Saturday, June 9, 2012

Finding Small Planet E Vehicles of Longmont

Often, Longmontians bemoan the reality that there are no good bicycle shops in town. We do have bike shops, but for various reasons they aren't what is typically thought of as the places to go to buy parts, accessories or even bikes, so many of us travel to other destinations (such as Boulder, Fort Collins, or Denver) to find what we need. This weekend, we happened upon a shop that I think could actually keep some bike business here in Longmont.

I have often passed Small Planet E Vehicles on the east side of Main Street between Longs Peak and 8th, but honestly have never stepped foot in the shop - or really even considered doing so - that is, until today. We happened in because Sam had discovered that the shop has Public Bikes in stock, and we thought we'd stop in to check things out. If you're a local and you've been searching for a place to find this brand, Small Planet E Bikes is the place to go. Although Public was what brought us in initially, little did we realize there were so many other fun things inside. I was like a kid in a candy shop and kept finding new fun items. They have the most amazingly fun Lazer helmets. I fell in love with the one pictured below... and for me, a generally helmetless riding individual, it was pretty incredible to find one that I might actually wear. It was cute (but not "cutsie"), simple, and actually didn't look or feel like a huge, bulbous mound on top of my already not-so-tiny head. Could it convert me to a helmet wearing gal? Possibly.
*Image from Lazer Helmets
Street Cycle Chic helmet - I think I'm in love!
Beyond my infatuation with the helmets, there were other wonderful discoveries such as a variety of tools and small items such as bells, bike tools, racks and tires/tubes. They also have a decent selection of baskets and bags/panniers for bicycles.
A small section of the available items at Small Planet E Vehicles
(Apologies for the bad photo, but you can get a small glimpse of what is in stock)
My favorites were handmade/woven selections from the African continent - Ghana, a bit more specifically. Although I prefer to buy local or at least nationally produced products when I can, I thought these were very interesting, especially the story behind how the baskets for bikes came to be. You can read about the story or view some of the available baskets online, if interested. Because the baskets are hand-woven from a type of elephant grass, there will never be two exactly the same... pretty cool, especially if you like some individuality on your ride (and of course, I personally do). The baskets even come with a small, handwritten name tag of the individual who made the specific basket. A nice touch, I thought.
*Image from Small Planet E Vehicles
The Yuba Mundo (non-electric version)

The shop also carries Yuba's longtail bikes - both an electric-assist model as well as a pedal-powered version. The stock photo of the Mundo above doesn't do the blue justice - it's a far richer color than is shown. While I didn't actually take up the accommodating and friendly owner Tom's suggestion to take the Yuba for a ride, I may just have to do so at some point in the future, as I've honestly been curious about these for quite some time.  Of course, in addition to all that has been stated, the shop is full of electric-assisted bicycles galore, and I think they are definitely worth a look as well.

I appreciated that they were so willing to allow me to test ride, and just wander around the store. We felt welcomed, but not annoyed by a pushy sales person, and I know we will be back in the future when we're looking for odds and ends... and who knows? Maybe a Yuba is in the future.

5 comments:

  1. Were you able to see/ride a Public bike? If so, what did you think?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Janice,

      I did actually see and ride one of the Public Bikes (the C7 in orange). I have wrote about Public Bikes in the past here and here which can provide more extensive info on my feelings about these bikes, but in quick answer, they are quite nice in my opinion, and an affordable option for more people than some other upright/city bikes out there. The orange is actually brighter in person than appears on the Public website. The C7 specifically is quite upright, which is great for those who don't want to be leaned over. Riding one again after a little bit of time was an interesting experience and I very much enjoyed it as I did during the initial ride described in the link above. Ultimately, I found it comfortable and very easy to ride, and I personally think that's the most important thing in any city bike.

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    2. Hey G.E. -- Question for you... Do you think it would it be possible to raise the saddle of the C7/C8 so that one isn't quite so upright? I haven't seen one in person, and the M8's saddle was just about level with the handlebars. I've noticed in the website photos that the C's saddles are a fair bit lower than the handlebars. Does that cause a problem if one does want to lean into the bars for going up a hill?

      Also, did the test ride weaken your resolve? ;)

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    3. Melanie,

      I will say this about the C7/8 - the top of the head tube is significantly higher than the top of the seat tube (I would say on the M/L model it is approximately 6-8 inches higher), so making them closer to level probably isn't a possibility, unless a person is extremely tall. While the saddle could be raised and the handlebars lowered, they won't be able to get to a level position. That said, even in a more upright position, it seems to move along fairly well. It's certainly not going to move at road bike speed capabilities, but I was able to tear around corners at a decent clip and not feel as though I was sitting still. Does that help at all? I also noticed that they seem to have widened the saddle on the C7 (and I presume the C8 as well), which was a nice surprise after my last experience on this bike with a narrower saddle.

      As for weakening my resolve... well, I am going to plead the 5th for now. :O)

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    4. That helps quite a bit, thanks! And yeah, I don't expect to set any land speed records but I would like some zippiness. :)

      As for weakening my resolve... well, I am going to plead the 5th for now. :O)

      Heh heh.

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