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Bikes that make sense.

June 2, 2011

I was perusing the bikes on offer at my LBS (Local Bike Shop) earlier this week, spending imaginary funds I don’t have on things I don’t need. Among the 7kg plastic-fantastics and “motocross-bikes-without-engines” that pass for mountainbikes these days I spied the practical beauties below.

“Practical”, now there’s a word that gets a cyclist’s heart flat-lining – almost as bad as “sensible”. But when it comes to utility [short commute to work / picking-up groceries / dropping kids at school / catching-up with friends for a coffee] you don’t need light, you don’t need racy and you certainly don’t need expensive.

What you need (and I know I’m preaching here) is simple, comfortable & tough. A simple, comfortable & tough bike with mudguards and a way to carry stuff is even better. Save the expensive bikes in you life for burning-up tarmac or shredding dirt.

The first one to catch my eye was the Kona Bike. Yes, that’s the model-name, “Bike”, shear brilliance! And this from the same company that gave us the Humuhumu-nukunuku-apua’a? Classic looks, 3-speed hub gear and comes with mudguards already fitted. Just needs a rack or front-basket to finish it off.

Kona Bike - 2011

Then I mooched around the new model Kona Ute. Not the cutest puppy in the litter, but despite the elongated frame it rides just like a bike – but it offers so much more carrying-capacity. I see the newer models now have a rear disc brake, good call. When you’re flying down Queen Street with a week’s groceries in the panniers and your mum on the back you’ll need some power to haul this puppy in.

Of the 168 posts I’ve written for Bike Friendly North Shore in the past year the one on longtail cargo bikes consistently takes the most hits. Longtail Bike and Cargo Bike also feature among the most common search terms. Despite this I have only ever seen one person riding one, what’s up with that?

Kona Ute - 2011

It really pleases me that these kind of bikes are now available in New Zealand. I’d wager “utility” bikes are not a big seller yet, but with oil prices high and the roll-out of new cycling-infrastructure throughout the country it must be a growing sector? I sure hope so anyway.

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