So I've been trolling the internets, diving down endless link-holes in search of a new bike. A speedy commuter, a well-geared trailer hauler, a minimally cluttered steed. Just when you think you've suffered through every manufacturer's ill-conceived website (although there are some that are very cool) I find yet another option. But I have nominated a few rides I'm considering, and a few that are just neat. So here's one:
The Fisher Simple City 8M - $969.
This is a nice looking bike. It's got a vintage vibe without being too kitchy (well the rack is a tad kitchy...), it's ready for real-life commuting and errand-running with some nice modern touches. (I should say real-life commuting for me is usually just me and a messenger bag with my laptop. I like the practicality of panniers, but too often they are too "backpacky" for me. I'm still looking for a nice looking, removeable pannier with a shoulder strap, that when removed just looks like a nice bag. Nice in this case meaning it is more stylish than outdoorsy.)
This Fisher is my old 3-speed brought up to date. I probably want something a bit more roadie/sporty at the end of the day, but I like this bike. It has the internal 8-speed hub, which I'm considering but have never ridden. I like how the internal gears clean up the overall look by not having a rear derailleur hanging there. From what I've read it has a gear range similar to having a 12-38T cassette in the back, which is mountain bike territory (though the front chainwheel is more moderate). I like the rack aesthetic, but I bet I'd ditch that rack and go with one on the rear since I read the balance with a load in that particular front rack is pretty crappy.
This has the Shimano Nexus internal hub, but I'd probably prefer the higher-end Shimano Alfine. There is an extensive write up on the different internal hubs here, and one point it makes is comparing the steps between each gear - how some models are more evenly spaced and others can jump pretty wildly. The Shimano's were not at the top of that list. Also, I'd need to make sure that I could attach the hitch for the kid's trailer to that type of hub.
I like the straight(ish) handlebars, since for some of the riding I do (think lots of stopping and starting towing a trailer) I need easy access to the brakes. I like drop bars, but it's not practical having to reach for the brakes considering this ride's job. Having the bars even with the seat suits the way I would be riding this bike. The Simple City comes with fenders (though that front one would need a flap for full coverage) and a nice chain guard/chainwheel guard combo - nice for commuting. The frame is aluminum which I'm not sure I'll go for - I'd need to be convinced I won't miss the steel Bridgestone I'm riding now.
So the pros: Clean, classic look and design, internal hub, straight(ish) bars and nice medium riding position, fenders and chainguard, and the brakes aren't disks (which can clutter up the clean look). The price isn't crazy, but on the higher end of what I'd like to pay. Oh, and it's a very respectable date bike.
Cons: Might lose the rack (if I found it didn't work well), Nexus hub not my first choice (on paper anyway), the price is pushing it, the aluminum frame and at the end of the day I may want something sportier. I mean, I'm a 50 year-old dad with all the obligations and responsibilities, so I really enjoy the times I get to open it up and fly (even if half the time I'm towing a trailer...).