Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sigrid the Bike Hunter

Sidgrid over at My Hyggelig is earnestly hunting for a bike to love. She really wants a Eurobike, but is concerned about the weight and needs more than three gears. Also, it sounds like she doesn't want this purchase to break the bank... Sigrid has the same problem I do, I expect quality and value - an uncommon combination in most US products.

Sigrid - you must not let the doubt stop you from going Dutch, or Danish or Swedish for that matter - you can have a eurobike, you can live the life you want to lead, you can ride upright and bring back the goods - and you don't have to get a bike that weighs 55 pounds.

Here are my suggestions in three price ranges and three nationalities, taking into consideration her specific request for the weight, features and speeds. The rest of you - help out this hunter, post your ideas in the comments.

From Sweden, the Kronan: $700
Kronan has just re-introduced their bikes to the US market. They are offering a 5 speed unisex model with an aluminum frame. It's lighter weight, more than three speed, an upright riding position, a genuine eurobike and it's about 1/2 the cost of many of the other models available. Available for delivery from the Kronan USA web site or in a Sweden near you.

From the Netherlands, the Batavus Spirit Series: $1050
You will find some models from the older series and the newer depending on where you look. Many shops in Canada carry the Batavus, but your local Redline dealer will also carry them. These come in an aluminum frame and 7 speeds and have all the bells and lights, etc. Available from your local bike shop or with free delivery (plus import duties) from Curbside Cycle in Toronto.

From Denmark, the Velorbis Victoria Classic: $1800 - $2000
Unlike the other two the Velorbis Victoria is steel - however it is chromoly, which is lighter. You can order this for delivery from the shipping specialists at the Dutch Bike Co. Seattle. If you want a custom color, the similary named though entirely different Dutch Bicycle Company out of Massachusetts will do custom paint work on the Velorbis.


Sigrid said...

Michael - Amazing! I just sat down to do some Sunday night research on the Kronan bikes and here your blog pops up on G**gle (as you say). So I click in, read your Kronan post, and click home to see what else you are up to and here you have this wonderful post trying to aid me in my quest. THANKS! A few weeks ago the SF Kronan rep actually put me in contact with the rep in Stockholm who said she could hook me up for a test ride - so I think to myself, why not? It's a darn good place to start.

Apparently even though your search is 'over', the research never ends. It IS an obsession, is it not?

Thanks again!


Anonymous said...

What about the Electra Amsterdam Royal 8?

aLex said...

i'd like to see the weld on the unisex kronan's bottom bracket. if they weld their frames at a high temperature, that baby may snap.

steel absorbs energy - that of the road and that of your pedals. so while you may lose some transfer of energy while pedaling, you will not feel every nub in the road. aluminum does not absorb as much energy, thus its initial use in road bikes. as such, you feel the road (i.e., bumps and potholes) more. in addition, aluminum is not always lighter than steel. some types of aluminum require so much reinforcement (so the frame does not snap) that the weight nears those steel frames.

aLex said...

while i didn't even consider hank's weight, i know sigrid is concerned about her bicycle's weight. i just clicked on the specs for the kronan 5-speed. 40lbs. their 3-speeds weigh in at 51lbs, 53lbs including packaging. these babies are not light. you might as well consider an azor - they're in the same weight range.

Michael said...

Alex -

Yes, the other Kronan's are in the same weight range as the Azors, it's only the unisex that is lighter.

Your analysis of the steel vs. aluminum makes sense. It's great that you can bring your experience and bike expertise to this conversation, as I don't have any of that! : )

I have noticed that all the biggest Dutch and Danish brands have aluminum bikes which are the same frame structure and have the same features as the steel bikes, but in a lighter weight.

I can't imagine that Gazelle, for example, or Batavus would make a bicycle for the dutch market that wouldn't stand up to serious and regular use.

Although, it might be their intention that the aluminum models be replaced more frequently since they're sold for about 1/2 the price there that they are here. It certainly seems like a better idea both for the environment and the pocket book to purchase a bike that will really last.

I'm not sure - what do you think?

aLex said...

if it were me, i would go to any bike shop and ride a steel frame and then ride an aluminum. when i worked in a bike shop, i always encouraged customers to ride both options and lift both bicycles up. those who rode mountain bicycles (and were used to a herky-jerky ride (technical term) sometimes preferred aluminum. street riders - whether they be riding road bicycles, urban bicycles, "comfort," or cruisers - almost always preferred steel. the "weight craze" in the united states has driven people to frames that are stiffer and not as comfortable, in my humble opinion.

my biria and electras were all aluminum. i hated the feeling of aluminum. it wasn't until i hopped on my jamis aurora that i felt the beauty of steel (reynolds 520 to be precise).

now onto technicalities. look at the tubes on the three bicycles that you posted. see how that aluminum bicycle (i.e., the kronan) has a large diameter? it's large because the tubing is thin. bicycle mechanics and frame builders warn against this because the thinner the walls of the tubing, the harder it is to make a good joint. that's why i said i wanted to see the weld. is it double-butted? (i.e., do the walls get thicker near the welds?)

as to why bicycles manufacture aluminum bicycles, one only needs to look to this conversation about weight.

the only consideration i give to weight with regard to bicycles is: "am i going to have to carry it up three flights of stairs?" then, to me, weight is an appropriate consideration. while planted on my seat, give me the steady, slow ride of steel any day.

aLex said...

one last thing ... high-tensile steel is inexpensive, but heavier than premium steels. aluminum is cheaper than premium levels of steel (e.g., reynolds, columbus, etc.). so, if you're a bicycle manufacturer and you don't want to use the heavier (i.e., high-ten) steel, but you want to keep the cost low, you use aluminum. also, most premium steel is made in the u.s.a. thus, i'm not surprised to see european bicycle manufacturers use hi-ten or aluminum.

Michael said...

So that's Hi-Ten and Alum - but what about chromoly?

What's the scoop on the "chromium-molybdenum steel" that the Velorbis frames are made of?

It's OK, I can handle the ups & downs...

aLex said...

chro-mo is lighter than high-ten and heavier than the premium steels.

remember in the early 90s, it was all about chro-mo because it was lighter than high-ten? well, now it's aluminum because it's lighter than chro-mo.

quite frankly, i think we americans could lose 5lbs and stop worrying so much about the d'mn bicycles' weights. oops. there i go ...

Michael said...

Alex - LOL - I totally agree..

However, in Sigrid's case - it's not an issue of that.

So, I just wikipedia'd chromo-steel and learned that they use it in airplanes...that sounds fancy and strong, right?

aLex said...

agreed, certainly not the case for sigrid.

i don't worry about steel. i worry about large-diameter aluminum tubes with thin walls at the welds. if it's not double-butted, i wouldn't go there.

[read between the lines: your velorbis is not going to fall apart on you. :-)]

Sigrid said...

Wow you techno geeks just need to find me a bike!

Seriously though, these are all good points the Hub makes and I start spacing out as he makes them. I just want something I can ride and not push up the hills. Though, with some craftiness last weekend I started figuring out flatter routes as research for THE BIKE.

Thanks eveyone!