Friday, April 4, 2014

Non-Holiday Romance… Fumblings with Budnitz No.5

Budnitz Model No. 5
To a monolingual English speaker’s ear the name Budnitz might not evoke any particular associations, other than a vague sense of Eastern European linguistic origin. But to an ear attuned to tongues from said region, the association is an interesting one. The name is formed around a word that might be translated as “weekday,” or “non-holiday.” In Russian, for instance, a budni den is an ordinary day, a workday. And while budnitz is not an actual word in any language I know of, if it was it would mean something like “weekdayer.”

What to expect from a bicycle thus named? While so many manufacturers market cycling around a fantasy of carefree joyrides, here is one that – whether deliberately or not (after all, Budnitz is simply the owner’s surname; he might not be aware of its roots) – insists upon the reality of ordinary, everyday life. This filled me with great expectations. Expectations of supreme utility, comfort and durability. But also of a certain special something that would make transportation cycling feel so wonderful, so effortless, so pleasurable and fun, that the weekday would become the new weekend. Would I see anything of the sort in the bike I had been invited to test ride?

Budnitz Model No. 5
When I opened the door that wintry March morning, what I saw was almost too much to take in: a titanium swoopy mixte with fat tires, belt drive, disc brakes and wooden fenders. It was their new model, the No.5 – described as “the ideal step-through framed bicycle [defined by] elegance, grace, and speed.” Well, they got the elegance part, I thought, picking up my jaw from the ice-encrusted pavement.

The beauty of the Budnitz No.5 was doubly surprising, considering that (1) I don’t like the looks of any of their other models, and (2) it is tremendously challenging to build a mixte out of titanium tubing and with modern components that looks cohesive and elegant. But I have to hand it to Budnitz - they did it. The bicycle in front of me looked stunningly gorgeous to my eye. It was also full of interesting features.

Budnitz Model No. 5
Not only was the curvy, twin lateral stay frame titanium,

Budnitz Model No. 5
but so was the segmented fork. Most titanium frame builders do not offer matching Ti forks (you get a choice of carbon or steel instead), feeling it is cost-prohibitive to make them in such a way that they are neither too flexy nor overbuilt. So the Budnitz titanium fork is quite a rare beast.

Budnitz Model No. 5
Also titanium are the stem, handlebars, headset, and seat post. All of these are proprietary, marked with the Budnitz name.

Budnitz Model No. 5
Finally, the elaborate Tubus rear rack is titanium as well -

Budnitz Model No. 5
affixed slightly off center to accommodate the disc brake on the rear wheel.

Budnitz Model No. 5
The other notable feature is the Gates belt drive, which came with a DaVinci crankset and an Alfine 11-speed hub. 

Budnitz Model No. 5
Paul brake levers activate the front and rear mechanical disc brakes.

Budnitz Model No. 5
The cable routing for the brakes and shifters is quite elegant, routed along the left fork blade for the front brake, then internally for the rear brake and shifter.

Budnitz Model No. 5
The Budnitz No.5 is a commuter bicycle based on a 29er mountain bike design. The (700C equivalent) black-rimmed wheels sport fat Schwalbe Big Apple tires in cream.

Budnitz Model No. 5
The lacquered wooden fenders are a nice match for the caramel Brooks saddle and leather grips. The warm brown of these accessories complements nicely the unpainted matte titanium frame, silver and black components, and cream tires. Overall the bicycle looks impressively clean and neatly put together, despite the heady mix of components and accessories. 

When a certain other blogger reviewed a Budnitz bike a couple of years back, I recall he complained of shoddy assembly. In fairness to Budnitz, I should note there was none of that with my test bike. Over the 2 week period this mixte was in my possession, everything functioned smoothly and silently - they did an excellent job. 

Budnitz Model No. 5
So what we have here is an all-titanium transportation bike with a low standover, fat tires, strong brakes, low-maintenance (allegedly) belt drive, a gazillion of high-end modern features - and it's beautiful to boot. What's not to love? 

Well, for one thing, there is the weight. For a bike with such an impressive mix of titanium and other nice components, I found it to be remarkably heavy (over 30lb, I would estimate). While this figure is very reasonable for a store-bought city bike, considering the cost of the Budnitz (over $5,000 for the build as shown) and the care taken to source lightweight parts, I would expect it to be much, much lighter. For comparison, my personal steel mixte, outfitted with 650Bx42mm tires and mostly midrange aluminium components, weighs noticeably less - and that's including dynamo hub, lights, big front rack, and kickstand - all of which the Budnitz lacks.

Neither did I find the No.5 especially fast compared to ordinary upright city bikes. It is a comfortable bicycle for certain, the combination of titanium and those fat Big Apples ensuring a wonderfully cushy ride quality. But I would not say speed or maneuverability are its strong points. The combination of the big wheels and fat tires felt clumsy - a bit like riding a monster truck. And when pedaling, I just couldn't seem to get into that groove where I'd feel a direct translation of my pedaling efforts into the bicycle's forward movement. Cycling up hills was a particularly tedious ordeal, no matter what gear I switched to on the 11-speed hub. Again, I do not mean to suggest that the Budnitz was unusually slow for a city bike. But it didn't have the kind of light, sporty feel that I would expect from its price tag, description and materials used. 

Budnitz No.5 vs My Swoopy Mixte
Finally - and, granted, this part is the most subjective - I could not get comfortable with the fit of the Budnitz. Despite the mixte frame design and mountain bike inspired geometry, it fits almost like a Dutch bike. The Medium sized frame, described as appropriate for my height, felt simultaneously too big and too small - the headtube extended so high, it was impossible to get the handlebars as low as I wanted them, yet the virtual top tube on the shorter side of what I would normally ride. Going down a size would be much too cramped, and the larger size would be even more upright. The high bottom bracket is also something I don't care for on a transportation bike. You can see how much higher off the ground I need to be on the Budnitz compared to my own bicycle to achieve decent leg extension. And then, there is the toe overlap - which is considerable and impossible to ignore; I would hit the tire with my toe every time I'd try to make a U-turn. To each their own, but the fit and geometry of this bicycle did not suit me. I should note, however, that switching to 650B or 26" wheels could solve most of these issues - has Budnitz considered it, I wonder? 

Budnitz No.5 Test Rides
Given how much I liked the look of the Budnitz, and the idea of a fully equipped titanium transportation bike in general, I felt badly about my less than enthusiastic response after test riding it. So I asked a few friends to take it out for a spin as well. A total of 4 others rode it, including Emily and Pamela pictured above. The other test riders were less critical of the speed than I was (although their test rides were much briefer than mine). But all of them commented on how surprisingly heavy the Budnitz was, as well as on the dramatic toe overlap.

Budnitz No.5 Test Rides
Pamela also noticed that her foot would hit the bottle cage (mounted on the seat tube) when she'd step through the frame - something that I had experienced as well, but forgot to mention. In fairness, with step through and mixte bicycles the decision of where to mount the bottle cage is tricky. Put it on the downtube, and it can be too low for comfort. On the seat tube and you can kick it when stepping over. 

Budnitz No.5 Test Rides
And one thing Emily pointed out, was that the Budnitz was more difficult to track-stand - in particular no hands - than other bicycles she's ridden. Buyer, beware!

Budnitz Model No. 5
Jokes aside, I've tried to share my impressions of this bicycle fairly. When people discuss Budnitz Bikes, the issue of price point tends to be hotly debated. In theory I do not have a problem with a $5,000 titanium transportation bicycle. Manufacturing costs for small-batch projects are high and titanium as a material is expensive; this price tag - or higher - is pretty much to be expected. To manufacture their bikes, Budnitz (a Vermont-based company) works with a Taiwanese framebuilder who specialises in titanium, and is particularly equipped to bend Ti tubes according to their specs. The complete bicycles are then assembled in Vermont and sold to customers directly. I like the idea of a well thought through, made-to-last titanium bike for transportation, and I've reviewed a couple of others in the past (see here for instance). The Budnitz No. 5 is a beautiful bicycle, but, in its current iteration, not my cup of tea. 

67 comments:

  1. I suspect you're right (didn't have a chance to ride Budnitz so I can only suspect) - they got it wrong. My cheap, $400 Schwinn feels very comfortable yet has no toe overlap at all with 700c wheels, fenders and even my feet moved far forward (I lock heels of my shoes on pedals). And weights just 2 lbs more than this $5000 bike.

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    1. The frame and components on the Budnitz would be more durable and weather-proof than on the Schwinn, and the ride quality is undoubtedly cushier. Of course how much one values that vs other factors and at what cost is up to the individual.

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    2. No doubt! I just suspect they got something wrong with their bike's geometry.

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    3. Does it really weigh more than 30 lb and your steel mixte considerably less? I'm finding this hard to reconcile. I gave up trying to estimate bike weights by feel and bought a scale. I'm often surprised how off my estimates are.

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    4. It is tricky to estimate bikes' weight. According to a bike shop scale, the steel mixte is 27lb (as shown, minus panniers). The Budnitz feels distinctly heavier to pick up and carry, even compared to the mixte with panniers.

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    5. That genuinely surprised me. Almost any chromoly frame with aluminum parts is probably under 30, but who knows. It could be the way the bike carries the weight. It could be distributed in a way that makes it difficult to lift and move. For example, I pack my luggage to be bottom heavy so they don't tip over, but it makes picking them up a hassle.

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  2. Is the weight from the Affine hub? I can't think of anything else that would be contributing that much.

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    1. It is quite rear heavy (more so than the St. Nick bike with the Rohloff I described earlier), but I suspect it is also the wheels + tires.

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    2. My budnitz #1, with Alfine rear hub and accessories, tips the scale at about 21-22lbs. Strange numbers here.

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  3. When one's sole purpose as a company is to build a fop chariot you get the rolling equivalent of a fancy horse cart.

    Of course you would be disappointed the bike doesn't go - all those things you love put together add up to form < function.

    That bike is built for swanning about and feeling superior, equivalent to the attitude of some BMW drivers.

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    1. I am OUTRAGED at the derogatory tone you take when using the word Fop.

      Take it back or I'll kick dust on your (revolting) slacks...

      Fopdizzy

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    2. Any negative associations you have with the word are yours and yours alone.

      - said while putting one leg into a pair of plaid bell bottoms.

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    3. This is the sort of reasoned analysis that I find so refreshing.

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  4. Wow, those two bikes against the brick wall do not look like they are the same size at all! Are the saddle heights adjusted for you, or for one of the other test riders?

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    1. In that picture both bikes are set up for me.

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  5. Wow,
    Looks gorgeous. Nice to see Pam out and about!

    Perhaps their feel was more for loop frame Raleigh Tourist?
    Pretty stark size difference with the 650b vs. 29er.

    I think Snob's critique was due to bottom bracket creak which could be just real bad luck.
    The Budnitz fork seems quite straight blade vs. the trail on your mixte (who was the manufacturer?).

    I vote for handlebar bottle cage even though it would preclude the front rack a little, maybe not a Velo Orange Porteur rack.

    I wonder if the Gran Bois Hetre or Cypress would liven up the ride a little?

    Price point? Me, I would go vintage but titanium is pricey as you say and their bike looks awesome. I could not see $5000 on a daily driver / lockup bike. I did see a lady lock up a Beloved mixte on Bowery in NYC.
    I really have no strong opinion on it other than it looks great.

    vsk

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  6. The problem with a traditional water btl placement is the riders of these kind of bikes often times aren't coordinated enough to access it. By trad i mean dt/st. add some more "requirements" you may very well need a camelbak.

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    1. Total Truth!

      vsk

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    2. True. As I see it, the benefit in having a cage in one of the traditional spots despite this, is that at least the rider can drink at stops, with the water bottle easier to access than if they had to root around for it in their bag. For those who like hbar-mounted cup holders, that might be a better solution still. But for those who are not fans of that setup (don't like the dashboard to be cluttered), the bottle cage on the DT/ST is preferable - assuming they don't want Camelback and the like.

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    3. you forgot i mentioned top of the twin stays, close to the ht.

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  7. Relative to the dropout, the bottom bracket doesn't look much lower on your bike than on the Budnitz, so using smaller wheels would do more than just cure the Budnitz's toe overlap issue. A utility bike should also have a longer front fender in my opinion. But it sure is beautiful!

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    1. Right. The BB drop may very well be similar, but the BB height factors in wheels size, tires, etc.

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  8. High BB will make a bike harder to trackstand.

    My DL-1 now has a lighter (lighter than B-33) saddle and weighs just over 30 lbs. Total invested in that bike is now about $500. For that I get long steel fenders with a touch of valance that actually keep me dry.

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  9. Wow, I look funny in that outfit! ;)
    I should mention that my impression of how the bike felt should be taken with a very large grain of salt. I don't have any real experience with mixtes or any other step through or more upright bike and don't own one, so I feel very unqualified to pass judgement.

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    1. You and The Fixie Pixie look like you're waiting to shake down kids for their lunch money on the way to school...

      Spindizzy

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  10. I've read several accounts that Budnitz design process for its first bikes entailed buying a custom from Black Sheep then having a Taiwanese factory copy the design.

    If this bike's provenance is similar, could well be the short comings you observe result from an inexperienced frame designer taking a single prototype to production without fully understanding the impact of little changes here and there.

    Likely thicker and lesser gradeTi tubing than what is in your Seven contributes to the weight. Mechanical discs and IGHs are not light.

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    1. Unless I am familiar with the events firsthand, I do not like to speculate on these matters. Budnitz has told me that they work with a Taiwanese frame builder (as opposed to a factory), and that the reason they went to Taiwain is that no American builder was able to produce the number of bicycles needed, in the time period needed, using the methods required to create the curved tubes and the Ti forks. So that is the official line, if you will.

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    2. Factory used to be a perfectly good word for multiple people working in a building to manufacture products.

      In any event, my point was not to criticize where the bikes are built but rather provide a suggestion as to why there were so many niggling fit inconsistencies with an otherwise lovely frame.

      If the Black Sheep story - which is on the Black Sheep FB pages by the way - is true, it stands to reason that taking a design meant for a one off one person bike and trying to duplicate it for mass manufacture could well come out bad.

      Many industries - furniture - autos - audio among them like to bring out fancy show pieces which ultimately see a lot of changes before going to mass manufacture.

      GP at RBW, as well as the Surly and Soma designers probably would not be good one off builders but understand how to design for a bigger market. Based on your and other reviews of Budnitz performance, I am not convinced anyone with the company does.

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    3. If we are being honest, Black Sheep took their design from the Merlin Newsboy

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  11. Well, no wonder it has toe overlap. Not only did they use Big Apple 700c (29") tires with a short top tube (580 mm), they also used very little fork rake and a relatively steep headtube angle: 72 degrees.
    This could work if it was designed like my Batavus, which has the same size tires, but uses the traditional "Dutch bike" shallow headtube angle and high fork rake to prevent toe overlap.
    But I think the real problem is that titanium is the wrong material for a mixte frame and the fork. Those narrow, curvy tubes would be too flexy if made with thin-walled titanium. I suspect they had to use a high wall thickness for the frame and fork, negating most of the weight savings.
    Someone should make this same look in stainless steel. It would be slightly cheaper and would look just as good, while being more durable.

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  12. I saw one of these in the wild while visiting Palo Alto, Calif. last year. I hadn't heard of the brand before, but after Googling belt drive and titanium bike, Budnitz popped up. The inventor is an interesting fellow with a pretty extensive background in design. His website is worth a look.

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    1. Not bike design, for sure. Anyone can design stuff, doesn't mean it works.

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  13. I saw this very bike up close and was impressed with the welding and over all look, but do not like all the features you pointed out. It looks very steep and short, to upright too, BB to high etc...Could have been great. I think someone else commented that designs fall short,,,by designers that are not in the bike business. However after saying that I do wish this company to improve and do well. They were heading in the right direction.

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    1. Kids ride track bikes like this, short and steep. They're good riders on off the shelf bikes, low end even. Longboard kids, ex-bmx kids, etc. Any one of them could have told us this thing is a pig.

      What a huge waste of a natural resource. Your bikes are ridden, this will not be.

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  14. Firstly, I would like to thank the author for her thoughts, work and candor. Other than Bicycle Quarterly, few other than stellar reviews are forthcoming from the popular press. I read this blog for its candor and elegance, and this post adds to both.

    There are several types of beauty. This bike is beautiful to look at, but beauty in design is also important for functional art. Here, there is an apparent shortcoming.

    It can be cost effective, especially when premium pricing is upheld, but sometimes when one exports the work there can be ramifications.

    Joseph E's and Matthew J's comments above seem very thoughtful and are likely explanatory.

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    1. I think people are missing the point on Budnitz's bikes. I recall assembling Raleigh Tourists in the early 1970s, and being amazed at what beautiful and esoteric pieces of trash they were. Sure, this rod-brake, 28" wheel bike was the most common in use, worldwide, but that was not because it was a great design, and Raleigh's execution of it produced a bike that had a unique ride, but which was not intended to be ridden very much. The parts were weak and the bike was heavy. The perfect customer for the DL1 was a tweedy pseudointellectual, likely a college prof, who wanted to be seen with the bike, not to actually ride it. Few of these ever made it back for their 30-day check (why lug the heavy thing back when it hadn't been ridden), and I don't know that I ever saw one that looked like it had more than 100 miles on it. We sold several every year, but didn't bother to even stock replacement tires for them.

      When I moved to Vermont, I found it comical that The Wooden Ski & Wheel in Middlebury was importing Flying Pidgeons from China, because they could no longer get DL1s, and they had a market for them in the faculty at Middlebury College. These bikes were a solid step down in quality from even the DL1! It didn't matter, though, because these bikes didn't get ridden, either.

      It doesn't matter that the Budnitz is a lousy ride. You don't get it because you're not the target market. Lots of non-riders want bikes too. Just look at all the unridden 40 year old bikes that keep popping up on auction sites, many of them top-shelf models. Budnitz may not know bikes, but he sure does have a feel for the market, and you're not it.

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    2. You seem to know intimately Budnitz' sales numbers. Please share how many sold at what price. If indeed he has a feel for the market demand and supply numbers should be similar, by definition.

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    3. Hi Steve. I sold and assembled some of those bikes about the same time you did and I thought exactly the same thing. Out of the box those bikes just didn't work unless a good mechanic spent a whole lot of time with them. Most mechanics did not want to futz with them. Get 'em out the door. I tried my best but I was not much of a mechanic. Didn't help that shop policy would not allow something so simple as trashing the Woods valve tubes and installing Schraeders. Those tires got pumped once, the bike went home and stayed parked.

      Now I ride a DL-1 daily. It's a 2004 Eastman. Much better than a Pigeon. Comparing it to a 70s Raleigh would be a mixed bag. The real difference is that Andy and Tim at Yellow Jersey spent the time to make it work. Steps like inserting a tube and flowing in some brass to make the Raleigh-style seat lug ears work are not normal assembly. Except when they are. Also I made it easy on them and easy on me by asking for canti brakes (a no cost option because it's so much easier), 700c wheels, adjustable bar and stem, a real saddle. And skip the chaincase.

      Still it was at least a year before I had the bike so I wanted to ride it. And maybe 5 years before I understood some of the greatness of the design. There's always a choice of hacks around here for short trips, the DL-1 is always first choice. It did amazingly well in all the snow and ice this past winter. Pleases me endlessly.

      I'm approximately looking for another roadster. Something good. Something good enough I will respect and keep the rod brakes. It won't be a 70s Raleigh. No way would I spend the time and trouble to get one of those to work badly. Some roadsters do have good brakes. A chaincase I just can't be bothered by. Unless I can score a Sunbeam or a Durkopp, something that works.

      The rest of your comment is brilliant. Spot on.

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  15. I have often imagined having a titanium mixte for transportation/commuting. But I certainly imagine it would be lightweight to make up for years of heavy old vintage lady bikes. Easy to put on bus rack or push up the hill loaded with groceries. But given that there may be limitations with titanium, a stainless steel bike may be less expensive than titanium?
    I had not heard of this company before, pricy! Initially the design is beautiful, but actual bicycle design flaws are glaring. Internal geared hubs are also very heavy. I have a bike with one and I do love it, but it is so heavy! Disc brakes can also add weight as well I think.
    I definitely see that there would be toe overlap, and the bottle cage is terrible. They do not belong on mixtes, loop frames etc. The best solution would be to have a handlebar mounted bottlecage, or if at all.
    650b would definitely be a better fit. I cannot imagine using 29ers on a city bike. Those tires look very slow and heavy as well.
    Nice to see Pamela riding!

    But what is that bike of yours? I do not think you ever did write about it.

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  16. I remember a Ti fork that lay around in my friend Les' shop, a prototype from the old Merlin shop I think. It managed to combine the weight of steel with the strength of aluminum. Man that fork was flexie, and due to having to be relatively thick walled not very light. But it really looked the business.

    I just don't think a Budnitz should be judged by normal standards. It's an art project don't you think? No-one, and I mean NO-ONE, that knows bikes and is looking for a useful, efficient machine is going to buy one based on the marketing and those who do buy one can throw enough money around not to care (and are going to judge it, to some degree, on how well it goes with the rest of the decor in the room where they hang it on the wall anyway). Not much of a bike maybe but if you have time for "rolling sculpture" it's got a lot to recommend it. It reminds me of what happens when an old guy who always wanted a Hot-Rod in high school decides to have one built when he finds himself bored and wealthy. Some of them are neat, some of them are not but almost none of them are Hot-Rods in the traditional, Fast first, everything else second sort of way. Kind of over the top and unsuccessful as a useful thing but it could be worse...

    Spindizzy

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    1. There's functional art and art-for-art's-sake art. In this case it looks like the former, but tilts towards the latter, but a few accounts. Better to have both: stiffer bb would get this sucka up to speed. well, fasterer.

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  17. Was just now reading the new post at the Bakfiets-en-meer blog. Henry writes about the three year design process that has gone into their new boxbike. Henry is already the acknowledged master but he sweats all the details. And then he prototypes.
    It's not an art project. It's a vehicle.

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  18. Really beautiful and practical design, but if it doesn't ride well......

    It's odd that if they developed the frame via Black Sheep, they wouldn't have gone with a Ti fork with curved blades. Black Sheep is well-known for that design.

    I agree with everyone who observed that the basic dimensions of the mixte frame, when executed in titanium are probably the reason why the bike is slow. The Van Nicholas Amazon mixte in Ti performs as well as the double diamond Amazon, but doesn't use the twin lateral tubes of this frame.

    FYI, a Ti Van Nicholas Amazon mixte with Rohloff, belt drive, Son dynohub, Ti rack and Brooks Ti saddle weighs about 27 lbs.

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    1. I don't think what Black Sheep does translates to multiple piece production.

      Black Sheep's anyway side of the story is they never meant for any of their ideas to be mass produced.

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    2. msrw - By the way, did you know Van Nicholas changed their Ladies Amazon frame design a year or so back? The new version features near-parallel top and down tubes.

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    3. Ew. Ugly thick tubes, so inelegant. Tapered too. Ugh.

      Hm. Could be what the more experienced riding public wants, a more efficient, faster, leg swing thru bike.

      But what about the supah low mixte? Nice for its time, but I can pick my leg up now.

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  19. The fenders look useless for a transportation bike. Also, at this price I would prefer a custom fit as part of the deal, no mention of that anywhere. This mostly seems like a looker for those with more money than sense, especially when there are other great options out there for the IGH commuter crowd.

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  20. V, I did see that--no doubt a response to your review of the design. It is indeed more elegant with the parallel tubes.

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  21. Matthew, Black Sheep does exquisite one-off designs, but there's nothing about their Ti forks with curved blades that couldn't be mass produced. Assuming that mass production kept the design specs in tact, it would probably even lead to a better Ti fork, since the added production volume could support development of a Ti fork crown.

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    1. The Black Sheep fork requires the bending, mitering and hand fitment of numerous tubes and is way more complicated and requires much more skill to assemble with precision than the segmented Buddy, which is a couple of bends in the legs and relatively simple welds. An entirely different beast.

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    2. I have two Black Sheep Ti forks--just like the fork on the Budnitz, the Black Sheep forks have a fabricated crown of approximately the same design with Ti caps on the fork blades and the need to get all the angles right on the crown components and blades. The only difference is that the fork blades are curved, which adds one step to the manufacturing process. It's definitely not way more complicated to build.

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    3. I was referring to the super trussed-out one, way more labor intensive.

      A job is a job, but jobbing for a guy with no bike design skills seems like a waste of BS James (?) talent.

      Guy like Winter jobs for Pelican, a good bike. No associative baggage. BS is a good bike; name recog to Budnitz over long term does more harm than good to the BS brand. Unless he needs the $.



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  22. It is a major paradigm shift for Americans to accept the short cockpit and upright handlebars of city bikes. Most cyclists in the US ride in comparatively suburban conditions - relative to the congested, cobblestone strewn, trolly-track lined streets of older European cites. Just watch the cyclists in Amsterdam avoid all the urban obstacles and you will see why they don't want to be laid out in a bent over position. Whether or not this was the design objective of the Bundnitz, I don't know. But I do applaud them for not producing one more of the same thing everyone else does. Thanks for reviewing.

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  23. If we're going to discuss art, lines and pretty bikes I'd say V's super proto mixte looks way better than Buddy's. That's not to say it works better (getting your hands that far back with low trail is my personal recipe for yuck, but whatever), but it looks long and low, emphasizing a go forward attitude.

    We'll never know how it rides despite repeated badgering, porteurs aren't for me, but it looks way more the biz to me in the same way high CoG SUVs (previous gen built on truck platforms) look wrong on the road. Call it a proportion thang.

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  24. Forget toe overlap. From the pictures it almost looks like this thing has pedal overlap!

    I couldn't figure out the odd lack of rake on the fork until I looked at their other bikes. They just have one fork that they put on every bike regardless of the widely varying head tube angle.

    I'll give him that they're all beautiful.
    "Budnitz Bicycles creates the lightest, fastest, and most elegant city bikes in the world."
    One out of three ain't bad I guess.

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    1. I can't believe he had the stones to say that. Unbelievable.

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    2. I think it was ONLY the 'stones talking when he said that...

      Partly why I think of it as an art project, I've spent too much time around a certain type of artist.

      Spindizzy

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    3. Hm. Ironic (?) he would pick a swoopy girly bike to display his manhood...now a complete knuckleheaded aggro bike I'd get. As in understand I mean.

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    4. How long till he discovers Motorcycles (they always do) and designs the "Ultimate Synthesis of Traditional Form with Modern Function"(tm)? Now THAT'S going to really suck. No discussion needed.

      Spindizzy

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  25. The only other bikes I've seen that type of curved twin stay mixte frame on is the Civia Twin City step through and the Muse Mezzaluna. I love the look- it's very elegant to me, to the point where 3 of my 4 bikes are twin-stay mixte styles. I have the Civia and I can say it's a great ride. The Civia is no lightweight (about 30lbs) but surprisingly easy and responsive in feel, and I don't have any trouble getting up hills in my native Cleveland with its 7-speed internal hub. The titanium on the Budnitz is gorgeous, but it looks like they've focused on form at the expense of function here, where a much less-expensive bike like my Civia hits both for me at least.

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    1. This from local builder FeCycles....http://www.fecycles.com/blog

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    2. I rode this bike and think it's a bit lighter as it was equipped but whatever. It's spry, looks good, better designed. Throw some faux Ti finish on it you'd get a similar looking frame with good rideability.

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  26. Strikes me as a bicycle to be seen and identified with, like the cycling equivalent of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. Some might see that as a compliment, but there's a wheen of cyclists who ride more miles in a year than some successful people drive their supercars; I just see it as an irrelevance.

    I don't suppose we should mention the 't' word again (that's 't' for trail, not titani... aw, shit, sorry!), but almost non-existent fork offset with a not particularly steep head angle equals high you-know-what, which perhaps explains why even the phenomenally gifted Emily struggled to track-stand the Budnitz.

    Replace the fork with a Jones truss fork and the bars with H-Bars from the same source (c/w with water bottle mounts on the front loop of the H-Bar – there's nowhere else for them except behind the saddle or under the downtube), swap the wheels for 650Bs to lower the bottom bracket and prevent TCO, and you'd have a striking, elegant, practical bicycle which works. But then that would defeat the Budnitz's (lack of) purpose.

    It reminds me of one of your pal Bekka's illustrations; in fact, if she was drawing this again, the mixte would be a Budnitz:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/bikeyface/8028785887/

    You'll need to stop hiding your lovely swoopy-stay mixte under a bushel. I don't know whether it means too much to you or not enough, maybe you don't either, but it knocks the Budnitz into a cocked hat.

    (Incidentally, re. the photo of Emily and Pamela with the Budnitz, there was a singing duo from Houston – identical twins – called Bud and Bud, the Hooper Twins, the joke being that you couldn't tell them apart. Emily and Pamela aren't even slightly identical, but you could still label the photo 'Bud, Bud and Budnitz'.)

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    1. The thing is a supercar is a super. car. That works phenomenally well. They are race cars.

      The Buddy is a status symbol for those who don't know bikes. Unbeknownst to him, his status is actually lowered to those who know. It's not a race bike, it's not a well thought out city bike, it doesn't do anything well, but its marketing says it does. So it's reprehensible to me.

      As with cars, enough peer criticism can cause people to change their minds about what constitutes a valuable bike.

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    2. So sorry you find it 'reprehensible'. I rode my friends Budnitz #1 two years ago- and was impressed enough with the ride and quality that I started saving an bought one over the winter. I've ridden many custom and hand-built frames over the years, beginning with my eddy Merckx road frame from 1983. While I cannot speak for the step-through, I can say that my #1 handles brilliantly, is light, and is built to a very, very high standard. I've let several friends and bike aficionados ride it, and they universally praise it for the same qualities I mention.
      I find the judgmental tone of some people who make comments without firsthand experience reprehensible.

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  27. I see no indication that Budnitz has addressed functionality at all. All I see are aesthetic priorities. At these prices, one might be forgiven to jump to the conclusion that the company is either that arrogant or that incompetent. Are the customers in on the joke?

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