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Old 05-24-12, 07:18 AM   #1
Fallingwater
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On a quest to design (if not build) the perfect city bike

Edit: title should say "my perfect city bike". Sorry about that.

I personally find hipster bikes seriously lacking in several departments, but there's no denying that the idea of a simple, agile, maintenance-undemanding bicycle has a lot of appeal for quickly getting from A to B in the modern chaotic city environment.

So I decided to take the concept of the hipster bike, strip it of all the "alternative" crap and make it into something desirable for people who might not actually be fashion victims.

Here's what I've come up with:

- track bike frame: lightweight and easy to carry around
- freewheel-enabled back wheel: I don't see any advantage in the fixie philosophy
- gear hub: the practicality of gears without the maintenance headaches of a derailer system
- v-brakes front and back: powerful and about the easiest to maintain

Things I'm not so sure about:

- solid-spoke wheels. I know that people hate aerospokes and such because they're heavy, but there are aspects in which they're undeniably superior: they remove the problem of spoke tweaking entirely, they're more resistant to abuse and they're much easier to pass a chain or cable lock through - all things one would want in the type of bike I have in mind. Sadly, the hipster craze has spiked the demand and as a result they're awfully expensive. Also, I'm not sure if a solid-spoke wheel can be adapted to a gear hub, or bought specifically for one.
- seat. I really don't know anything about seats. Thin sporty seats seem more appropriate to agile bikes, but my gluteus maximus hates them; on the other hand, I get the feeling that thicker padded seats would somehow damage the ability to pedal hard (if this is completely wrong I'm glad to be corrected; as I said, I don't know the first thing about seats)
- belt drive. It'd be great to remove the oily, gunky chain from the bicycle altogether, but I'm not sure how tough, efficient and expensive belt systems are.

Possible upgrades if money is no object:

- shaft drive, to reduce maintenance to the absolute minimum
- nuvinci CVT hub

Thoughts? Suggestions? Insults?

Last edited by Fallingwater; 05-24-12 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 05-24-12, 08:52 AM   #2
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{google-fu) Here is your shaft drive bikes, just buy it.
http://www.dynamicbicycles.com/

OK it does not have all the gadgets on your component list,
but it does have the frame made to use the shaft drive and an IGH.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-24-12 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 05-24-12, 11:42 AM   #3
Fallingwater
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Can't - not in the US. That site does offer shipping to Europe, but considering how expensive this is even for small items, I shudder to think how much they'd want for a bicycle. I need to get big parts locally; I can get smaller parts from elsewhere.
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Old 05-24-12, 03:55 PM   #4
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I don't see how to define a "perfect city bike" without defining the rider.

Features that appeal to you might be a turn off for me. That doesn't mean either of us is wrong, it just means that we just have different ideas. Build up a bike however you like and ride the hell out of it.
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Old 05-24-12, 05:08 PM   #5
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^^^ What Retro Grouch said --

Where's the dynohub? And if one gets added, do I need to settle for one of Shimano's green-striped hubs, or can I do Alfine or SON?
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Old 05-24-12, 07:40 PM   #6
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imho - the quest for an optimal city bike depends upon the rider's needs and city environment. what is optimal for the OP, may only apply to him/her. these are some suggestions - steel frame with a very relaxed riding position that fits rider well. a few gears with around 3x range - some will want igh, others deraileur. 1x9 set up with 39 chainring, 12-36 cassette and 32-622 tires is a pragmatic choice. fenders are good to keep slop off clothes and bike. a hub generator is nice for lighting. long wearing touring style tires will help reduce flats and give high mileage. i like a rust resistant or stainless chain. wheel/hub locks or non quick release hubs. some will want disc brakes, others will be fine with canti or v brakes. if rim brakes, get kool stop salmon pads. wheelset should be pretty rugged. all little parts should be stainless. probably will want a sturdy rear rack or front basket, you will need a mirror. simple, but not entry level platform pedals.
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Old 05-24-12, 08:39 PM   #7
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A few points I'd reconsider:

track frame is not particularly comfortable for casual riding, and not very conductive to carrying cargo - two major factors that I'd say define 'city' bike. take a look at dutch city bikes for frame styles

internal gear hubs vs derailers. i find that IGH and other 1x1 cog setups to be higher maintenance than derailers.
for one they make fixing a flat tire more difficult, you need a big heavy 10" 15mm wrench in your toolbag now
also in terms of long term maintenance, as a chain stretches you have to constantly pull the rear axel farther back to take up slack -which then means you have to adjust the rear brake to match, and over time the dropout gets all chewed up from all the axel nut tightenings and becomes trashed
whearas with a derailer, the chain slack is automatically taken up by the pulleys; you can ignore it until it is time for a new chain altogether (just a little oil, same for igh); you can have vertical dropouts and never worry about axel slipping, replacement parts are common and cheaper than igh

solid 'aerospokes' there's no way to ever true the wheel if it does get banged up; and seeing as how this is a city bike being used for utilitarian purposes, repairability is a must...




Look into a Surly Troll frame, great for utility/city/commuter
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Old 05-24-12, 10:16 PM   #8
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+1 for all of the previous comments; I'd just want something comfortable to ride, reliable and able to carry light to moderate loads.
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Old 05-24-12, 10:54 PM   #9
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For me it already exists- the Raleigh Furley.
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Old 05-25-12, 05:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
A few points I'd reconsider:

track frame is not particularly comfortable for casual riding, and not very conductive to carrying cargo - two major factors that I'd say define 'city' bike. take a look at dutch city bikes for frame styles

internal gear hubs vs derailers. i find that IGH and other 1x1 cog setups to be higher maintenance than derailers.
for one they make fixing a flat tire more difficult, you need a big heavy 10" 15mm wrench in your toolbag now
also in terms of long term maintenance, as a chain stretches you have to constantly pull the rear axel farther back to take up slack -which then means you have to adjust the rear brake to match, and over time the dropout gets all chewed up from all the axel nut tightenings and becomes trashed
whearas with a derailer, the chain slack is automatically taken up by the pulleys; you can ignore it until it is time for a new chain altogether (just a little oil, same for igh); you can have vertical dropouts and never worry about axel slipping, replacement parts are common and cheaper than igh

solid 'aerospokes' there's no way to ever true the wheel if it does get banged up; and seeing as how this is a city bike being used for utilitarian purposes, repairability is a must...




Look into a Surly Troll frame, great for utility/city/commuter
I find the IGH to be a lot less hassle and cost to maintain than a derailleur drive train. I have one old Raleigh 3 speed with well over 30,000 miles on it, the chain has been replaced twice that I am aware of. I have a derailleur bike where I have had to replace the entire drive train, including chain rings after about 7,000 miles of use. As far as flat tires, I learned long ago how to repair them without removing the wheel from the bike, with the current crop of kevlar belted tires flats are less of an issue than ever.

For my choice in a city bike; I want upright position and as much of the drivetrain covered as possible, as well as cargo carrying capacity, on board permanent lighting and full fenders. Others choices may be different.

A couple of my choices are shown below.


Aaron



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