st should be slacker than the men's. Weird it gets.

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  7. I find this funny- because I started out bike commuting with a Breezer Uptown 8 and then got a custom Fastboy mixte. Both are very, very different and I agree with you that the Breezer is not a very fast (or very pretty) bike. It's a great in-town bike for short rides (very easy to get on and off, stop and start), but it is terrible on trails and long distance rides. Price-wise, the Breezer is a pretty good deal and I always recommend them as a good starter bike (I'm currently loaning mine right now :)

    I'm not sure how tall you are, but it might be that the model you rode is a bit small? I'm 5'8" and ride a 21".

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  8. Oh and one (or two) more things- for the 21" frame was a little long for my arms, so I swapped the handlebars with an alabatross one and it worked out very well.

    I should also add my Breezer was a 2006 model and didn't have the Marathons (similar but not with the super-duper antipuncture material). When I added a Brooks B67 spring saddle, the pothole/bump problem became almost nonexistent for me.

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  9. Jan - One reason I was curious to test ride this bike was the positive review in BQ. But you are right that it is pointless to compare our impressions: The diamond frame and U frame are not the same bike. Aside from the flex issue, they will often use different geometries on men's and women's frames as Jim noticed. I am not keeping this bike; this one was just a spontaneous 1-time test ride of the floor model at Harris Cyclery. I forgot what the tires were, but I am pretty sure they were not Schwalbe.

    Eunice - I am 5'6.5" and a larger frame would have been ideal, but actually this bike felt like a good fit - especially since I was able to have the saddle comparatively high in relation to the handlebars. Also, a smaller bike would typically be faster, not slower than a larger one, so I don't think this is it.

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  10. Oh, here we go: the tires are listed in their specs:
    WTB Freedom Cruz Sport, 26x1.5"

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  11. Vacuum cleaner is on the mark. Breezer is now part of Advanced Sports, Inc. It would be very hard for an organization like that to produce anything with soul.

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  12. I wonder if part of the problem may be in the handlebars.
    The bike is designed for an upright ride yet handlebars are not really swept-back. Maybe if you had the bars closer to your body you wouldn't be stretching your hands that much, you could eliminate wrist pain, sit more upright and maybe even pedaling would be easier on knees?
    I haven't tried this Breezer so I am just guessing.

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  13. Vacuum cleaner - yet Team Bissell rides Pinarello.

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  14. We sell a lot of these bikes for the reasons you cite. Dismaying to see that the full chaincase of past years' models -- a rarity in bikes meant for the US -- has been replaced with a chain guard. Note that the seatpost is a suspension type. I'm not a fan of this detail in part because it makes setting saddle height more difficult. You need to take a guess at how much the post will compress under your weight and add that to the height, which can make it feel too tall while mounting. This could possibly have accounted for your knee comfort and pitching-forward sensation: too low.

    The padded saddle and the boinger seatpost together with the heavy-ish lower pressure tires give the bike a sort of lumpen feel. It's a whole new bike feel-wise with a normal post and a Brooks.

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  15. I bought my Dad a diamond-frame Uptown 8 last spring and just a few weeks ago bought a loop frame (unitube) model for my mom. I would have bought hers at the same time but it literally took 6 months for her to get over the "swayback horse" appearance of the step-through model, which she needs due to her inability to swing her leg over the seat or the top tube of the diamond-frame variant.

    I agree that the bikes are not particularly aesthetically pleasing, that the welds are particularly ugly, and that aluminum is not my first choice for frame material. However, after that, everything is spec'd pretty much perfectly: steel fork, 26" wheels (no toe overlap and room for big tires), v-brakes (powerful and easy to keep adjusted), 8-speed IGH (no derailer hassles for the newbie), dynamo hub w/ wired headlight and taillight (no nighttime worries), rack and fenders (rain and/or cargo not a problem). We looked at alternatives for my mom for months but nothing quite compares at that price range.

    I find the handling particularly stable and have not had fit issues when I ride my dad's bike. I would not buy this bike for myself either, but it turned two non-cyclists into happy riders right out of the box with no hassles. From that perspective, I think the bikes are pretty remarkable.

    Worth noting: both of the bikes we bought were last year's model, which were cheaper, feature full (plastic) chain cases, and a slightly better (I think) front headlight. It would appear that Breezer is fighting inflation just like the rest of us.

    And finally, I am not impressed with the 1.5 inch tires but there is gobs of room to go bigger. I have four 2.0 inch Schwalbe Big Apples waiting to bring down to my folks' place and perform a tire-changing workshop!

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  16. "Dismaying to see that the full chaincase of past years' models -- a rarity in bikes meant for the US -- has been replaced with a chain guard. "

    Oh right! I thought something looked different compared to previous models I'd seen online, but could not put my finger on it. Well, that sucks. Is this also why the bike now also costs a bit less than in years past (if I remember the previous MSRPs correctly)?

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  17. V, I really hear what you are saying about the Breezer. I own a Breezer Ignaz X cruiser and it is gorgeous; looks good and fast and it is!!! When Joe embraced transportation cycling many years ago, I was quite interested, but as you say I did not find the designs very compelling and I found this a bit disappointing, because his Mountain bikes were Sweet! Joe is all about details though, so no surprise that the bike is well thought out.

    Also though it may sound counterintuitive the ladies frame may ride quite a bit harsher then the mens, because when they make that low step over, they have to increase the Tube diameter and thickness so much in order to make it stronger. There is no triangulation and this probably ruins the ride!

    On a side note; after months of "Thinkin bout it" I finally rode my bike to work today and really enjoyed it! My Commuter was built from the frame up, precisely for the reasons you specified, because most out of the box Commuter bikes that are not too overly expensive, are also rather boring and the type of thing that experianced cyclists would not be happy with. The commuter bikes out there that would appeal to the experienced cyclist were so expensive that I said to myself "heck, If I am going to spend that much I will just build it myself!" So I did!

    MASMOJO

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  18. I should have mentioned in my previous comment that the suspension posts were an immediate no-go and the shop swapped them out for rigid posts at no cost. I love my parents too much to let them deal with the imprecise seat height adjustment and eventual, inevitable sticking that would ensue.

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  19. Hmmmm.... I felt zero suspension in the seatpost area and my saddle height was completely stable. Does that mean the seatpost was stuck?

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  20. Regarding your position, the specs and the actual bike often are quite different. I don't recall exactly what the specs were for the Uptown 8 we tested, but the actual bike had a steeper head angle and thus less trail (probably a good thing). I don't recall whether the seat tube angle was as spec'd or not. (I only have our measurements, not the official spec which I disregard anyhow.)

    A lot of production frame makers in Taiwan and China don't seem to care too much about the specs they are given. We've had the same with the Surly Long-Haul Trucker and a few other bikes we tested. Basically, the specs are a wishlist, rather than reflect the actual bikes.

    And since few companies actually measure the bikes when they receive the container-load full of boxes, they never find out about the discrepancy.

    When I worked with Kogswell on their P/R model, Matthew (the owner) often told me how hard it was to impress on the Taiwanese frame factory that he needed 40, 50 and 60 mm fork offset, and not just something roughly in that area. Even so, he was only moderately successful.

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  21. This makes me want to measure my 62cm Surly XC which is supposed to have 72 degree seat/heat tubes.

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  22. Velouria, I really appreciate your reviews of lower and mid-range priced bikes and encourage you to keep them coming. I'm saving for a Bella Ciao Superba and your commentary only reinforces the notion that I'm doing the right thing by opting for a "fancy" bike. How about a review of the Linus Dutchi next? Perhaps you can make me even better about upgrading ;)

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  23. Velouria, The Breezer you rode here is a classic example of a aluminum framed bicycle. It rides hard 'cause ALL of the road vibration gets communicated to the rider. The frame geometry is also so generic that it will fit no one correctly ,etc.

    What this bike does do is help bring back ,or start, people cycling since it's turn key dressed out and easy to ride. Once back those that stick with cycling will learn about cycling enough to ride the more advanced bicycle brands that seem over priced when they start cycling just like you do.

    Bicycles really are very subtle machines that defy complete understanding to the newbie and the casual rider.

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  24. The "sitting forward" sensation can occur just because of a saddle. Don't know if that's what happened to you on this test but it could be.

    The variations that cause a rider to have a problem can be ineffably small. I've had a Brooks Pro-equipped bike that required seatpost setback beyond reason and beyond anything I've ever needed before. The solution was a different Brooks Pro. The problematic saddle works fine on other bikes.

    Sometimes you just can't figure out what's wrong. When there are so many bikes that are fun it is not necessary to always figure out why some just aren't.

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  25. Velouria said...
    Also, a smaller bike would typically be faster, not slower than a larger one

    Why would that be? Are smaller bikes generally known to be faster than big ones?

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  26. Velouria, thanks for your review of this and other bikes. Most bike reviews, such as BQ's, cover only frames sized for medium-height men. Such reviews are of very limited relevance for those of us who ride the smallest (or largest) frame sizes, which are likely to have very different geometry and handling characteristics.

    My household has a 2004 Breezer Uptown 8, purchased at Harris. It has the same chain guard (not chaincase) as the bike you tested. This Breezer was my winter commuter for several years, with Schwalbe Marathon Winter 1.75" tires, and was great for that application -- stable and comfortable. I do agree that it feels somewhat "slow" compared to other bikes I have ridden.

    Now my early-teen daughter rides it with Marathon Racers. She used it with panniers and a handlebar bag for our summer tour of the C&O/GAP, over 300 miles of unpaved trail. She loves the internal gear hub.

    I agree that the Breezer U-frame is not classically appealing, but it's a nice bike all the same, and ours has held up very well over the years my family has been using it.

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  27. V, One additional thought about your feeling of sitting forward and it could have allot to do with the effective top tube of the bike. I have experienced on many occasions that womens bikes tend to have a shorter effective top tube and are generally designed for the rider to sit a bit more upright. Of course this might also apply to most of your loop frame bikes, but maybe it's more exagerated on some frames then others. I do think that one size bigger frame would have probably felt much better to you!

    Small frames faster then large ones? Hmmmm I don't know? maybe from the perspective that they are lighter, but I think the fastest frame is one that's sized right and that you are comfortable on! A smaller frame may be lighter, but if you are uncomfortable I doubt you could go fast for very long!

    MASMOJO

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  28. Just got hold of a similar bike (dumpster find) and really like it for the purpose I want it for. Mine is metallic charcoal black w name in gold/copper. Crappy plastic saddle is going to be replaced by a B66. Looking into albatross bars and thinking of building a hub brake front wheel. Got great tyres on it so ride is fine. I really like that there is no need to lift heavy winter boots high up and swing them over the saddle. Really great for short distance, getting on and off the bike often.
    badmother

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  29. http://www.breezerbikes.com/bikes/details/uptown_infinity_ls

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  30. I am very interested to try the Infinity hub, but they did not have that version.

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  31. I've never ridden a Breezer Uptown, but I agree with you on the aesthetics. Kinda reminds me of my first bike, a Jamis Commuter, which was a good starter bike for transportation cycling. Over time, the Jamis developed its own personality, but I would not be interested in buying one now.

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  32. These style bikes are everywhere here in NL and I find them so unattractive. They're very popular with elderly folks and middle aged touring groups who take them out in herds for coffee and apple pie runs. My son's girlfriend has a Gazelle model that is similar and while I find it easy to ride and pick up, it's so visually huge. The giant empty tubes look bulky and fat...and somewhat industrial and sterile. Sooo cookie cutter. :(

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  33. Wow, so many great responses.

    I sell a lot of bikes to Breezer owners.

    I like the Breezer for all the reasons you have stated here and have often recommend it to people looking for a good reasonable bike...but in the end they are really never satisfied :(

    Most complain of the harshness of the ride [stiff aluminum] and the harsh wheels [26" 1.5" makes s stiff wheel] and then the looks and bars...

    I keep trying to like the Breezer, but I guess I should just give up on it. When the Breezer first came out , it was about the only bike you could get in the USA that was fully equipped, but now there are so many other options.

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  34. The Breezer looks like a decent bike for what it is but I was kind of taken aback by the price. $900? You could get a really nice, non-aluminum commuter for that. Why not save the money and purchase a halfway-decent English 3 Speed or something similar which I feel would have the same if not better ride quality and usefulness? I mean, it wouldn't have the dynamo lighting but I feel like you could still do new wheels and come in well below the $900 mark. The Breezer (to me) looks very similar to mass-produced bicycles one might find in a big box store for around $300.

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  35. MFarrington - That is pretty much my personal take on it, especially when you factor it that some will be adding a Brooks saddle to the bike and replacing the bars with North Roads. That's over $1K in total right there.

    However, it's worth noting that this bike is an 8-speed, so it isn't fair comparing it to 3-speeds. Yet it's also worth noting that I found it easier (and faster) to ride the single speed Paper bike I arrived on than the 8-speed Breezer on the same terrain. Sometimes the bike is more important than the number of speeds, in my experience.

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  36. Just wanted to second a few of the comments here--I also find the aesthetics of this bike really unappealing and ordinary. It just seems to personify everything I find depressing about most new bikes of this type, even the ones that seem to want to harken back to earlier styles (like the loop frame). And I find the $900 pricetag pretty amazing as well. As another vintage bike devotee, I can't imagine spending this kind of money unless it was a truly lovely bicycle! That said, I'd love to see reviews of a few of the lower-priced bikes that I like the looks of, namely Linus and PUBLIC.

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  37. Too expensive and over-done for a bike that one would ride a few miles each way.

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  38. It was interesting to read your impressions of the Breezer, because I
    recently started using one to commute on. My impressions so far are
    more positive than yours. I have the diamond frame version,
    as opposed to the step-through model, and as someone pointed
    out that may be part of the difference. It's not especially fast, but it doesn't take
    me so much longer to get to work (about seven, somewhat hilly
    miles from Newton into Boston) than it does on my Surly LHT.
    I also find it pleasant to ride, except for the handlebars which
    I have had trouble getting comfortable with. I'm very satisfied with the
    lights on the bike, though I have a previous year's model and the
    front light is a B&M Fly, which I like better that the B&M Lyte which
    I have on another bike and which it looks like this year's model comes
    with. Also, as someone else pointed out, my bike has a full chain
    case - sorry to see that Breezer has dropped that in favor of just
    a chain guard this year. I agree that it's not a "looker", but that
    doesn't bother me - it looks (and rides) sort of "practical" and so
    far that works for me. It kind of reminds me of a Toyota Camry I used
    to have - practical, cost-effective, and (so far, at least) reliable
    transportation.

    Incidentally, while some of the previous commenters have remarked
    on the variety of other possible choices, I didn't find so many possibilities
    that had what I wanted, namely: (1) a full chain case, which pretty
    much necessitated an internally geared hub, (2) at least seven speeds
    (a three speed wouldn't have been practical for my commute) and
    (3) a dynamo hub and good lights. Given those requirements, I found
    very little choice under $1000.

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  39. Gene - Thanks for the feedback. Maybe in the future I will take a ride on the diamond frame version in my size and post an update.

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  40. Wow, raving about a sleek titanium racing bike, and panning the Breezer, a fully outfitted dutch style commuter? You have changed.

    I am hearing a lot of subjective negatives in this review. Of course, loveliness or lovability depends entirely on perspective. I hope others are not discouraged from trying the Breezer to seek their own subjective impressions. EcoVelo has some reviews of both the uptown 8 (full review from a couple of years ago) and infinity (first impressions only so far), and includes what I would consider a more objective description of the ride characteristics: "The bike has a uniquely plush, yet at the same time solid, ride quality, probably due to the combination of high-flotation tires, suspension seat post, over-stuffed saddle, stiff frame, and heavy duty wheels."

    Some of the Breezers strike me as pricey at first blush, but being fully equipped (including intelligently integrated generator lights!) makes the price appropriate. Not everyone needs or wants a sexy, expensive exotic that costs $5k. The Breezers are good, solid transportation. Modern sustainability is hard to beat, particularly in a country that has not been producing such bikes for a while, making used models harder for some to find. And many Breezer owners are quite enamored of their looks. Though I myself prefer the previous basic black to the current burnt orange swoops on the infinity model. To each their own.

    Garth-

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  41. Garth - Your first paragraph does not accurately describe my reaction to the two bikes. I stated in the Seven review that I did not care for its looks, but got used to them after falling in love with the ride quality. In the Breezer test ride report, I praised its commuting features repeatedly, before describing why I personally did not like the bike. All reviews are subjective. I have reviewed inexpensive bikes positively before. If you want a nice, inexpensive bike, I've just tried the KHS Green again and remembered how much I liked the ride quality. That bike costs $360.

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  42. I have had a Breezer for years as my commuting bike and like, not love it. The only note is that the dynamo lighting connection broke fairly soon after I bought it and it's a very expensive repair because of the interior wiring, so I had the lights removed and just use blinkies. So much for that feature.

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  43. Just to add to the prior comment, I think a lot of people who buy a commuting bike, or a first bike or whatever, want to spend well below $900. And, similarly, I feel like the KHS Green would be just as adequate. Sure, it doesn't have the bells and whistles, but is it really worth several hundred dollars extra just to have the dynamo? As Velouria noted, once the bike is customised, it's going to fall in over the $1k mark. At that price point, you're comparing this bike to a base model Brompton, Linus, Civia, Surly, Pashley, Gazelle, etc. I mean, you could take an aluminum big box store bike, slap some dynamo lighting on it and don't you basically have the same bike as the breezer at hundreds less? But perhaps I'm too negative?

    I just feel the price is way out of range for what you get. If you're going to spend 1k, spend 1k on something that will last. If you want to spend less, there are still a lot of options out there that will be just as nice (in my humble opinion).

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  44. ^Yup. When novices write to me asking advice about new commuter bikes, their budget tends to be around $500. The $1K Breezer would already seem obscenely expensive to them.

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  45. Agree with folks who say this isn't a particularly attractive bike. The lines don't flow on it and it looks "cut up". $900 does seem a bit steep.

    As an aside, have you had a chance to try out an Electra Townie? Would be interested in your take on the woman's 21-speed. I have one. Have added a seat pad for comfort -stock seat is a little harsh. Am considering whether I want not so slick pedals on it.

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  46. I tried an Electra Townie "back in the day" (maybe April 2009) but have not ridden one since. I recall it being a slow bike with very upright, almost leaned back, recumbent-like seating. I remember liking the KHS Green better for real-world riding.

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  47. I also have a Breezer - last year's Diamond Frame Infinity. I really, really like it. Aesthetically it wasn't my first choice, but it had the majority of what I wanted, including the full chain case, and the Nuvinci Hub. The hub was the big selling point for me. I swapped out the handlebars for North Roads, replaced the saddle with a Brooks B-67, swapped out the pedals with VO touring pedals, and added Wald Baskets front and back.

    I wound up truly loving the bike, and now that I am used to the Nuvinci hub it is hard to imagine going back to regular stepped gears.

    While it isn't the prettiest bike in the world (both the Sovereign Roadster and the Civia Loring are far more attractive) I think it looks much better after the changes I made. Here is a link to some photos

    http://www.frazzledglispa.com/2011/05/sunny-may-morning.html

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  48. I am coming late to this post. I bought the Breezer u-frame as a man - don't really take kindly to obsessively calling it a ladies bike, but that's OK. The seat needs to be set super high for me because the cranks are very long. I think the cranks are supposed to be about 7 inches if your 5'11 and those cranks are easily 7" (at least on my 2004) despite the large u-frame being designed for women of about 5'9 or so. Could that have caused the knee pain? When the seat works itself down after a few months I found a little knee pain. Anyway, I find I need the seat to be quite high indeed to get full extension on the 7"+ cranks. Step over height is no problem since it is a u-frame. Jumping out on zebra cross walks when mass-hole motorists won't stop for a bike but have to stop for a pedestrian is also no problem. The bike also went out from under me on black ice this winter. Bike went down but I didn't, thanks to the lack of a top bar. With proper engineering and adjustment we can get past the diamond frame folks. The u-frame isn't just for wearing dresses anymore. Thanks! AB

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  49. Yes, I agree with "Annonymous" I am male and just bought the u-frame because I am older, bike a lot (it is my main transportation), and need to be able to get on and off easily. Just about all of the male or unisex "step throughs" are cheap, heavy and ugly. And when one adds wrench-only nuts (because most of the cheaper ones make locking a wheel to the frame to a post difficult, 8-speed internal with a good range (no more pre-shifting!), the lights charged via the hub, the wheel lock and a good carrier, than the Breezer is not particularly expensive. I like ugly bikes since they are less-likely to be stolen in the city I live and bike in. So I think one needs to compare apples to apples. The only other similar bike I could find after biking to local bike shops and doing a lot of web surfing was one from "Public", which would have arrived partially built and cost about the same.

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  50. I have had one of these for 18 months now and my recommendation is to NOT get one. Jack points out some very useful features, like the 'conductive' rear mudguard. However I think the downsides negate the ups:
    1) Chainguard - yes a nice feature for a commuter. However it is a BITCH to take off and put back. Even at the bike shop they complained about it. Small protruding slivers of plastic break after a while, leaving no attachment points. For most of its life it was held together by string. I finally removed it and put on a Hebie Chainglider instead. They should have done this in the factory.
    2) Brakes - the ones that come with the bike are hopeless el cheapos. I was forever having to adjust them as one side or the other would migrate off center and rub on the rim. I had to replace them, and have had no trouble since.
    3) Light - it comes with a very nice Shimano dynamo on the front wheel. However the rear light is by Basta - I don't know if this is what Shimano provided, or a cheaper replacement by Breeze. It too is hopeless - the metal strip connectors from the power wires to the bulb unit frequently lose contact with that unit. I have had to get a battery powered rear light to supplement the dynamo one - I never know when the latter will die on me.
    4) Probably the WORST irritant is the wheel design. Where each spoke attaches to the rim, there is a deep pit. All the punctures I have had in the rear wheel have been on the inside of the tube (facing the rim), not the outside (facing the road). The pits cause the tube to 'hernia' into a blister which presumably stresses and stretches the lining till it develops a hole. Don't bother applying a patch to this hole - it NEVER works. The only fix is to replace the tube, which is laborious with hub gears. I put an extra rim tape in there to shallow out the pits, and this has reduced, but not stopped, the leaks.
    5) Low bottom bracket - any tight cornering risks the pedals scraping the ground as you lean. I have to remember to stop pedaling in these situations.

    So all in all, it appears to have all the required bits and pieces in the shop, but they fall down when you have to use it.

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  51. Hello,
    I just read all these comments.

    I notice that almost no one gives an ternaruve recommendation for a bike that is similar but better than the Breezer. Other than a custom built bike, what IS a better bike to buy in this price range? Thanks for help! Everyone here has lots of knowledge and I hope to get some buying advice for a comfortable, high quality commuter. Cheers, Anne


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    1. Anne, I rode one last week and found it to be a pretty good bike for the money with a lot of standard equipment. I'd encourage you to ride it to see if it speaks to you.

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