First ride: Civia Loring

Steel hauler/commuter with bamboo highlights

The US$1,695 Civia Loring is a stylish workhorse commuter made of custom steel, with rolled aluminium and bamboo racks to compliment its European lines.

BikeRadar spent a week riding a Pearl Black pre-production sample around the streets of Mountain View, California, and the first riding impressions were solid.

For starters, the swooping top tube offered sturdy standover height, a nicety when the Loring -- named after the Loring Park neighbourhood in Minneapolis -- is loaded as intended, as was our bike for the duration. The swept-back handlebars were good and wide, although the wrist angle could've been a bit more open.

Our medium sample weighed 41.6 pounds with standard platform pedals, certainly not a lightweight, but with 4130 cromoly steel ubing and fork, plus rolled aluminium and bamboo rear rack and front cargo basket, lightweight wasn't the goal for Civia as much as steady hauling.

We found the Loring to be smooth once up to speed, but the extra weight was noticeable on most rides. Like most commuter bikes designed for hauling up to 50 pounds of stuff, that extra weight may be a good thing over time. We also reminded ourselves that this was a pre-production sample.

The SRAM i-Motion internal 9-speed rear hub, laced to a 36-hole Alex SX44 rim in the rear and a 36-hole Novatec hub in the front, typically come with Panaracer Pasela 26 x 1.75 Tourguard tyres. Our sample had Continentals, similar in ride feel as the Panaracers. Our fifth gear had a few hiccups, but we also realized the bike had been shipped around the country a few times and had taken some abuse.

Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors front and rear rounded out the stopping duties, while a TruVativ XR 12-degree stem, XR single-clamp seatpost and IsoFlow 5D single 42-tooth chainring crankset completed the component package.

A few component highlights included a Brooks B-67 leather saddle, ESGE two-legged kickstand for stability, and chrome steel wraparound chainguard.

According to Civia's sales and customer service manager PJ Ramstack, production models are being shipped to dealers by the end of June. We asked about the spec before returning the bike.

"Our hope and vision in three to five years is to see people feel comfortable paying more for a nicely-specced bike, but we need to be aware of the higher pricing compared to the competition," he told BikeRadar.

As an offshoot brand of distribution giant Quality Bicycle Products, Civia, like its cousins Surly and Salsa, benefit from a wide assortment of component options via QBP's vast dealer network, so adding a dynamo front hub and lightset or swapping out components here and there to suit one's needs is not a problem.

"We'll respond and adjust the spec as needed over time," he added.

From our perspective, a smartly specced utility bike like the Civia Loring is worth the higher price, as gas prices inch higher once again this summer. Two different three-speed options are also available.

For more information, visit www.civiacycles.com.

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