By Karl Rosengarth, photos by Justin Steiner
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed a resurgence of simple, reliable bikes designed for short-haul transportation. Linus Bikes of Venice, California, offers just such a lineup of basic-transportation bicycles that take their styling clues from classic French bikes of the 1950-60s and utilitarian Dutch city bikes. According to Linus Bikes’ founder Adam McDermott, the Roadster 8 is “an all-around city bike, intended for everyday use and utility.”
The Roadster exudes a classy retro vibe. I especially like the way the painted-to-match metal fenders unify the look, from stem to stern. On a practical note, there’s nothing like full-length fenders to keep you singing in the rain. With the 8-speed gearing tucked inside the rear hub, the silhouette is clean and uncluttered. The alloy rear rack lets you know that this steed has some workhorse in its bloodline. Utility indeed.
With the traditional quill stem, it was a snap to adjust the handlebar height. I opted for a body position with a slight forward lean, as opposed to bolt-upright. I felt well-balanced, over the center of the bike, and in a “heads-up” posture where I could keep my eyes on traffic and the road ahead.
From the first ride, I noticed the Roadster’s decidedly quick steering response. Snappy steering makes perfect sense on a bike built for slicing through city streets. The only time that the quick steering felt out of place was going fast downhill—the bike wouldn’t toler- ate much steering input before things turned twitchy. Under said conditions, the bike be- haved better if I steered with my hips, or via some body lean, rather than with the bars.
The Shimano Nexus 8-speed drivetrain provided ample gearing for conquering my hilly surroundings. Only on the steepest grades did I have to get out of the saddle. When I did stand on the pedals, I was pleased to find that the wide handlebars were far enough out in front of my lap to provide sufficient leverage.
The 4130 chromoly steel frame and fork responded to hard pedaling efforts with the lively, efficient feeling that I’ve come to expect from quality steel steeds. No wasted effort, thank you very much. My definition of “lively” includes the fact that the bike let me feel the road, without having the road beat me up.
The Roadster 8 was the perfect horse for the five-mile course to the office. It was a breeze to click my pannier (filled with daily needs) onto the rear rack, retract the included kick- stand, hop aboard, and pedal—rain or shine.
The Roadster handled my grocery run, also about five miles each way, with ease. A pair of panniers loaded with provisions was well within this steed’s capabilities. The load barely affected the bike’s handling, and the Tektro dual pivot caliper brakes kept everything under control on the way downhill.
Linus did an admirable job of outfitting this bike with solid components, and not sneaking any zingers in there. I was impressed with the great traction (wet or dry) and smooth ride offered by the Schwalbe 700x32c Delta Cruiser tires (with reflective sidewalls). I enjoyed the real leather grips and comfortable leather-covered touring saddle. The bolt-on 36-spoke wheels (remember to carry your 15mm tool) were nondescript, but to their credit were built using double-wall alloy rims. I’m a bell person, so I’m giving Linus bonus points for spec’ing a sweet metal bell.
The $839 asking price seems appropriate, considering that the package includes a tried and true Shimano 8-speed drivetrain, solid components, metal fenders, and an alloy rack. Available in cream (tested) and black, the Roadster is a fun-to-ride looker that’s perfectly suited for the daily grind.
- Age: 55
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 150lbs.
- Inseam: 32”
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $839
- Weight: 33.3lbs.
- Sizes: Medium (51cm), Large (59cm, tested)