Thursday, 10 March, delegates from the National Bike Summit delivered a simple but straightforward message to Capitol Hill lawmakers. Instead of dropping their budget cutting axes on federal programs that support two-wheeled transportation, they should view cycling as “a simple solution” that helps fight obesity, reduces traffic congestion, decreases air pollution, alleviates dependence on foreign oil and stimulates the economy.
In these wobbly economic times, the reasoning goes, cycling is solid investment. Though just 1.5-percent of federal transportation dollars are spent on cycling- and walking-related programs, nearly 12-percent of all trips are done by bike or foot.
Keeping the funding pipeline flowing also provides a big boost to small business by way of local bike shops, which sell the lion’s share of bikes in the U.S. An increasing number of those bikes are of the commuter variety, a notion affirmed at the two-day Urban PressCamp, which preceded the Summit and showcased an array of transportation-oriented offerings. Here are four BikeRadar favorites:
Breezer Uptown Infinity, $1269
What is it: Think smooth shifting sedan with clean lines and a big trunk, and you get a feel for this elegant urban commuter. Breezer’s newest transportation bike comes stock with a NuVinci N360 continuously variable drivetrain. That means you can always find the right gear, because a rider can use any gear within the range, which is seamless and infinite. A Shimano Dynamo front hub powers front and rear lights. A fully encased chain means no more rolled up pants. Rear rack with spring clip makes cargo carrying a snap.
Why you want it: If you’re a serious commuter, this bike covers all the bases. Cargo racks are frame-size specific for increased strength. A one-inch steerer and slightly curved fork enhance comfort. A built-in rear wheel lock discourages the criminal element.
Cannondale Hooligan 3, $999
What is it: Small, eye-catching and a lot of fun to ride, the Hooligan was dubbed a non-folding folding bike by the marketing team in DC. It was originally designed for Londoners who wanted a bike they could squeeze into a car trunk, then pull out and ride into the heart of the city, thus avoiding the car surtax. Low stand-over height, adjustable stem and a custom seatpost provide one-size-fits-all functionality. Disc brakes offer reliable, on-a-dime stopping power.
Why you want it: Because even if you live in a 300-square-foot studio apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, you can still jam this 20-inch-wheeled steed into a corner and not trip over it every time you go to the bathroom. Out on the street, the Hooligan’s as nimble as a BMX bike. Three speeds and a lefty fork assure that great things do come in small packages.
Cannondale Hooligan 3
Civia Halsted, $995
What is it: The pick-up truck of bikes; except the cargo-carrying capacity resides up front, overtop a 20-inch wheel. The frame-mounted rack is made from recycled plastic and can safely carry up to 50 pounds, aka a case of beer and two large pizzas. Low stand-over height makes mounting a load-laden bike safer. The small front wheel lowers the center of gravity for a more comfortable ride.
Why you want it: Unlike some human-powered haulers, which utilize longtail design, the Halsted’s short wheelbase makes it maneuverable in a crowd. Plus it’s a lot easier to carry up the stairs of your Brooklyn brownstone. Disc brakes help prevent fender benders, even when loaded. And it even includes tabs to hang signage, meaning you’re that much closer to opening that pizza delivery business.
Fuji Declaration, $599
What is it: An affordable get-around-town single-speed commuter outfitted with a flip-flop hub, riser handlebar and color coordinated components.
Why you want it: Simple, elegant, efficient, the Declaration is indeed a statement maker. Choose green or black, fixie or freewheel, then hit the streets. Whether you opt to dart in and out of traffic or play it safe on the bike path, this nod to Fuji’s Japanese fixed-gear roots will get you from A to B in style.