Sunday, October 23, 2011

A City Bicycle Decision

The last several weeks have been full of thoughts, research, and test rides in an attempt to figure out what sort of city bicycle I should have or seek out. Having owned several types of upright bikes over the last few years, I think it's almost more difficult to make a choice because I have too many thoughts and past experiences flowing through my head. I know, poor tiara is too big and my gold shoes are simply too tight. I don't mean it to sound "princessy" at all (though I am aware that I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to try many different brands/styles), but it really is seemingly more difficult to pick out a bike after there have been so many with varying features and degrees of enjoyment.
I seriously considered re-purchasing a Pashley Princess Sovereign because I just couldn't seem to find an upright bike that would work well for my purposes. The one lingering issue that kept pounding in my head about the Pashley, however, was her weight. While she's not as heavy as some of the Dutch bicycles on the market, when you have a lot of hills to climb, a rider definitely starts to feel the weight of the Pashley. While she is pedal-able up hills, the overall ride is a bit slower than I would hope, and I kept holding out hope that something would stand out as a suitable city bike.
**Image from Velorbis
After discovering a Velorbis Dannebrog in an expired listing on e-Bay, I thought that it could be a possibility. I have not had the opportunity personally to ride the Velorbis, but after reading several reviews, hearing about test rides, etc, the consensus seemed to be that it was a very similar feel to the Pashley Princess, which isn't necessarily what will work for me right now. To compound matters with the Velorbis, the seller prefers strongly to sell it to someone who can pick it up locally (in Connecticut) because he was having difficulty finding a shop to pack and ship the bike even remotely reasonably. A 2,000 mile drive probably isn't the most economic choice, I am aware.

Without going into too much detail about what was and wan't working for me in each bike I considered, I will simply say that I found myself trying to find one that made the most sense and wouldn't break the bank. I discovered quickly that I wasn't going to find what I wanted in a sub-$800 bicycle, so I opened up the prospects to an almost double-the-budget range. I looked for used bikes that sell for higher retail prices but would be discounted in a used state, at vintage bikes that could be turned into something beautiful and usable again, and of course, new bicycles. In the end, I really want a bicycle of quality that I can hang on to long-term, but finding a place to test ride each of the bikes I have interest in is challenging, even with our new city bike shop in Denver, The Mindful Bike.
**Image from Bella Ciao
Prior to my last visit to The Mindful Bike, I had been searching online for U.S. retailers of Bella Ciao. From what I read online, The Mindful Bike is carrying this brand in their shop. Oddly, I hadn't recalled seeing them on my last visit, and after visiting them again, realized that my initial thought was correct. I inquired as to whether or not they would be carrying Bella Ciao bicycles, but the owners were out of the store, and the gentleman I spoke with wasn't sure if they would or wouldn't be carrying them. After returning home, I recalled that there were a handful of Bella Ciao's available at Harris Cyclery in Massachusetts - or at least, there were back in August. I assumed that they would all be sold out at this point in time and figured I would continue my search, but thought it was worthwhile to find out. Surprisingly, my inquiry returned positive results with Elton stating that they do in fact have a few of these bikes left in stock.

I took a bit of time to think about it, to debate whether or not it was a good decision, but ultimately decided to go for the purchase of the Bella Ciao Superba. It's unnerving to purchase a fairly expensive bicycle and be unable to actually test ride it, but I remain positive that it will be a good choice. I do have a couple of small concerns, but it is supposed to be a lighter ride than many other bikes on the market, and it has the options I was hoping to get on a new upright style bike. I am so incredibly excited to receive this bike (it's due in the middle of this week), and cannot wait to get it built up and take her for a ride. Of course, now I am going to have to figure out how to make up for the price difference from what I had intended to spend, and the reality of what it ended up taking to get this bike, but I remain hopeful that it will be a good decision (Anyone want to buy a bicycle... or maybe a painting, or two... or ten?). Stay tuned for a ride report (hopefully by the end of the week, if our weather holds) and first impressions.


  1. Jealous! Is it the Lovely Bicycle version, or one of the other beautiful bikes by BC? I'm hopefully going to test ride one of the Lovely Bike ones next weekend @ a bike shop in LA. I'm also going to try out a Pilen, which I'm very excited about. Have you considered the Pilen? It might be a good option if the Bella Ciao doesn't work out (god forbid). :)

  2. I'm jealous that you have one nearby to be able to test ride. :o) I hope you'll let me know what you think when you go - I'm really interested, as I haven't found reviews other than the Lovely Bicycle one. We do have Pilen's locally, but I just wasn't sure it was really what I was looking for. Definitely interested to hear what you think of that one too! I hope that the Bella Ciao works out for me, too. I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival.

    Oh, by the way, yes it's the LB version (I believe the Superba name is specifically designated to that model/collaboration, though I could be wrong).

  3. Good luck with the purchase! In my experience it's pretty much impossible to decide these things academically; you've got to try the bikes extensively.

    Re Pilen: Dottie has ridden one and there is a review on Velocouture.

    Re Bella Ciao: They only arrived at Harris in the end of August, so they def have a couple left. There some first impressions from Julia here.

  4. Thank you, Velouria! I will take a look at all three of the reviews/thoughts on the two bikes. I'm sure it will be beneficial.

  5. Wow! Hope the bike suits you just fine! I am very interested in the Public M8, but I just cannot buy one w/o riding it first. I'll probably visit friends near SF in the late winter, & try one out then.

  6. Iris, I'm a bit nervous about my decision, but I hope that it will work out in the end.

    I can completely understand wanting to ride the Public Bike before purchasing. It's a big decision and a lot of money to spend without being able to ride one. Public seems to have their bikes popping up in shops all over the U.S. lately. Perhaps you'll be able to ride one locally before you know it? When you do get to ride one, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.


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