Thursday, May 31, 2012

Close but not quite...

While documenting my hunt for the perfect loop frame bicycle of my dreams, I read a review of the Civia Twin City Step-Through by the delightful Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike. This is it, thought I. This would be the bike that meets my requirements of graceful/classic lines, power for hills, and a comfortable/smooth ride both on-road and slightly off. With words of encouragement from other bloggers, I searched for a local-ish dealer and was both excited and anxious about having found one in Richmond. I was excited because the dealer was within an easy and explicable driving distance and anxious because I wouldn't be able to make the five hour (with traffic) round trip for at least a week. I chewed my nails, threw common sense to the wind, extended my vacation by one day, and drove to Carytown Bicycle Company in Richmond on Tuesday.

Source: Civia Cycles

The Twin City is quite lovely in person with its rich burgundy color and gracefully curved top tube and handlebars. I liked the integrated rack, but was concerned about how the bottom hook of my shopping pannier would connect without slipping. Wrangling the far-reaching cables around a front basket might be difficult. The top tube was higher than I expected, though. Dottie and I are both 5'7" and she steps over the top tube fairly easily in her video review. I found it easier to throw my leg over the seat when mounting the bike (which kind of defeats the purpose of a step-through...), but pulling my leg through when dismounting was quite comfortable.

The test ride itself was enjoyable despite my turning the shifter in the wrong direction, but the bicycle forgave my slip-ups. The chain sound and felt like it slipped occasionally, but that could be due to improper assembly and I'm sure could be adjusted. The grips felt comfortable in my hands and the brake handles were in a good position. The back brake was sluggish and the front brake squealed like a banshee. The riding posture was extremely comfortable -- upright, but not stiffly so -- and I could easily bend into a lower and more aggressive position. The stock seat was EXTREMELY uncomfortable during my ten minute ride around the neighborhood and would need to be swapped out pronto. I have no idea of determining how fast I rode, but I wasn't afraid to tangle with traffic and take-off from a stoplight was easy. The ride quality wasn't as smooth as I'd expected. I'd equate it with the Linus Dutchi, not terrible like the Globe Daily but not as sweet as the Public Bikes M8. I don't know if this is correct, but I chalked that up to the narrow tires.

I had carried my Specialized Ariel to Richmond as trade and when I rode her up to the shop (parking was a couple of blocks away) after having ridden the Civia, I couldn't help but compare how much smoother Lily's ride felt to the Civia's. At that point I realized that the Civia wasn't the bike for me and I wouldn't compromise the form of a not-quite-right loop frame against the function of my current hybrid.

Some might see this as a wasted trip -- I kind of did as I sat in standstill traffic on I-95 for twenty minutes thanks to road construction -- but it was actually another object lesson in specs on paper (or the web) not meeting the gut (and butt) feeling. And with that, one more obsession has bitten the dust and I was completely happy with my utilitarian Lily. At least I was until the adorable G.E. of Endless Velo Love pointed out that Public Bikes must have heard my whine about the Mixte frame and the 3-speed loop frame having an internal geared hub and it wasn't fair that the 7-speed loop frame had a rear derailleur instead. They have since released an eight-speed, internally geared loop-frame bicycle. The Public Bikes M8 has been my favorite test ride thus far; this C8 may just be The One.

Source: Public Bikes

7 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to read that the Civia test ride didn't go well. It does seem like such a great option. I often wonder about comfort on various bikes and my size. I know you are much smaller than I am, but I cannot help but be fascinated by how one person can find extreme comfort on a bike and then I can ride it and not enjoy it at all. This sometimes leads me to wonder if it's my extra l-b-s's? I'm not sure. I used to think it was just the steel material over aluminum, but that hasn't seemed to hold true because I've been able ride many steel bikes that I just couldn't get comfortable on. Interesting, if nothing else. It could just be individual preferences, but I think that thought always lingers for me.

    I'm glad you saw the Public link to the "new" model with the internal 8-speed. I was very excited to see this option, and I think there are many others who will be happy about it as well (and hopefully it will be the bike for you. Fingers crossed. :O)

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    1. Aw, it's okay and I'm not disappointed. In fact, I can put off agonizing about selling Lily for a bit longer. I can't say that the thought of getting rid of her equals the tug on my heartstrings that trading in my 13-year-old Jeep was, but I'm still fairly emotionally attached to the hybrid.

      The difference in ride comfort could be a function of height and weight, but I haven't been riding long enough -- or on enough bikes -- to make an educated guess. And during my test rides, I honestly couldn't tell a difference between different frame materials. If anything, I thought that the tire width improved or detracted from the ride quality. My road bike is supposed to have a smoother ride because of carbon and Zertz inserts, but my teeth get rattled less over the same terrain when I'm on the hybrid.

      I am SO EXCITED about that C8. Thank you very, very much for pointing it out. Scott wants me to get it in orange. I think not, but I'm happy that he said that rather than roll his eyes. ;)

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  2. It's great that you were able to test ride the bike in person and get a feel for it yourself. When I was bike shopping, obsessing over various bikes was half the fun, even when they were not quite right for me in reality. Good luck with the C8!

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    1. Oh my yes, the obsession is the fun part. And window shopping for all the accessories to go with the new bike is great fun, too. The C8 will be a special order through a shop in DC so I don't feel nearly as frantic about it as I did the Twin City. There's plenty of time to gaze longingly at the website and save some pennies. :)

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  3. It's so important to find the bike that works best for you. I was in the market for a folding bike last year, and I went to my local bike dealer - luckily they had a good selection. I tried a few small-wheeled models, but just couldn't adjust to the handling - it just felt wrong. I wound up getting a Montague bike which has full-size wheels and handles the way I expected it to. I wasn't really thinking about it when I went in, but I'm glad I gave them all a try.

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    1. That's a sweet looking folding bike. I keep thinking that all the folders have little tiny wheels. I'm glad that you found the one that works best for you.

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  4. Even though these posts are now a little older, this is still extremely helpful as I look for comparisons to my Public C7. Thanks for taking the time!

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