So it seems my posts on some of the more "comfort" oriented bikes have not come with sufficient disclaimers that I just think they look cool and would be useful for a lot of riders. And if I had unlimited funds (and space), I'd have about 6 bikes - one for each narrow need - including a sit-up-and-beg dream machine.
But that is not the case, so I need to find one new bike to replace my Bridgestone MB-1 since I need 700c wheels to keep the kid's trailer level. In addition to pulling the kids in the trailer I commute all over the Westside of L.A. I've gotten myself in pretty good shape (and lost about 8 pounds at this point) so I'm not really looking for a laid-back cruiser. One commenter even suggested an electric-assist bike - I think they are great to have out there, but I'm not dead yet!
What I'm after is a bike with some decent gear range for towing, but a lean and fast commuter the rest of the time, leaning toward a basic road-bike geometry, and honestly not a full "commuter" in the sense of a ton of goo-gaas and bags and excess hardware. That's just what I'd use it for, but think "slightly relaxed, fender-ready road bike". I just think things like the Giant Suede Coasting are cool bikes to see available in the States! Go Giant!
So to clarify I now bring you the Brodie Ocho, listing for $1,199. This is a bike I might actually buy. While stylistically this bike is edging a bit close to a mountain bike for my aesthetic sensibility, it is redeemed by hardcore utilitarian cred.
The riding position is just right for me - straight-ish bars (allowing you to ride with your hands right on the brakes for easy, unpredictable city braking) placed level with the saddle. It's a nice riding position for both speed and athleticism as well as for pretty easy-going towing and family riding. That works for me. I have a drop-barred road bike for when I have a chance to take a long, carbonized, logo saturated ride (but no logos on the clothes - I have my limits), but that isn't what this bike is for. This bike is for getting me (and my kids) places we need to go so I can leave the car at home.
The Shimano Alfine internal hub has the low gear range I need for towing, and also has a nice clean, derailleur-free look. I'm intrigued by the clipless pedals on a commuter, but I'd probably switch to something with clipless on one side and standard treads on the other, if not just a standard set-up with clips for going-to-work practicality. I also like the small chainguard surrounding the chainwheel that would at least help with chainwheel-to-slacks grease transfer issues.
I wish this Brodie had a steel frame (and that might be a deal-breaker) but they've included some shaping of the seatstays to smooth out the aluminum ride. It's got full fender and rack mounts and a pretty clean, minimal paintjob and sticker deal going on - all good. It has disk brakes, which I find clutter the looks and lean it dangerously mountain bikey, but they seem to be popular on commuter bikes these days. I've never had any trouble with the good old cantilevers on my Bridgestone in rain on city roads. The disk brakes lose some of the clean simplicity that the internal hub gained.
The Ocho comes with 32c width tires which seem a good choice for urban riding. So all in all it's a bit pricey, but crap, you get what you pay for.
So there you go. Maybe this will dispel the impression that my ideal ride would be a motorized tricycle with a built in defibrillator and an AARP bumper sticker on the back. And speaking of that, could someone tell the AARP to stop sending me mail? It's really depressing...