Visiting bike stores can be hazardous. You see stuff. You think about new things.
Velo City is that kind of bike store. They focus on city bikes and bicycle-centric lifestyles.
This isn't the bib-shorts and heart-rate monitor side of bicycling. It's the functional side for kids, comfort and utility. And yes, there's a good deal of style there too.
City bikes bring a different set of priorities to recreational bikes. Road bikes are about speed and the lowest weight possible. Mountain bikes are about agility, navigating rough terrain and strength. City bikes need to be there for everyday use as an alternative to taking a car, riding the bus or walking.
- All Weather - You'd never put fenders on your road bike, but they are a must for good city bike. Wet roads and rainy conditions don't have to be a reason to stay off your bike. Fenders also let you ride in regular clothes.
- All Day - In Europe, a bike is not a bike unless it has lights. The best city bikes have dynamo hubs to generate electricity as you ride to power bright lights front and rear. Worrying about whether the batteries on your bike lights are charged should be a non-issue when turning to your everyday bike.
- Durable - It's a good feeling to know that your bike is made to last. It's reassuring that you have a quality, reliable machine at your disposal. Cars are that way. Good bikes are too.
- Safe - How you ride is based on experience but it's also partly the knowledge that you are correctly equipped and your bike is able to handle the unexpected. Stopping quickly while staying under control is one example. Handling unexpected obstacles like potholes is another.
- Useful - You're not going to use your bike to move a piano but bikes can go grocery shopping, take kids to practice or help carry lunch for a picnic.
Belt Drives and Internal Gearing
One of the most interesting things about city bikes is the level of innovation bike makers are bringing to their products. Dynamo hubs are one area. Belt drives and internal-gear systems are another.
Unlike traditional derailleurs and chains, belt drives and internal gears are low maintenance, durable and quiet. They just work and work.
Gates Carbon Belt Drive: Everything You Ever Need to Know
Carbon Belt Drive is a power transmission technology used to run the blowers on 10,000 horsepower racing engines, and now, the drivetrains of many bicycles.
Hub gears range from the 3-speeds of yesterday - still used in bike share systems such as Youbike - to more modern 7 to 11 speed systems. Top of the line hubs now offer up to 14 gears.
Crank-based gear system from Pinion are another interesting option. New York City-based, direct-to-consumer newcomer Priority Bicycles is even bringing the price down. The Priority 600 sells $2,199.00
What's the perfect city bike? That's up to you. Maybe it's a beater you won't mind (too much) if it get stolen. Maybe it's a Youbike you just rent for the ride.
But maybe you're looking to take the next step. Places like Velo City are a great place to think about your options.
What is your dream city bike?