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Breezer Uptown

September 25, 2007 at 09:09 AM | categories: Cycling | View Comments

I read Sheldon Brown’s article on Breezer Town where he says

The Breezer Uptown 8 is the best commuter bike available in the U.S.

There’s a lot of things to like about the Uptown 8. I was able to test-drive one at Veloce Bicycles on Hawthorne.

Pros

    Shimano 8-speed hub
    Hub-powered headlight and taillight - no batteries, hard to steal
    Full chainguard - reduces wear

Cons

    No disc brakes - want to pull trailer down a steep hill in the rain
    Noise from rack and fenders
    26″ x 1.5″ tires - seem slower than 700c tires

The deal breaker for me was the disc brakes. How much of an issue this is really going to be, I don’t know yet. The downhill is at the start of my ride, so the bike will be relatively dry and any brakes might work well. On the other hand, the end is the top of a “T”. If I can’t stop and manage to avoid being hit by the SUVs and mini-vans taking kids to school, I’ll run right into a house.

The twist shifter worked OK and would work well with gloves. I preferred the feel of Shimano’s RapidFire shifters but not sure that they’re as glove-friendly. I’ve also found the twist shifter seems to have more issues shifting smoothly than I would have thought. Some of this definitely may be due to my inexperience as a cyclist but I haven’t liked the sloppiness of my SRAM shifters (old Specialized Crossroads) or the Shimano 7 on an Electra Townie 7. I test-rode the Townie from the Bike Gallery on Sandy.

I’m pulling a trailer with my son in it 3 days a week for 3.5 miles. Not very far compared to some commuters. Because of the trailer and a couple of close calls the first week of riding, I’m picking routes with lots of bikes but also lots of stop signs. I can start my road bike in any gear - have more trouble with getting my foot in the pedal cage. But with a trailer on the back on the slow Crossroads bike, it matters a lot more. I’m assuming that it’ll be helpful to have the ability to shift up and down easily (without having to pedal) with the trailer. And after I’ve dropped the trailer, a chunk of riding is on one-way downtown streets with red lights. Again, useful to pick the gear on the spur of the moment.

Another issue may or may not be front shocks or lack thereof. I love the ride of my road bike, where the carbon fiber forks and seat stays tell me I’m hitting bumps but my hands don’t feel tired. I hate the feel of my old Specialized Crossroads, where the aluminum transmits all of the shock. In riding the Uptown 8, it seemed fine without the front shock. And I’ve been warned enough times about the loss of efficiency front shocks cause to believe in it. On the other hand, pulling a trailer over speed bumps causes its own issues. I’m guessing my preference would be for a commuter bike with carbon forks … which nobody makes.