Monday, December 17, 2007

A Chainguard: Making Your U.S. Mass Market Bike More Commuter Friendly

I think that one of the problems that commuting by bike fails to gain so much traction in the U.S. is because most of the bikes sold here are “fun” bikes. Fun in that you have your road bikes that are fast and can make you feel like you’re in the Tour de France. Or fun like those mountain bikes that can absorb the high impact bobbles as you pedal up and down a cliff. However, both these style of bikes leave a bit to be desired for the commuter.

Again, I take you back to the European and Far Eastern bicycling scenes where the majority of bikes you see are sturdy, upright, comfortable and equipped for the types lifestyles, including clothing, of commuters. One of the key aspects of these bikes are chainguards. These serve to protect your pants from getting soiled, caught, maybe ripped by the chain down there. Most U.S. bikes do not have protections for greasy chains. How can I overcome this?

I posed this question to my chums in the bikeforums ( and their overwhelming response was “use ankle straps.” I have some problems with this solution: One, it is a real pain to put these on and off everytime. Two, you tighten the straps too much and they interfere with your cycling; your circulation seems constricted. Three, you attach them loose and they drag down on long rides, sometimes exposing your pants to the chain.

My solution was to install an aftermarket chainguard that could be attached to your basic mass-produced American sold bike. Chainguards do exist for this purpose, but most seem to be for single speed or hub geared bikes where the chain pretty much stays in a static position. For a “triple” bike, a bike that has 3 gear rings up front, there is not much available.

It took me a while to find a product such as this. Again, most were sold for the Far East or European market. I finally found the Hebie 391 chain guard that was advertised to fit a triple front bike. It was pricey. I paid $40 + $15 shipping from the Urbane Cyclist in Toronto. It took me a full month for me to receive this guard (thank you slow Canada Postal Service shipping). Urbane Cyclist is apparently the only supplier that carries the 391 in N. America.

I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be a clip-on thing that I could install, but it wasn’t. As you can see from my pix, you have to remove the crank and loop it next to the bottom bracket. I didn’t have the tools to do this so I took it to my LBS. It fit with no problems. It works fantastic. It is great to be able to get on your bike and go.

With the installation fee that I paid, it almost cost $100 to get this part installed. It shouldn’t be that expensive, but maybe with more people buying this, and economies of scale, prices can drop. I’m sure you can get something like this on your bike for far cheaper in Europe or Japan. I don't live in those countries so this'll have to do.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Found my winter gloves!

MSRP: $35
Price paid: $12.99

With the mornings (and afternoons) getting gradually colder, I've been engaged in a time-consuming, often fruitless, search for a pair of cold weather gloves that provides the sensitivity needed to handle the brakes and gears of a bike. I'm happy to report that I've found them. They are the 180s Performance Series Terrain gloves (

I had been using your basic gardening gloves that are made of canvas and have those raised bumps on the palm side. They were good for tactile sensitivity, but not good for keeping your hands warm. The wind seems to go right through them.

Bicycling generates extra wind chill as your body and extremities are exposed to air rushing by you at an extra 10-15 mph (my average commuting speed). Part of my problem is that I don't have a long enough commute that gets me sufficiently warmed up. Other commuters wear layers of clothing (and gloves) that they "peel off" as they get hotter with physical exertion. Not me. By the time I get to the office and start to feel warm and starting to get a workout, I'm there. Still cold.

These 180s work well. They have a gimmick in that you blow air in these little holes (see pix above). I guess the warm blast of air gives you some hot air when your hands need it. I've tried it and it works for just a few seconds. Nothing spectacular. I wouldn't recommend it when you're biking, though. You could take a nasty spill. No matter. These gloves do a fine job repelling the wind. Finally, they have a sticky palm materials that allows you to handle the gears and levers of the bike. They're probably made for skiing.

I got a great deal on these gloves, too. I bought them at a apparel retail place called the Rugged Wearhouse. They are a low-budget Ross or Marshalls discount store. They get closeout stuff from Macy's or other big retail chains. Good luck finding a pair for you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Arlington, VA to join the ranks of Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris in bike sharing?

On October 22, I attended a bike sharing presentation by Paul DeMaio, who owns MetroBike LLC, an organization devoted to bike sharing and bike planning. He covered the old experiments in bike sharing where governments/communities would basically make bikes available to the public for free for the purpose of getting around. A lot of these bikes were comfort-type bikes in brightly colored designs. These experiments ended badly with these bikes either being stolen or discarded in a local river or lake.

A proposal that Paul is forwarding is a new “smart” bike sharing system that has been pioneered in European cities where rental bikes are “locked” to a number of locations and are rented, at a very minimal charge, to people typically covering short distances. They are rented with a credit card, or in the case for us here in the Washington DC area, a fare card that is now used on the subway, subway parking lots and buses. Bikes would be for local citizens not tourists.

To me, the most intriguing part of the presentation was the low costs that would be incurred by citizens wanting to borrow a bike. Paul said that bikes would be free to rent for the first ½ hour and $1-2 for additional ½ hour increments. Most of the costs (maintenance, cost of bikes, building stations etc.) would be borne by large media conglomerates presumably to advertise at renting stations or on the bikes themselves.

My hometown, Arlington, VA, will decide whether to establish a pilot program in an upcoming County board meeting. The District of Columbia government is also rolling out a small bike sharing program. I hope the Arlington county government approves it. I am all for more people on bikes. For more information about bike sharing, check out Paul’s bike sharing blog at

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Good Affordable Folding Bike: Review of the Dahon Yeah

Price, Multiple Gears(!), Quick Fold, Storability, Fenders/Rack included

Weight, Uncomfortable seat, Handgrips

MSRP: $219 USD

7.3.08 Update: I have not been riding this bike that much because of the new Brompton and basically riding my other commuting bikes. However, with just over 100 miles logged on, the bottom bracket began making a clicking sound. It sounded like it needed a new BB. I took it to my LBS and he repacked some grease down there and now it's working great. They may come just lightly greased from the factory since I really don't have that many miles on it.

11.26.07 Update: With about 50 miles logged on this bike, the chain cover cracked and fell off when my foot came down on it. I wish Dahon had put on some sturdier plastic (or metal) for this part.

I kinda swore off Dahon products because my first experience with a Dahon Boardwalk was disappointing. But with Dahon/Performance owning up to their mistake (see update below), I decided to give Dahon another chance.

That Dahon Boardwalk had a serious shortcoming in that it was single gear. I live in a hilly area so you really felt it on those inclines. I made a vow to get a multi-gear folder that was also affordable.

As everyone knows, there are all kinds of folding bikes by different manufacturers. The cheaper bikes that I saw (mainly on the internet) do not look safe at all. Their components are substandard and the folding mechanisms look like they could give in riding situations.

Dahon seems to be the only major folding bike manufacturer that produces a good product at an affordable price. Thus, I decided to continue to explore their cheap folder options. Enter the Dahon Yeah.

First, the bike is heavy. It weighs 32 lbs. You could probably shave 2-3 lbs off by taking off the fenders (which are metal) and the rack. This is more of a "storable" folding bike rather than a "portable" one. It is great for putting it in the back of your car/truck or in your closet but not if you want to hand-carry it on the train or public transit. If weight is an issue for you, you'd do better to spend $100-200 more to get an aluminum folder that will usually weigh less than 25 lbs.

This bike is also made of hi-ten (High Tensile) steel. Hi-Ten steel is usually associated with cheap Xmart bikes and is usually heavier. However, hi-ten absorbs bumps well. I've had a lot of hi-ten bikes and they've never cracked or let me down. The hi-ten on this bike gives it a soft bump-absorbing ride.

I was wary of the components, but they are holding up. The Pro Max brakes stop very well. The derailleurs are Shimano and, thus far, shift smoothly and with no issues. The downshift button (see pix) works very well. You have 6 gears and that is plenty for my hilly commute.

Folding it is simple once you get used to it. You can do it in the advertised 12 seconds as Dahon promises. No problems in the latches working and locking with the safety locks

A negative to this bike is the included sprung seat. I've ridden it and it is not as comfortable as it looks. I will replace it as soon as a Selle or a Cite Y saddle goes on sale.

Another negative is the handgrips. They are of the hard rubber variety with no cushioning or raised grooves for tactile feel. I will replace them the first chance I get.

Again, having a folding bike in the back of your car opens up tons riding possibilities when one goes places. Festivals, parks, shopping centers, downtown shopping. I highly recommend adding a folding bike to your stable.

Folding size: 32x66x75cm
Folding Time: 12 seconds
Frame: 20”H type, Hi-tensile steel frame, TIG welded w/pivot, Dahon patented ViseGrip latch
Fork: Hi-tensile steel, curved blade, TIG welded w/pivot
Handlepost: Integrated, Dahon patented design, non-adustable with handlebar
Headset: 1 1/8” C P
Saddle: Comfort Black
Seatpost: Super oversize, Steel CP
Seat clamp QR: Dahon patented clamp, alloySilver
Seat post bushing: Aluminum
Brakes: ProMax, Alloy V-Brake front and rear
Brake lever: ProMax, Resin lever with steel insert, black
Front hub: 5/16”x14GX28, steel, CP
Rear hub: 3/8”x14Gx28H, steel, CP
Spokes: 14 G, Steel UCP
Rims: Aluminum, 14G x 28H
Tires: Kenda, K-193, 20”x1.5”, black
Shifter: Shimano SL-TX30-6R
Derailleur: Shimano Tourney
Freewheel: Shimano 6 speed, 14-28T
Casing: 2P black
Crankset: Forged steel, CP, double chain guard
Bottom bracket: 5 piece set with axle
Chain: KMC Z30
Pedals: Suntour, folding
Kickstand: Steel, CP Rear Mounted

(A note about the above specs: Dahon has dozens of models on their site that are variations of their frame models. The above specs are from model # HT060 even though my bike looks more like model HT010C. HT060 was the model # on my box. If you’re interested, these specs can be found at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

2007 K2 Easy Street/Shorewood Review

MSRP: $379
First, I was drawn to this bike by the handlebars. The manufacturer, K2, describes them as “swept back.” The handlebars are small and not that wide apart, which I like. With some “cruiser” bikes the handlebars look like you are grappling with the horns of a Texas longhorn steer.

Since I’ve gotten back into bicycling, I’ve really been drawn to the pictures of bicyclists, commuters mostly, from other countries. A lot of them show upright stances when riding their bikes. See this photo diary: They look so comfortable riding and doing other things like talking on cell phones, eating, riding one-handed, etc.

This will probably not be a commuter bike for me, but rather the weekend bike for tooling around the neighborhood. I've also thought about putting a kid carrier back there to take my 4 year old places.

Why not try finding a European type bike here in the U.S. at an affordable price? One that caught my eye was the K2 Easy Street/Shorewood.

Of course, I wanted to try out one of these for myself. And, I was not content to take it for a short test ride at a LBS. I wanted a long-term test. So I ended up buying one. Boy, what a different experience! If you can imagine pedaling and holding your elbows close in to your ribcage, this is what riding this bike feels like. You are fully upright and taking everything in as you pedal. In all of my bikes, I’ve kind of stood over the handlebars. Not with this bike. You try to arch forward and extend your elbows outward and the bike almost wills you back down. It’s almost a regal, royal-type feeling when riding it. Grey Poupon, anyone? The design of the bike and the handlebars tells you, “Relax…enjoy the ride.” I’d like to eventually do a test between this bike and my D’back to see which one makes you feel less tired after an equal distance ridden. Maybe even a test of which one makes you sweat more.

Second, the seatpost tube is at an angle away from the handlebars (see above pix). Sort of like the leaning Tower of Pisa. This gives you the advantage of giving your legs the full extension forward when pedalling and dropping them when you come to a full stop without having to leave your saddle. I’ve heard that some Electra Townie bikes feature this, but have not really seen one of them.

While the bike does have a front suspension, I don’t think it really needed it. The reason is because your weight is mostly distributed in the saddle. Your hands don’t really push that much on the front handlebar save for steering purposes. The seatpost is a suspension one so you will be comfortable in absorbing road bumps there. Also, the included saddle has back springs for further comfort.

This bike has plenty of gears in case you need to climb some hills. The brakes are spot-on and the shifting is tight. Another positive is the handlebars. The handlebars have two bars on top of each other. Thus, you have plenty of room to add lights, speedometer, pouch bag, extra reflectors, GPS(!), and anything else you can fit on there.

One thing that is surprising about this bike is the weight. I haven’t weighed it, but if feels like it’s under 30lbs. It could even be a smidgen over 25lbs. It must be the aluminum frame. The size of this bike is Medium.

This will be the 3rd bike in my stable. You’ll have to excuse me, my loyal subjects, I will now retire for a refreshing bicycle ride. Adieu!

FRAME Comfort Curve, 6061 aluminum, with replaceable derailleur hanger
FORK Comfort suspension, with aluminum crown
SHIFTERS SRAM 3.0 twist shifters, indexed front and rear
FREEWHEEL/CASSETTE Seven speed freewheel, 13-34T
CRANKSET SR Suntour XR-170 with chainguard, 24/34/42T
BOTTOM BRACKET Semi-cartridge with bolted spindle
WHEELSET Alex alloy rims, alloy double-sealed quick-release hubs and 36 spokes per wheel
TIRES Kenda Komfort, 26x2.125"
BRAKES Alloy linear pull
BRAKE LEVERS Alloy comfort levers
HEADSET 1 1/8" threaded
STEM Alloy high-rise
HANDLEBAR Dreamliner Design, with custom bend, rise and sweep
GRIPS Dual-density comfort design
SEATCLAMP Quick-release, aluminum
SEATPOST Suspension, aluminum 300mm long
SADDLE K2 Easy Comfort with coil springs and multi-material cover
PEDALS Comfort platform, with shock-absorbing, non-slip TPE insert
EXTRAS Kickstand, CPSC reflectors and K2 owner's manual
SIZES SM (14-15"), fits 5'3" to 5'6", MD (16-17"), fits 5'6" to 5'10", LG (18-19"), fits 5'10" to 6'1" & XL (20-21"), fits 6'1" to 6'4"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review of the Dahon Boardwalk S1.

Price paid: $180

9.18.07 Update: Performance has refunded me the full price of this Boardwalk after numerous complaints about the rear hub. Yipee! I've left the original review for your information.

Bottom line: Avoid the Dahon Boardwalk S1 and all Dahon products

I’ve been trying to work out problems I’ve had with this bike for a while so I have refrained from posting a review of it. However, my patience has worn out so I will go ahead and do this.
I bought this Dahon Boardwalk folding bike because I am bike nut and wanted to take a bike with me in areas that are traditionally closed to bikes. Examples of this are festivals, road trips in a small car, airplane trips etc. I had never owned or ridden a folding bike. When I first got the bike, I was very excited about it. It folded great, was very sturdy (steel frame) and really felt like a bike when you rode it.

I probably rode this bike about 10 miles when a grinding noise began to come out of the rear hub. I was always taught that when your bike makes any kind of out of the ordinary noise you have to take care of it or you may have a problem later on.

When you hear the chain rubbing against something when you turn the crank, for example, you’ve got to make adjustments so that this doesn’t reoccur. The chain is going to be worn down prematurely and you’ll end up replacing it much earlier than you should. I’ve known guys, who say, "Let it grind itself down till it doesn’t make anymore noise." That’s probably the worst thing you can do.

Anyway, I took this bike to the LBS (Performance Bike) where I bought it to have them check it out. They told me that the grinding was being caused by the rear coaster brake rubbing against something internally. I should keep engaging the brakes to work out the noise. They gave me the option of replacing the wheel, but at my expense. I rode the bike some more and the noise still lingered. I was disappointed in this because I thought that the warranty (1 year) should cover this kind of problem.

I emailed Dahon and told them my situation. Well, I didn’t hear back from them. Two weeks later I emailed them again. A day later a technical rep from Dahon, Rick Fair, responded saying that the 3 speed hub on my bike was noisy. Guess what, this Dahon doesn’t have a 3 speed hub, it’s a single speed. I replied to him about this and as of today (about 2 weeks ago), I have not heard back.

Based on the above experience I cannot recommend this Dahon bike or any Dahon product. When you buy a used bike, you expect to have mechanical issues and to deal with them. Not with a new product, though. That’s the reason you go to an LBS, pay "new" bike prices and expect any mechanical issues to be adressed. If Dahon doesn’t stand behind this product, I can’t give it my endorsement.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

2006 Fuji Crosstown 2.0 Review

Pros: Plush comfortable ride. Fenders. Yes, suspension fork.
Cons: twist shifters take up handlebar space

Ok, I was prepared to dislike this bike because of the front suspension fork. After all, everyone pans front suspension forks because they slow you down, are heavy, and are prone to early replacement. It turns out I really like this bicycle. What gives? I'm either getting too old or going super fast is not what I'm all about anymore.

First, the suspension fork is really great to take those undulations and grooves of the road. It has a 40mm travel, which could be better, like 50mm but it's ok. All of us commuters know that urban asphalt has all kinds of obstructions like mini hole covers, warped grooves and other assorted hazards that a rider must get ready to absorb or even avoid. The suspension fork nullifies a lot of those hazards. Oh, here comes mini asphalt wave…No worries, just take it; you probably won't feel it. The suspension seat post also absorbs those hazards in your seat area.

I do admit that the suspension fork does add weight, but nothing too dramatic maybe 2-3 pounds vs. a standard front fork. I guess it does slow you down some, but for the city riding that you do with this Fuji, it should be minimal. I don't like to "peel out" from a stoplight, for example. I like to let cars make all the first moves. This fork is also "lockable" which means that you can make it a stiff standard fork by turning 2 screws in the fork.

One thing that was weird about the front suspension fork was braking. I brake by pulling both the front and rear brakes simultaneously. When braking, the front fork pulls you down, which takes some getting used to, at least when braking hard. It feels like going down a curb. As you know, the front brake does most of the work when braking in a bicycle. As for durability of the front fork, I won't be doing a long-term test since I borrowed this bike, but I will post an update if this front fork ever needs to be replaced.

Second, this bike makes you take a great upright riding position. This is excellent for city riding. Riding it feels like using a unicycle, but with handlebars. The handlebars are also adjustable to make them higher or lower depending on your preference. For a lot of bikes, you have to buy a high-rise stem if you wanted to make handlebars higher.

A positive aspect of this bike is the fenders. I love fenders. They are great for the rain and those post-rain surfaces. I dress up (usually polo shirt and khakis) when commuting and nothing ruins your day like a skunk stripe in the back of your shirt or mud stains on the front. The fenders on this bike never clinked or clanged. Anyone who has ever put aftermarket fenders on a bike, esp. one with suspension, can tell you how hard it is. Good job, Fuji. Fenders should be standard equipment on all commuter bikes.

The thin 700 tires also mean that this bike can go fast. It takes effort to push those wide 26" tires. With these thin Kendas you can really pick up speed.

The twist shifters (SRAM MRX) are very responsive. The only gripe I have is that they take real estate from your grips. With the shifters being so responsive, I’m always wary that having my hands too close to the rear derailleur shifter. I may drop a gear. Come on, Fuji, give us some longer handlebar grips.

In sum, this is an excellent bike if you will be doing short commutes, less that 7 miles round trip, or short rides around town. This bike gives you a sweet, comfortable ride. If you want the Donald Trump-mega comfort ride, give both tires the minimum recommended PSI (I think it's 60). You'll think you're on a light beach cruiser:).

Sizes: 15", 17", 19", 21", 23"
Color(s): Forest Green
Main frame: Fuji Altair 1 aluminum with double water bottle mounts
Rear triangle: Fuji Altair 1 aluminum, rack mounts, replaceable derailleur hanger
Fork: Fuji Comfort Suspension 40mm travel w/Preload, Made by Zoom
Crankset: SR/Suntour XCC-100 forged aluminum crank, 28/38/48T with chainguard
Bottom bracket: Cup and ball w/replaceable bearings
Pedals: Wellgo Hybrid w/Kraton no slip inserts
Front derailleur: SR Suntour XR-05, 31.8mm
Rear derailleur: Shimano Altus MegaRange
Shifters: SRAM MRX, 24 speed twist shift
Cassette/freewheel: SRAM PG-830, 11/32T 8-speed
Chain: KMC Z-72
Front hub: Formula sealed forged aluminum, Silver, 36H, Q/R
Rear hub: Formula sealed forged aluminum, Silver, 36H, Q/R
Spokes: Stainless Steel, 14g
Rims: Alex aluminum, Z-1000, 36H
Tires: Kenda, K-934 Hybrid, 700 x 35c
Tubes: Kenda
Tape/grip Kraton rubber to match shifter
Saddle Fuji Comfort Hybrid, Men's/Ladies specific
Seat post: Fuji alloy suspension, 300mm
Seat clamp: Fuji aluminum 31.8mm Quick Release
Complete Bike Weight, lb./kg.: 30.6 lbs / 13.88 kg
Brake set: ProMax aluminum linear pull with front modulator
Brake levers: ProMax comfort alloy with Kraton grip insert
Headset: Fuji Trekking, 1 1/8", Sealed
Handlebar: Fuji aluminum riser
Stem: Fuji Trekking Alloy, Adjustable angle, removable clamp

Monday, July 23, 2007

Keys, Helmet, Wallet…Framer’s Gloves?

Price Paid: $7.49

I have some padded grips on one of my bikes that are great when riding without gloves. The grips are soft and spongy. However, I’ve taken a few spills in my day and the palms take the brunt of the impact when falling esp. on concrete/asphalt. I am always wary of not wearing my gloves when riding this bike because this could be the day I take a tumble. Kinda like I feel when I don’t wear a helmet.

I looked for some gloves at my LBS and all of them were padded. Having double padding (on the glove and on the grips) was overkill in my opinion. I thought that there was a genuine need for gloves with no padding and wondered why LBS’ don’t carry them.

On a lark, I went to a locally owned hardware store to look at worker leather or even gardening gloves that could have worked. I figured that with the leather gloves I could cut the fingers and have a good protective glove. I didn’t find the leather gloves all that comfortable and made the back of my hands itch. The gardening gloves were good, but I didn’t think the canvas would protect my hands enough. That canvas on these felt too much like fabric.

As I was browsing I came upon these “framers gloves”. They have 3 exposed fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger). These three fingers are the ones I use for shifting and hitting the brakes. I guess they’re for drywallers and carpenters that need to have these fingers exposed to hammer nails, etc. Perfect! They have no padding, except for an extra layer of polyurethane on the palm. The finger cut outs are reinforced with stitching so they will be durable. The top side of the thumb also has terry cloth to wipe away sweat from your brow (just like bicycle gloves). The only drawback is that the leather on the palm side is synthetic leather. It feels solid, but I’ll find out when (if?) I take a spill if they offer good protection.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

2007 Diamondback Transporter Review.

MSRP: $449
Price paid: $399

Diamondback advertises their Transporter as "rugged and reliable urban utility and transportation" It is a solidly built, versatile steel bike that does the job well.

First, the bike geometry is like that of a mountain bike. You still ride upright, but you have to take a slight forward stance as you ride. Contrast this to other commuter bikes that you take more of an upright stance with the handlebars closer to the rider (examples: Novarra transfer and the Fuji kyoto series.) At the other end of the spectrum are the road bikes (or "ten-speeds") which you mainly ride by slumping over the handlebars to reach the brakes and gear shifters.

In addition, the sizes of this Transporter may run a little big. I usually get fitted with a medium-sized bike or a 19 inch bike. However, I ended up purchasing a Small in the Transporter. The top tube is longer than usual. I rode the Medium Transporter and found myself stretching to reach the handlebars. Bottom line: test ride the bike out to see if it fits good for you.

Second, the 26 inch wheels in the Transporter are smaller than commuter bike wheels, which tend to be around 700mm. In my opinion, for urban street riders, the smaller wheel allows one to quickly evade obstructions in road like potholes, small steel grates or grooves, which can interfere with your ride or even drop you off your bike. I’ve ridden road bikes and commuters and find the large wheels make it slightly harder to turn or evade a small road obstruction at a moments notice. These wheels are also wider (1.6 inches) so they handle curb jumping and other urban type maneuvers better than thin 700mm tires.

Frame: There has been plenty of debate between steel vs. aluminum framed bikes. It seems like the consensus is that both steel and aluminum are equally comfortable. I don’t agree. I am firmly in the camp that steel is more comfortable for most types of riding. This bike has a cro-moly (steel) frame that takes the urban road well. I can feel it "give" as you go through the undulations of the road. I am not a heavy rider either (5’7" 170lbs). I guess a lot of bikes are now being made of aluminum because steel tends to rust. While aluminum may be slightly more expensive than steel, warranty replacement costs will be lower with aluminum (longer life).

If there is something that I disliked on this bike, it is the choice of tire. Diamondback outfitted this bike with WTB tyrannosaurus tires (see right). These are MTB (mountain bike) type tires that are slightly knobby and are good for light dirt type trails. This is fine if you ride a mix of urban and dirt trails, but I suspect most people will buy this bike for urban/asphalt riding. The knobby tires slow you down as you ride and give the bike a "heavy" feeling because of the greater contact they make with concrete/asphalt surfaces. I plan to swap out these tires and install more city slick (smooth) tires. These offer better rolling resistance and should make this bike go faster.

Another good aspect of this bike is the components, esp. the shift levers (Shimano Alivio Rapid-Fire 8-spd Shifters ). I bought this bike at Sports Authority so I was wary of the assembling of this bike. Sports Authority is not a professional bike shop so one should assume that the bikes are put together by regular employees. However, they did a good job. I had no problems shifting gears and the brakes were tight and spot on.

Two other positives: This Diamondback Transporter includes fenders and flared mudflaps. This is great for riding in the rain or when the street is moist after a good downpour. Also a plus: Mounting screws for front and rear racks and mounting screws for water bottle cages (fits 2 cages).

The color of the bike, which is a plain jane dark grey, is perfect for this bike. I plan to use this as a commuter as well as for taking trips to the grocery store or mall. I will lock up the bike with a thin plastic coated lightweight bike cable. The color is a big deterrent to thefts as many bike thieves like to take the flashiest red or yellow bright-colored bikes.

This bike does not have front suspension, which seems very common on most bikes nowadays. This is a positive for this bike in that front suspension can slow you down when you "take off" from a standing position. Urban bikers know that oftentimes they must quickly accelerate at a stop light as cars are behind you. Front suspension forks tend to be heavier and that adds weight to the bike. On the other side of the coin, urban riding includes potholes, undulations and other assorted asphalt characteristics. Front suspension can absorb some of these shocks giving the rider a more comfortable ride.

Minor quibbles. The following are some factors that, while did not sway away from buying this bike, could be important to you:

Saddle: Diamondback includes a narrow gel type saddle. I am a big fan of Cite Y saddle so I immediately swapped out the stock saddle for my Cite Y. Since the stock saddle is kind of narrow, this could be problem since you tend to take an upright stance when riding the Transporter. If you use padded shorts, this saddle would not be a problem. However, most commuters I know wear jeans or slacks when going to work. You WILL feel the bumps when you wear regular pants or shorts in this saddle. You need a wider, padded or sprung seat for more comfort.

Chain cover: This bike has no chain guard or at least a circular disk that covers the front cog wheel. Even some cheap walmart MTBs have these disks. Again, if you commute to work, you tend to wear loose khakis or dress pants. Often these will get caught in the front large crank wheel and they will be ripped and/or stained and perhaps ruined. I swapped one of these disks from an old MTB that I had lying around to fix this. (See pix above).

Specs (from manufacturer)
Sizes: SM (16"), MD (18"), LG (20")
Color: Dark Grey
Frame: DB Double Butted Cromoly Commuter w/fender/rack mounts, H20 Bottle Mounts
Headset: Ahead 1 1/8"
Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
F. Derailleur: Shimano C051
R. Derailleur: Shimano Alivio
Shift Lever: Alivio Rapidfire 8spd Pods
Cog Set: SRAM PG-830 8spd Cassette (11-32t)
Chain: KMC-Z51
Hubset: (F) 32h Alloy Sealed Bearing R 32h Alloy Sealed Bearing Cassette
Spokes: Black 14g Stainless Steel
Rims: 32h Weinmann XTB-26 Double Wall
Tires: WTB All Terrainasaurus 26x1.6
Brakes: Tektro alloy linear
Brake Levers: Tektro 3-Finger
Pedals: Alloy Cage
Handlebar: Steel riser
Grips: New Avenir ERGO 3-D Comfort
Stem: Alloy 4-bolt Ahead, Alloy
Seatpost: Alloy Micro adjust 27.2mm
Saddle: DB Gel Road, Double Density Base w/Comfort Gel Boost
Extras: Bell, clear coat, owner’s manual, H20 Bottle mounts