Civia Loring: 3 Months Out

Have you ever had one of those bikes that, for unexpected and not-so-obvious reasons, gets ridden more than your other bikes? You know, a bike you bought for a specific purpose—like hauling cargo or locking up outside at work—that ends up being your go-to bike for other types of riding as well? I bought one of those bikes recently.

Back in December of last year, I purchased a Civia Loring from Gold Country Cyclery. My plan was to use it as a dedicated cargo hauler for those times when a pair of panniers on a rear rack was not enough capacity. While the Loring has certainly proved to be capable in this regard, much to my surprise, it’s turning out to be the bike I most often grab for all sorts of casual excursions around town. It’s a fun and easy bike that works exceptionally well for stop-and-go riding in the city or suburbs. In fact, the Loring has become my number one coffee run, grocery getting, errand bike.

The rack makes the bike…

So, what does it have going for it?

  • It looks great. You gotta’ love the bamboo appointments contrasted against the black components and day-glo green paint.
  • It’s comfy. The large frame fits me like a glove. The bars are set at my ideal 1-2cm above the saddle, and the forward extension is just about perfect. Plus, it comes stock with my favorite Brooks B67 saddle.
  • It’s easy. A step-thru frame is a real advantage when a bike is loaded up front and back; it’s so nice to just step through the frame instead of swinging a leg over a pair of over-bloated panniers.
  • The components are spot-on. The SRAM i-Motion 9 internal gear hub is becoming one of my favorites. The gear ratios are evenly spaced and the shifting is effortless (now, if SRAM would only make something other than a twist shifter for this hub, I’d be in heaven). The Avid BB discs are powerful, quiet, and provide excellent modulation.
  • It can really haul. The Loring can take 20 lbs. up front and a least 50 in back. The front rack is the highlight of the bike with its removable side rails, integrated U-lock holder, and under-rack light mount. In combination with the self-centering spring and double-legged kickstand, the Loring’s front rack makes quick trips to the grocery store a breeze.

Obviously I’m quite smitten with this bike. I honestly can’t find much of anything I don’t like about it. It’s not fast, and it’s not light, but it provides a different kind of in-city performance for people who are using a bike as a car replacement. And as I intimated at the top of the post, somehow the overall package is greater than the sum of the parts, making for a bike that’s surprisingly enjoyable to hop on and ride around town for practically any purpose.

Civia

Disclosure: Civia is a sponsor of this website. You can view our review policy here.

26 Responses to “Civia Loring: 3 Months Out”

  • tim says:

    This post reminds me of my feelings for my recently purchased Kona Ute. Yes, I have lots of bikes to choose from, but if it’s a city trip I’ve yet to find a real reason not to ride the Ute. It’s comfy, versatile and the position is much better for city riding. I’m beginning to think everybody needs an urban hauler.

  • doug in seattle. says:

    They should have made that rack beefier. Twenty pounds doesn’t seem like too much. I’ve hauled 50 lbs on my CETMA equipped Bridgestone mountain bike. With dedicated geometry I bet it would be easy, as opposed to it being a bit iffy on an early 90s mountain bike.

  • Brent says:

    I have been seriously considering a Loring as a dedicated grocery getter/hauler/winter time non-rim brake bike. I have some concerns about the fenders though. I worry that in snowy or wet conditions they might start to degrade, I also have concerns about their strength. How would you say they compare to standard metal or plastic fenders from a longevity standpoint?

    I am also a bit concerned about the fact that they are flat, and so far from the tires. While that would prevent snow from getting caked in between the tire and the fender, how does the flat design affect the functionality? Do they still protect well, or does the design lend itself to spray?

    The Loring hits pretty much all of the points on my year round hauler list – fenders, igh, chainguard, front and rear racks, step through frame, upright geometry, disk brakes (though drums would be fine too), comes in black.

    It is also very striking.

  • Alan says:

    @Brent

    Hard to say for sure on the longevity of the fenders. I’d say plastic fenders are the toughest, followed by wood and metal. As woods go, bamboo is pretty tough and these fenders seem fairly stout to me.

    Certainly, fenders that are close to the tire and wrap around to the sidewall provide better coverage, though they can also get jammed with mud and debris. It’s a trade-off.

    Alan

  • Scott says:

    I was going to ask about the fenders as well. My brief experience with fenders like that (before the bike I had them on was stolen) was that they just weren’t very useful. Decent enough for riding through the occasional puddle, but not for actually riding in the rain.
    Actually, I swapped out the flat fenders for standard metal ones before the bike was stolen, so somewhere around here I’ve still got the flat ones. That’s one more thing for craigslist/ebay.

  • Scott says:

    I just realized that the rear fender (at least) on the Loring might not need to be as effective, because of the flat panel on the rear rack. So that’s something.

  • john boyer says:

    Alan, Do you read minds?

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    This bike is not something I can imagine myself riding as I prefer classically shaped frames, but I can appreciate its design and I like the wooden accents.

    For me, the “surprise bike” was my vintage Raleigh Lady’s Tourist. With its rod brakes and rusty loop frame, it looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie. I thought I would ride it only occasionally around the neighborhood. Instead, it turned out to be an amazingly comfortable, reliable, and as you say “easy” bike, and I ended up riding it more than any of my other bicycles.

  • Le jardinier says:

    Je pleure d’envie!
    Les Civia ne sont pas disponibles en France….

  • David F says:

    I have, or rather had a bike like that. I say had because I crashed it “stukkend” (broken) this past weekend. It was an old GT MTB that I’d picked up exceptionally cheap off eBay, and then fixed up for commuting to work on.

    I’d built up a cross racing bike from the parts of my tourer/commuter, but with the new flash race frame, but despite best intentions, it was too much to take on the train and leave locked up in town.

    I started commuting on the GT to save my crosser, but soon found that it was always the first bike I’d take anywhere. In its role as commuter, it had the frame-mounted lock bracket fitted, ‘guards (fenders) and lights. As utility, I soon fitted the trailer hitch too, so it was well and truly the most useful bike in the house.

    But crucially it was always close to the door and ready to roll, whatever the weather, time of day or destination. Sadly it is now quite broken, the fork being trashed. I do have another (nicer) old GT MTB frame and fork lying around that will be headed off to the powder shop soon…

  • David Henry says:

    My wife has a Loring the same color as this and loves it. I put Schwalbe Big Apple 26 x 2.35’s on it for the winter and she likes them so much that she is going to keep them on. It changes the looks a little, but the ride is very nice, especially at about 30 psi in each tire (I think they can go down to 22 psi and up to 60 psi so they can be quite firm if you want). Anyway, just a comment to say that we love the bike too.

  • Sished says:

    I’m 46 and have been car free all my life. Over my adult life I have only had 3 bicycles and only ever had one bike at any one time. The 80/20 rule dictates that they have not always been perfect for the task, but they have always been good enough. I have never felt the need to hold a stable of many & varied bicycles fine tuned to specific limited tasks. This may not endear me to the cycle industry!

  • PJ says:

    Hello,
    The fenders do work! I can say from experience that they catch most everything ridding in the rain or in puddles. I think part of this is due to the width, so if you ran tires large enough you may start to see some side spray.
    The front rack can only be rated up to 20 lbs so that is what it is rated to. I think the regulation has to do with how a fork mounted rack will impact steering beyond that capacity.
    I hope this helps.
    PJ
    Civia Cycles

  • Alan says:

    @John Boyer

    “Alan, Do you read minds?”

    LOL… I think it’s more like “Great minds think alike.” ;-)

    I thought about you when I wrote this post, knowing that you’re as enamored with your Loring as I am with mine.

    Here’s John’s bike (he’s the proprietor of the Edible Pedal delivery service in Sacramento http://ediblepedal.com/):

    Alan

  • Dave Burns says:

    I bought my wife a Loring a few months ago to be her primary errand and commuter bike. Like you, my wife absolutely adores her new bike and seems giddy like school child whenever she rides it.

    A few things I’ve noticed:

    1. I’m even more envious of her Brooks saddle than I anticipated (I do not own one myself)
    2. People regularly stop my wife to compliment and/or ask questions about the bike.
    3. People really seem to be interested in the bamboo

    On the negative, I’d say that the rear fender is too short, that is to say the coverage could/should be improved. We life in Seattle as it’s the rainy season, riding behind the Civia is a drag as spray seems to shot right at me (or anyone else) riding within 10-12ft. I seem to think that an additional 3-4 inches would heed significant benefits to curbing the spray. That said, the rider him/herself will be sufficiently protected from splatter.

    On a separate note, I equipped the front wheel with the SRAM iMotion dynamo-hub and paired it with the Schmidt Edelux headlight. And to to cap off the package, I picked-up a pair of Ortlieb Bike Shopper panniers.

    I own many high-end bikes, but I continue to find myself jealous of my wife’s set-up. The Civia is such a great bike!

  • Scott says:

    I’ve found almost all rear fenders to be too short these days. They’re made so that you can easily “rear up” the bike onto the rear wheel with the front wheel in the air, to hang the bike from a hook or fit into an elevator or whatever. Long fenders get in the way of this. The best compromise seems to be an extra long flexible mudflap on a shorter fender.

  • Jay says:

    @Scott:

    You’re exactly right. I put full SKS fenders on my bikes this past year, and now getting them down the stairs like I used to (holding them by the handlebars “reared up” vertically so just the rear wheel was on the ground) is very difficult, because the fender catches on the steps as I go down the stairs, so now I just roll them down the stairs normally, which is harder because it requires standing next to the bike rather than behind it – hard on a narrow stairwell!

  • Dreamlet says:

    Thanks for the great review, Alan. I’ve always wondered, why does the Civia website say that the Loring is “Designed for short runs of five miles or less”?

  • Alan says:

    @Dreamlet

    “I’ve always wondered, why does the Civia website say that the Loring is “Designed for short runs of five miles or less”?”

    That’s a great question. I think they should remove the statement from the website – it’s misleading. I routinely make ‘cross town errand runs without issue.

    Alan

  • Scott says:

    @Deamlet / Alan

    Good question about the 5 miles or less… When we started out creating the Loring concept, our core user’s experience was for shorter trips around their home. To that end, we wanted a bike that handled slower speeds, comfort and loads well. In the end, we ended up with a bike that does that well, but also handles longer rides capably.

    Scott
    Civia GM

  • Urb Anwriter says:

    Well, there’s no real worry about the 5-mile limit; I finally got mine on the road last night 4/6/10 and rattled off a 15-mile (really 24 km) ride, squeezed in between rain showers, thunderstorms, and SE winds of some charm. Notes on one ride; I find the bike really low-geared. With a total rider and baggage load of 200 lbs almost all my starts were made in 6th or higher, and being intimately familiar with Vancouver’s terrain there isn’t one hill in the city that I cannot climb, in the saddle, and without wrenching against the bars. I feel like a bit of a toff riding this thing, kilts and tweed will work just fine.

    I’ll have more to say down the road, if Alan will allow the space. I would also like to thank John and PJ for their effort, efficiency, and patience

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Stuff We Like: Plastic Fenders says:

    […] had a set on my old “Riv-ized” Easy Racers TE and I currently have bamboo fenders on my Civia Loring. As attractive as they can be, the downside to metal and wooden fenders is that they can be fairly […]

  • sygyzy says:

    Alan, what rear bags do you use/recommend for the Loring?

  • Alan says:

    I change out the bags depending upon what I’m hauling, but for all-purpose running around town I almost always have a grocery pannier on one side. I like the type that fold flat, then snap open for dropping in groceries, books, etc. The Minnehaha is nice:

    http://www.minnehahabags.com/canvas-grocery-bag-pannier/

    My carry-all bag is an Arkel Bug that converts into a backpack. I keep my laptop, wallet, keys, phone, and other work related junk in that pannier. If we’re heading out on the weekend, I’ll just strap that bag on the opposite side, which still leaves the grocery pannier and the front rack for whatever it is we’re picking up. If I need even more carrying capacity, I’ll put my phone, wallet, etc. in a messenger bag and put a pair of larger panniers with lids on both sides. These might be from Minnehaha, Ortleib, Arkel, etc. We keep a lot of bags around and change them out for whatever need we may have.

    Alan

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Apples & Oranges or Splitting Hairs? says:

    […] transpo bike bubble I live in, they really are very similar. My Rivendell Sam Hillborne and my Civia Loring seem quite different when looked at from my usually narrow perspective, but when compared to a […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » A Look at Common Wheel Sizes says:

    […] starting to see more utility and cargo bikes designed around this smaller wheel (for example, my Civia Loring uses 26 inch wheels). Advantages include the ease of building smaller frames around this size, and […]

 
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