Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bike Lust '14

If I had Jay Leno -type dinero, I'd enjoy the warehouse full of classic cars and motorcycles.  And I'd add on a 1000-square-foot wing for bicycles.

Last week, a guy at the office rode in on his shiny-new custom-spec'ed CETMA cargo bike.  I tried not to drool on it as I checked it out.  I like the flat cargo deck, that can have various boxes, etc., added... very utilitarian!  Other features that he's included (he may not have Jay Leno dinero, but obviously money isn't a major stumbling block):
- internally-geared hub (10 speed Shimano, I believe)
- disc brakes
- Brooks saddle (classy!)
- a front hub motorized assist.  I was talking to him about it; he said when he gets it fully loaded he anticipates it will be pretty nice to have a little power backup.  In the third photo, you'll see a little control panel.  He said the battery is already onboard; it must be mounted underneath the deck.

Then today, before it started to rain, I actually went on a new bike test ride!

For a couple years, I've had my eye on the REI Novara Gotham "urban" bicycle.  What particularly attracts me is the NuVinci constantly-variable hub.  That and the belt drive.  In my imagination, the combination would be uniquely quiet and maintenance-free, besides providing a super-wide final drive ratio.

To test ride it (OK since it wasn't raining at the moment) I signed a disclaimer, left behind my driver's license and REI credit card, and promised not to leave the parking lot.  I'd kinda dreamed of riding it uphill, and along a straight stretch for awhile, but I made do.  I did have the opportunity to test its maneuverability, since they're right next door to the Golden Corral... I deftly maneuvered around bovine GC breakfast customers who lumbered about in the parking lot.  And the hub is just as amazing as I imagined - a gentle twist changes the ratio in a very real way, but almost imperceptibly... no click between gears.  Very, very cool.

Changes since last year, when I first started eyeing it:
- frame was steel in '13, now it's aluminum (but the weight is down about 5 pounds - and it is NOT a lightweight bike, at 30+ pounds)
- mechanical discs in '13, hydraulic in '14. (I'd probably prefer mechanical as a maintenance and durability issue, but it may not be a big deal.)
- in '13 it had a front hub dynamo to charge the headlight battery.  Now I assume you have to plug it in now and then.
- oh, and last year it was $1300; now it's $1400.  Spendy... but a good value, seems to me.  (Just the hub costs around $300 or so.)

I'd dearly love to get it, but it'll probably have to wait for another year
.  Hopefully they'll still build it in '15.


Scott said...

I've been a fan of the bakfiets-type bike since I saw them in Amsterdam several years ago. They're the minivan of bikes , except cool. (I'm actually fond of my minivan, too).

The adjustable hub is really cool. I'd be interested in trying one out on a road bike - after they work out all the kinks.

Marcus said...

My wife has the first year Novara Gotham if you want to take it for a spin...

The hub is super sweet. As a bike mechanic I am always itchin' to fix stuff, but this bike has needed zero to no maintenance. My wife puts about 3-4k a year commuting.
Next time you are cruising down Latah, swing by and throw a leg over the saddle.