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: http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles. 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"