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Old 02-17-08, 11:01 PM   #1
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Europe vs U.S. commuter bike availability

Hi everyone,
Perhaps a lot of people on this forum already know this, but I have been looking through websites by Specialized and Cannondale to learn that commuter style bikes available in Europe are not available here in the U.S. My Specialized Globe 6, IG8 is a model sold on both sides of the pond, but they have two other models, the 3 and 5 for Europe only. Cannondale has some great "Urban" style bikes that we'll never see here in the U.S. Just go to a bike manufacturer's web site and access the UK or European links rather than United States. I was amazed how many bikes are made just for European markets. Too bad we don't seem to warrant these models on this side of the pond. That's all I got today... more or less a rant.

P.S. I've been getting in 4 bike commuting days per week lately due to better weather... it feels great and it's been strengthening my legs for weekend road bike hill climbing.

-3Bikes, Los Angeles
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Old 02-17-08, 11:19 PM   #2
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Yeh, there's a Cannondale commuter bike equipped w/a Rohloff that's unavailable here in the US. Go to the Rohloff website and take a look at what's available for the Euro commuter market and you'll be amazed. I've posted this bike before, but my own personal favorite is this one: http://www.quitmann-ms.de/eng/big_apple.html. It's got a generator front hub w/a Rolhloff rear for 2300 euros. 3500.00US? Anyway, I think it's the schizale. Would love to have one.

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Old 02-18-08, 12:27 AM   #3
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Here's a really limited experience --

My LBS has some mountain bikes, a few dozen road bikes (many of which are upstairs in the "road studio"), and a bunch of hybrids. There are a few singlespeeds, and fewer bikes that already have fenders. I've seen three or four bikes with dynamo hubs (at least two of which were the same model, so no more than three models) and just as few with internal shifters. So, probably 50% road, 20% MTB, and 30% hybrid/other (including cyclocross/SS/etc).

The main bike shop in my sister's town in Germany has a few road bikes, a small bunch of mountain bikes, and a lot of bikes that we'd call "commuter" bikes. Almost all of those have racks & fenders, and at least half -- if not more -- have dynamo hubs. I'd say 70% commuter, 20% MTB, and 10% road (or less).

And, yeah, I'm jealous of some of the bikes that are sold over there.
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Old 02-18-08, 01:47 AM   #4
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Almost all of those have racks & fenders, and at least half -- if not more -- have dynamo hubs.
I vote for the "if not more" option here. If I've understood correctly, it should be about 100%. Laws in Germany state that all bikes must have non-battery powered lights which in practice means dynamo or dynohub. Bikes below a certain weight limit are excluded (think road cycling) and may use battery lights instead.

I have no idea how strictly the rule is enforced though.

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Old 02-18-08, 02:12 AM   #5
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I don't think there is anything special about dedicated commuter bikes(having owned two). There are plenty of bikes available with rack and fender mounts and plenty of decent racks and fenders. I've never liked dynamo lights. I really question their worth now that LED lights have fully matured and are just surpassing all expectations with each successive generation(see MTBR light shootout).

Some of the dutch cargo bikes are pretty interesting though.
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Old 02-18-08, 02:20 AM   #6
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So you've not seen the LED generator lights?
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Old 02-18-08, 02:30 AM   #7
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+1. Actually, I think the dynohub is even more appealing with the new LEDs. Less hassle with batteries. In my experience, I need to carry 2 fully charged sets of batteries for my Fenix L2D Premium. It doesn't give much notice before running out of juice.

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Old 02-18-08, 02:50 AM   #8
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I'm saving for a replacement. There's a shop in town that sells them. I was quite blinded by the demo.
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Old 02-18-08, 04:44 AM   #9
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I haven't seen any good LED generator lights. 1/2 of my commute is at night and 1/2 of that is on a dark rural road that has street lamps spaced far enough apart to ruin your nightvision. I can't imagine any generator lights that would work for me unless, they really have come that far.
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Old 02-18-08, 10:51 AM   #10
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I vote for the "if not more" option here. If I've understood correctly, it should be about 100%. Laws in Germany state that all bikes must have non-battery powered lights which in practice means dynamo or dynohub. Bikes below a certain weight limit are excluded (think road cycling) and may use battery lights instead.

I have no idea how strictly the rule is enforced though.

--J
Ah, that's how I should've worded it. By "at least half" dynamo hubs, I meant hub generators; if they didn't have one of those hubs, they had a tire-driven dynamo instead.

And yeah, a bike must have generator-powered lights of some kind, and can't use battery-powered lights "unless it's a sport bike," as my sister put it when she described the requirement to me (she might've meant a "road bike" as we'd call 'em).
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Old 02-18-08, 11:07 AM   #11
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I am jealous of the European choices.
Electra has started to copy the look with the Amsterdam. I don't know about the generators, and hubs.
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Old 02-18-08, 02:27 PM   #12
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I gotta believe that LEDs are just about there, if not already. Up on eBay you can buy raw LED emitters that they claim is in the range of a 25 to 30 watt halogen, in an MR16 shell, for < $40. It draws about 4 watts. That'd be good enough for me. I'm going to mess around with some once I finish some other projects. I'm betting I'll at least have an LED backup sitting next to my HID by next winter, if it doesn't totally supplant the HID.
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Old 02-18-08, 03:02 PM   #13
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Yeh, there's a Cannondale commuter bike equipped w/a Rohloff that's unavailable here in the US. Go to the Rohloff website and take a look at what's available for the Euro commuter market and you'll be amazed. I've posted this bike before, but my own personal favorite is this one: http://www.quitmann-ms.de/eng/big_apple.html. It's got a generator front hub w/a Rolhloff rear for 2300 euros. 3500.00US? Anyway, I think it's the schizale. Would love to have one.
Man-o-man.... those bikes are very nice and so very expensive. So beautiful in design. Thanks for the link.
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Old 02-18-08, 03:24 PM   #14
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I am jealous of the European choices.
Electra has started to copy the look with the Amsterdam. I don't know about the generators, and hubs.
Yes, Electra has the Amsterdam model, but after looking at one in a local shop, it seemed... well, not made for the long hall....not up to daily urban use. The tire-side generator is so old school and the shop even put the skirt guard on incorrectly... so they don't even know what it's for. (Please don't give me lashes for dissing a brand) The models I viewed on European sites are so impressive and look like daily use, hard working machines. My Specialized Globe 6 was the closest thing I could get (within a budget) to a Pashley.... Oh, maybe someday I can bring one back from England. There are so many good bikes in the world market and I hope that in the future a person will be able to purchase whatever bike they want, no matter where they live. Heck, I purchase road bike tires from Probikekit of England for much less than my local bike shops in Los Angeles.
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Old 02-18-08, 03:42 PM   #15
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I don't think there is anything special about dedicated commuter bikes(having owned two). There are plenty of bikes available with rack and fender mounts and plenty of decent racks and fenders. I've never liked dynamo lights. I really question their worth now that LED lights have fully matured and are just surpassing all expectations with each successive generation(see MTBR light shootout).

Some of the dutch cargo bikes are pretty interesting though.
Until I started really looking for a commuter bike, I didn't even know about modern dyno-hubs. I think Pashley's web site was the first one that opened my eyes. My old Schwinn was outfitted with two forward lights... both LED, one was 5 LED constant for seeing the road, the other one a LED light that could flash. Since getting a dyno-hub, I still use a Cateye model#135 for flashing and a Vista rear flasher in addition to the constant front and rear lights. I just use less batteries and I'm quite happy with my first dyno-hub system. P.S. I used to ride mountain trails at night with powerful and expensive light systems.
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Old 02-18-08, 04:40 PM   #16
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Yes, Electra has the Amsterdam model, but after looking at one in a local shop, it seemed... well, not made for the long hall....not up to daily urban use. The tire-side generator is so old school and the shop even put the skirt guard on incorrectly... so they don't even know what it's for. (Please don't give me lashes for dissing a brand)
The Amsterdam is a mess... I own one that I bought specifically for tooling around with my baby girl in the bobike.

The whole thing seems way over priced to me... It's the same quality as some of the Schwinn's on the market for nearly twice the cost. And as for the skirts... If you'd ever tried to get them in correctly, you'd understand why they might have been messed up. I finally gave up and took mine off. Much of this is related to the flimsyness of the rear rack. I can't imagine what I'd ever try to put there... a box of donuts maybe? There's not enough lateral stiffness to support paniers, and pity on the person who mistakes it for a real dutch bike and tries to side-saddle the rear rack...

I guess I shouldn't bad-mouth it too bad. I'll be through with it and need to find a buyer within the year.
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Old 02-18-08, 04:57 PM   #17
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I looked at an Amsterdam and in comparison to one of my old Nottingham Raleighs I was not impressed at all. I think that Electra is trying to sell "style" vs substance. I think as things move along we may start seeing a better selection of commuter bikes in the US. The Breezer line up is a big improvement over just a few years ago. But one major stumbling block will be the WalMart mentality of the American shopper, it has to be cheap or they won't buy it, and I think that is going to get worse before it gets better.

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Old 02-18-08, 06:01 PM   #18
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I looked at an Amsterdam and in comparison to one of my old Nottingham Raleighs I was not impressed at all. I think that Electra is trying to sell "style" vs substance...
+1 Checked them out at an lbs and decided 'alotta sizzle, alittle steak'. Gave a friend of mine a Raleigh 3 sp and he uses it almost every day for short errands. It's a newer one...circa 1970.

Yeah, I bought into Electra for about 15 minutes then woke up and thought the consistant hammering of the 'slacker 'tude, dude' got old. It's like, 'were the anti-lycra-indie-rock bike co' and 'you're either a loser or too old if you don't like our bikes.' Try doing 'quality'...it really works in the long run.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:12 PM   #19
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Yeh, there's a Cannondale commuter bike equipped w/a Rohloff that's unavailable here in the US. Go to the Rohloff website and take a look at what's available for the Euro commuter market and you'll be amazed. I've posted this bike before, but my own personal favorite is this one: http://www.quitmann-ms.de/eng/big_apple.html. It's got a generator front hub w/a Rolhloff rear for 2300 euros. 3500.00US? Anyway, I think it's the schizale. Would love to have one.
---"New York isn't such far at all!"---

I'm sorry but I recently awoke from a nap and then read this thread. If I'm getting this straight the German's just named the ultimate commuter bike after (all together now) New York City? Yep, that's a picture of the Chrysler building. I'm so confused. Just what kind of bikes do Europeans think Americans ride. Someone's has to talk me through this.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:46 PM   #20
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---"New York isn't such far at all!"---

I'm sorry but I recently awoke from a nap and then read this thread. If I'm getting this straight the German's just named the ultimate commuter bike after (all together now) New York City? Yep, that's a picture of the Chrysler building. I'm so confused. Just what kind of bikes do Europeans think Americans ride. Someone's has to talk me through this.
This kinda thing shouldn't surprise you. When I smoked I noticed that American camels said "Smooth Turkish Blend". When I got to Turkey, guess what Turkish camels say on them? You got it... "Smooth American Blend".

I seriously wonder if those bikes were available here, how many people would shell out $3000 on a town bicycle. Most people I know say I'm ******** for having a $2000 mountain bike. "For that much money you could've gotten a motorcycle or dirt bike!" A mountain bike even has that "extreme sport" tag.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:58 PM   #21
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Hi everyone,
Perhaps a lot of people on this forum already know this, but I have been looking through websites by Specialized and Cannondale to learn that commuter style bikes available in Europe are not available here in the U.S. My Specialized Globe 6, IG8 is a model sold on both sides of the pond, but they have two other models, the 3 and 5 for Europe only. Cannondale has some great "Urban" style bikes that we'll never see here in the U.S. Just go to a bike manufacturer's web site and access the UK or European links rather than United States. I was amazed how many bikes are made just for European markets. Too bad we don't seem to warrant these models on this side of the pond. That's all I got today... more or less a rant.

P.S. I've been getting in 4 bike commuting days per week lately due to better weather... it feels great and it's been strengthening my legs for weekend road bike hill climbing.

-3Bikes, Los Angeles
It is crap though isn't it? Trek makes the Portland and the 520. Just to put those out there since commuter bikes are so few and far between.

I'm thinking these newer cyclocross bikes could make great commuters though. You can run them with skinny road tires or nobby cross tires, even studded tires. The forks should have room for fenders, if they actually put the mounts on (I never bother to look, since I'm not buying one).

Oh well! I commute on a trek road bike (not the portland or 520). I'll probably buy "race blade" fenders soon, something beats nothing. I carry on a backpack (I prefer it to panniers so far).
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Old 02-18-08, 09:59 PM   #22
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This kinda thing shouldn't surprise you. When I smoked I noticed that American camels said "Smooth Turkish Blend". When I got to Turkey, guess what Turkish camels say on them? You got it... "Smooth American Blend".

I seriously wonder if those bikes were available here, how many people would shell out $3000 on a town bicycle. Most people I know say I'm ******** for having a $2000 mountain bike. "For that much money you could've gotten a motorcycle or dirt bike!" A mountain bike even has that "extreme sport" tag.
Not a very good motorcycle or dirt bike I imagine.
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Old 02-19-08, 11:52 AM   #23
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If you want to see pictures of a lot of the bikes being discussed here on one page (all of them available in the U.S.), check this out on my site.

Yes, in response to the first post, it's frustrating that some of the cool bikes by the big manufacturers aren't sold here. But the situation is WAY better than it was 8-9 years ago when I first started bike shopping -- I wanted something specced out of the box with rack, lights and fenders, and there were virtually NO choices -- I even tried calling a shop in Germany at one point about ordering something.
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Old 02-19-08, 12:05 PM   #24
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Why not just build what you want. I've been riding this for 4 years. It is an old Specialized RockHopper "citi-fied" with dynamo front, nexus7 rear, fenders, and rack. I've not seen anything better yet.
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Old 02-19-08, 01:48 PM   #25
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Why not just build what you want. I've been riding this for 4 years. It is an old Specialized RockHopper "citi-fied" with dynamo front, nexus7 rear, fenders, and rack. I've not seen anything better yet.
Because it can be cheaper to get it off the rack already built up (if buying new, anyway). I've seen bikes just like yours that came that way from the factory.

Not many, though, and not necessarily using a MTB frame, but they're there.
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