Recent Upgrade to Nexus Redline 8-Speed Hub

By the spring of 2009 I had given up my car and believed that it was simply going to take me 2 hours, each way, to get to work and back by transit. To me, there was no other way.

When I purchased a Marin Hamilton 29er I thought I’d found a simple, sturdy bike that would take me to and from my girlfriend’s apartment on the other side of town. After spending 4 hours of my day on transit, taking another trip by subway and streetcar was of no interest to me, so why not bike I said. Turns out the answer to that question would open up a much larger world for me. I found an escape from the restricting timetable of transit and I found a new obsession.

After many thousand kilometres the easy-going singlespeed setup of my Marin took me to work and back and recently, on 100+ km rides to my hometown. Now that I work from home my commute needs have changed. My Marin is now my one and only piece of exercise equipment (but you’re more than a ThighMaster to me, bike). My commute is as long as I want it to be as I search for new mobile offices around Toronto, hopefully spending part of my day in a warm space with tasty espresso and wifi. You see, I simply couldn’t give up commuting, that’s how much I loved my morning and evening rides to and from the office.

As I started to venture further and further from the city on my weekend rides I began to feel limited by a singlespeed. Just one more gear option could come in handy on longer climbs or descents. So I began searching for options and with 70+ bicycle shops in Toronto, well the options were plenty.

I test rode touring bikes, road bikes, cyclocrossers and everything in between. I tried out every frame material I could and started to enjoy the feel of drop bars. There are hundreds of beautiful, functional and simply awesome bicycles to be found here in town. Of course, many of the bikes that offered a better frame and components than my existing bicycle cost $1,000+, which when you’re looking for quality is certainly reasonable, but when you’re working on a budget like mine, well, they quickly become out of reach.

Knowing that I really enjoy the ride and position of the Marin Hamilton 29er I started looking at conversion options. With horizontal, rear-facing dropouts the Marin frame would make adding a derailleur challenging (though not impossible) so I began reading about internally geared hubs and the leading manufacturers; Sturmey Archer, Rohloff and Shimano.

With horizontal dropouts, accommodating one of these hubs on the Marin would be relatively simple. So I decided upon the Shimano Nexus Redline 8-speed hub due to the positive reviews online and middle of the road pricing. I paired the hub with a Mavic A 319 rim and chose a Shimano twist shifter.

After one week and a couple hundred kilometres I’m really enjoying the gearing options of the 8-speed hub. Being so used to a singlespeed I find myself sticking to just a few of the gearings, often forgetting that I can switch to higher or lower gears. However, when I do remember the options make the few hills on my daily rides far more enjoyable, both riding up and down.

I took the Marin out for a 35 km rain ride recently and the hub performed flawlessly. Once dry there was no change in performance as well. The hub does add around 3 lbs of weight to the rear of the bike. It is noticeable but doesn’t affect the ride.

I offer many thanks to Martin at Hoopdriver who helped me decide on what parts I’d get and for doing a great job on the installation.

You can learn more about Shimano Nexus parts here.

Be sure to visit the Hoopdriver web site or stop by the shop on College just east of Dufferin.

Don’t Call it a Girl’s Bike

Just because your bicycle has a sloping top tube doesn’t mean you have to call it a “girl’s bike.” That slope can make it easier to cycle modestly while wearing a dress, sure, but it also comes in handy once you start carrying any sort of cargo on your bicycle.

Adding cargo adds weight to your bicycle and the “step-through” frame design makes it easier for you to balance your packages or children while mounting and dismounting your bike.

Here are just a few “step-through” bicycles for women and men that can help you carry your cargo and avoid the delicate dance of getting on and off your bike:

The above Linus Mixte comes with a rear rack ready for you to strap a basket to, available at Bikes on Wheels.

The Globe Live 1 Mixte will stand out in the crowd, if not for the bright red colour but also because it comes stock with a huge front rack, available at Urbane Cyclist.

While the Dutch may call this design by Electra an “omafiets” (literally, grandma’s bike) both men and women have benefited for years from this easy to step through design. Available at The Cycle Shoppe.

When it comes to really maximizing your cargo carrying capacity, the Kona Ute certainly stretches the limits. Available at Sweet Pete’s.

And that’s not all… you’ll find even more sloping step-throughs at Curbside Cycle who carry models from Batavus, Pashley and Abici.