Handsome Cycle Co. Devil

The Handsome Cycle Co. Devil (aka the “Handsome Devil”) is a steel frameset that draws inspiration from the legendary Bridgestone XO-1 of the 1990’s. Like the XO, the Handsome Devil is unusually versatile. Its many braze-ons, multiple brake mounts, generous tire clearance, and semi-horizontal dropouts enable it to be built up as a tourer, commuter, single speed, club racer, or virtually any other type of road bike. Here’s an explanation of the concept from Handsome Cycle:

The model that has really stood out for us is the XO-1. We started our design of The Devil with the XO as a template. We admire Bridgestone for making a very versatile bicycle in the XO line. The ability to morph into a city bicycle, a touring bicycle and a mountain bicycle in the same frame is what we wanted and felt that our customers would as well. We then took that template and adjusted it. We changed it to 700c wheels instead of the 26 inch that the XO-1 came with. We felt that 700c wheels are a more efficient way to go, and now a days you can get a 700c wheel that is just as strong as a 26 inch. We also changed the geometry to make it a great city commuter, touring bicycle, cyclocross bicycle, or single speed winter bicycle.

The Devil was designed in Minneapolis and is manufactured in Taiwan using 4130 chromoly steel. The overall workmanship is on par with other framesets in this price range from Soma, Surly, and others. The TIG welds are clean and the powder coat is attractive. A full set of decals is included, but the Devil is shipped sans decals, giving you the option of going decal-free if you prefer.

EcoVelo is all about replacing car trips with bike trips, so naturally we want to know how a bike behaves when loaded with weight, whether it be groceries, gardening supplies, or library books. To test out the Devil’s load carrying capabilities, I first loaded it with 30 lbs. in the rear panniers only, then 16 lbs. in the front basket only, then both. As a comparison, I did the same thing with my everyday ride, a Surly Long Haul Trucker. The LHT is a good bike to compare and contrast with the Devil because it’s also a versatile, reasonably priced, TIG-welded steel bike. Here’s what I found.

The LHT, with its relatively high trail steering, is stable but a bit sluggish for my tastes. Not surprisingly, adding 30 lbs. to the rear wakes up the steering and makes it feel lighter and quicker up front, in this case actually improving the feel of the front end. The Devil, on the other hand, has relatively low trail and an already responsive, quick feel up front when unloaded. With 30 lbs. in the rear panniers, the already light front end becomes twitchy and the weight feels as if it’s steering the bike. This result is not surprising considering the LHT is specifically designed as a touring bike, whereas the Devil is more of an all-rounder that isn’t specifically designed to carry such heavy loads in the rear.

Model
Size HT ST TT BB CS WB Trail
Handsome Devil 58cm 73° 73° 590mm 70mm 436mm 1046mm 45mm
Bridgestone
XO-1
59cm 73° 73° 580mm 45mm 425mm 1031mm 55mm
Surly LHT 58cm 72° 72.5° 587mm 79mm 460mm 1067mm 65mm
Soma
Double Cross
58cm 72° 72.5° 592mm 66mm 425mm 1042mm NA
Legend: HT = Head Tube Angle, ST = Seat Tube Angle, TT = Effective Top Tube Length, BB = Bottom Bracket Drop, CS = Chainstay Length, WB = Wheelbase

As might be expected, placing the weight up front had almost exactly the opposite effect. The Devil, with its relatively low trail front end, handled 16 lbs. in the front basket quite well. The front end remained manageable, and though the steering was noticeably slower, I still felt totally under control and didn’t at all feel as if I was wrestling with the handlebars. The front end of the LHT, on the other hand, felt extremely heavy and sluggish with that much weight up front. There was a noticeable tendency for the weight to swing to the side, and after just a short while my forearms tired from death-gripping the bars.

Both bikes handled reasonably well with the weight distributed between the front and rear. The Devil works best with the load split closer to 50/50, whereas the LHT performs better with most of the weight in the rear.

Though it can handle rear loads up to around 15-20 lbs. without issue, the Devil really shines when it’s set-up porteur-style with a front cargo rack and/or basket. Add a mid-sized saddle bag and you have plenty of capacity for commuting and light cargo runs, while eliminating the need for a rear rack and panniers. The Devil I tested was set-up with a small Nitto rack and Wald basket up front. This is a great set-up for commuting that provides capacity for a laptop bag, lunch, and other work necessities.

The Devil is quicker and more compact than most of the bikes I’ve been riding this year. To once again compare it to the LHT, the Devil is lighter in the hand and more responsive. It feels decidedly more like a road bike than a touring bike. The fact that the Devil can also handle commuting loads without issue makes it a capable, all-around ride for anything other than cargo-level loads.

The Handsome Devil is an appealing frameset at a competitive price. Details include all the necessary cable stops, eyelets for fenders and racks, bottle mounts, a pump peg, semi-horizontal dropouts, 132.5mm dropout spacing to accept road or mountain hubs, and sufficient clearance for heavy duty tires. This kind of versatility and attention to detail is hard to find in a frame at this price point. In all, the Handsome Devil is an extremely well thought out package.

Price (frameset): $409.95

Handsome Cycle Co.

I Never Liked Grocery Shopping

… until I started doing it by bicycle. Now, on a gorgeous winter day like today, a day that topped out at 67 degrees with blue skies and puffy clouds, it was the highlight of the entire day.

Gallery: Ann’s Schwinn Frontier FS

My bike is my trusty 21-speed, 2001 Schwinn Frontier FS mountain bike. I added electric assist last summer, installing Currie’s kit. I had found that I wasn’t cycling that much because my knees would give me heck. (I retired to a beautiful forest west of Glacier National Park after spending most of my career working in Washington, D.C. Needless to say most hills here are steep.) After adding power assist, I began not just exploring the vast 2.2 million acre forest that I live in, but using my bike for errands into the nearby town that’s about 10 miles away. Since July of last year, I’ve put more miles on my bike than on my truck. I won’t be able to go car free. The rural area where I presently live has no mass transit, taxis or car rentals. I also buck and split my own firewood and need the truck to do that. However, I use the bike to scope out areas in the forest where I can cut firewood and mark it on my GPS unit–I don’t fell trees but cut up trees that have fallen or been felled by the forest service. I also run many of my errands, including shopping trips, on my bike. You’ll see it’s evolved–I added pogies for winter (love them), added fenders that I’m going to keep on year round and recently added a bipod kickstand and front rack. I may invest in a larger set of rear panniers so I don’t need to contemplate taking my trailer for larger grocery runs. Who knows, if I end up moving back to an urban area, I might just be able to go car-free. At present, I’m trying to patiently wait for the spring thaw so I can ride in the forest again. Over the winter, my rides have all been into the nearby town or on paved roads that don’t run deep into the forest.

FYI–If you’re wondering what the rectangular lights are on the front and rear of the bike–they’re turn signals. It drove me nuts that many younger drivers didn’t seem to understand hand signals so I made turn signals using 2 sets of super bright amber LED strobes that I control via a center-off toggle switch on the handlebars. (I also added a brake light while I was at it that’s triggered by a micro lever switch attached to the rear brake cable.) It’s a DIY project I’d recommend and cost less than $30.

Ann

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Zimbale Leather Saddle Bag

This beautiful little saddle bag is made by Zimbale in Seoul, Korea and distributed in the U.S. by Zimbale North America. The construction and finish are excellent and the price is quite reasonable considering the quality of the workmanship. Features include quick release magnetic closures (located behind the buckles) and a lace to secure the bag to the seatpost. It’s perfect for carrying a spare tube, patch kit, multi-tool, and wallet. Available in black, honey, or brown (shown).

Retail Price: $79

Zimbale Bags

Disclosure: Zimbale provided the bag for this review.

Gallery: Dottye’s Thorn MK3 Audax

This is my English light touring bicycle with Ortlieb Classic touring panniers and handlebar bag. —Dottye

Veloradio

BicycleLaw.com has introduced a new podcast feature called Veloradio. From the website:

With Veloradio, Bob Mionske will be discussing bicycle law and advocacy issues in a series of podcasts that he will be hosting on a regular basis.

The first Veloradio podcast will be available soon. In the meantime, you can preview the new feature out with a podcast of a Nolo interview with Bob Mionske on legal issues for cyclists.

Veloradio


 
© 2011 EcoVelo™