This bike isn’t like most folding bikes. On first glance, it looks similar to the standard 20-inch-wheeled folder seen on the streets and public transportation in every city. Closer inspection reveals some standout features: disc brakes, high-end Schwalbe road tires, and an 18-speed drivetrain with gearing suited to spirited riding.
The ease with which the Formula folds—a trait of the highest importance—reflects well on Dahon’s three decades of folder manufacturing experience. Within a few attempts I had the Formula folded up in under a minute. A small magnetic clasp keeps the bike closed when carrying it, and when closed, it supports itself upright. High marks all around, particularly for the simple and sturdy metal folding pedals.
Dahon designed the Formula for riders “with tougher commutes that demand speed, portability and endurance.” Claiming to fit riders from 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-4, the handlebar and seat height adjust easily with quick-release levers. I found the handlebar height adjustment particularly useful—slide it up for comfort and a heads-up position for short trips, drop it down for more speed and leverage on longer rides. The frame has mounting points for a rack and fenders, and Dahon sells versions of each designed specifically for 20-inch wheels.Tweet
Jamis makes 40(!) different drop-bar bike models, and the Quest may be my favorite. It has mounts for fenders and a rear rack, room for 32mm tires (28mm with fenders) and geometry that is sporty but still comfortable and stable. The drivetrain is all reliable Shimano, mostly from the 105 group, matched up to a Ritchey cockpit and wheels. All proven stuff.
Jeff Jones is something of a mad genius, putting his impassioned theories about the ultimate bike ride into practice with fantastically swooping custom built frames. We’ve been fans of his iconic Titanium Spaceframe mountain bike since riding one for our sister publication, Dirt Rag, six years ago. But as with most geniuses who are drawn to bicycles, Jones believes in sharing his discoveries as widely as possible, so he’s expanded his business beyond custom frames (for which there is a lengthy waiting list) and into factory-produced versions.
This “ATB” bike is so called because it’s intended for all terrain: city, path and mountain. It’s based on Jones’ steel Diamond frame, which started life as a mountain bike. However, with some parts-swapping, this “mountain” bike makes a good commuter or comfy long-distance touring bike as well, with far fewer compromises than your average knobby-tired steed trying to change its stripes. Jones is fond of saying that he only makes one bike—a “high-performance non-suspended bicycle”—that can be used for a variety of riding styles.
What’s the secret to this chameleon nature? It’s in the geometry. Jones frames have a more relaxed seat tube angle and shorter chainstays, putting the rider’s weight further back over the rear wheel. The bottom bracket is settled low between the wheels to add stability. Combined with the Jones Loop H-Bar, which places your hands at a relaxed angle, the resulting position is fairly upright, yet efficient in pedaling and confident in handling rough terrain. Add to that the frame’s huge tire clearance, and you have a bike that can attack just about any situation or riding surface.
Our model was built with the steel Jones Unicrown fork, which has a 135mm hub spacing (wider than the normal 100mm); this stiffens up the front end, particularly useful for loading front panniers. (It also means that you could fit a “fat” front rim and tire, up to 26×4.7, for off-road adventures.) The bike came with 29×2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple tires—Jones is a believer, along with Schwalbe, that bigger-volume tires are actually more efficient on the road due to less rolling resistance, as well as being safer and more comfortable. Tubus racks and Planet Bike fenders round out the build. Jones also sent a set of Ortlieb front and rear panniers and trunk bag, and a frame bag made by Revelate Designs, to provide plenty of options for bikepacking or touring.
A group of Bicycle Times staffers took turns riding the Jones in a variety of ways. (Another benefit of the geometry is that one available size easily accommodates a fairly wide range of heights.)Tweet
Tandems have been bringing together the mighty cycling power of two since the late 1800s, and Bike Friday has been building tandems since the co-founders’ very first in 1987.
As a mom of two kids, functionality and reusability are often paramount when I look for new products. I had been on the hunt for a tandem that could accommodate my 11-year-old daughter, Darby, as a stoker over the next few years, then have the honor be passed down to her younger brother. Bike Friday’s Traveler XL seemed like a good choice, as it is designed to fit a captain’s height range of 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-5, and a stoker height range of 3 feet to 6-foot-5. Not only could my kids join forces with me on adventures, but my hubby and I could also ride together.Tweet
In the varied and ever-changing garden of bicycles, it seems that the fat bike corner is the latest area of flourishing growth, producing new ideas and iterations at a rapid pace. Two longtime mountain bike innovators—Aaron Joppe, former owner of Slingshot, and John Muenzenmeyer, former owner of Nukeproof—have been drawn into this bloom and are making interesting contributions with their relatively new company, 616 Fabrication.
The company name comes from the area code of western Michigan where they manufacture frames, forks and hubs at their own facility. They offer frames for fat bike, cyclocross and mountain builds, all made in high-end steel. Artistic touches, such as laser-cut seatstay bridges and custom-etched ID plates, further set these creations apart from the average mass-produced models, as does a classic paint job.
The first thing I and other staffers noticed about the Fat frame is its relatively steep 72 head tube angle. It also sports short-for-a-fat-bike 17.5-inch chainstays. Hub spacing is 135mm front and 170mm rear. It’s designed to ride light and nimbly over sand, snow and rock. Custom geometry is available to suit anyone’s taste, but for our tight turns and four seasons, the stock numbers suited me just fine.Tweet
It’s refreshing to see that large companies have not wholly abandoned the legacy of steel. Specialized’s Tricross Elite Steel Disc Triple stands out from the Tricross line as the lone steel-framed model for the entire brand. Of course steel is a fitting material for the line’s intended purpose, “Freeroad,” A.K.A. riding all over the place for a variety of reasons, a purpose we champion. It’s not a new category for Specialized—we’ve tested two previous models, the Sport in issue #12 and the Comp in our sister magazine, Dirt Rag, back in 2006.
The Tricross caters to us “freeroaders” by aiming for that sweet spot between road, cyclocross and touring. The chromoly frame has a longer top tube and a lengthened wheelbase (as compared to a standard road racing bike) for stability and comfort, though the wheelbase is not as long as a typical touring bike. The head tube is a middle-of-the-road 71.5 for predictable steering. It may be heavier than its aluminum cousins, but for rough-n-ready riding, I enjoyed the genteel comfort of steel, and didn’t feel like it held me back too much when it was time to sprint for the traffic lights. It’s a nice package that covers the bases well, weighing in at 27lbs.Tweet
It’s a warm morning. The sun’s out and spring has sprung. I’m stepping out of my back door with Cannondale’s Quick CX 3 ready to start the 11-mile commute to the office. My neighbor waves “good morning,” and it promises to be a great day for a ride.
My commute isn’t difficult. There aren’t many hills, or even traffic, but it traverses a variety of riding surfaces. It can make finding an appropriate bike challenging.Tweet
Most people associate Norco with adrenaline-fueled gravity and freeride mountain bikes, for good reason. The company’s head office is located in British Columbia, Canada, the heart of those cycling disciplines. But Norco is not all dirt. The Indie models, part of the company’s Urban Performance line, are designed for pavement and come in either straight or drop bar configurations. The Indie Drop 1—obviously with a drop bar—is the middle sibling of the trio.Tweet
Xtracycle is largely responsible for the blossoming of the longtail cargo bike market in the United States. In the late 1990s, Xtracycle was thinking big thoughts about what widespread acceptance of the cargo bike could do for American transportation infrastructure. This led to the FreeRadical, a bolt-on rear frame extension that turned many an unused bike into an incredibly practical cargo bike. Since then, the longtail has been in continuous development, with a handful of companies using the Xtracycle LT open standard as the basis for complete cargo bikes.
The idea of a complete bike has always been part of the plan at Xtracycle, but until the EdgeRunner, all complete Xtracycles just used the bolt-on FreeRadical extension. But a purpose-built, one-piece frame is really the best way to go for a heavy-duty cargo bike. While Xtracycle wasn’t quick to come to market with one, the EdgeRunner was worth the wait.Tweet
Misceo is a Latin verb that means “to mix or blend.” The idea behind the Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0—a flat-bar, 700c bike decked out with disc brakes and a suspension fork—is to blend the performance and versatility of a mountain bike with the comfort and street-friendliness of a hybrid. This machine is designed to tackle a variety of terrain, including pavement, rough roads and even dirt trails.Tweet
While many brands have introduced “endurance” road bikes over the last few years, few have taken the idea to quite the extreme as Trek. The Domane was developed with considerable input from Swiss pro cyclist Fabian Cancellara, who is known for his steam-engine riding style, using his massive power output to crush cobblestones in the fabled Spring Classics. He is said to enjoy the bike so much that he rides it year-round, even in the Tour de France, choosing it over Trek’s racier Madone model.
The frame features the intriguing IsoSpeed decoupler, an ingenious system that separates the seat tube from the top tube and seatstays, and allows the seat tube to flex and pivot at the mounting point. If you stand next to the bike and put your weight on the saddle, you can see the seat tube flex slightly, but while riding it is imperceptible until you hit a bump.Tweet
For the eco-conscious, or those just looking for a conversation starter, Schwinn offers the Vestige, with a frame constructed of flax fiber (90 percent flax, 10 percent carbon). Derived from the same plant that gives us linen, flax fiber maintains a high tensile strength that makes it an alternative to carbon fiber, but possesses a biodegradable attribute that carbon fiber does not. Why not use 100 percent flax, then? Flax alone isn’t stiff enough to meet European standards on its own, so Schwinn adds some carbon for rigidity.Tweet
Bianchi is the oldest manufacturer producing bicycles these days, having been started by company namesake Edoardo Bianchi in 1885. That’s nearly 130 years of bicycle production. Though the Bianchi name is often associated with road racing, the company got its start producing bikes for the evolving transportation market in the late nineteenth century. How fitting then we have this opportunity to review Bianchi’s transportation-focused Metropoli Uno.Tweet
Trek’s CrossRip is part of the Urban Utility line. Two models are offered, the basic Crossrip and the upgraded Elite. Both are spec’d with a drop bar for versatility and comfort, and differ only in the parts package.
The frame is made from Trek’s 100 series Alpha aluminum, with a Bontrager Satellite carbon fork. The tubes are shaped to create a stiff front end and bottom bracket that doesn’t flex when standing and pedaling, but also to keep frame weight to a minimum.Tweet
Kona designed the Rove as a versatile machine, mixing the practicality of its commuter and touring models with the fit and geometry of its cyclocross heritage. The result is a bike that feels responsive, but still delivers versatility that will keep you rolling all year.
It seems rim vs. disc brakes has superseded Campagnolo vs. Shimano as the debate du jour in the bicycle industry, and there’s no doubt which side I’m on. A mechanical disc brake is easy to set up, simple to maintain, performs well, and inspires far more confidence in this rider than a rim brake ever could. The Rove’s Hayes CX5 calipers did seem underpowered at first, but once the pads were bedded in they stopped just as I had hoped. I’m a little surprised to see 140mm rotors spec’d when 160mm wouldn’t seem excessive.Tweet
The Crosstrail formula is simple: aluminum frame with generous tire clearance plus rack and fender mounts, 60mm-travel SR Suntour NEXi suspension fork, a 3×9 drivetrain, Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes, and wheels and tires on the heavy-duty end of the road spectrum. This package delivers a highly versatile bike that can be used for commuting, light touring, road rides, urban and rural exploration, and even some light-duty trail riding.Tweet
When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer, they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over rail-road ballast and everything in between.
Company founder (and BMX freestyle pro) Taj Mihelich says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling… I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet