Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Urbana Bike: Final Ride, Final Impressions

For the past couple of months, I've had the use of an Urbana Bike. Haniya provided me with the bike and I've really enjoyed the time I've had with this rugged beast of a bike but today was the day I had to return the bike. Larry at Working Dog Bicycles in Seattle is the local Urbana dealer so all I had to do was ride the bike in to Seattle. Of course there would be the little problem of getting home (Issaquah and Seattle are about 17 miles distant). I could take the bus back home, but where's the adventure in that?

But I own a Dahon, which folds up into a dense little package. And I have this Urbana which has this awesome rack on the back that could easily carry the weight of the Dahon without complaining. The solution was obvious.

I strapped a couple of one by two hunks of wood to the rack to make a broader platform for the Dahon bag, strapped the bagged bike to the Urbana and rode to Seattle. It was an extremely uneventful trip.

Working Dog is a bike shop with a bike commuter and urban utility focus. Larry stocks practical bikes from manufacturers including Urbana, Dahon and Linus. My black review Urbana looked right at home next to it's yellow and chocolate brown siblings while I did the everyday magic trick of unfolding my Dahon and transforming its carry bag into a rear rack trunk.

My first impressions of the Urbana had been positive and in the two months I've had with the bike it has been completely trouble free. In those two months, the only maintenance I've had to do on the bike was to pump up the tires (when I first got the bike) and lube the chain a couple of times after some very wet rides. As I've noted elsewhere, the tires are wonderful and the bike is tough. And it does very well at hauling heavy loads.

My only complaints with the Urbana have been minor or in some cases, hypothetical. The bike lacks bottle bosses but it's not really a bike you take on long, thirsty trips. My coffee mug hangs fine off the handlebars. The front fender looks a bit short but in the course of a very wet March and April, I found them perfectly fine. The Urbana became my foul-weather bike of choice. Finally if I ever did have a puncture on the rear tire, the kickstand overlaps the tab for the rear brake on the hub, so there are more bolts to loosen back there than it seems there should be, but the tires are so bomb-proof I never had to futz with changing a tire.

The Nexus shifting and the brakes both performed flawlessly over two months of damp and hilly riding. The tires still look new. I managed to rub a bit of paint off the rear rack hauling various things around but other than that the bike is unscathed from being knocked around the rough streets and trails of the Puget Sound area.

The Urbana is not a light bike but it's very well balanced. Even doing awkward things with this bike, like carrying a 25 pound folding bike on the rear rack or hauling the bike up and down a flight of stairs, the Urbana just works. I live in a 2nd floor walk-up apartment and I got real good at grabbing the Urbana at the low point of it's U-shaped frame and hauling it up the stairs.

In an ideal world the Urbana would cost less than it does or maybe I'd be richer but the truth of the matter is it costs a decent chunk of change to put together a bike with a bomb-proof frame, the toughest, most comfy tires I've ever ridden, a rack that can haul ridiculous loads, brakes that can reliably stop a bike burdened with a ridiculous load and well you get the picture. But a fully loaded Urbana still costs less than a really crappy car. And it is a really good bike.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Anonymous said...

it is so true, that any fully loaded good commuter bike is still cheaper than any crappy car. and still save on the gasoline prices.

Unknown said...

I'll have to give these a closer look next time I'm down to Working Dog. That's a really great bicycle shop, with interesting stuff in it. Of course, I am partial as it's the closest one to my house, but Larry's done plenty of work to my bikes and I've never had a complaint. Good place.

Micheal Blue said...

Ha, Kent, what a great way to arrange for your return trip transportation.

LBJ said...

The Urbana sounds like a nice bike, but for now, I'm pretty happy with my commuter - a Montgue folding bike - it's got an internal Nexus hub and it folds. Best of both worlds?

mimi torchia boothby watercolors said...

we missed you at Beacon and Columbia Way this morning!!

(the guys there were nice, but still..)