Santos SUB £1079

Balloon-tyred town bike

BikeRadar score3.5/5

This Dutch street bike is halfway between an urban mountain bike and a fully-equipped cruiser. It’s available with endless à la carte options, including a choice between derailleur or hub gearing (Rohloff, Nexus 8 or SRAM three-speed) and 20 different colours.

Ride & handling: Great idea, but a bit short on pep

As a concept we love this bike. It looks like a fancier version of one of our own DIY town bikes – a steel singlespeed mountain bike with 2in Schwalbe Kojak tyres and similar accessories (rack, guards, lights). However, at 34.2lb (15.5kg) the Santos SUB is 7lb (3kg) heavier and has a premium price to match its premium quality. 

And even for a town bike it’s a bit short on pep. That doesn’t matter when you’re riding sedately in normal clothes on relatively flat roads. But in hillier places, or if you like to put the hammer down, the SUB feels ponderous.  

Frame: Sturdy and practical, but on the heavy side

The SUB is available in two sizes – M (45.5cm) and L (52cm, the version we tested). Its aluminium frame is sturdy and solid-feeling, with a reduced standover height thanks to the dropped, braced top tube. 

There are fittings for everything except a front disc brake and a low-rider rack. Dropouts are vertical, and chain tensioning for the hub models is via the eccentric bottom bracket. 

Equipment: Quality kit from Scwhalbe, SRAM and Tubus

The standout features of the bike are its 2.35in Schwalbe Fat Frank tyres, which colour-coordinate with the beige frame. They’re a bit draggy if you push the pace but their cushioning effect is excellent, making light of potholes or cobbles. 

The 36-spoke Rigida wheels are sturdy as well, the more so since the rear isn’t dished. It’s equipped with a SRAM three-speed hub which we requested – three-speeds are the Cinderella of town bike gears, giving good efficiency and a fair range. This SRAM hub has a coaster brake that you can use to save your rims, but we specified a rear V-brake too because we automatically reach for hand brakes in an emergency.

Leather trimmings add class to the bike, while the Tubus rear rack is one of the best you can get. A kickstand gives stopping-at-shops convenience and the huge ding-dong bell is charming. 

The only accessory we didn’t get on with was the free-floating Hebie Chainglider. It was snagged by the gear cable’s eyebolt in first gear and was dragged onto the sprocket, causing friction, so we removed it.

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