02 August 2010

New Bike for a Friend

I get the fun job of helping a friend shop for a new city bike. She's mother to two, so the bike must carry the 18 month old, and in this case reliability trumps aesthetics. I'd still like to find her something cute, and regular readers know I'm a bit out of my element when it comes to new bike shopping, I'm a vintage bike kind of girl. But as I adjusted my brakes yet again this morning I knew that I should limit this bike search to new bikes. I thought I'd list my thoughts and hope that you, dear readers, could chime in with ideas and suggestions.

My friend is about 5'7", a very fit triathlete, with two young girls (4 years and 18 months) who are also growing up to be cyclists. Her previous city bike was a generic hybrid, which was stolen off her fenced back patio! This bike will have to go in the same spot, but we hope to have it better secured. She has a triathlon bike, this should be her upright kid-hauling city bike.

Loop frame ANT with lavender rims
1) dream bike would, of course, be a custom ANT ($2,700)
Upside would be that it would be perfect for her and her family, now and in the future. Downside would be the price. But look at those lines! The headlight! These lavender rims! And working with Mike is so fun. I love the upgrades he has planned... Sigh... It's fun to dream about the custom colors I would choose.

Electra bicycle
2) REI offers the Electra Ticino ($800), onto which I imagine we could add a chainguard. This bike looks a lot like mine, which may be why I like it, but it has cantilever brakes, which appeal to me for kid-carrying. She'd also get the REI refund on the purchase.
Downsides include no eyelets for a rear rack (and thus no baby seat). This is a deal-breaker Electra!

Public mixte
3) A new maker, Public, offers a cute Mixte ($750)
My friend would love the color options, it has a chainguard, and internal hubs ($890 if she needs the 8 speed). There are eyelets for the child seat. As people have commented on this blog, the fender line shown on their website bodes poorly for their overall attention to detail, but we can hope that was just the poor work of the bike stylist?

Lovely Bicycle KHS green
(Photo credit to the excellent blog Lovely Bicycle, who steps in where bike manufacturers fail!)
4) KHS offers the Green bicycle ($350) in black only.
I think the biggest downside to this bike is that certain parts of it do look really cheap. On the other hand they're some of the parts I'm most likely to change anyway. If we got a sprung black Brooks saddle and a pair of black swept-back handlebars I think it would go from "cheap" to "simple little black bike" pretty quickly. I don't believe the included rack is rated to carry a baby seat, so we'd have to switch that out. Also the ladies' bike only comes in 14" and 17" frame sizes. She might fit on a 17" but I know I wouldn't! I do like the idea of an internal hub for her, but while I'm ok with 3 speeds and a rack of groceries, I don't know about three speeds and a rack of toddler. She may need more gearing options. This bike works well for some but definitely has some drawbacks.

Belleville Trek bike
5) Trek offers the Belleville WSD ($660)
It has the 3 speed internal hub, includes the chainguard and fenders and racks. The front rack would likely be very useful to my friend, the rear rack would again probably have to be changed for the baby seat rack. Somehow there's something about this bike aesthetically that I don't like - has it got too much going on or something? Maybe it's that saddle.

Gary Fisher city bike
6) Gary Fisher has the Simple City 3 ($600)
I can't put my finger on it but this bike (and the 8 speed) does not excite me at all, and the women's version is worse.

red Specialized Mixte
7) Specialized Globe has a beautiful candy apple red Live 1 Mixte ($580) but I think my friend needs some gearing. Otherwise I think this bike has a lot going for it, particularly for taller ladies.


So readers, are there any new bikes out there that are exciting, and meet my friend's needs? Should I start looking into vintage bikes with new components (à la Renaissance Bicycles?) How can a lady haul toddlers in style?

54 comments:

Mooopheus said...

You might also want to have a look at the Jamis Commuter line (4 different models), which are built around Shimano Nexus hubs, if you really want to stay with IGH. The Commuter 4 is pretty well loaded--8-speed, disc brakes, dynamo hub, rack, etc. The 3 is similar with caliper brakes.

KateyJ said...

Would one of the Amsterdam style bikes from Electra have what you need in terms of mounting the child seat? I have an Electra Townie 21D and it's got the eyelets for a rear rack that can support a significant amount of weight.

Can't wait to hear what you/she choose(s)!

portlandize said...

From having owned and ridden an Electra for quite a while, I would be reluctant to recommend one for child carrying, as I had a lot of problems with the stock components breaking and even breaking spokes and such while carrying weight on the back (I had to rebuild the rear wheel with a new rim).

I've heard generally good things about the Public Bikes, but I have to say, if she's going to be really using this bike heavily for carrying her children, going with something that is made with special care for such purposes might be good option (Like a WorkCycles or Batavus, or RetroVelo, or even an ANT or something like that). I know that bumps the price up significantly, but to be honest, there's a good deal of "you get what you pay for" involved, I think. And those types of bikes (particularly the European ones) are designed with carrying things year-round in mind, so it's not so much of a hack job trying to add stuff to them (come with racks, fenders, lights, etc off the shelf). To me, it's worth a little extra money to not have to buy and worry about how to sort of rig all that together after-the-fact.

I know a lot of people have different needs and wants regarding aesthetics and geometry and whatnot, but if I were getting a bike to carry kids on, those are things I would take into consideration.

Reuben said...

You also might consider some of the offerings from Linus Bikes - especially the Mixte.

Charlotte said...

Reuben, thank you for that suggestion, the French look of Linus bikes is one that I personally prefer over a Dutch bike.

KateyJ, I'll still include the Amsterdam because she may prefer a Dutch-style bike, and I appreciate those differences!

Mooopheus, I will certainly send her over to Jamis, I'd forgotten about them. I'd call those bikes Hybrid-looking, don't you think? That's fine, maybe that's "American-style" commuter?

Portlandize - duly noted, I think we'd all love to ride a WorkCycle, Batavus, or particularly an ANT (especially in Boston) but I haven't been given any budget information yet. It's certainly interesting to see what's out there these days!

JPTwins said...

If the goal is really to get off the tri-bike and haul her kids around in style, then I'd go with a Xtracycle Radish: http://www.xtracycle.com/cargo-bicycles/radish-cargo-bike.html

I'm a big fan of the hauling capacity of this bike (both for kids and shopping) and have it still feel like a "normal" bike. There are many similar bikes like this (the Kone Ute, yuba mundo) that have that upright character, and don't have a very high price point. I don't have much information of which one of the three is best.

These options would fit both kids, whereas all the other options listed force her to pull a trailer (since a trailbike doesn't work with a carseat!)

Good luck!
Geoff

Charlotte said...

Hi Geoff!
Thanks for weighing in. There is definitely no room for a Radish in their apartment. I have written to the City of Boston hoping to get a tax incentive to providing parking space rental for cargo bikes in unused areas of parking garages, but I don't think that's happening any time soon.

At the moment one child goes on Dad's bike and one on Mom's. When Dad is at work the 4 year old rides her own bike. I've ridden a short way with her, she's pretty good already! Her bike is extra pretty with pink sparkle paint and streamers. She puts her lunch box in the basket, it reminds me of my first bike. I miss having streamers on my bike.

dr2chase said...

Hauling two kids, one of them two-ish years old, easiest is some sort of cargo bike with a bucket.

I'd recommend a Madsen. $1300, but it's good to go.

There's plenty of choices at Cargo Bike Gallery.

I am partial to my Big Dummy, of course, but, that's $2000 without any sort of a kid seat (which is necessary for the little one). Browse Xtracycle Gallery to see what other people have done.

And if your friend is in the 32-36" inseam range, I can offer a test ride. One thing to consider is that kids are not small forever (though my lazy-butt 12-yr-old is happy to take a ride on the back of my bike instead of riding uphill).

I read (in comments that appeared) "no room". Is this bike stored indoors or out? I think cargo bikes are a little less attractive to thieves because they are so darn heavy; I usually secure mine with a front lock only, knowing that nobody is going to sling the bike over their shoulder and go jogging off.

jjfantastic said...

If she gets a Bobike seat, there's no need for a rear rack, so the lack of eyelets on some bikes is not a problem.

if she did need to haul the 4 year old too, there's the FollowMe Tandem, which would essentially turn the 4 year old's bike into a tag-a-long, and is compatible with the Bobike rear seat too. See our train here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/52346770@N00/3604834542/

Charlotte said...

Hey Dr. Chase,
Yeah, there's no room for a bucket - the bikes are under an overhang on the patio, which is accessible through the apartment itself. There may be a wider doorway than the one I use, but the patio would no longer be useful to humans if there were a bucket cargo bike there.

We're looking for a lean machine, in this case, and would sacrifice ideal kid hauling for urban convenience. As you say, they won't be small forever!

cycler said...

Ooh, what a fun thought experiment.

The semi-custom ANT's are a bit cheaper, as would be a Betty Foy. I just realized that the Betty Foy is available in "drag" as a Yves Gomez, which would help me get my reaction to the weird tuquoisy paint.

I hear you on the Green. I keep trying to like them- they always catch my eye, and then on 2nd look they disappoint. It might just be the fittings, and it would be a very economical choice.

What about a Batavus? The Old Dutch is $800 I think, and it would be ready out of the box, instead of adding stuff. Plus dutch bikes tend to larger sizes for those tall dutch folk.

That seems like a better choice than the Electras, which she should try before she buys- their cruiser geometry ancestry is definitely a love it or hate it thing. (can you guess how I felt about it?)

I actually like the looks of the men's Simple City a lot in person, there's one always parked near my office, and I drool on it. The women's paint colors are pretty awful though, and there's something odd about the frame's lines.

She wouldn't be interested in a 70 year old rod brake Raleigh, would she? Seeing all these practical bikes makes me wonder if I'm insane, but I am so smitten....

Jennifer A. said...

WOW Charlotte impressive work and I am certainly enjoying all of the comments and advice that your readers have to offer.

Lets see what is important. Lean for sure as space is at a premium in Beantown. The bucket bikes are out out for 2 reasons...size and I could see my < 2 year old launching herself into the street. Could pose a problem for sure. Safety is of concern of course as I will be hauling precious cargo on the back. I don't feel comfortable with her in front of me so those handlebar mounted seats are a show stopper for me. Rather a nice big basket in front for hauling "stuff" is a must or for just bringing my tomatoes home from the garden or some lovely fresh cut flowers. I can just picture it now : )

I like the "vintage" look but being practical something new or newer is probably a smart choice. I have no interest in giving up my road bike for Tris ...she lives next to my bed where I can keep a close eye on her. I hope my new bike doesn't get jealous
: (

The ANT is the dreamboat bike and I think I would look rather amazing on such a vehicle (who wouldn't) but seems budget doesn't fit esp since the last bike was stolen (with baby seat attached) off of the porch where it lived and I'm a bit nervous. (there IS a special place for ppl that steal a Mommy bike don't you think?) I really like the look of the Electra, Simple City and the Trek.

Anyway I am getting quite an education on this bike biz and am so grateful that you are willing to help me find the perfect bike.

Carry on....I'll be listening

Charlotte said...

Oooh readers, we have the Mommy herself weighing in! I agree that there is a special place for people who steal bikes, so readers, all your help in counteracting those bad guys is truly appreciated.

Cycler, I think we think alike on so many of these things. I saw somewhere a rod brake conversion with new wheels using internal drum brakes. If you decide one of your beauties needs to go I know what I'd do with her! That would be a good mommy bike, wouldn't it?

Anyway, I agree that the Electras may be a love it or hate it thing. I think Lovely Bicycle turned me off the Old Dutch idea before I'd ever even seen one.

Can you see the particular shade of green I am over here in Cambridge? Particularly for your new 70-year old Lady's Tourist. Completely green!

Cris C. said...

cycler -- I believe that the Simple City that you're drooling over is my boss' ride, and it is quite enviable. He picked that bike after a rather thorough investigation of other city bike options and he somewhat resembles the coy description of CC's friend (tall, fit and formerly competitive) except he's still resolutely child-free. He's had the Simple City for a year and still endorses it highly.

That bike aside, I've also liked the lines of the Masi Soulville, which struck me as a less precious alternative to the Bianchi Milano. Though I've found the Soulville's choice of fenders to be ... well ... unfortunate.

all that said ... I think the feedback with respect to supporting a child on a rear seat is worth considering. Maybe it would be worth considering a upgrading the wheel to 40 spokes instead of the traditional 36? How heavy is the combination of 5-year old + child seat?

Also, if you're willing to consider a conventional diamond frame instead of a mixte, then maybe you could also use one of those front mounted child seats in addition to the rear seat? I've seen that as a relatively common setup on mamacharis in Japan.

Charlotte said...

Cycler's mention of the Yves Gomez ($1200) reminded me of both the Velo Orange mixte ($525) and also the Soma Buena Vista mixte ($475ish). (prices for frames only)

I could see her on the Soma or VO, but maybe I'm just really hoping to borrow it. I do still want a mixte.

All these we'd have to build up, but you know I love a project!

Charlotte said...

Cris, I'm the one skewing the results to mixtes, I think my friend would be fine with a diamond frame, though she reports she's uncomfortable with the front-mounted seat.

I agree completely with your assessment of the Masi - it is less precious than the Bianchi, and those fenders have to go!

The diamond-frame Simple City 8 has caught my eye in the past, is that what your boss chose?

Cris C. said...

I believe that it is the 3, actually ... with the two tone black and cream paint scheme as opposed to the glossy sand colors.

personally, I think the black and cream make for a nice color combination on that particular bike, whereas the glossy sand was too uniformly pale. However, I do like the paler look if it comes with good highlights. When I was casting about for bikes to use in my Sturmey Archer project, I was kind of pining for something in the red-on-cream or tan-on-off-white vein; but Craigslisters can't always be choosers.

kfg said...

Yes, one might well hope there actually is a Hell, just so that it might have a "special" place for bike thieves. I can't imagine even Hell could whip up something appropriate for anyone who would steal a mommy chariot though; some offenses are just hors catégorie.

Best diamond frame mommy chariot readily available in America is . . . a vintage 5 speed Schwinn Collegiate. Refurb the bearings, retension and true the spokes, new tires of course, swap out the brakes for Tektros and "repaint" in the hockey tape color of your choice.

Possible upgrades; change the rear derailleur for something like a Sora or Tiagra and a narrow 6 freewheel.

Ya can do prettier and lighter, but'cha ya can't do better. Your kid will carry her kid on this bike. If ya insist on pretty get to work with the chrome polish and have the frame blasted and powdercoated in the hockey tape color of your choice.

MamaVee said...

I like what Jj had to say about bobike and follow me. In fact I'm thinking of ditching my Xtra for a follow me when I am on Cape cod...

The follow me can be something you decide to get later since 4 yr old is good enough on her own or gets a ride from dad. If you guys find yourself going far it's an option...

As a bike I'd vote for a betty foy- but that is almost as much as an ANT so then- you know why not just go for broke...

I would steer away from a townie ( as I think you are) as I would imagine it would feel sluggish after a tri bike. It's tippy too and the kid seat just makes it more tippy.

Fun fun fun!!!

April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden said...

Your friend REALLY needs to test drive a Yuba Mundo. Yes, I know - it's not the prettiest bike on the block. But once you have ridden this baby, and felt the stability and relatively easy ride even with two youngsters behind you, there's no going with anything else. If that's just not pretty enough, check out Joe Bike's Shuttlebug. Now this is a custom handmade bike that lets you put the kids in the front in a specially designed cab that can have seats, three point harnesses and special roll bars that protect if there is a spill. Plus, since it is custom, you can get the color that says pretty to you. Yes, I know Joe, and there's no guy ready to do more to give parents the best, safest ride for their money. It's not the style you showcase, it's a cargo bike, but a mom needs a cargo bike built to handle kids plus stuff in an easy way. I've test ridden this bike and lots of others and everyone is different, but these two bikes are fabulous!

antbikemike said...

I would suggest the Globe Haul [rear loading bike]http://www.globebikes.com/us/en/globe/GlobeBike.jsp?pid=10HAULWMN1
For $660.00. If you are going to use a rear child seat, having the step through frame is really important. Add a front rack to the fork [$100 or so] and a good lock [$100.00 or less] also some good battery lights [$100 or less]. This will still handle fine with a front load and the bike will carry a rear child seat better than most any other non-longtail bike. This model is a derailleur bike, but the new systems work really well [even on bikes in this price range] and cost much less than a IHG bike. Going vintage is great, but this bike will work right now today without any need to go through the pains of a rebuild.
If I could ever get big funding I could set up a small factory here in the US building bikes like this for less, but for now more just the small shop making nice bikes for the reasonable price of $2,700

PJDodge said...

Marin has a nice commuter line - the Bridgeway.

http://www.marinbikes.com/2010/bike_series.php?seriescode=METRO

dr2chase said...

Charlotte, have you seen the on street cargo bike parking being tried in Copenhagen?

Failing that, just get a big van, park it legally, and deflate the tires (to make it easier to get stuff in and out).

Or possibly store it upright, if she's got the upper body strength to hack it.

You're a big fan of mixtes, I'm a big fan of cargo bikes. (Have you ever tried one?)

dwainedibbly said...

The style problem with the Belleville (to my eye) is the over-sized downtube (in addition to the previously mentioned saddle).

Anonymous said...

A heavy bicycle with a long wheelbase will be more stable, and stability is what matters most when carrying children on a bike. Lines and looks should be a secondary consideration.

I own an ANT and it's the nicest bicycle I own, but it was customized to be very, very, light with a short wheelbase. If I put more than 10-12 lbs of groceries on the bike, it becomes wobbly as would any bike with a similar design.

Length and weight are why dutch bikes are great for carrying children. Batavus or Workcycles bikes are nice options to consider. Also, there is a built in lock for the back wheel on a Workcycles for added security.

Velouria said...

Okay, I am biased here because I like Mike Flanigan and I like ANT bikes, but I still say ANT. The quality and stability of any of the others just do not come close.

Among the other options you listed:
I've ridden the Electra Ticcino, and it has ridiculously slack geometry. Now, I ride a vintage Raleigh roadster, so I normally like slack geometry... but this one's too much.

The KHS Green is a nice bike that I have ridden several times, but IMO it is not for hauling a kid. It transfers shock too much on bumpy services; not good for a small child I should think.

The Specialized Globe or the Public mixte would probably be what my choice came down to if I had to
choose among the others at gunpoint.

And for obvious reasons, I would suggest against diamond frames or close-to-diamond frames for hauling a child.

Jennifer A (the Mommy) said...

Charlotte ....this may involve a "stoop" discussion with wine and hors d'oeuvres soon. : )

Charlotte said...

kfg, I agree with you completely re: your idea of Hell. :)
Do you think that the Schwinn Collegiate is better than the Schwinn Suburban? All the Schwinn lovers I know adore the Suburban. I've never ridden either. I do like your upgrade plan.

MamaVee - You're right about the Betty Foy, for me it's just not worth it relative to an ANT. I think I need to actually ride a Rivendell sometime. I think I might not be "getting it", but I know I'm a retrogrouch so that's probably the grouch coming out. I know you'll let us know how you structure your cycling with the kids on the Cape.

April, Thank you for your comment! I think that the Yuba Mundo and all cargo bikes make 100% perfect sense for most Americans. I have often wondered what Europeans who live in densely populated old city centers do with their cargo bikes? In Paris we could have parked it in our interior courtyard, but Boston is built a bit like London and there is no place in our row houses to park something like that. What do people do? It would take up the entire sidewalk, there's no room in the alley (and it would be stolen in a matter of days). I'm really at a loss.

Mike, I am honored that you commented. I will make sure that my friend tries this bike. Thank you!

PJ - I think your Marin is what her husband had in mind for the next bike, thank you!

dr2chase - no, I haven't tried a cargo bike, but I've seen the space you have for yours! :) If you'd like to come over for a glass of wine and a bike chat we can try to brainstorm a way to realistically make a cargo bike work in the South End. I'm not opposed to cargo bikes, we're just dealing with very limited space. I'm hoping to have more space in the next year or so, but that's not ready for blog news yet.

dwainedibbly, you're completely right. Thank you for your good eye.

Velouria, I think that with the money the ANT is always the right choice. Keep in mind she just lost a generic hybrid ordinary bike OVER HER FENCE, which is 8 feet plus! I know she's very concerned about this bike's safety, and the space by the bed is already taken by the Tri bike. It's a crummy situation, no doubt.

Charlotte said...

kfg, I agree with you completely re: your idea of Hell. :)
Do you think that the Schwinn Collegiate is better than the Schwinn Suburban? All the Schwinn lovers I know adore the Suburban. I've never ridden either. I do like your upgrade plan.

MamaVee - You're right about the Betty Foy, for me it's just not worth it relative to an ANT. I think I need to actually ride a Rivendell sometime. I think I might not be "getting it", but I know I'm a retrogrouch so that's probably the grouch coming out. I know you'll let us know how you structure your cycling with the kids on the Cape.

April, Thank you for your comment! I think that the Yuba Mundo and all cargo bikes make 100% perfect sense for most Americans. I have often wondered what Europeans who live in densely populated old city centers do with their cargo bikes? In Paris we could have parked it in our interior courtyard, but Boston is built a bit like London and there is no place in our row houses to park something like that. What do people do? It would take up the entire sidewalk, there's no room in the alley (and it would be stolen in a matter of days). I'm really at a loss.

Charlotte said...

Mike, I am honored that you commented. I will make sure that my friend tries this bike. Thank you!

PJ - I think your Marin is what her husband had in mind for the next bike, thank you!

dr2chase - no, I haven't tried a cargo bike, but I've seen the space you have for yours! :) If you'd like to come over for a glass of wine and a bike chat we can try to brainstorm a way to realistically make a cargo bike work in the South End. I'm not opposed to cargo bikes, we're just dealing with very limited space. I'm hoping to have more space in the next year or so, but that's not ready for blog news yet.

dwainedibbly, you're completely right. Thank you for your good eye.

Velouria, I think that with the money the ANT is always the right choice. Keep in mind she just lost a generic hybrid ordinary bike OVER HER FENCE, which is 8 feet plus! I know she's very concerned about this bike's safety, and the space by the bed is already taken by the Tri bike. It's a crummy situation, no doubt.

Mona said...

Raliegh Superbe Roadster. I believe it has disk brakes.

Charlotte said...

Mona, the Raleigh Superbe Roadster is an intriguing option, thank you. The website lists it as $1,100 - $1,800.

Everyone, I discovered a pretty Canadian bike, the Opus Nuovella. About $800 (Canadian), here's another image.

christy said...

I felt the need to mention my experience with the Public M8, since it is fairly new. The public bike is very reasonable in price. When I priced out building a mixte with similar components from Soma and VO, it came in a couple of hundred bucks cheaper. The bike rides very similarly to many others you mentioned here and makes a great all-rounder. I load it down with 20-30 lbs of groceries and it never feels twitchy or unbalanced. I don't know what is wrong with the image there, but my bike is tip top, with attention to detail. The Public line is not lugged, but is meant to be clean and utilitarian. The paint is thick, beautifully done, and artfully matched. If this were my primary transportation, I would have spent the extra money for an A.N.T. But I have a Soma Smoothie ES for faster commutes and I don't need it right now. It is definately worth a try, since they have a very liberal return policy.

Jennifer A said...

The Mommy chime in here:
Boy do I love the idea of being able to put both kiddos on the bike to get around (Yuba Mundo....very cool!) and Workcycles Fr8 are both interesting options to consider. Is upright storage an option with these types of bikes.

Charlotte said...

Jen,
I think that, based on DrChase's photo and my architect landlord's bike solution (which I'll show you), we could have a way to store a Yuba vertically.

My friends in Colorado use one for their two boys.

Do you have a sense of the actual dimensions of the space on your patio?

dr2chase said...

Charlotte, do note, that Yuba is supposed to be a tank, though the LWTG guys have tried both it and a Big Dummy (not exactly a dainty-cycle) and like the Yuba better. Is this a case where I (or some other cargo biker, perhaps with a right-sized bike) should bring the bike by so she could get a ballpark feel for the size of things?

I still think the Madsen is the better choice here, unless that bucket is simply too much in the way. Those custom seats were a lot of work, and take up a lot of vertical space (which would be horizontal space if the bike were upended).

Here's a couple more sources for ideas:

DIY Xtracycle kid seats

the Xtracycle Yahoo group (I think you have to join to view, it is random but comprehensive over time.)

Astrid said...

Hi--new reader here/friend told me to come take a look!

I've ridden my baby around from age 1 to currently almost 3 on a Jamis Commuter with a front-mounted Bobike. It sounds like mom doesn't want a front mount, though I'd definitely encourage her to try it if there's any wiggle room in her convictions!
We love it SO MUCH, and depending on your personality, it's as safe or safer than the back. (No turning around to look at the kid, well-balanced, cars notice you more when there's a child in front, etc. However Bobikes are pretty spartan and are only 3-point harnesses and not something that would restrain a child that is determined to get out.)

The Bobike mount is really simple, and you can get a mount for another bike and move the seat between them simply.

Definitely you need more than 3 gears to move around the gentle hills of Boston with a load on front and back (presuming you put the rest of your things in a back basket or pannier.) Just to keep an even effort, save your knees, etc.

The chance of a bike (and parts of a bike) getting stolen in Boston/Cambridge is really high, so like you I wanted something with good quality but not something I couldn't afford to lose. The Jamis isn't a very expensive bike, I think something like $330?. I use it every day, as my primary transportation except on the very coldest and snowiest days, and it has impressed me how well it has held up.

kfg said...

Charlotte - I should have written " . . .or Suburban." It's a toss up depending on what might actually be available to taste.

I know I broke the rules to even bring it up, and was only prompted to do so by your friend's comment that a diamond frame wasn't out of the question.

I also should have written "conventional" diamond frame, because I think Mike is right that a step through/over is preferable (unless you you WANT to drop/kick your kid in the head now and again) and that a Globe Haul or Yuba Mundo (to start playing by the rules) would be just about perfect. They are large bikes though.

There's a video on YT talking to a woman who had a Christiana cargo trike stolen out of her fenced yard in Copenhagen. They must have had a crane or something. The parking and theft issues are universal.

If a boingy type bike isn't out of the question Torker has a line of Gazelle knockoffs that are the best bang for the buck anybody is offering, with your choice of IGH or derailleur models. The odds of finding one in a shop are minimal, but virtually any shop can order one because they're a Seattle Bike Supply brand.SBS is under the Accel umbrella, so owning a Torker is like owning a Batavus that looks like a Gazelle with American branding made in . . . now, let's not always see the same hands.

And I'll throw in a bit of a ringer; check out the Torker 3 speed, step through cruiser (Boardwalk 3). There's some serious mamachari material there that most "cylists" would overlook.

Anonymous said...

Hm....I have direct experience with two of the afore-mentioned bikes here; the Trek Belleville mixte and the Masi Soulville.
I and my wife test-rode a Belleville mixte about two weeks ago, and while it was a bit small for either of us, I cam away with very favorable impressions of most of the features.
While heavy (40 lbs), it was relatively nimble without being twitchy. The front rack is well made and attaches by the top of the fork crown, though not as elegantly as ANT Mike's bikes by a long shot. Still, nicer than the other factory-equipped front-basket bikes I've looked at.
It had no obvious mixte whip to the frame, even though I am 6'1 and 185#. I am not sure what would need to be done to attach a child seat on the back, though I am sure the mounts would be sufficient.
The stock seat, while a cool idea, would almost certainly need to be swapped out for a more comfortable unit.

A female friend (and fellow rod-brake roadster junkie) just bought a NOS 2008 Masi Soulville.
Hers has the leather seat and smoked plastic chainguard, soon to be swapped for something vintage. Current models have a bash guard and vinyl seat with leather as an upgrade.

In overall feel, it seems similar to an English sports model, but more nimble, if that makes sense.
It too is not a twitchy bike.

My only complaint about the flat fenders is that the front one tends to vibrate on rougher roads. I was in love with the looks of the Bianchi Milano, but never rode one that felt even okay; the Masi seems to fulfill the promise of the Milano. It does have rack mounts on the rear triangle.

Neither of these bikes feels top- heavy or tippy.
I would give the nod to the Belleville for carrying real cargo, though.

Lots of interesting ideas here.

Corey K

Herzog said...

Ooooh, I love giving advice!

Anyway, here's what I think is key.

1. STEP THROUGH!!!!!!!!!! Must get a step through or loop frame if you're gonna put on a child seat.

2. Factor in the cost of a full set of lights, puncture resistant tires, Brooks saddle, rack and an appropriate lock, before comparing prices.

3. The bike should have slack geometry if it is to have an upright riding position.

4. Hub brakes make the bike much safer in bad wheather.

5. Wald racks, which come standard with ANTs, are not suitable for child carrying, IMHO. They are a great value and can carry a ton of cargo (like my 50lb suitcase, true story!) but can fail because of the tack welds that hold the rack together.

If you factor in all the costs, I think you'll find that the ANT is expensive, but not *that* expensive.

Cris C. said...

Herzog -- just a minor correction on your points -- Mike will custom fabricate a rack for most of his bikes, indeed, many of the ANTs that I've seen around town have some kind of custom Mike Flanigan rack attached to them. I don't think I've ever seen one with a Wald rack.

Personally, I've done a few tours with loaded rear panniers hanging off the rack on my ANT club racer and have never had a problem with the build quality.

antbikemike said...

Herzog,

I was using the WALD rack on the BR last year, but now use the Axiom alloy touring rack.

The WALD is plenty strong enough, but the way it fits, is too close to the bike.

After reading everyones comments I have to revise my suggestion of the Globe Haul [still a good choice], but I have to suggest my ANT Basket Bike. And at $2,150.00 a great deal and one of the best equipped family bikes around.
http://antbikemike.wordpress.com/basket-bike/

I do not have one to test ride, but maybe the lady that won the Redbones bike could let her bike be test ridden? [she lives in Somerville].

Kris said...

After looking at/riding on a lot of the bikes mentioned here and not (electra ticino, breezer uptown 8, public mixte, globe haul, batavus, retrovelo, a few treks, civia loring....), i did end up getting a ticino as a commuter/kid hauler bike. I got a Yepp bike seat for the bigger kid (like the bobike, mounts on the seatpost, so lack of brazons not an issue) (i also have a front mounted ibert for the little kid, which i love for all the reasons listed above). Some of the comments above regarding electras (not velouria's, of course) are specific to the townie "flat foot" crank forward design, and don't apply to the ticino. For me, so far, so great, but it's only been two weeks. I'm a huge fan of ANT and Rivendell's Betty Foy, but this was a better price range for me.

Arif Mamdani said...

add one more voice to the chorus singing the praises of xtracycle for hauling kids and associated stuff. My 2 year old happily rides in the kid seat, while older daughter sits on the snapdeck behind her. I actually have the older bobike kid seat that xtracycle was selling several years ago. Their newer ones look even better.

2whls3spds said...

I would love to see a custom built ANT, Mike does gorgeous bikes that really are the best.

But realizing budget constraints one of the best bang for the buck I have seen recently has been the Torker Cargo T It has all weather roller brakes, step thru steel frame and built for hauling.

Good luck on the search.

Aaron

2whls3spds said...

Forgot to include a link to JoeBike where they convert it to an 8 speed Nexus.

Aaron

Eric said...

I recently put together a similar bike for my wife. We got an old 1980's Nishiki mixte from a friend as a start. I like the vintage bikes because you can still get a steel frame at a reasonable price. Then I changed to 1-1/4 inch tires, more comfortable seat, upright bars and lower gears. To really get a bike that works, many new bikes would require changes in those areas, which adds to the cost. I'm a big follower of the "Grant Petersen practical bike" school. A similar option would be to start with the Soma mixte frame. The bike I use for this kind of thing is an old (1986) Miyata 1000.

Anonymous said...

Check out the Civia Loring: much sexier in person.

http://civiacycles.com/bikes/loring/

Anonymous said...

A little late to the game, I know, but where price is a concern, but good quality and full features are still important, I'm really impressed with the Batavus BUB. A full-featured dutch bike (complete with generator lights, skirt guard, you name it) at a non-dutch price. I can't believe they aren't everywhere this year.

Anonymous said...

So many people here in California, (myself included) are completely satisfied with the Trek Allant. Pricing and features are incredible! Good luck!

dweendaddy said...

One bike that has not been mentioned is the Kona Africabike. Tough, heavy, bulletproof steel, it can carry a good load. It is three speed shimano IGH, and costs abut $500. The one we have from 2009 has a horrible (deal breaker?) old style cartridge kickstand welded to the frame, but if they have changed that for the 2010 edition, it is a great bike. You can attach a Kettler/Bobike/Yepp car seat on the back.
http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=africabike_three
On the higher end, the Civia Lorings are fantastic.
http://www.civiacycles.com/bikes/loring/

Amy Herbst said...

I realize I'm late to the game but how 'bout a VIVA Juliett? http://www.vivabikes.com/ I've seen them on sale for $999

I actually own, ahem, quite a few of the other bikes mentioned here. I just (yesterday) put a Yepp Maxi seat on my Public M8. My daughter (2) LOVES it. My only complaint about the Public is I wish it had swept back bars. Good luck!

Erin B said...

I know I am WAY after the fact, but I just found this post while researching the same issue for myself. Which bike did she get and would she recommend it to a mom with a two year old>

Charlotte said...

I've been meaning to post a follow-up with photos, but the weather has not been cooperating here in Boston. My friend ended up getting an old Raleigh 3-speed, in a very 60s turquoise paint color, and spent the remainder of the budget upgrading certain parts.

For the few hills we have in Boston this works well for a triathelete, even with a 2 year old on the back.