Reid have got the whole urban bike thing sewn up at the moment. I would have thought the Wayfarer would have difficulty finding space in a crowded line-up of similar bikes. In fact, with the Create at one end, the Virtue at the other, and the Harrier in there somewhere, I wondered where the Wayfarer would fit in. Riding the bike, I saw how all these bikes fit together.
That’s why, for you dear reader, I commissioned the following infographic, titled “From Rad To Conservative”.
My team of flying monkeys who knock out these reports aren’t strong on visuals but I think you get the idea.
The Create was probably the most fun bike I rode last year. The Virtue was more at the scarf and tweed jacket end of cycling. The Wayfarer fits in between. With swooped back handlebars and wide tyres it’s not meant to be thrown about with the same gusto as the Create but it’s not nearly so far up the Pee Wee Herman scale as the Virtue.
It wouldn’t be a bike review these days without the mandatory Pee Wee Herman reference.
While a comfortable and stylish ride, the Wayfarer will also make an able ride for commutes and beyond. As I found out during testing.
The swept back bars give some indication of where the Wayfarer sees itself. Obviously not meant for racing or freestyling. It’s meant for getting about in style and comfort. The geometry is conservatively stable without being slow, the brakes have nice big levers and the saddle is well padded. All this points to a bike that’s not going too fast. That’s the trade off with style and comfort, you sacrifice speed and maneuverability. But do you really? Well not so much.
The Wayfarer doesn’t have point and shoot steering but when pushed into a corner at speed it doesn’t baulk either. The fat tyres are great for extending the scope of this vehicle (more on that later) but don’t really slow the bike down all that much. I’m in favour of wide tyres. Within the scope of getting about town you don’t lose much in terms of speed from, say, a 22 to a 28, but you do get a bunch back in terms of peace of mind from road debris, potholes and gutters. The Wayfarer’s 28c tyres feel fatter but they’re a good match for the bike.
The brakes are smooth and sure. They don’t lock up real quick but you can lock em if that’s your thing. (And if that is your thing then this bike probably isn’t your thing.) I’d been meaning to replace the pads on my bike for a while and getting on the Wayfarer reminded me of how bad my brakes were. Are brakes really this smooth? Where is the scraping noises I’d got used to? The levers are a comfortable width and provide plenty of leverage.
As usual, Reid have finished the bike well. All bearings are sealed on wheels and headset. The saddle and grips are a matched leather. And the detail of the cable routing through the frame is a nice touch.
The chain is a half-link chain in goldy-silver. While half-link chains are great for getting the right chain length where it counts, it’s here more for good looks than anything else. Just like the one on my bike.
I found the saddle to be a bit over-padded at first. It’s something I soon got used to. My longest ride was probably only about 20kms and over that kind of distance I soon forgot about the saddle. This should be a saddle that suits most people, enough padding for those who need it but not enough to offend people (like me) who prefer something leaner.
The grips are well matched. They have a bit of a pentagon shape, not fully round. My only complaint was an OCD one, that the sewing on the grips didn’t match up either side. I had to rotate one grip so they aligned, much the same way I have to align the knives and forks when I sit at a table. But am happy to ignore the chaos I created in the kitchen.
I loved the sweep of those handlebars. I’ve spent too long considering handlebars in the past and was quite taken with the Noah’s Arc. I ended up with wooden bars and when they (inevitably) got a bit loose I swapped in a pair from a 60s Peugeot roadster I had sitting the garage. I appreciated the opportunity here to ride a bike with the bars I might have bought and might now actually invest in. The rounded shape works well and looks lovely. They could find a place on my bike I reckon.
It’s great to see bike companies putting some good platform pedals on their bikes. I can see why those cheap yucky pedals were used on some bikes in the past. They’re pretty much assuming you’re going to chuck them in favour of your own pedals. But intro level bikes like these are probably attracting new riders, who don’t have favourite pedals. All the bikes I reviewed lately have come with the kind of pedals I would happily keep. These were no exception.
They’re attached to a tidy set of Lasko cranks that have kept to the older world aesthetic of the bike.
You get some no-nonsense chain tugs on the Wayfarer also.
Finally, while discussing components, it would be remiss of me not to mention the head tube badge. I love a good head tube badge and this one’s impressive. Is the Reid family descended from royalty?
You might notice also the sloping crown on the forks. This is a matter of aesthetics that might concern some people. Whether you’re “some people” or not is a matter for you to decide. I think I might like to see a square fork crown to match the older world aesthetics of the bike. But I’m none too concerned either way. I am, therefore, not some people.
Assembly on the bike was pretty good. You can see from the image of the cable routing that they’ve applied ample grease to the seat post. That’s a good sign as small things like this are often overlooked. The headset felt a little over-tightened but bedded in nicely. Half-link chains can be a little creaky at first and this went away also after a few rides. A few tweaks at your first service and this bike would be a trouble-free riding companion.
This is a much more capable bike that it looks. I took it up the lookout at Lennox Heads (image below) and it fairly raced up the first 20 metres of the climb. It struggled on the following kms but to be fair to the bike the blame probably lay elsewhere.
The view was well worth the climb. When I returned from a stroll to the top this guy with three feathers and the dapper shorts was looking over the bike. (The chick with the short shorts wandering into shot and sadly we can’t see the full regalia of feathers in our man’s hat. It was an impressively diverse outfit only matched by my usual combination of board shorts and cycling spats worn with leather jerkin.)
You expect a comfortable ride with a bike like this but in a line-up crowded all the way from Rad to Comfortable (see my amazing infographic above) you’d need this bike to get along pretty neatly also. And it does. The bars aren’t sit up and beg style. They put you in a comfortable position but a riding position nonetheless. (If you know what I mean, “riding position” as opposed to cruising position.) My bike was a small and at my grand stature of 165cm tall it was little on the short side, the sweep of the bars making them feel a little close. I got used to it and at the end of the review I’m not certain whether I’d get a small or medium if I was buying one. If you’re buying online though and you’re the sort of person who sits between sizes you might want to consider the next size up.
I’d been surfing off the heads at Lennox Heads that morning with the bloke above. He got all kinda famous later that week when he was attacked by a shark. Some people have all the luck.
It was only my second surf for the winter and lack of condition meant I was out of the water and onto the bike about an hour later. In my explorations of Lennox I found out what a capable and versatile bike the Wayfarer is. When the road ran to gravel it kept pushing along quite nicely.
Gravel takes a bit of effort out of the legs. If the bike doesn’t boogie along you lose momentum and end up pushing through the bumps rather than over them. The Wayfarer showed it’s more than just a pretty bike. We shouldn’t be too surprised of course. Bikes used to look like this. And they were ridden everywhere. The 28c tyres helped a lot. The geometry isn’t doing anything fancy, and that’s a bonus. Nothing rattled or jolted loose. It was an enjoyable ride and showed the bike can be used for exploring up hill and down dale if wanted.
When I first got the bike from Reid I thought I might need the larger frame to accommodate the swept back bars. While I think I could have made myself feel at home on the medium it turned out I was perfectly comfortable on the small. Pushing along gravel roads into a slight headwind (or pushing along the Gold Coast highway into a 30 knot head wind) proved I had the space on the bike to get return from my efforts. On a racing bike you’ve always got the option to get onto the hoods or the drops for a more aerodynamic position. You’ll never get that choice with a bike like this but I didn’t feel like I was being hung out on the line to dry neither.
The Wayfarer became my bike of choice while it was in the garage. With Crumpler or BoGear bag I have been getting about seeing clients, visiting friends and enjoying the China Town Markets (that included such Chinese fair as Filipino, Japanese, Lao, Indian and the dim sim store that sold bacon and cheese dim sims…okay, it’s a very Gold Coast China town). I didn’t tire of riding this bike or wish I was on a more familiar ride. I humped about with 15kg of tech gear, rode slowly and chatted sociably with my wife, I sometimes rode fast and enjoyed the feeling of the wind whistling over my bald pate. If the Wayfarer was the only bike in my garage it’d still be a pretty good garage. And I’d get all the jobs done on a bike I need to get done. Including the main job. Having fun.
Many thanks for Reid Cycle for the loan of the Wayfarer. Thanks to David and Stephan for being so accommodating.