Interbike Mini-Review: Breezer Finesse

breezer finesseWhen the daily commute is long and the round trip demands speed and function above all, the Breezer Finesse is a bike worthy of consideration.

Under the Breezer tent at this year’s Interbike Dirt Demo, it was no surprise to have Joe Breeze himself personally prep and detail my Vegas commuter. (Our compound was a few miles outside the Strip and offered a great opportunity to test ride-to-work commuter bikes.) Joe prefers to be in the mix. His accomplishments are numerous. He has achieved the highest level of respect amongst his racing, design, frame building and advocacy peers. Yet, more than anything, all Joe Breeze wants is for us to enjoy the ride.

I’ve ridden plenty of "purpose-built" advertised bicycles. Few have delivered as well on their promise as the $1800 Finesse. The merits of this bike go well beyond its advertisement as "a fine-tuned speed machine."

joe breeze and frank wuerthele

The chassis is a butted 7005 aluminum frame—stiff and light. That’s good. The frame is painted in a rich, BMW-like blue and accessorized with a carbon fork and seat post—light and vibration-damping to smooth out the ride and ease my back pain. That’s good too. It has an eccentric bottom bracket. Why is that good? It keeps tension on the chain (as this bike comes with an internal geared hub—more about this later) and it makes for a quick change in the case of a flat rear tire. But more than anything what I really liked about the frame was how it felt when riding, just the right balance between an aggressive road bike position and the comfort of a hybrid. It didn’t twitch or wobble at speed under a load. It was still comfortable. And most of all, it was fast!

The component bundle selected for this bicycle is top-shelf. I’ve never ridden Shimano’s top-of-the-line Alfine component group before and didn’t know just why it is held in such high regard until we set out on our first ride. As we approached a busy intersection, a traffic light quickly turned red and caught me by surprise. I didn’t have to down-shift while still pedaling toward the light. The Alfine shifter partnered with the 8-speed internally geared hub allowed me to shift while at a standstill. That’s huge! It allowed me to focus on traffic instead of shifting. Of course, the transmission also worked flawlessly when on the move.

The feel of the Alfine brake levers mated to the Shimano hydraulic brakes instilled confidence—powerful but not too grabby. One-finger braking allows me to keep the rest of my fingers on the handlebar doing their job—steering accurately. When hauling ass to work and back these brakes will help shave off some time and keep you safer in traffic.

breezer finesse

Inevitably I’ll slam a curb or pothole with the bike loaded down. Shimano’s Alfine hubs laced with double-butted spokes to Shimano rims are solid and reliable yet do not detract from the need for speed. As much as I try to pronounce "Schwalbe" correctly I just can’t. But from experience I can announce that their Marathon Racer tires are an excellent choice to make the ride faster and safely navigate around that occasional gravel blob that jumps in your immediate line just as a 16-wheeler is buzzing past.

Attention to detail—the extras parts on the Finesse are what really elevates an already distinguished bicycle to the next level. In many cases a commuter bike comes plain and the rider has to take the time, effort and money to purchase the stuff that makes the rig safe, functional and comfortable. The Finesse comes with almost all of the goodies you can ask for.

Lights matter. The Finesse comes equipped with Busch & Muller’s hub-powered headlight and taillight package, called the Lumotec IQ Fly Senso Plus. With a name like that you know that it’s got to be totally rad. Really bright, no maintenance—no batteries, reliable, along with clever and clean wire routing integrated into the frame. All these things make the nighttime commute back home safe and quick without any fuss.

When I do long rides, I appreciate having multiple hand positions at my disposal to help keep my back pain-free. The Finesse addresses that need with the addition of adjustable "Joe Bars," bar extensions attached on each side of the stem of the swept-back riser handlebar. When the opportunity presents itself on long straights I can get low on the Joe Bars and really crank it out, and it gives my back a different angle to keep the pain in check. In addition to the Joe Bars, a Ritchey adjustable stem allows the rider to dial in just the right angle for the ride.

Front and rear fenders and a chain guard help to keep things clean and dry on crappy, wet days. A warning bell comes in handy when overtaking other slower commuters (who unfortunately aren’t riding a Finesse). To round out the Finesse’s well-appointed package, a really cool "Truss Sport" rear rack mounts higher up on the seatstays, offering a cleaner look and less wind resistance than traditional rear racks, but unfortunately it does not support standard panniers. Shucks.

All things considered, the Breezer Finesse offers clean, crisp lines, a regal paint scheme, a machine designed for speed and function that comes bundled with all the right goodies packaged expertly together. All you need now is to move far enough away from the job to appreciate the ride.

Breezer Bikes is online at www.breezerbikes.com.

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