I picked up a Breezer Infinity a couple of months ago and now that I am nearing about 400 miles, I thought I share some of my impressions. (I typically do more mileage than this in 2 months, but I have been out of town a couple of times and the three flats I referred to earlier has cut down on my mileage.)
I bought the bike as a replacement for a 10 year old Trek mountain bike that I had adapted to commuting. I was getting tired of having to replace chains and cassettes all the time. Sometimes, I was only getting 1000 miles out of a cassette. So I started looking for something with internal gears and a drive train protected from the elements. I had seen such setups last year on a trip to Amsterdam and I was impressed on how pristine the drive trains looked on old beat-up looking bikes!
So I wound up with a Breezer Infinity.
I gotta say, the bike is great right of the box. It has (almost) everything you need to commuter cycle right out of the box. The only things I have added are a) a bike computer, and b) tire liners.
I was concerned the bike was going to be a pig based on the weight and the less efficient internal gears. If your baseline is a road bike, you might consider it to be a pig, but I have certainly not found this to be the case. On my old mountain bike, with 26x1.5 summer slicks pumped to about 70 psi, itíd take something under 30 minutes to cycle the 6.9 miles to work, thatís in traffic. Sometimes, Iíd be under 28 minutes. Iíd say that my new bike is about a minute faster than the old one. I average about 15 mph, though sometimes if the wind is favorable and I donít have to stop, my average will get up over 16. I donít know what road bikes typically do, but I have been passed once that I recall since I got the bike and that was by a road bike when I was doing 20.
I love the infinitely variable internal gearing. If it is less efficient than a derailleur system, I donít see it, especially at road speeds. I find that I am often making small adjustments in the gearing based on the road grade and wind whereas before Iíd just keep using the same gear. I think that may make up for any inefficiencies in the hub itself.
Though the Breezer is not a trail bike, I have taken it up a trail near my house and the continuously variable gearing is very nice on a trail. I think you could have a very nice mountain bike built around the Nuvinci hub, say with maybe with two front chain rings. I calculate my gear-inch range to be 27 to 99. On my old mountain bike, I had a range 44 to 104 on the large chain ring which was all I used because the front derailleur didnít work any more.
The tires that came with the Breezer are 26x1.75 supposedly resistant to punctures. Well, after three flats, I stuck some tire liners in there. No flats since.
My old bike has disk brakes and I was concerned that I would lose braking power going back to rim brakes. We are kind of in a rainy spell thatís been going on three weeks now and I have not found the brakes to be a problem at all in wet weather. I think the difference from my previous experience is the fenders. The fenders tend to keep the rims dry even in very wet weather.
The internal hub dynamo. That is kind of nice actually. I leave the lights on all the time now. Better for safety. The speed data I gave earlier, is all with the hub powering the lights. I thought maybe the hub would slow things down the way the old bottle generators used to, but I havenít seen it. You might be able to measure the difference with a stopwatch, but for commuting itís not an issue.
The rack on the back is nice, I use that all the time. Makes the bike really practical right out of the box.
The bike rear wheel lock is nice too. I had a chance to use one of those before in Holland. It wonít stop someone from tossing your bike into the back of a pickup but it is nice for quick stops.
I got to ride a breezer with the N360 hub recently, it is amazing. I've had 4 speed internal hubs, single speeds, 21 speeds, but this beat all of the for sheer range of ratios & total ease of use. When i'm on the road, nothing makes me more anxious than if the shift will go smoothly, and the N360 takes that anxiety completely away. The built in lights have a capacitor for when you stop at intersections etc, but you need to spin the front wheel a bit before it charges, otherwise when you stop moving both shut off, just something to keep in mind. The headlight can be augmented with fork mounted lights to give you a better grasp on topography immediately in your path. Needless to say, i hope to bring the bike i tested home with me soon...
Thanks for the review, do you mind if i give my own on this thread once i take delivery?
I have this bike and I love it. It is solid. The aluminum frame reduces weight. A steel frame would be too heavy. With the generator on there is a noticeable drag. It's not the fastest bike I've owned but I don't ride to go fast anymore. I'm happy with the speed. The lowest "gear" is good on the hills I climb but the highest "gear" is a bit too low on the downhills.