In response to my article on how hard it is to get a decent vintage bike on the Gold Coast Josh wrote the following comments:
I fully agree with you whole heartedly. My current whip is a single speed, ridig hybrid with disc brakes. I have been trying for months now to find any descent Vintage bikes on the Gold Coast and there is not much here every bike shop I’ve been to has totally over priced them or try to talk you in to some thing different to what you want.
My intention is to build a 50/60’s style bike but the modern reincarnation’s a ether to long or have the wrong geometry for what I plan on doing with it.
My friend and I went to Brisbane for our bicycle buying expedition, first to the excellent Epic Cycles — where I have bought two bikes previously — and then onto a new shop in Bardon where we found the bike we wanted.
|Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the winner.|
Buy In Bris
The Trek Belleville above retails for $699 but we paid cash and picked it up for something less than that, around $550. It’s a great bike and has some really cool features for a bike of this price. For starters the porter rack on the front is your current entree in retro hipdom, besides being a decent way to carry stuff. The front and back hubs are both Shimano Nexus, the rear an internal 3-speed and the front a dynamo hub. You have no idea how good dynamo lights can be until you’ve tried this system. The front light itself is nothing grand, an LED flashy designed to show those blundering drivers in their 4WDs where you are rather than one that is ready to illuminate a path, but that’s normal and if anything this unit is better than most that will appear on new bikes.
The ride is very good, the steering a nice balance between being too-slow and too-fast. I could confidently run around in circles on first ride and yet I didn’t get the feeling that here was a ride that would be boring. (I recently spend a day converting a proper vintage bike to fixie and then I test rode it. Within 100 metres I knew I’d never again bother getting this bike out of the shed.) The weight of the bike is hefty but not unreasonable, and besides what losers worry about weight on a commuter?
The Nexus 3-speed hub is the perfect alternative for anyone lacking the quads to take on our terrain with one gear. It is very smooth and efficient, and the three gears on offer should be enough for almost anyone to get up and down the little bumps on offer in the Gold Coast urban commute. The bike is probably geared a little too high for a beginner (Megan is yet to use the hardest gear) but that can be changed by swapping cogs. Apart from adjusting cables the unit requires almost no maintenance.
One area where they have skimped, and there had to be something, was the brakes. They’re of some cheap generic kind that will be hard to tune for a proper stop without them also rubbing. You often get that in the cheaper bikes and I’m not too surprised to see them here but I am a little disappointing. It’s the one area of the bike I can see maintenance hassles appearing in the future. My wife’s Bianchi had similar dramas so I swapped her brakes out for some Avids left over from my numerous MTB purchases. At this price something had to give and I reckon the brakes were it. On comparison we saw no other bikes in this market with anything nearly so good as the rest of the gear on this bike so I reckon we’ll learn to live with them or replace them when they become wearisome.
Why buying local would be better
Here’s the rub. Getting up to Bris for maintenance and repair aint easy. A Mongoose 29er commuter beast my friend bought a year or so back has never returned to Epic Cycles for its free service. The Trek Belleville we bought on the weekend is running beautifully but the light stopped working. A bike is not like a car, you can’t take it to your local Trek outlet and give them a look at it. You have to take it back to the store where you bought it. This is an issue when the store is 90kms away and you don’t own a car. Even with a car it’s a pain in the butt. I can already tell that the store in question, while being a lovely small friendly bike store, will not have what’s necessary to fix this issue. They’re bike mechanics, not bike sparkies, and I can guarantee they don’t have spares for this light. That’s not a complaint, just a fact of life. So we’re looking at possibly multiple trips to Bris to get the issue resolved. It’s not like we have a choice though because there was nothing available locally.