By Maurice Tierney
Bicycle Times is an “enthusiast” publication, but part of our mission is to bring bikes to the general public, people who just want to get from point A to point B with as little fuss as possible, saving gas and living a sustainable, healthy life.
So maybe a bike should be like a toaster. With a toaster, you push down the lever and it cooks. With the Breezer Uptown Infinity, you push the pedals and it goes, and that’s about a simple as a ride can be.
The NuVinci continuously variable planetary (CVP) transmission is the starting point. Upon first grab of the handlebar-mounted twist-shifter, you notice the lack of confusing clicks. Simply twist toward you for higher gearing and twist away from you for lower.
The illustrative terrain graphic built into the shifter tells you where you are in the gear range—the “hill” gets steeper as the gearing gets lower. Everything about this bike makes it ultra-easy to live with. The chain is completely enclosed, keeping the lube on the chain and dirt off your clothing. And every toaster bike should have front and rear lighting, don’t you think? The Uptown has you covered with a Shimano power-generating front dynamo hub and very bright Busch & Muller lights front and rear. You’ll never have to think about getting caught in the dark when you leave the house. You’ll be getting your green on by not shopping at the battery store, either.
Nor will you have to think about the weather, with full fenders covering the wheels to keep you dry. Other daily needs are taken care of as well, with a springloaded rack to accept the panniers of your choice, strong brakes, and ergonomic handlebar and grips. The wheels are burly 26-inchers for strength and the tires are 1.5”-wide WTB Freedoms that’ll give you freedom to hit a pothole with minimal repercussion. The seatpost is of the shock-absorbing variety.
For icing on the toast we have a built in ring lock that prevents the back wheel from rolling when engaged. It won’t stop someone from carrying your bike away, but it is a nice deterrent and good to have so that you, again, have less to think about. The kickstand and bell are included as well—two more must-have items!
While the Uptown can also be had in the conventional “Boys” frame design, I opted for the “Girls” or step-through frame because sometimes I wear a skirt and other times I am just too lazy to lift my leg—more of what makes this the easiest-ever bike to ride. The saddle is wide and cushy (probably not good for extended touring or long distances), the grips are comfy, and the position is upright and comfortable.
Every time I pedal off, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy at the ease of riding and especially shifting the NuVinci hub. The lack of clicking, grinding or other sound is just great. Best of all, you can shift either while moving or while stopped at a traffic light, thus further reducing your brainwork.
With the Uptown it was always a pleasure not having to think about all the stuff that makes riding a bike difficult. No more money to be spent on accessories, no more time spent installing them. and no more packing up before heading out for rides. The Uptown infinity is a no-brainer for riding around town. But I did test the limits. For starters, there are limits to the rigidity of a single-tube, step-through design, and I tested these with some “aggressive” riding when throwing the Uptown hard into turns resulted in more frame wiggle than desired. My bad for choosing the step-through frame, which without the usual top tube, is missing some of the structural rigidity of a diamond frame.
I pushed the limits of the NuVinci hub as well. While all internally geared hubs have less efficiency than a traditional chain drive system (which is nearly 99% efficient), I did feel a very pronounced loss of energy when climbing hills in the lowest gear, especially with two panniers’ worth of groceries. NuVinci will tell you that this loss is made up for by the fact that the continuously engaged transmission is never in-between gears. But my ultimate realization is that this bike is really less suited for aggressive, enthusiast-style riding and a lot more relevant to making it easier for people to get on bikes, which it does so well.
Here’s to the day when bikes are as simple as toasters. Nice job, Breezer.
- Age: 53
- Height: 6’ 4”
- Weight: 230lbs.
- Inseam: 34”
- Country of Origin: Taiwan
- Price: $1,269
- Weight: 36lbs.
- Sizes Available: Standard: 17.5”, 19.5”, 21.5”, 23.5”; Low-Step: 15” 17”, 19”, 21” (Tested)
- Online: www.breezerbikes.com