Before yesterday I never heard of this. Life took me to a variety of LBSs yesterday and just being out and of a particularly bike-oriented state of mind I noticed a number of folks, especially in the University district, riding particularly eccentric-looking upright bikes. While visiting my "home" LBS, I noticed they had just such a bike on display which I asked about.
It turned out to be a Biachi SASS (MTB) built up with an elastomer seat, BMX-style stem and handlebar, narrower street-friendly tires, and a rear rack. The idea was to build a standard MTB in such a way that it was particulatly "streetable"; a hybrid without being, oh I don't know, uncool or something. The fellow in the shop spoke of this as the "Austin style", which may be a little misleading or geocentric since we happen to be in Austin TX. "We build dozens of these."
At this time it is not entirely clear to me why this would be desirable over an uprightish hybrid or comfort unit, like the Trek Navigator series. I was told they generally build these on heavier, cheaper cromolly frame bikes and the whole build up adds something like $100 to the price. I didn't think to ask if this was a package, or just how it all works out.
It certainly sounds nifty. I suppose my questions are:
Anybody out there heard of or seen anything like this?
What are the alleged advantages over standard comfort bikes?
In the interest of full disclosure I am seriously considering sending in my thin-tired Bianchi Ocelot for this treatment. I'm not nearly as bendy as I used to be.