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.
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.
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!
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?
(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.
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.
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.
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?