The inspiration for this bike came from seeing folks wearing out rims and drivetrains every year by just commuting to work. Here at the shop we replace many 9, 10 and now 11 speed drivetrains every winter and spring. A 9 speed cassette can now cost over $100! The SRAM 7 speed hub has the same low gear (actually a bit lower) than a standard double chainring road bike and a high gear that is plety high. No one wants to clean their bike after riding home (except Gregg) so low maintenance was a top priority. High quality parts were used for long life. We specified sealed bearings thoughout. Flat pedals for normal shoes or boots. High and wide drop style handlebars for comfort.
Other bikes we have built, inspired by the Race-Müter
Race-Müter with 26" (559) Wheels
Trek Drum Brake Conversion
Redline 925 Seven Speed
The Bicycle Industry is even getting the message that folks want low maintenance bikes, but they often don't quite understand true low maintenance as this example from Civia demonstrates. See below for our critiques.
Belt Drive: Expensive, limited supply, not recycleable, un-proven, one company's proprietary design, not standard, added design and cost to the frame. Lack of complete chaincase still allows your pants to get caught
"in the chain".
Disc Brakes: Sure they stop nice, but in wet weather, they still require more time and the rotors and pads are expensive to replace. They also can wear out in less than a year of daily commuting (on Seattle's wet hills).
Low handlebars. At least give customes the option of having the bars higher. The steer tube can always be cut shorter!
The best thing about this bike is the brakes. Drum brakes are great for commuting. The brake pads will last the life of the bike. The rims will last much longer because the sidewalls will not get worn, a huge problem in Seattle. The lack of rim and brake pad grime makes tire reflective sidewalls more effective. There is a reason, this bike has drum brakes. Val Kleitz had a say in designing it. Val moonlights here on Sundays from his day job at Seattle Bike Supply. He is all about drum brakes.
The Sturmey Archer X-RD5(w) is the new wide range verson of their 5 speed hub. The gear range is fine for most cities. For Seattle we recommend a rear cog upgrade to 22 or 24 teeth. Unfortunatly the crank the bike comes with uses a 130mm bolt circle and the smallest chainring available is 38T. A 110 BCD would allow the user more chainring options from 34 to 53 teeth. Surly makes very nice stainless steel ones.
The CPSC required chainguard is effective but ugly. It works. If the chainstays were 45cm minimum instead of the stock 43cm then the Hebie Chainglider would easily fit. It should be possible to retro-fit a Chainglider to the bike as-is by selecting the right chainring and cog combination and using a half-link.
The city handlebars are very comfortable. Ergonomic grips would make them even more comfortable. We like this model from Portland Design Works.
The cheap seatpost and seat are a wise money saving tactic since seats are very personal. We recommend a Brooks model of your choice!
Schrader valves are more user friendly and durable. If you prefer presta, make sure you use Wheels MFG Stem Savers.
This bike handles very nice and quick. It is sporty! It uses Redline's popular 925 geometery (Torker and Redline are both brands owned by SBS).
Other improvements we would like to see:
Look for small inprovements for 2011, but there is really no need to wait because this is a GREAT bike for city riding.