My wife brought home a brand spanking new Breezer U-frame Villager bicycle from the bike shop yesterday afternoon. It's a beauty.
Sara rode it to her classes last night and loves the new bike. It features dynamo powered lighting, a 7 speed Shimano Nexus hub, rack, fenders, bell, suspension seatpost and kickstand. The moderately raked CroMoly fork has a noticeable amount of "give" to cushion what might otherwise be a harsh ride from the aluminum frame. As equipped, Sara's 15" U frame Breezer Villager weighs about 30 pounds and retails for $1200.
Until recently, most comfort bikes for city riding have tended to be heavy and built up with cheap components. In 2003, Joe Breeze started creating bikes designed for "transportation for a healthy planet." Breeze was inspired by European city bike designs but added his "California fresh" perspective to make the bikes practical yet light and responsive.
I really like this trend toward Euro-styled city bikes that aren't absolute clunkers. QBP launched their Civia brand of high end commuter bikes this year. We're also started seeing this trend from the first tier bike builders like Specialized with their Globe series of bikes.
The shop experience (from a dealer who is just now joining the Breezer network) was a mixed bag. Upright city bikes don't require the level of custom fitting that racers insist on, but I at least expect a shop to adjust the saddle and handlebars to somewhere near the correct height. The front light was also incorrectly aimed, pointing a good 30 degrees up in the air. Otherwise, everything on the bike appears to be correctly assembled, adjusted and inflated. They also noticed and repaired a loose connection between the dynamo and tail light. Apparently, this is a fairly common problem on some Breezer bikes and mentioned to Sara that she should watch for that.
Sue has been very inspired this last week, creating a bike haiku today and yesterday. I didn't know this until I read it in Roger Kramer's blog, but apparently Sue is on the board of the League of Illinois Bicyclists!
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SNork... if you'd scrolled down... it's been one or two haikus per day this week. "Verbose" is one of my nicknames... I looked hard at that Breezer back when I was shown a Gazelle parked outside The BRead Company a few years back and I was inspired to find A Real Commuter Bike. I liked lots about it, but for that price I want brakes that will work in the rain - heck, I want an *enclosed* chain. I do wish my real Gazelle were a few pounds lighter. I watched some of the earlier forays into 'commuter bike' world and most of what they had to offer were basically road bikes or hybrids with fenders stuck on. I got the strong impression that the goal was to have a bike that "you can ride this to work sometimes, too," which seems to be how most people have defined bicycle commuting until recently. Kudos to the Weather Channel for having Jorma Duran go to a Chicago bike shop promoting all-year cycling as transportation and http://bikewinter.org/ . Don't know if Jorma's lame "well, I got rid of my bicycle when I came here so I am not going to be part of this movement" helps (because he implies that he could or should) or hinders (good grief, get a bike!). But hey, there is something we can do... Maybe they keep track of how many hits their assorted videos get. How about a lot of people go and *see* the "ride a bike in winter" video at (look under 'top stories')the weather channel site
It's not nearly as plush as the Villager, nor does it really cater to the same demographic, but my wife loves her Electra Townie 3S, which is similarly styled.
We outfitted hers with a genuine Townie rack and trunk bag. For urban commuting, this thing would be the bee's knees. Out here in the hilly 'burbs, it's not quite up to the task but it's great for a nice stroll on the trails.
...gee, i wonder who should get a nice set of panniers for christmas at the fritzfam household...
...congrats to your sara, fritz, what a great new addition...
# posted by bikesgonewild : 11/30/2007 09:47:00 PM
A couple of points: 1. My significant other has the uptown 8 in the same line as the villager. She adores her bicycle. Completely and utterly. I have to admit it is an extremely good bike. Reliable and simple to use. It's odd though that she paid so much for the villager. When we bought the uptown 8 a while back it was only $900.
The shop we picked it up in adjusted everything and watched her on a test ride to make sure things lined up before letting her be on her way. We had the chainguard break in a bad spot but a quick call to breezer and we had another one ordered.
My only desire is that they might see to it to make a tandem version of this line of bikes.
Sue, I'd previously linked to your other haikus already! Enclosed chains are good in the Midwest, but here along the California coastline rain is a rarity and we never have to deal with snow and the associated salt and grit. Thanks for that link to the Weather channel video, BTW.
I like the Electra Townie bikes too, Noah.
Wild, a pannier was the first thing Sara asked for :-) She was disappointed in the limited color selection at the bike shop, so I think I might get something from Basil (is there a US distributor? Clever Cycles, perhaps?)
$1,199 is the MSRP. We actually won this bike as a prize in the "Carbon Conscious Consumer" contest that some of you might recall a couple of months back. THanks so much for all of your support!
i'm the "significant other" that seth talked about...my bike (a breezer uptown 8) is blogged here. i love this bike and i wish there were more bikes like this in the market. or at least more appreciative market for internal hubs.
as for panniers, the basil link is great-- i've been on lookout for stylish panniers. i'm not sure where you are located but there seems to be a US distributor of gazelle, called JollyBikes, and they sell accessories similiar to that of Basil (or maybe it's the same thing.