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Beater Bike Re-Review

A little while back I went to Resistor Gallery to check out the Beater Bikes with a friend of mine. I liked the bike’s ruggedness and simplicity which would be ideal for city commuting. A few months ago, my dad stumbled upon my review and decided to buy a Beater Bike which he has yet to actually use, during that time I took it upon myself to use it as my commuter bike and get some mileage into it.

Ditching my track bike with its aerodynamic positioning and the need for speed for an upright bike that favours comfort and style was definitely a weird shift that took me some time to get used to. Once I did get used to the bike I really began to appreciate the upright position during my 14km commute and the 6-gears were a relief during my climb up the Bathurst St. hill between Dupont Ave and St. Clair Ave W.

The Beater Bike on a grocery run

On the second day of commuting with the Beater Bike I dropped it on the drive side (right side) bending the derailleur hanger out of place. Fortunately, the steel was soft and durable enough to be bent back into place and was able to bend it and go on with my day. I have so far put nearly 400km on it and have commuted in both fair and rainy weather, though it has kept up all this time there have been a number of things about the bike that bugged me.

The Beater Bike fork has a 1 1/4” threaded steerer which is a really odd size considering the industry standard is either 1” or 1 1/8”. That means finding a replacement fork or stem would be close to impossible since you won’t find any 1 1/4” components. The seatpost is also a weird size at 25.4mm compared to modern steel bikes which used 27.2mm. All of this odd sizing makes customizing the bike (such as a longer or taller stem) to fit the rider much harder.

Another big issue for me was the actual assembly of the bike. During the first few rides I noticed several small noises coming from the bike and I would often have to pull over to tighten different nuts and bolts that were obviously not tightened enough. Everything from the handlebar clamp bolt on the stem to the rack and fender bolts came loose in the first few days of riding. I even had to repack the bottom bracket as it came loose on one ride. Though these were quick fixes for me I know that commuters who don’t have the special tools or the know how to do it would be stuck with having to take the bike into a shop to do it which would cost money and time.

The cup-and-cone bottom bracket

The Beater Bike is still a nice bike for the money in comparison to what department stores have to offer in the same price range. I know they are in the process of designing a new model of Beater Bikes and I hope that in the future they look at standardizing the specs on their parts and take the time to properly assemble everything.



Posted: June 28th, 2010
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Vitess Bicycle Review

For three days I had the luxury of test riding a Vitess road bike and though the time was short I made sure I got in as much riding time I could and for good reason: this bike rode like a dream. Built in Canada, Vitess bikes are all high performance carbon fibre road bikes tailored to match the needs of the rider.

What sets Vitess apart from most road bikes out there is the fact that they are tailored to the rider; rather than having a few choices in parts and sizes Vitess bikes offer flexibility in how each bike is assembled. Julien Pappon, founder of Vitess, explains that he wants to give riders the ultimate riding experience and in order to do that the bike needs to be as unique as the cyclists who use them whether they are a Master 1 racer or a recreational rider. That means that when you buy a Vitess bike you get to choose amongst different wheel sets, drive train components, and other components such as the saddle and handlebar that best suit your needs. To help determine the appropriate build and to optimize comfort and performance Vitess consult riders in matching the bike to them and even offer bike fitting by a professional to ensure your bike fits you.

In the Vitess showroom in Toronto’s west-end

The Vitess bike that I got to test ride was a full carbon road bike with Shimano Ultegra group, Vitess’ house brand 38mm aero-carbon wheels, and was topped off with 3T Pro components and fi’zi:k saddle.  The bike looks fantastic and comes in a sleek Arctic Force paint job, special detail was made in both the function and practicality of the bike which is evident in everything from the internal cable housing to the matching coloured cable crimps.

The moment I left the show room I noticed a huge difference in performance compared to my steel road bike. The carbon fibre frame and wheels made Toronto’s pot holes and road blemishes almost unnoticeable as carbon fibre is remarkable in reducing road vibration. Though I was extremely nervous and fidgety at first I quickly felt comfortable riding the bike as I blitzed home along Lakeshore Blvd and the Martin Goodman Trail. It felt like the bike was responsive to my every move adding confidence in my cornering, climbing, and sprinting. Cross winds were a bit hard to take at first as the wind would whip up against the deep profile of the rims but with a bit of practice I quickly got the hang of it.

Carbon fibre, 38mm deep clincher rim.

3T Pro components


Shimano Ultegra f0r super smooth shifting

On a separate ride, I decided to tackle some hills in Toronto and though we may not have the Alps or steep climbing stages like in the Tour de France I did a continuous loop of a 7% gradient hill for an hour. Climbing both in the saddle and standing on the pedals felt great as the bike responded to my every movement; I didn’t have to focus on balance all I had to do was pedal harder and faster. On all of my rides I felt confident and in complete control of the bike which are two must haves on any kind of ride from a group ride in a tight pack of riders or a solo effort climbing the Niagara Escarpment.

So is a Vitess bike right for you? Though the price tags on these bikes are really steep for most commuter cyclists it is important to note that there is value in the price. Having done many long distance charity and recreational rides I’ve had my share of cycling injuries and discomfort as a result of poor bike fit and I’m sure that many other riders have had similar experiences. Vitess bikes come with a proper bike fitting to maximize efficiency and to decrease the risk of injury which is important for those with chronic injuries or those who plan on some long distance rides. The high-end components may be expensive but they are long-term investments; long lasting, quality components are more reliable and will require less costly maintenance/replacement in the long run. Cyclists looking for quality, performance and the need for speed all in a bike made just for them should definitely look at Vitess bikes.

For more information visit www.vitess.com



Posted: May 3rd, 2010
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Vitess Bike Preview

For the past few days I’ve been test riding this dream bike made by Vitess. I’m in the process of writing a review so here’s a quick teaser:

wondering what this is? Visit www.vitess.com



Posted: May 1st, 2010
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Canadian Tire Cup Holder

One advantage car drivers have over cyclists during the morning commute is the ability to sip a cup of coffee/joe/java/liquid cocaine during their ride, but not anymore. Canadian Tire began stocking wares from what appears to be a new company called Everyday and one of Everyday’s new products is the Traveler Handlebar Cup Holder. At $7.99 this simple contraption beats the price of other similar products such as the Felt Café Coffee Cup Holder which retails in the $20′s and looks eerily similar.

Using a single bolt, the Cup Holder mounts onto most handlebars allowing riders the option of carrying their coffee with them. The mount does not fit every handlebar out there, but it will fit the common 25.4mm handlebar used on mountain bikes and hybrids as well as 26mm handlebars on some road bikes. Don’t bother trying to fit it on any 31.8mm OS (Oversized) bars, though. The ring is one-size fits most so it may not be able to fit every coffee cup or mug (adding one of those tree-wasting hand protector thingies may help). Bikeroo recommends you use a re-usable coffee mug as it not only helps the environment, but since it is sealable, it prevents any unnecessary spillage as you hit a pot hole or hop a curb. Another possible issue is interference with your cable housing. As you can see in the image below the Cup Holder was installed facing the rider instead of away so as to not interfere with the cable routing.

During my initial test-ride, the Cup Holder did a fantastic job keeping a medium sized, Tim Horton’s Iced Cappuccino in place. Despite running over some potholes and sewer grates the drink remained upright with no spillage. Unfortunately, when hopping off a side-walk curb I did spill some of my Iced Capp (again, opting for a re-usable mug is ideal).

Overall, the product is definitely worth the money, especially if you want to enjoy your morning brew like our commuter counterparts in their cars or on the subway. Despite its limitations in versatility it’s a welcome addition to any commuter bike and just makes the morning ride a bit more awesome.



Posted: April 4th, 2010
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A sign of the times

You know something is mainstream when it’s being sold in Walmart:

Some bike bloggers on the intertubes are going crazy about Walmarts new bike, the Mongoose Cachet. Though Walmart is quite ambiguous about the specs of the bike one look at it clearly indicates that it is the big-box attempt at entering the fixed-gear/single-speed world of cycling. It’s heavy, it’s cheap, it’s got no-name componentry, and it probably comes in only one size but this is still big news in my books. From a anti-big box consumer’s perspective I think this is pretty funny that Walmart is trying to reach out to this niche crowd, but from a cyclist’s perspective there is a lot of potential with this bike.

Most new commuters I see don’t jump into the bike scene with a hybrid or a cute Dutch bike, rather they are toting around heavy-than-needed too-much-suspension mountain bike that they purchased at a big box store like Walmart. They aren’t practical and the components are of poor quality since they need to cut corners in quality to make it affordable. This bike can change all that. Now, new commuters have a chance of owning a bike free of uneccessary extras like dual-suspension or super heavy frames. This bike could have a lot of potential as a commuter as its single speed drive train is easier to maintain than a multi-geared bike and it’s chunky 700c wheels are much better for city streets over knobby mountain bike tires (it also looks like the wheels are 48 spoke? If so that could mean a practically bomb-proof wheelset). I can’t wait to see these in Canada.



Posted: March 27th, 2010
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Beater Bikes Review

As much fun as it is riding a carbon fibre road bike or a full suspension mountain bike they just aren’t practical for riding in the city with its poor road conditions, theft and inclement weather which can do a number on our bikes. We also need a few things such as fenders, a rack or even reflectors on our ride just to make our commute bearable. Sure there are bikes out there designed for commuting but with prices starting at $500 it may be steep for many potential first time buyers or cyclists. Sure they beat department store bikes in terms of quality and performance but the price tag also makes them targets for bike theft.

Enter the Beater Bike.

Weighing in at $325CND (After tax) this bike is designed to be your bar hopping, wet weather, grocery getting, everyday commuter. There’s a men’s and women’s model and and each one comes ready with an all steel frame, 6-speeds, fenders, chain guard, kick stand, rear rack, and reflectors. Both the wheels and seat post use a solid axle bolt rather than quick release skewers to deter theft as well. Inspired by the commuter bikes of Europe, this no-frills bike is pretty enough to ride but not attractive enough for thieves to eye. Other nice features include 700c wheels rather than 26″ mountain bike wheels, giving you more options for street tyres and better speed as well as V-brakes rather for better stopping power. For anyone who’s interested, the frames have horizontal dropouts in case you’re thinking of turning this into a single-speed/fixed gear/coaster brake/3-speed bike.

However, there are a few draw backs to the bike. The bike only has 1 chain ring up front and 6 gears on the rear which may not be ideal for people who have to commute over hilly terrain. I personally don’t mind since I’ve been riding a single speed for ages now.

Another drawback is the bottom bracket which uses the old school style adjustable-cup-and-cone rather than sealed cartridge bearings. It’ll do the job, but over time the bearings will be exposed to the weather and will need to be regreased.

Beater Bikes aren’t comparable to high end bikes…but that’s the point, they’re meant to be beaten around on your daily commute. I’m already seeing some of these on the street and I’m hoping to see more. For more information visit: www.beaterbikes.ca

Post Script: This was written a year ago and since then I’ve seen a number of them on the street and I even had a chance to ride one and darn are they fun to ride. I love how they are ready to ride without having to dish out extra cash to get the bike commute ready and it seems like many others love them too.



Posted: March 19th, 2010
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