commodorified: a stuffed polar bear on wheels. (bear on wheels)
[personal profile] commodorified
So, I love love love Matilda my 3-speed Kunstadt Glebe, but this, the third summer of our life together, I'm running up against her limitations quite a lot: I need more gears, she's heavy (I don't know exactly what she weighs but it's roughly twice what [personal profile] random's Norco does, even though it's an XL, leading to my thighs becoming ever more womanly and him being deeply impressed at my ability to carry it up steps and keep up with him on trails), I had to replace the lovely seat because it starts to hurt like hell at 50 km, and the frame is on the bleeding edge of being too small for me, because while I am only 5'7" I have stupidly long legs and arms, which means the seat is so high she's kind of top-heavy and the handlebars, set as high as they'll go, are still lower than I'd prefer.

It turns out that while I'm a utility rider, and I will probably continue to waltz Matilda all over Ottawa, my natural distance is, well, medium-long. It turns out that I feel wobbly and weak and thirsty and crabby for the first 5 km of every serious ride not because I'm out of shape but because it takes me 10-15 km to get warm, loose, and happy. So there is probably some gentle touring in my future, and Matilda isn't the bike for that.

I've been looking at the MEC Mixed Tape for a while now, and now it's on sale, which MEC being MEC suggests it may be going away entirely or else being radically altered for next season. So now I need to make a call: am I buying this bike?

The main con it presents from my POV is that I love Kunstadt. I adore them. They are my bike shop forever, but they just do not have the bike I need.

However: I don't know a tonne about bikes. I'm learning — my tool kit and ability to fix minor issues is improving radically. I'm learning the lingo, but DAMN there is SO MUCH.

So, as I know there are many people here very fluent in Bike:

Is there a bike of which I am not aware which beats this bike and that you want to tell me about?

There are certain features I absolutely need in a bike, or else have decided I don't want to do without:

1) I require a step-through frame or a LOW mixte. The advantages of a diamond frame are entirely irrelevant unless you're getting me a new left hip, so please assume I'm aware of them and don't need to be told. Please also assume that I've read enough blog posts on how crap step-throughs are that I'm defensive on the topic and may bite if you take this as an invitation to air your theory, which you're certain will be new to me, about the crapness of step-throughs.

2) I require an almost entirely upright riding position. Again, unless you're an orthopedic surgeon looking for shoulders to rebuild, please don't try to convince me otherwise. My skeleton is hooped, and while conditioning can palliate this, it's going to stay hooped and throwing my weight onto my shoulders while I ride will lead to pain and injury.

3) I'm willing to put up with a lot of compromises to have an internal hub, and after serious research have concluded that the Nexus 7 is reliable, rugged, and possessed of all the ratio I expect to need anywhere in Ontario or Quebec I can forsee riding to in the next decade. It seems to be the sweet spot of affordable, effective, and reliable - the newer hubs have more gears but also more problems.,

4) I'm not willing to spend my life at the bike shop, so ruggedness and tolerance of the crappy pavement around here are more important than super low weight or incredible performance.

5) I'm not looking to pay a lot more than this - this is nearly twice what I paid for Matilda and that seemed like a lot at the time - though for the right bike I'd trawl second-hand bike ads. I love the Electra 7-is I've ridden, but they're heavy and yeowch the price.

I need it to be available in Ottawa, or at a stretch Toronto or Montreal. I'm not happy with the notion of buying a bike I have not test-ridden.

So. Anyone want to tell me about a bike I should test-ride before I go for this one?

Date: 2016-09-06 10:07 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
Thing is, that's a very specific list and it's got Style Conflict; you want a touring Daisy Bike frame, and no one makes those. (There are some Dutch bikes that come close, but they're generally anvils, too. And they're imports, with all the price implications.)

The Nexus 7 is reliable and rugged. (I've been known to bend drive rings. My bike with a Nexus 7 works fine.)

I'd be very cautious about the Mixed Tape's handlebar positioning, given your shoulder concerns.

Getting what you want for 600 CAD sticker price seems really implausible. (That's MEC's closeout price, and MEC is generally trying to underprice its competition in cycling products.)

I'm supposing you've asked your local bike shop about what they can get, as distinct from what they have?

There are bike shops in Toronto I could recommend, but I know nothing about Ottawa in this regard.

Date: 2016-09-06 10:40 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
The two I'd try are Cycle Solutions on Parliament

and Urbane

Urbane has a variety of recumbents which might also be interesting for test-ride purposes. (Recumbents are not anywhere near your price point in general but if they Don't Hurt At All it would at least be informative to know that.)

I in no way expect either of them have just what you want; I suspect the only way to get that is to go give someone money to have it made, and that's _way_ out of your prefered price point. (But plausibly worth it.) Both those places are honest and straightforward and sincerely helpful in my experience of them.

Date: 2016-09-06 11:44 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
Urbane carries some actual recumbent bicycles with relatively tall frames -- these -- they're not all the head-about-as-high-as-the-drive-wheel tadpole trikes. Something like the Bella frame (and you can get frame kits) with a gear hub might meet most of your criteria. (Except price. :)

Date: 2016-09-07 12:23 am (UTC)
sporky_rat: The handlebars and headset of a pale yellow Trek Pure Lowstep. (buttercup)
From: [personal profile] sporky_rat
I adore my step-through frame. I have a Trek Pure Lowstep, but they've discontinued that one. The closest I think is a Trek Verve3.

Lowstep/Step throughs are the absolute best. BEST.

Date: 2016-09-07 01:03 am (UTC)
callunavulgaris: Close up of a spike of small purple flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] callunavulgaris
Also a huge fan of step through frames and the Shimano Nexus 7 internal hub. So nifty. It's not conventional "touring" though... but I don't really bike for pleasure, just for going to places. I enjoy my Kona coco which as you know is a similar mixte step through to the Mixtape but with 9-speed one-cartridge gears. Not a great lower gear for touring... Top speed maxed out pretty fast. But it's great for not-too-bumpy urban riding (frame transmits all the vibration) and is the prettiest thing I've ever ridden. If you want to test ride let me know. We'd need to adjust the seat at minimum cause I have stumpy legs. If handlebars are the only trouble on the Mixtape, maybe you can get them swapped out down the line? I'd be hella tempted by a MEC sale if I was on the market.

Date: 2016-09-07 10:38 am (UTC)
chickenfeet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chickenfeet
I would second the recc of Cycle Solutions. I bought my bike there and they have provided quite excellent customer service. The only downside I can see is that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the free tune ups for a couple of years after you buy.

Date: 2016-09-07 06:19 pm (UTC)
chickenfeet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chickenfeet
I'm very curious to see whether what MEC calls "upright" meshes with your needs. I've noticed "upright riding position" quite often used to mean not much more than doesn't have dropped bars. I guess a test ride is the only way to find out. FWIW Cycle Solutions seems mostly to carry Specialized, Norco and Giant though they do have some other stuff. It would also be a question of what's in stock as the Parliament Street store isn't exactly massive.

Date: 2016-09-09 08:10 am (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
I love my step through Ridgeback (it's a hybrid but I fitted a touring style seat, upright position, 21 gears), but I don't know how widely available they are in Canada.

You saying that you're happy at medium distances but hate the first 5k has really cheered me up, because I have just realised the same is basically true of me. (It's unfortunate that wherever I try to cycle hereabouts, there is basically a big hill in the first 5k, but that's the Pennines for you...)


commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)

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