It is hard to believe that it has been almost three weeks since I took the XYZ Bikes Men’s Cruiser out of the box. Since that time a couple nasty ice storms, a week-long trip for work and Christmas preparations and celebrations have taken me out of the saddle. I had the day after Christmas off, however, and decided to take the bike on it’s inaugural ride without making many real adjustments after the initial set-up. My main concerns were seat height, riding up hills and the brakes.
Seat height. I’m 6′ 5″ tall and am used to riding a 25″ frame bike with 700c wheels. This bike has 26″ wheels and a smaller frame. With the seat post extended a bit the seat on the XYZ bike is 41″ off the ground. My seat on my normal commuter is 44″ off the ground. I was comfortable enough but still wish I could get another couple inches out of the post without worrying about it’s stability.
Hills. I’ve grown accustomed to 29 gear combinations (even though I only use 12 on a regular basis), so going back to the one speed of my youth in a hilly area was a real concern. I didn’t have long to wait to try it out as I rode a hill that, according to a protractor and level, was an ° angle. Again, my fears seemed to have no basis as this hill wasn’t a problem at all. There is one nasty hill on the bike path that I did end up having to hop off and walk, but other than that I was fine on the stretches where I usually need to drop down to a larger cog on the back.
Brakes. After I put the bike together I rode it around the cul-de-sac across the street from me and began worrying about how well the brakes were going to work in real traffic. I’m not sure what the technical term would be, but they seemed a bit loose. I worried that I’d have to make a quick stop but wouldn’t be able to get the bike stopped quickly enough. In a reply to my out of the box post, chunkymonkeybiker replied that the Shimano breaks “burned out a few after short distances.” We’ll see how they are after I get some more miles on them. It took a half mile or so to get used to using coaster brakes again, but they worked well enough on level ground. Still, I was concerned about the downhill stretch leading to the busy intersection. Yep, they are slower to get you stopped than my disc brakes, but I stopped within a reasonable distance of the car that pulled in front of me just before the red light. They’ll work, I’m not worried about stopping on this bike anymore.
When I left the roads to get on the bike path I encountered the remains of our recent snow and ice storms. My initial thought was to get off the bike and walk around the worst of it — but, hey, why not put this bike to the test? The beach cruiser worked well in the snow. There was none of the slipping around that I would have expected with the slicks on my normal bikes. On the way home I rode through every patch of snow and ice that remained on the road. I am going to get the fenders ordered and use this as my snow bike.
Speed — I averaged around 12.2 MPH for this trip with a top speed of 19 MPH. The average is about 1 or 2 MPH lower than my normal commute and the top speed was around 8 MPH lower than my normal commute. So, although this bike isn’t built for speed it wasn’t much slower than my typical commute.
Some other notes:
A few little creaks here and there. According to the instructions on their website, the creakiness in the seat can be easily adjusted.
The front wheel looks like it is positioned a little off center. Again, I haven’t made any adjustments after the initial set-up so I’ll be tinkering with it.
All in all this was a very fun ride. For a $100 bike, I’m fairly impressed. I think for someone just getting started, if they don’t have real far to travel, this would be a good starter bike. Not as much worry about theft as I have with my bikes that cost around a grand… Give me a few weeks and I’ll put it through the paces.