Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Linus Bike Test Ride

Over the weekend, I had a brief break from work and decided that I'd like to get out in some sun and continue the search for a city bike. I headed down to Mindful Bike expecting to find a variety of bicycles to try out. I was shocked to see how much their inventory had diminished since my last visit a few weeks ago, but I was also pleased to see it because it assures me (as I'm sure the owners) that there is, indeed, a need for this type of shop on the front range and in the metro area.
Bella Ciao Corvo Citta Donna
*Image from Bella Ciao
I had read about a week ago that Bella Ciao is being sold at Mindful Bike, and was already aware that they're selling a variety of other bikes. When I arrived the store was minimally stocked with Linus and Bobbin bicycles - nothing wrong with that at all, but just not the variety I was looking forward to seeing (and riding). I decided that the Linus bikes were a nice looking bunch on my last visit, but this time thought it was time for a test ride. I tried out the Mixte 3 version, as well as the Dutchi 3, expecting that they would ride much like Public Bikes. I didn't find that to be the case, however.

I am aware of several people who own Linus Bikes and really love them, so I expected that, at minimum, I would find them to be a definite contender for the city bike replacement. I love that their prices are in a more affordable range for many people, and the styling is very sleek so I fully expected to take off as soon as I started pedaling. Again, this was not really the case.
Linus Bike, Mixte 3
*Image from Linus Bike
Starting with the Mixte 3, the styling on this bike is quite nice. It really does have the look of a mid-century French bike that's been updated for the 21st century. It is not fully lugged (not that I would expect to see lugs on a sub-$700 bike), but the 8 speed version is partially lugged for a bit more money. I love that the Mixte 3 comes equipped with a 3-speed internal hub, rear rack and bell, making it pretty functional from the moment you ride out the door. The Mixte 3 comes in one size (49cm) which is intended to be a nice middle ground for everyone to be able to ride. Personally, I found it to be a bit stretched for my just shy of 5'4" height, and even just riding it a few blocks I began to feel a kind of pain/numbing in my lower elbows from the stretch. This could simply be personal preferences or incorrect set up for the test ride, as Sam also rode the mixte and didn't have the same sensation. Regardless, I don't think any cyclist would buy a bike that caused pain on such a short ride.
Linus Bike, Mixte 8
*Image from Linus Bike
As for the ride quality, I would say it rode okay. I left the test ride with a "meh" feeling - meaning that it is a functional bike, and a good price, but it just wasn't as fast or agile as I expected it to be. Had I never ridden or owned other city bikes, I'm sure it would be a fine selection, but even comparing it to our Public Bikes, I would choose those again any day over the Linus. The Linus almost felt as though I just couldn't pick up any speed, and the sleek looks did not correlate to a quick ride, which I found disappointing. Perhaps the Mixte 8 (unavailable on our visit) would ride differently? The two models are made of different grades of material (Mixte 3= hi tensile steel; Mixte 8=4130 chromoly), but I just don't see that making a huge difference in the feel of the ride. Though admittedly, I could be wrong.
Linus Bike, Dutchi 3
*Image from Linus Bike
The Dutchi 3 test ride, sadly, wasn't any better. In fact, I would say that if I had to choose between the two, I would opt for the mixte version over the loop frame version, even with the elbow pain. The differences in the ride were astounding to me. One of the big differences is that the Dutchi 3 model I rode had 26" wheels, rather than 700c, which caused a feeling of spinning rather than covering any ground. I am absolutely not a hill climber, and I purposefully took the bike up some fairly steep hills, but I never left 3rd gear. This tells me that the bike just isn't geared properly. It would be perfect if a person lived in a very hilly area, but on flat lands it was frustrating to just spin. The crank is also a 165, which I think added to this spinning feeling while riding. Perhaps a longer crank arm could help this? I should also say that the Dutchi model comes in two sizes: 43cm and 45cm. The larger model (unavailable on my visit) has 700c wheels, so perhaps it would've made enough of a difference to lessen the constantly spinning wheels.
Linus Bike, Dutchi 8
*Image from Linus Bike
The Dutchi 3 comes equipped similarly to the Mixte 3 model, but one thing I did prefer on the Dutchi 3 is that it comes standard with a chainguard. If a person is going to ride this in every day clothes (which would be its purpose for me), I find that a chainguard makes this much easier to do. The Dutchi also comes in an 8 speed version. Neither of these models are lugged, and the Dutchi 8 comes in the 45cm size only, having the 700c wheels. Again, it's difficult to have an opinion since I was unable to ride it, but I suspect that it could ride better with the larger wheels.

I left the shop after both test rides thinking that each bike is acceptable, but I don't believe they are something I would personally choose to purchase. Of course, as with any opinion on ride quality, there are factors to consider. I've owned Pashley's in the past that were much heavier and had a more solid feeling. These Linus Bikes were nothing like the Pashley models. I've also owned 70s step-through Raleigh's which were much quicker and racier in feel. Again, the Linus Bikes feel nothing like these either. As indicated above, I cannot even compare them to the Public Bike options, as those had a completely different feel as well. If you have the ability to test ride these for yourself, I would recommend doing so, as it will likely provide answers for personal ride style, wants, and needs. I would say they are worth trying out. After all, I've taken rides on bikes that others simply despised and absolutely loved them, and vice versa. As for me, I'm opting to remain city bike-less for the time being... so, the hunt continues.

15 comments:

  1. I test rode the Linus Mixte 3 a little while ago and agree with the "meh" feeling you got. For me, the width of the handlebars seemed wide and low (and I could tell they were meant to accommodate a wide range of riders) and the front end felt twitchy (though that's to be expected from any mixte). I did feel, though, that I could go surprisingly fast on it -- though I'm coming from the viewpoint of an old Raleigh 3-speed. Though I only sat on the Dutchi and didn't test ride it, I felt like I would prefer it's positioning to the mixte. I'm glad that I test rode it as I always thought the Linus bikes too good to be true for the prices they are set at. I'm sure they would be great bikes for plenty of people, but it's not what I'm looking for either.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's interesting the way the bikes feel. I know that some people really do like them, and I wouldn't say that I dislike them, but that I have more of an apathetic feeling about them. It's nice to get someone else's perspective, too, so I appreciate reading your experience with these bikes. It's kind of funny because I prefer the ride of the 70s Raleigh Lady Sport that I had to the Linus mixte... again though, this just goes to show that we should always test ride for ourselves when possible. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you taken the Linus Dutchi 8 for a test ride? I am curious if the all chrome moly frame in the Linus Dutchi 8 is peppier and less "meh".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holden,
      I have yet to be able to find a Dutchi 8 to take for a spin. They seem to sell out in our local shop quickly (which tells me that other riders must be enjoying the Linus bikes quite a bit). I will definitely follow up if I'm able to hunt one down though.

      Delete
    2. Hi,

      I just purchased a Dutchi 8 last week. took it to the outdoor concert at Santa Monica pier last night.
      Love the bike!. Purchased the double kickstand which allows for roadside lounging on the bike. Staff at Linus in Venice are not great though... gotta say it.
      Saw a orange public C7 last night. May have opted for this bike had I known about it.

      Delete
    3. I'm glad that you're enjoying the Linus! :O) I know there are a lot of folks who definitely enjoy them, and hopefully you'll continue to take yours for many enjoyable rides.

      Delete
  4. I purchased the globe daily 2 step through this summer after test riding about 20 other bikes. It is an aluminum frame (dare I say I prefer this BC of lighter weight?) So there are no lugs. But, it rides like an upright road bike with relaxed geometry and is fast!! I could not be happier. Made a few customizations: brooks saddle, cork grips, grippy non-toothy pedals and a front Wald basket. I get constant compliments. Beauty and function all-in-one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think finding the bike that feels good is absolutely the most important piece of a purchase, and so glad that you found something that works for you. The fact that it's pretty - well, that's just a bonus! :O) We actually had a Globe here in our home for awhile, and it was a nice, light way to get around. I hope you continue to enjoy it.

      Delete
  5. Public is overpriced junk. Linus is at least reasonable quality for the price point they are offered at.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can appreciate differences of opinion, but I'm not sure I would call one brand "junk" over the other. There are lots of people who enjoy both brands of bicycles. Public has done quite well with its business plan to date, as has Linus. With any manufacturer, there will be preferences by individual riders (which is why it is important to be able to test ride bikes - preferably more than just around the block). Price differences for similarly equipped bicycles are negligible, so I think it really does come down to preference of ride.

      Delete
  6. The Linus bike is an extremely Sexy Step through bike. The shimano equipped internal geared bike is a complete let down. Shimano internal geared hubs all around are a let down to the cyclist the efficiency
    oh a hub that never has a direct drive shows that. The sram or sturmey-archer equipped bikes
    you do not have that feeling. I can only go by what I repair everyday. We just recycle Shimano it is not worth the time to repair. next time you look around and find a shimano hub from 1960 still working for every day use let me know. Because sachs and sturmey have them up to a hundred years almost.
    This is the main reason I steer customers away from the Taiwan and China Made Dutch looking bikes.
    they are not Dutch. I am sure they never stand up to the wet environment in Holland.
    I do not see a factory for the company in California. So I would figure it is all Asian bike and final assembly at some place in the usa. Sexy look but as a mechanic the moment they used a shimano 3 speed or 8 speed they ruined the bike. another disposable bike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linus does make some beautiful-to-look-at bicycles - and sometimes it seems as though that is what a person is looking for (or all s/he is looking for) in a bike. People have different comfort levels when it comes to cost, and I believe that some are simply not ready to increase the price point they'll pay for a step-through bicycle beyond this point. Of course, there are options in the form of used bikes on Craigslist or eBay, or waiting and saving for something else is always a possibility too.

      Unless I'm mistaken (and someone please feel free to correct me if this is wrong), Linus' bikes are made in China. I think if someone really wanted this particular bike and didn't like the Shimano hub (or was concerned about longevity), a switch to a different hub could be done. I've not personally had problems with Shimano internal hubs, but I also don't work on bikes for a living and haven't ridden those bikes for decades like some of the older Sturmey-hub bicycles I've picked up from the 70s. Certainly, Sturmey Archer made things to last. :O)

      Delete
    2. Would it be better to buy a single speed then?

      Delete
    3. Probably a more cost-efficient option, I'd say. If one is aware that s/he is going to change the hub from the start, it probably makes more sense to not spend the money initially so that it can be used to pick up the type of hub/shifters that the rider prefers.

      Delete
    4. I purchased a secondhand Linus Roadster Sport 3 speed in October of 2015, and have used it for both commuting (8 miles each way) and recreational rides regularly since then. It compares very favorably with the Raleigh Sport I owned back in the 70's. While both frames are Hi Tensile steel, every component attached to the frame (i.e. stem, handlebars, rims, seatpost, cranks and chainwheel) of the Linus is alloy, while those same parts on the Raleigh were steel. The Linus frame has a chrome-moly downtube (full chrome-moly on the 8 speed model), is Tig-welded, and the welds look at least as good as those on my old Trek and Schwinn All-Terrian bikes from the late 80's/early 90's. I changed the stock seat for a Brooks Flyer, and the stock pullback handlebars and stem for some alternative parts which impart slightly more forward lean...a little more "sporting" riding position. The leather grips are comfortable, and the alloy brake levers connected to dual pivot side pull brakes feel quite modern and precise. The Linus Elysium tires have a reflective stripe, and roll easily enough, although they aren't puncture resistant, so I added Mr. Tuffy tire liners, and haven't had a flat since. When they wear out, I'll likely replace them with Schwalbe Marathons. The stainless steel spokes are of impressive thickness, so wheels should remain true for a very long time. Basically, I find the Linus relaxing and enjoyable to ride. The bike doesn't feel particularly light weight, equipped as it is with full steel fenders and an alloy parcel rack, but it does feel solid, stable, and efficient. Once up to speed, it clicks along smartly, covering ground at a satisfying rate with little effort.

      Delete

Word verification is on, but I've turned off the moderation portion in an attempt to make it easier for you to know that your comment has indeed made it through. We'll see how this goes, but I'm hopeful that this will help out and I'll try my best to weed through and remove spammers comments. Additionally, I recommend copying comments before hitting publish as the "blogger comment eater" seems to continue his snacking.