The Austinfiets

Splendid Cycles has mentioned before our good fortune of having nothing but wonderful customers. Everyday our customers give back to us by riding their bikes, stopping by to say hello, sending us photos of their adventures. It is indeed a very rewarding life for us. Joel and I (Barb) have been helping people choose bikes and helping them get more enjoyment from cycling since the late 1980's (Joel since 1988, Barb since 1987). Nothing brings us more pleasure than customizing a bike to exactly fit a rider's tastes and needs. Now, working with cargo bike customers we feel like everything we've learned in all of our years of bike shop experience has coalesced to help us find incredible purpose in what we do.

One case in example, is our latest project bike.  The facilitators for that project, the Austins, walked into our shop last summer looking for a cargo bike to carry some precious cargo: their daughter.  After test-riding, talking with us about possibilities, and some brilliant creative thinking, the Austins had a picture of their perfect bike. Their expressed needs:

  1. Safe and suitable for an infant
  2. Low maintenance
  3. Classic lines and color but modern components
  4. Low stand-over and capable of fitting a 4'11" rider

The bike that fit those needs: A lovely gray Metrofiets cargo bike with silver Shimano Alfine 8-speed components, dynamo hub,and Supernova lighting. The completed bike, does not disappoint! It's gorgeous, practical, and a fun to ride:

The wood cargo box has a classic aesthetic that compliments the Metrofiets' lines. With the optional rain canopy, the cargo box is dry and warm against cold winter rains. Inside, a removable bench seat with shoulder harnesses for two kids make for a safe and adaptable cargo hold.

More safety features include Shimano Alfine hydraulic disc brakes on the front and rear. Some shops are hesitant to install hydraulic disc brakes on bikes but with thousands of miles of use on our own cargo bikes we're convinced this is THE way to go. Not only is your stopping power fantastic even in sopping wet weather, but we've found maintenance to be easy. Disc brake pads last many more miles than other brake pads and while cable activated brakes often require a yearly overhaul (new cables or housing in our NW climate are common annual maintenance tasks), we have systems that are on 2-3 years without the need for any maintenance. Would we recommend hydraulic systems for round-the-world bike tours? Probably not, but for urban riding they are definitely a recommendation.

Speaking of low maintenance: the Shimano internal Alfine-8 gearing is the ultimate. No derailleurs or cassettes to gunk up in winter weather.  Just keep your chain lubed and do adjustments as needed. If you've never adjusted gears on an Alfine internal 8-speed, I think you'll be amazed at how easy it is to do. No tools required, nor a work stand, just good eyesight as you align adjustment indicators located on the hub using the adjusting barrel on the shifter.

Another feature we love about the Alfine hubs is the ability of the rider to shift when stopped. If under- or over-geared at a stop, the rider can shift to the preferred gear, and when the light turns green, take off in that new gear with out even a clunk or a grind of the gears.

Never worrying about charging light batteries or remembering to bring along a light set is a small pleasure but, one well-worth investing in if you want to always be ready to ride.  For this bike we paired the reliable Alfine dyanamo hub and the impressive Supernova E3 Pro headlight and Supernova LED taillight.

The E3 Pro beams over 300 lumen onto the road in a very clean, broad beam. The light includes a capacitor that provides a 5-minute stand light. The stand light is dimmer than the running light but it is bright enough so that you're visible to on-coming traffic when you're  stopped at a stop light. Add a 5-year warranty and that makes the Supernova hard to beat.

In order to accommodate two riders, we set up this Metrofiets as we do many of the bikes we sell, with a Satori Easy Up stem. This stem allows the riders to raise and lower the handlebars to their preferred height with the flick of a quick release lever. And, never fear, that quick release does NOT release the stem from the bike so it is NOT a security risk, just a nice customization feature.

Just a short while after taking the photos in this post, the new owner came to claim the bike.  Needless to say, he was thrilled as his dream bike had been manifested. As we did final preparation for sending the bike home, the clouds moved in and a downpour began.  The sky opened up and quickly dampened everything...everything, that is, but Mr. Austin's excitement. Without rain gear or even a sweater he headed out for the ride home; he certainly wasn't going to let the weather keep him from his maiden voyage on the lovely new Austinfiets.

And so, a new chapter has begun for the Austin family. We have absolutely no doubt that their new Metrofiets cargo bike will change their lives. That's why we do what we do. Building a custom cargo bike with attention down to the last detail certainly makes our customers happy. But, it's what we enjoy doing most because we know that if we do our job right, that cargo bike will change how our customers address their transportation needs. It feels like the best way we can give back to our customers: making them happy so they can enjoy their riding their bikes. If they enjoy their bikes they ride more. If they ride more all sorts of wonderful things happen.

Happy cycling everyone.

Cargo bikesBarb