Dutch city bikes are well known for their pleasing ratio of practicality to style. The Peace Bicycles Dreamer keeps that rule intact with this fully featured ride. Peace Bicycles was founded to bring an affordable, stylish and well-equipped alternative to a market that is still chock full of fixies and expensive boutique models.
Don’t let the price fool you, this bike looks expensive and was admired by a wide range of the population as I made my way around town. It is classy and understated, but still stands out. The Dreamer is a turn-key commuter, including most of what is often an add-on sale: kickstand, fenders, chain guard, front and rear LED lights, skirt guard and a rear rack with spring clamp. The chain guard is a particular standout, offering a lot more protection than what’s available on most bikes with derailleurs.
A basic 7-speed Shimano drivetrain has a decent range, though I wouldn’t mind an easier gear for the hills. This wouldn’t be hard to modify, but I’m guessing most riders in flat to moderately hilly cities will be fine as-is. The rest of the parts performed just fine for a city bike. The saddle not only looks good, but offers much better support than most saddles of this type.
The riding position is upright, and anyone taller than 6 feet is going to feel pretty cramped on the single size, but Peace plans to offer more sizes in the near future. A longer stem would be an easy swap to open up the cockpit for taller riders.
The real star of the show here is the ride quality of this bike. I’ve ridden a few Dutch-style bikes, and they are often heavy and clunky. The Dreamer’s steel frame and high-quality Schwalbe Fat Frank tires provide a much more refined ride quality than I expected. The tires smooth out the ride but still roll much faster than they look. The color and reflective sidewall stripes are icing on the cake. It doesn’t hurt that the Dreamer is lighter than it looks too. It helps to not cut corners, and using aluminum components keeps the weight reasonable.
The battery-operated LED lights are perfectly functional, although they aren’t terribly bright. For busy nights out on the town, I added extra lights for more visibility. One of the bungees for the skirt guard pulled out of its hook, but there are plenty left to keep skirts out of the spokes.
Part of Peace’s mission reads: “When we were young, the bike was always an escape, a sense of hope and opportunity, and that’s something that we wanted to personally pass on to as many people in need as possible.” To that end, Peace donates a portion of its profits to local bike co-ops to help offset the cost of a bicycle for a rider in need.
Currently, Peace ships Dreamers directly to consumers who are savvy enough to assemble the bike themselves, or to a bike shop for professional assembly. Although the tool set included with the Dreamer is more than adequate for assembly, I’d recommend professional assembly for all but the most experienced mechanics—the build process is far from easy. Peace is now working on an option for delivering bikes 90 percent assembled and plans to add a few more sizes to the range.
Having a bike like this kept in a handy place ups the odds that the car will stay parked and the bike get used more often. With an attitude and riding position that feels natural and relaxed, the Dreamer matches up perfectly with quick trips to the store, a night on the town or a short commute to work.
Shinola (pronounced shy-nola) Detroit is a company doing something increasingly rare in this country: manufacturing consumer goods using the hands of skilled craftspeople. Shinola started as a watchmaker in 2011 and, having survived Motor City’s 2013 bankruptcy, expanded to leather goods, pet items and bicycles—the latter of which hit the market in December 2012. The company is part of a wave of downtown creative enterprise trying to spread across a city better known for other things, such as that 75 percent of liquor supplied to the U.S. during Prohibition reportedly passed through the Detroit area.
Industry veteran Sky Yaeger—formerly of Swobo, Spot and Bianchi—leads the design work of Shinola’s bicycles. The frames are welded at Waterford Precision Cycles in Waterford, Wisconsin, from U.S.-made True Temper double-butted 4130 ChroMo, and assembled at the Shinola flagship retail store in Detroit.
The above is what you’re paying for. It’s easy to balk at the $1,000 price tag of the Arrow, but it’s also difficult to find off-the-rack, American-made frames. While my personal temperament is not to heartily defend the practicality of a singlespeed costing a grand, there are people out there for whom this classic, creating-American-jobs bicycle is exactly what they’re looking for. The Arrow is also the most accessible Shinola offering, coming in well below the $1,950 Bixby (3-speed) and $2,950 Runwell (11-speed).
The Arrow (available with a step-through or traditional, straight top tube frame) is Shinola’s newest model and intended to be a simple, quiet, low-maintenance, throw-your-leg-over-it-and-go kind of ride that you keep and enjoy for a long time. It lacks screaming logos common on bigger brands and instead opts for a more subdued, laser-cut S on the rear dropouts and a real metal head badge. The fork crown is cast and is Shinola’s proprietary design.
The Arrow runs 38×18 gearing and is equipped with a basic all-black build kit, leather Shinola saddle, custom chain guard, Tektro caliper brakes, cork grips, silver bell, steel fenders and 700×32 Continental Contact Reflex puncture-resistant tires (I added the green tool roll). It comes in either black or white. The step-through “women’s” model is offered in just two sizes: 47 and 51 cm, so pay attention to the bike’s geometry chart if you’re thinking of ordering one.
The traditional frame 55cm Arrow officially comes in it at 26 pounds with all the bells and whistles attached. On the road, that feels much lighter than I expected for a sturdy, steel townie. This is the first step-through bicycle I have spent significant time with and it is definitely a product classy enough to ride in your business suit and park next to your professional office desk without anyone batting an eye.
So far, the Arrow has surprised me with how comfortable it is. It is markedly well mannered and smooth on the road. The upright riding position helps abate any toe overlap on my 47cm frame and lends an air of casualness to cruising around (while still being plenty fun at speed). The swept-back bars aid off-the-saddle climbing efforts. Speaking of that saddle, it’s quite comfortable out of the box—not rock hard, as many leather saddles can be. I tilted mine slightly upward and am plenty happy on short jaunts in jeans.
Rack mounts front and rear mean the Arrow can do commute and shopping duty, which I will try out of the full review, due out in Issue #39. Make sure you’re subscribed so that you don’t miss it! Read more about the Arrow from Shinola and watch the video, below.Tweet Print