It helps to know what sort of riding the cyclist intends to do on a bike. I think it's safe to say most people who have been riding for any amount of time start to see that having one bicycle to do everything is highly unlikely. Sometimes it helps to think realistically about what sort of use a bicycle will get. If the intention is to take casual, 3-10 mile trips at an easy pace, this may not require the sort of set up that an individual who plans to race or regularly participate in extended road rides would need. Some people prefer a middle ground that allows them be comfortable on a short commute but that can also allow for some longer rides as well; others prefer a dedicated commuter and separate road/race bike. Some don't mind having a garage full of bicycles with only minor differences among each of them. I don't think any option is wrong in itself, but it's important to understand what sort of rider one is and what sort of means to purchasing options a person has when choosing a bike. The wrong decisions can make a huge difference in happiness and use of the bicycle chosen.
Recently, I found myself in a bit of a bike conundrum. I had been talking about the possibility of adding a city bike back into the fold, but having experienced several different versions, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do or which direction to go - or even if I wanted to add this sort of bike again. During this discussion of possibly adding another bike, a coincidental test ride on a Shinola Bixby Women's bicycle took place and I thought there might be others looking at this bike, so I thought I'd throw out a few thoughts on this bike in particular to help those who might be on the fence or even seriously considering this as a purchase.
|*Image from Shinola|
|*Image from Shinola|
The first thing that came to mind is that it was quite easy to start riding. I think for those wanting a handlebar that is higher than the saddle position, this may not be the best choice, but with that said, I wouldn't necessarily rule it out as even having the handlebars level with the saddle, I didn't feel particularly leaned over. The Bixby has a city-bike/lightweight cruiser feel and one that seems as though I was perched up on the saddle. Pedaling was easy and shifting smooth. Nothing felt shaky or twitchy. I went up and down a few hills to test the gearing and it seemed sufficient for those not having to deal with a very steep grade. The cream Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires are a perfect choice. I've had these on other bikes and have enjoyed the ride quality and puncture protection (as long as I haven't ridden through a thorn field, they've held up well), and the color sets off this bike perfectly.
One item I wasn't absolutely certain about was the saddle width choice for this bike. It's such a beautifully made saddle (by Shinola) to go with the bike, but even despite the ever-so-slightly aggressive position, I still felt quite a bit of weight on my backside. I think a bit more width in the saddle would have helped eliminate the sensation that there just isn't quite enough there to support the sit bones (we are all different though, so this will vary from individual to individual). Of course, if a person is taller and had the saddle higher, s/he would be more leaned on the handlebars and would likely eliminate this issue. I also appreciate the disc brakes and internal hub as these features make the bike easy to ride in all sorts of weather and help make the bike nearly maintenance-free.
As is typical for me while riding a bike, it was the small things, such as a coordinating bell that made me smile (the bike made others smile and look as well - even in a city full of people on bicycles). It was difficult not to picture myself someplace sandy with ocean breezes, cruising along on this beautiful bike. However, practicality soon set in and I realized that I don't live somewhere with beaches surrounding me and instead I have many hills to climb on a regular basis, so I quickly came back to reality and realized it's simply not the right bike choice for me. Which is not to say that I didn't stare longingly at it as I walked away, but rather my practical side seems to rear its head more frequently these days than in the past.
There are also a few items missing from the build that I think are practical for those wanting to use this as a commuter or grocery-getter. For instance, there are no racks on this bike, making it challenging to carry more than a bag over ones shoulder. Additionally, it does not come with lights. Both of these items can be added, of course, but with a price tag of nearly $2,000, I would hope these would be included.
The thing most difficult (I believe, and as pointed out by others) for Shinola to sell this bicycle is price point. I would be surprised to suddenly see many of these out on the roads (which is a shame because both this version and the diamond version are lovely options) as I think they are a bit more costly than most American's are willing to spend on this type of bicycle. Of course, that could be a motivator for some to purchase the bike because it probably won't be a common find on the roads. Although I understand having a frame made in the USA and in the Waterford factory comes at a cost, building this bicycle with the 3-speed Nexus hub will limit who will use this bicycle and how it will functionally work for the individual. Speaking from experience, I know that a cruiser-type bicycle can be used to cover more than a few miles, but it comes at a premium to ones energy usage and joints. It's simply not the most efficient means to use as a commuter over any sort of distance - particularly when dealing with hills. Meaning, this probably isn't going to be someone's do-everything bicycle. While it feels lighter than many cruiser bicycles I've used, and has a slightly more aggressive sitting position, ultimately it still has the feel of an easy-going/riding bicycle - which is both to its credit and detriment.
If you are aesthetically driven, have a Shinola dealer nearby, and are looking for a city bike (& have the $ to spend - of course), I think this could be one to try out. It's a beautiful and easy to ride bicycle that I hope will be one of many options available for every day riders. It will be interesting to see if Shinola continues these models and/or if they modify them as time goes by. Have you had the opportunity to ride one of Shinola's bikes? If so, what were your thoughts? It's always great to have more opinions in the mix.