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Old 06-12-10, 09:22 PM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Impulsive N-1+1

I was browsing around a bike shop yesterday, first time I've been in one for months, and ran across an incredible deal, on a bike that was almost exactly what I've been thinking I could use.

I've been wanting a simple, comfortable commuter that was easy to transport (unlike my recumbents) and still kept pressure off of my left wrist, which is plagued with tendonitis and can't sustain much pressure on it for more than 10 minutes. I've been unable to ride my upright bikes since last fall.

So I've been thinking about a crank forward bike, which has a very upright riding position. But one that is lighter weight - many of them are heavier, comfort-type bikes. Like the Electra Townie and Trek Pure.

So I'm browsing around and happen upon a 2009 Electra Amsterdam Sport 9d. Lighter frame, 700x38 tires, simple, straightforward design. Aluminum frame with Cro-Mo fork & fenders. Designed to be a bit speedier than the Townie. Higher grade components. Single front crank (42t) with a Shimano Tiagra 13-25t cassette, Sora 9-speed derailleur, and FSA threadless headset. A lot of the crank forwards have lower-end Shimano Tourney derailleurs and single piece stems. Not much of a serious hill climber, but commuter bikes rarely are. It will certainly get one up most city streets.

Nice smooth ride, smooth shifts, very comfortable with almost no weight on my wrists.

List price of $749 and Electra is rarely discounted much. But the dealer got a great deal on a warehouse clearance of 2009 models, ordered 24, and then slashed the price for Madison's Bike to Work week, to 50% off! $375. They were selling like hotcakes. They sold two others in the hour I was there.

I had to buy it. It was almost exactly what I wanted at an incredible price.

But as this put me +1 over my wife's bike limit (5 in the garage, 1 at the office), I had to balance the equation. I've had a mid-1980s Panasonic lugged steel road bike that someone converted to a flat bar, sitting unused for a while. So I cleaned it up, made sure everything worked, and donated it to a local bike shop that works with charities to place bikes.

Here's an image of the new ride from the Electra catalog.
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Old 06-12-10, 09:30 PM   #2
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I took a spin on a 3 speed internal hub Amsterdam once. They move right along. I think it's the handlebars that make the difference.
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Old 06-13-10, 06:05 AM   #3
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Now, that's my kinda bike. Except for the derailleur drivetrain of course.
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Old 06-13-10, 06:19 AM   #4
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Congrats. to you. Here's hoping you get a lot of use out of your new commuter. It looks to be a clean, simple, no nonsense machine.

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Old 06-13-10, 06:31 AM   #5
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Tom, you're such a dare devil.
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Old 06-13-10, 07:14 AM   #6
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exciting! happy trails!
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Old 06-13-10, 07:26 AM   #7
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Stop thinking about the bikes you could possibly like. Eventually one will turn up at a price that you cannot refuse And wife will get upset.

Just tell the wife it is a good job you are not looking for a custom built racing bike with Top of the range components---Or would that mean 2 bikes would have to go?

I know this is the style of bike you like- and at that price- how could you refuse it. Good buy.
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Old 06-13-10, 11:56 AM   #8
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Now, that's my kinda bike. Except for the derailleur drivetrain of course.
I would have preferred the 8 speed internal hub version. But it was $999. Paying an extra $624 plus tax for it didn't seem worth it.
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Old 06-13-10, 12:03 PM   #9
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I had tried to modify my Trek 7600 hybrid to be kinder to my wrist. Those are already a bit relaxed, but not like a comfort bike. The seat tube angle on the 7600 is about 73 degrees. I raised my hand position by 2.5" over stock, so that's definitely more upright. But it wasn't enough. After 15 minutes, my wrist would hurt so bad that I had to ride one handed. To think, just a couple of years ago I rode the 7600 for 64 miles and was comfortable, and the bars were more than an inch lower than they are now.

On the crank forward Electra, with the swept-back handlebars, there is very little pressure on my wrist. No long rides yet, but I think it will work out fine. Didn't buy it for 20+ milers, I'll use my bents for that.
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Old 06-13-10, 12:36 PM   #10
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Nice buy. At that price it was a steal. I agree the internal 8 speed hub would have been nice, but not $600+ nice. You can probably retro fit it for less than that.
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Old 06-13-10, 12:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post

I had to buy it.
But, of course.

Nice bike. I understand that Lance and the Shack boys will be riding those on certain urban (???) stages of TDF this year. Rebadged as Trek, of course.

Nice charitable donation, too.
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Old 06-13-10, 01:21 PM   #12
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Yes, it was a steal at $375. And the LBS treated me like a $5000 customer. Took the bike back into the shop for a post-sale checkout. Made sure the wheels were true. The tech took off the fenders and added rubber bushings to reduce rattles. Adjusted the derailleur. He spent about 20 minutes making sure everything was right on it. And they gave me their standard one free tune-up in the future, even with the 50% discount.

They made nothing on the sale, probably lost money consider the time to build it and tune it. I chatted with the LBS owner for a bit, he said this sale was his contribution toward promoting more use of bikes in the community. He had a couple other bikes on 50% sales too.

The owner had his Calfee Bamboo bike in the shop and I had a chance to look over it. What an interesting bike. He loves it.

They also had a beautiful hand-made Co-motion steel touring bike on the floor. Leather handlebar wraps, Brooks saddle, XTR groupset, easy gearing (like a 46-36-26 with 11-34). Very pretty forest green color. Beautiful.
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Old 06-13-10, 01:59 PM   #13
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Excellent buy, Tom! Wishing you many happy miles with it.
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Old 06-13-10, 03:07 PM   #14
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Me likey.

As a brief aside, I stopped at the localist LBS a few hours ago and they were doing very brisk business. Three bikes were sold in the short time I was there.

Renewed consumer confidence? Increasing interest in exercise and well-being? Just everyone trying to live nicer, greener lives?

Perhaps.
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Old 06-13-10, 06:55 PM   #15
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Me likey.

As a brief aside, I stopped at the localist LBS a few hours ago and they were doing very brisk business. Three bikes were sold in the short time I was there.

Renewed consumer confidence? Increasing interest in exercise and well-being? Just everyone trying to live nicer, greener lives?

Perhaps.
Perhaps all of the above.
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Old 06-21-10, 04:42 PM   #16
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Had the new bike out for a couple of short'ish rides (about 10 miles each). Still getting it adjusted. I found that adjusting the saddle tilt was a bit tricky. The nose was up a bit more than I like, I like a flat saddle. I took the saddle completely off and the bottom portion of the saddle bracket wouldn't move. It acted like it was welded to the seat post. Called my LBS to inquire, they said it was probably just stuck due to the coatings sticking. To whack it hard.

So I whacked it with a hammer and it flew off. Rather than having a nice micro-adjustment, this bracket slid along the top of the post, with a long slot screw hole to allow the tightening screw to slide. Pretty cheap setup. But I was able to get the saddle flat.

The rides were comfortable. On the graveled rail trail, it wasn't nearly as smooth as my Trek front suspension hybrid, and even less smooth than my Fuji flat-bar road bike, despite the Fuji having 30mm tires and the Electra with 38mm tires. But it was certainly passable. I was able to maintain a nice, steady pace.

The gearing is a bit too high for my tastes. I suspected it was going to be. It has a 42t front crank with a 13-25 9-speed cassette. That's fine on city streets as a commuter, but taller than I normally use. Hey, when going slightly downhill on a 1% to 2% rail grade, the tallest gear I used was 42:16. So those 13, 14, and 15t cogs are not going to see much use (maybe no use). Wish I could stick a Campy 13-29 on it. Harris Cyclery has a 9-speed 12-30 Shimano-compatible cassette, but it's $100 and that's a lot of cassette on this type of bike. They have a 13-30 for $120. A 15-30 would be about perfect for me.

I might think about changing over the front crank to a 38t. Those come on a number of single crank bikes.

But all in all, I'm happy with the bike. Had no wrist or thumb problems at all, which are the major issues this bike is supposed to address.
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Old 06-21-10, 04:52 PM   #17
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I've had a mid-1980s Panasonic lugged steel road bike that someone converted to a flat bar, sitting unused for a while. So I cleaned it up, made sure everything worked, and donated it to a local bike shop that works with charities to place bikes.


Great way to clean the garage. I've done that with several good, ridable project bikes, and it still makes me feel *much* better than the $50 I would have gotten from Craigslist.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:01 PM   #18
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Had the new bike out for a couple of short'ish rides (about 10 miles each). Still getting it adjusted. I found that adjusting the saddle tilt was a bit tricky. The nose was up a bit more than I like, I like a flat saddle. I took the saddle completely off and the bottom portion of the saddle bracket wouldn't move. It acted like it was welded to the seat post. Called my LBS to inquire, they said it was probably just stuck due to the coatings sticking. To whack it hard.

So I whacked it with a hammer and it flew off. Rather than having a nice micro-adjustment, this bracket slid along the top of the post, with a long slot screw hole to allow the tightening screw to slide. Pretty cheap setup. But I was able to get the saddle flat.

The rides were comfortable. On the graveled rail trail, it wasn't nearly as smooth as my Trek front suspension hybrid, and even less smooth than my Fuji flat-bar road bike, despite the Fuji having 30mm tires and the Electra with 38mm tires. But it was certainly passable. I was able to maintain a nice, steady pace.

The gearing is a bit too high for my tastes. I suspected it was going to be. It has a 42t front crank with a 13-25 9-speed cassette. That's fine on city streets as a commuter, but taller than I normally use. Hey, when going slightly downhill on a 1% to 2% rail grade, the tallest gear I used was 42:16. So those 13, 14, and 15t cogs are not going to see much use (maybe no use). Wish I could stick a Campy 13-29 on it. Harris Cyclery has a 9-speed 12-30 Shimano-compatible cassette, but it's $100 and that's a lot of cassette on this type of bike. They have a 13-30 for $120. A 15-30 would be about perfect for me.

I might think about changing over the front crank to a 38t. Those come on a number of single crank bikes.

But all in all, I'm happy with the bike. Had no wrist or thumb problems at all, which are the major issues this bike is supposed to address.
Sheesh. A 13-25 is practically a corn cob. That gearing doesn't make sense for that bike.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:21 PM   #19
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You made a purchase to keep you going. It doesn't qualify as an N+1 that was motivated by bike lust. Great deals like that are hard to pass up.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:28 PM   #20
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Tom, that is a good looking bike. I hope you get it set up so that it is comfortable for you. I have to say that I was a bit suprised that you actually bought a bike. I was beginning to think you were a professional test rider .
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Old 06-22-10, 06:28 AM   #21
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Nice Tom. Fix those gears though, I agree too high. Way to go with the n-1 portion of the deal.
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Old 07-01-10, 11:50 PM   #22
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Tom, that is a good looking bike. I hope you get it set up so that it is comfortable for you. I have to say that I was a bit surprised that you actually bought a bike. I was beginning to think you were a professional test rider .
Over the past 3 years I have purchased 5 bikes for myself, 2 for my daughters, and 1 for my wife!

I need to stop buying bikes.
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Old 07-02-10, 12:01 AM   #23
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Well done ...

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Old 08-15-10, 02:39 PM   #24
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I enacted a small change to my gearing. I swapped out the stock single crank 42t and installed a SRAM 39t. Very easy switch to make.

So now I have a 39t crank with 13-25 cassette. This is almost exactly the same as pairing the stock 42t with a 14-27 cassette.

So in effect I swapped out my highest gear (87 gear inches) for another low gear (42 gear inches). The lowest gear before was 46 gear inches. Not much but helpful. Still not a real hill climber, but I didn't buy it for riding hills. Now it is a bit easier on small neighborhood hills.
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Old 08-15-10, 09:41 PM   #25
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Man, I'm doing this all wrong on BF, the WIFE got N+1 (a used hybrid commuter) and I still only have "N", maybe I should start complaining about "too many bikes", SHE has, LOL!!
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