After a very unfortunate and traumatizing accident learning how to ride bicycles when they were children, my cousins never learned how to ride. However, they have recently been bitten by the bug (I like to think my passion for riding is what inspired them, but I think it's just the appeal of the bike) and are now in the market for new bikes! This weekend we went to BikeBike to check out their offerings.
V checked out the Linus Roadster Sport. It was an interesting test ride. He basically learned how to ride by trying out my old MTB - probably not the greatest way for a 5'10" individual to learn by riding some short person's 13" bike but it was all we had at the time. Obviously it was very different riding a bike that actually fit him but I think he looked like a natural!
Here we are, discussing how to properly mount a bicycle:
Seeing as how V has only ridden a bicycle less than a handful of times, the focus was mainly on getting a feel for riding a properly fit frame and trying to figure out what feels good and what doesn't. The first thing he noticed was how different the North Road handlebars felt compared to my MTB's riser bars. He wasn't able to say whether this was good or bad, just different. We'll take many more test rides so he can discover what he likes. I'm guessing he'll eventually decide the North Roads are more comfortable but maybe that's just my personal bias. I always get tingly fingers on straight bars, and hugely prefer the more neutral position that swept back bars allow for. Also, for the type of riding he plans to do (recreational riding on pathways), I can't see how straight bars would be more beneficial other styles. Maybe North Roads won't be what he eventually prefers, but I'm confident it won't be straights.
The hub gearing was also new for V. When he was learning to ride, we never got into changing gears with the derailleur as we were focusing on the very basics of riding a bicycle. He had no problem picking up how and when to change gears on the Linus' 3 speed hub. For recreational city riding, I think an internal hub would suit him just fine (maybe the 8 speed hub though, since the larger range would be nice in our hilly area). Plus it's so much easier to change gears with an internal hub vs derailleur. The lower maintenance associated with a hub also makes it an appealing choice. However, I think it would be beneficial for him to learn how to use a derailleur geared bike before he makes a decision but we'll get there in time.
Our next stops will be to other bike shops to check out some other options. It can get overwhelming so we'll go slow and only try out two or three bikes at a time. I'm secretly hoping he goes for the Linus. It's a fantastic value for the money. Its features would make it a great city bike - chromoly frame, Nexus 8 speed hub, Schwalbe tires, fenders, rear rack, comfortable geometry.
In case you hadn't noticed, I'm on a Pashley Britannia. I didn't intend to test ride it but V needed company!
The Britannia is basically the same as the Princess Sovereign, just with slightly different features. See here for my PS test ride. The Britannia does not have the full chaincase, skirtguard, and rear rack of the PS. On one hand, I like the idea of a full chaincase for all-weather durability. On the other hand, I find a partial chaincase to be easier for chain and rear wheel maintenance. The skirtguard isn't a dealbreaker and a rear rack is easy enough to add on afterwards. I love the vibrant colours and nicer grips of the Britannia. The PS has tough Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires whereas the Britannia has cream Schwalbe tires (Delta Cruisers, I think - I didn't actually check since I was distracted by all the fun). I don't know if it was the tires or the crappy conditions in which I test rode the PS, but I found the Britannia to be slightly quicker to accelerate. In any case, I'm glad I checked out the Britannia as I would seriously consider getting it if and when the time comes.