Things have changed a bit since my last bike-related post. I have learned a few more things about bikes, too.
I learned that there are at least two different sizes of 26” wheels – those for mountain bikes and those for old three speeds – and studded tires are not made for old three speeds. Thankfully, someone else was willing to buy the 26” studded tires that I could not make use of.
I discovered that the Raleigh Superbe would not work as a winter bike because nobody made studded tires for it. I also decided that it had features that others would want but I no longer felt I needed for a regular child-hauling bike: dynamo front hub, internally geared rear hub, drum brakes front and rear, fancy front and rear lights, super upright riding position. After riding the CrossCheck so much I realized I really didn’t need these things for hauling kids, and I might like something else better. Someone into old Raleighs was happy to buy this bike through Craigslist.
I decided that the Gazelle was not going to work for me as a child-hauling bike or a winter bike because it was too big and needed too many special parts (read: expensive/impossible repairs). Someone fresh from a trip to Amsterdam was happy to take that bicycle off my hands (also through Craigslist).
In researching what would work best for me riding during the winter, I still wanted an internally-geared rear hub because I thought my knees wouldn’t be able to take a single-speed or fixed gear bike. I also discovered this idea of belt-driven bikes instead of a chain system in order to avoid the issue of lubrication and rust. I think this was an attraction borne out of laziness. I liked the drop-bar style of my CrossCheck and hoped to find a winter bike with all of these features.
I ended up searching for a Civia Bryant, which was no longer made. It had all of these features, in addition to mechanical disc brakes (better for winter). The parent company was also the owner of Surly and based in Minnesota. I found one on Craigslist for a good price, but it was in Florida. You’re not supposed to use Craigslist for long-distance purchases, but both of us were up for it. We checked each other out online, and he had a friend at a bike shop who was willing to facilitate the transaction and handle the shipping of the bike. This is the bike I used to commute all winter since I received it in December. Unfortunately, the rear hub does need some adjustment/repair, but overall the bike works great (even without said repair), and I made it through the entire winter without any broken bones.
After selling the Gazelle and the Raleigh I really didn’t have a good bike for hauling the kids around. The Surly could take a rear seat and pull the Burley, but the Burley wasn’t too much fun for anyone (too small for Basil), and a rear seat on the Surly made it too top-heavy and it was hard to handle. All of this applies to the Civia Bryant, as well. The Surly is also not made to accept a kickstand, which is very important for loading children.
I was well aware of the phenomenon of longtail bicycles, but I had always written them off because it has been very important for me to make sure I have a bike that will fit on a bus rack. I was always too intimidated to put the Fr8 on a bus because it was so heavy and because I’d never done it before. Since then I’ve done it several times, and I know that living on the East Side of St. Paul will make it necessary to get on a bus if I ever want to get very far with my kids without a car.
Then I discovered that Bike Friday was making an adjustable-length longtail bicycle with 20” wheels. This company is widely known for making folding or packable bikes for people going on long journeys by plane. This bicycle, however, is part of their recent effort to make fully adjustable bikes for school bicycle fleets. The system is called OSATA – One Size Adjusts To All, and they are supposed to fit people from 4’6” to 6’4”. I was promised the Fr8 would fit me (5’10”) and Elizabeth (5’), but it simply didn’t work for her. The combination of 20” wheels and adjustable wheelbase length made it possible to actually put this bicycle on a city bus rack, and the sizing range left a lot of room to make Elizabeth feel comfortable.
I raised up money by selling bikes and working the equivalent of “summer school,” and we ordered a green Bike Friday Hauladay in April. After much anticipation, the bicycle arrived on July 18, hand made from Eugene, Oregon. I’ve ridden it several times during the last three days, but this morning is a nice picture of how it can be used:
Emilia is too young to ride on a bicycle yet. I walked to church with Emilia in a carrier, while Elizabeth rode with Basil and Macrina. After church Elizabeth wanted to stay for a sewing class, so I rode home on the same bicycle with Basil and Macrina, and Elizabeth walked home with Emilia. All it took was a quick switch of the frame length and an adustment of saddle height, and we were both comfortable enough to have kids on the back. Unlike the Fr8, this is a bicycle that we can really share and at ~35 lbs, it will be much better on St. Paul hills (and my ankle, should I fall!).
Here, then, is our active bicycle fleet:
Surly Crosscheck – Eric’s all-around bike
Civia Bryant – Eric’s winter bike
Bike Friday Hauladay – Eric and Elizabeth’s child and grocery hauler
Terry Burlington – Elizabeth’s all-around bike
Specialized Hotrock 16” – Basil’s 4/5 year old bike
Strider – Macrina’s 2-3 year old bike
Burley Two-seat trailer – stroller, extra capacity or cold weather child/grocery hauler
Scott 24” kids bike – Basil will grow into
Schwinn Goblin – Macrina will grow into
need to get rid of, taking up space:
1960’s Montgomery Wards Hawthorne 3-speed
1960’s Womens Rollfast 3-speed
Fuller review of the Bike Friday Hauladay (with pictures!) is forthcoming…