Mini-Review: PUBLIC D3

Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom
Public D3
Zoom

[We only had the D3 on loan for a little over a week, hence this “mini-reivew” instead of our usual “mega-reviews”… ;-) —ed.]

PUBLIC bikes are designed in San Francisco, CA and manufactured in Taiwan (not China). Their D3 is a diamond frame 3-speed that, among the bikes in their line-up, most resembles a classic 3-speed roadster. Unlike European roadsters—most of which are made from hi-ten steel—the PUBLIC’s frame is chromoly. Along with other differences in design and construction, this brings it in at approximately 10-15 lbs. under many of its European counterparts (28 lbs. compared to over 40 lbs.). This not insignificant difference in weight makes it more practical for carrying up flights of stairs or loading onto bus and train racks.

Even though it looks like a roadster, the D3 rides more like an American sport touring bike or hybrid. The steering is light and quick and the overall ride quality is lively. The frame is nicely compliant without being overly flexible. I was expecting more of a solid, cruiser-like ride similar to my old Pashley, but I found the D3 to be surprisingly nimble and responsive.

The D3′s cockpit is more stretched out than usual for this type of bike. Some will like it, others won’t. For how I’d use it, I’d want the D3′s cockpit to be more upright. This could easily be remedied by swapping the stock handlebar for an Albatross or North Road bar (I’d replace the stock saddle with a Brooks B67 while I was at it).

The Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal gear hub supplied on the D3 is snappy and quick. The gear range is appropriate for flat to rolling terrain; beyond that I’d suggest the 8-speed model. The supplied twist shifter works fine, but it would sure be nice if Shimano offered a thumbshifter for this hub (this would also allow the use of cork grips).

The long reach caliper brakes perform well, though their surface finish is a bit rough. The 36-spoke wheels, oversized platform pedals, stout kickstand, metal chainguard and fenders, and rear dropout adjusters are nice touches. The remainder of the components are on par for a bike in this price range.

The D3 would benefit from mid-fork braze-ons for mounting a rack and wire basket low over the front wheel. It is also (conspicuously) missing braze-ons for water bottles. A wire basket is a natural for this bike and it’s too bad the proper mounts aren’t in place. The lack of bottle braze-ons is simply baffling; I know this is a city bike, but it’s important to carry fluids while running errands around town in the summer. Roadsters don’t traditionally have braze-ons for water bottles or front racks, but they’d certainly not be out of place on this modern bike.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the PUBLIC D3. It’s much lighter (28 lbs. on my scale) and more nimble than expected. The bars are a bit of a mystery, and the missing braze-ons are a bit of a disappointment, but those certainly aren’t deal killers. For the most part, the details are well thought out and the overall package is clean and well-executed. Most importantly, the D3 is a fun ride at a good price ($690) that fills an important niche: a modern, good-looking, reasonably-priced 3-speed roadster designed specifically for an American audience.

The PUBLIC D3 featured in this review was supplied by the Hot Italian PUBLIC Pop-Up Shop, in Sacramento, CA. For more information, contact publicbikes@hotitalian.net. The shop’s official Launch Party is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, at Hot Italian in Sacramento. Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach and creator of PUBLIC Bikes, will be on-hand for the event.

48 Responses to “Mini-Review: PUBLIC D3”

  • Don S says:

    Thanks for the review. I am pleased to hear about the quality of the frame. “Baffling” is a good word for the missing braze-ons.

    Too many of these bikes are created without considering reasonable loads over either wheel. The assumption is that anybody can slap on a rack and go. The reality is that a more universal design approach could easily factor those things in without interfering with design simplicity. Particularly for a company seeking to fill this niche.

    What is the finish like on those rims? How long would they last in city riding?

    It’s a handsome bike. For what it’s worth, I would consider a bike like this if front loads were addressed honestly and effectively. As for rear loads, I think a rack can’t make up for chainstays that are too short. I could see Public bikes competing directly with Globe.

  • Alan says:

    @Don S

    “What is the finish like on those rims? How long would they last in city riding?”

    The sidewalls are machined which leads me to believe the colored portions will hold up as well as the powder-coating on the frame. Only time will actually tell though…

    Alan

  • Pete says:

    I have read a few times recently how “expensive” braze-ons are and how manufacturers try to save money by eliminating them. I don’t know anything about the costs, but it doesn’t seem like it could contribute much. Anyone have real data?
    I totally expect to have to change bars and saddle on any bike I’d buy, so no issues there.
    In any case, I’d MUCH prefer a builder leave something off that I can easily add, than weld something on that I can’t easily remove (that’s right, I’m looking at you, Raleigh!)
    By the way, the light blue D1, D3 and D8 are on sale right now at the website. (No affiliation with Public Bikes, just an FYI)

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    I really wish they had just left the rims silver, but otherwise I applaud them for producing a nice looking and reasonably well thought out bike. Agreed that braze ons for a water bottle cage at least would have been a no brainer.

  • Joseph E says:

    We tried out one of these at Flying Pigeon LA. I think the Mixte version is even nicer-looking, and I love the partially powder-coated rims and rack, and all of the quality details.

    The bars are a little straighter and father forward than I like, but my wife appreciated the quick steering and lively feel of the bike, which may also have something to do with the light wheels (for a city bike) and frame. It definitely feels more like a French mixte than an English roadster or American Schwinn.

    I hadn’t noticed the lack of front rack and water-bottle braze-ons, that’s a shame; they clearly expect you to use the rear rack instead.

    Public also offers a similar bike equipped with a rear derailer, for a little less, which we “reviewed:” http://www.bikesfortherestofus.com/search/label/Public%20Bikes

  • Jim says:

    @ Dolan– Public makes a model with silver rims, not powder-coated.

    Knowing Forbes’ aesthetic for clean design and his extensive cycling background I’m sure the braze-ons were not so much overlooked but a conscious aesthetic choice, as they would appear “blobby” on an otherwise sleek frame. While I prefer braze-ons a bottle can easily be carried in a bag or basket, a front rack can be supported by p-clamps on fork or through the axle. Ugly yes, but viable workarounds.

    @ Alan– The bars were designed with the SF rider in mind. Steep hills dictated the necessity to lean forward on them.

    Jim

  • CedarWood says:

    Last time I had a Shimano 3-speed, I pushed the shifter forward enough to accommodate full cork grips. Worked fine, but then I have big hands and there was enough room on the bar. Other half cuts Ergon cork grips shorter, and they look factory-installed. Overall, that’s a nice useful bike at a great price. Hope Public sells more than a few.

  • Androo says:

    @ Jim

    Totally comfortable with the idea of more forward bars – I can’t ride upright bikes for any length of time, and you’ve presented as good a reason as any.

    However, re: the lack of braze-ons, those sound like pretty sloppy excuses. If braze-ons really would have offended some sense of aesthetics rather than being a simple matter of cost-savings, supply them with flush-mounting plugs when not in use instead of omitting them. And p-clamps as an alternative? If ugliness is the sin he was trying to avoid, this is a pretty glaring oversight.

  • Alan says:

    @Jim

    “The bars were designed with the SF rider in mind. Steep hills dictated the necessity to lean forward on them.”

    Hi Jim,

    Is this an assumption or was it indicated specifically by someone at PUBLIC? I’d be surprised to know that the bike was designed specifically for San Francisco’s terrain.

    Thanks,
    Alan

  • Androo says:

    In general, seems like a neat enough bike, useful and practical for many people. Certainly doesn’t stand out as particularly special in any respect, but it’s priced quite competitively for what it is.

    And it earns huge points from me for being made of chromoly. That any manufacturer can sell a hi-ten bicycle for more than $300 and get away with it is just a travesty in my mind (I’m looking at you, Batavus!)

  • Jim says:

    @Alan

    Two separate friends were told this by at least one Public employee. Having ridden a Public I don’t feel this kind of hybrid bar is necessary, as I ride a Dutch bar in SF and find it offers many more hand positions.

    What I like is the long-ish cockpit, allowing for upright or aero positions, depending on bar/stem/saddle used.

    Jim

  • Rick Houston says:

    @Jim:

    It’s my understanding that Public isn’t going to offer a “mix and match” option in the future, so the silver wheels you mention will invariably be for particular models only. As to the handlebar thing, what you suggest makes a certain amount of sense, but neither Rob or Dan has mentioned that rationalization to me, so it could be more of what “felt right” to them instead; but since they live in San Francisco, you could be right! :-)

    Regarding the lack of braze-ons for the forks, the next time I’m at the store in San Francisco, I’ll ask for a more definative answer. :-)

    Also, I have it on good authority that this isn’t the last we’ll hear about these bikes and their racks; stay tuned!

  • arevee says:

    Nice enough bike, but the 8 speed version is priced comparably to the Breezer Uptown 8 and the latter has full chain case, dyno lighting system, integrated lock, etc. The Breezer 3 speed is around 580. Yes, Breezer is aluminum, but it’s a good value. That said, were I in the market for such a bike, I’d give Public a look. Steel does ride nicer than aluminum and 28 lbs is more nimble than the 40lb plus hi-ten steel monsters.

  • Alan says:

    @Pete

    “I have read a few times recently how “expensive” braze-ons are and how manufacturers try to save money by eliminating them. I don’t know anything about the costs, but it doesn’t seem like it could contribute much. Anyone have real data?”

    I don’t. But, I suspect in this case it’s more about honoring the Euro-roadster tradition and maintaining super-clean lines. I respect that, but I would still want braze-ons for practical purposes.

    Alan

  • David says:

    I don’t know, the Raleigh Detour Deluxe seems like twice the bike for only $100 more.

  • Old3Speed says:

    How did you come up with “over 40 pounds?” Did you actually weigh an English 3 speed? My 1970 Phillips is 34lbs on the nose, buddy. Completely stock condition with fenders and chainguard. Your claim of “10-15 pounds” sounds a lot higher than the true measure: the D3 is 6 pounds lighter. Big deal.

    Don’t make up numbers.

  • Alan says:

    @Old3Speed

    My Pashley Sovereign weighed approximately 47 lbs. (it was a 5-speed). Many current Dutch roadsters weigh in at 40-50 lbs. So while your 1970′s Philips may very well be 34 lbs. that’s the exception, not the rule. Have you looked at the weight of current Dutch and English roadsters? We’re not “making up numbers”.

    Alan

  • Jim says:

    @Rick Yes, their derailleur-equipped entry level bikes come w/less powdercoat.

    I have no affiliation with Public but I admire them for what they’ve done in such a short time. Only a short while ago Forbes had this vision to get people on bikes, sourced marketers and bike designers. Went to Taiwan. Sourced parts. Produced prototypes. Finalized design. Their first 8 speed internal hub went for an astronomical $1250. Due to public (sic) feedback, including my own, the price was dropped an astonishing $400. Now a blue version is on sale for less than half its original price. Again, public demand was so great for a less expensive model a $495 version came out quickly.

    I was going to post I wouldn’t doubt an integral front rack solution to come out of that workshop soon with designery aesthetics due to feedback. They are simply an extremely responsive company.

    Due to this I really don’t think Forbes is BSing when he says all he really wants to do is apply his skills to get as many people on his bikes as possible. It seems to be working, judging from sales.

    He’s certainly not going to rake it in; it’s the bicycle business after all.

  • Old3Speed says:

    I am glad that you’re not making up numbers (not being sarcastic).

    I saw what I took as a slight to English 3 speeds and took offense. To be fair, I have not weighed any Roadsters.

  • Alan says:

    @Old3Speed

    Ah, the internet is so good for mis-communicating… :-)

    I certainly meant no offense at all to English 3-speeds – they’re wonderful! Many current roadsters are being made from hi-ten steel, and some are nickel-plated before being powder-coated. They also sometimes have stainless parts. These are great things for all-weather toughness, but there’s no arguing that it makes for heavy bikes. Everything is a trade-off…

    Alan

  • kfg says:

    “. . .that’s the exception, not the rule. Have you looked at the weight of current Dutch and English roadsters? We’re not “making up numbers”.”

    No, you’re not, but your sample size is small and the comparison is apples to oranges, as they say.

    The Pashley Sovereign and “Dutch” bikes are heavy roadsters. They are, well, heavy; by intent.
    The Phillips is a light roadster/sportster, it is considerably lighter. Light roadsters with aluminum parts rather than “All Steel” are lighter still, about 30 pounds. Light roadsters were the choice of the working classes who depended on the bicycle as their primary means of transportation. Heavy roadsters were the bikes for farmers, tradesmen and postmen; work bikes – and, somewhat ironically, the upper classes who owned cars, so didn’t need a bike with any real performance for extended traveling.

    Pashley these days caters to the psuedo-aristocrat market. They are not typical of traditional English transport bikes.

    Cro-mo typically saves about 2 lbs in frame weight IF lighter gauge tubing is used. You cannot save 15 pounds on a frame that weighs rather less than 10 in the first place.

    Let me step away from the keyboard for a mo . . . OK, I held a stripped down hi-ten light roadster frame in one hand and a 531 frame in the other (it’s funny what I’ve managed to accumulate in my basement), and I’m not sure how accurately I could tell them apart blindfolded.

    The Public is a light roadster, compare apples to apples and all that. And hey, it’s about 2 pounds lighter than an equivalent hi-ten English light roadster and right in line with the 531 light roadsters. Go figure.

    As for the water bottle issue you can mount a cage traditionally or use a Twofish. Baskets are supported by struts to the axle.

    What I’d like to see are some traditional colors as an alternative to the “Cali” colors, and yeah, a trigger shifter.

  • Alan says:

    @kfg

    Thanks for the info.

    Can you give me some specific examples of light roadsters (in the 30 lb. range) that are currently being produced? I’m not doubting their existence, but I can’t think of many right now. Perhaps the Linus? Since we’re comparing apples to apples, let’s limit it to “3-speed roadsters currently being produced that weigh under 30 lbs. and cost less than $700″.

    Thanks-
    Alan

    PS – There’s the Raleigh, but I don’t know how much it weighs: http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-hybrid/classic-roadster-11/

  • Daniel M says:

    A quick visit to their site:

    http://www.linusbike.com/models/roadster-sport/

    …reveals that their frames are made of high-ten and their most equivalent model weighs approximately 32.4 pounds in the large size.

    A friend of mine has the Linus in the loop-frame version and I am really impressed with how easily he keeps up with me on my touring bike (on flat ground, mind you). Ever since Public lowered their prices, however I would have trouble choosing the Linus over the Public.

  • Jim says:

    So basically, all one needs to do is discuss a front rack an it materializes? Posted today:

    http://publicbikes.com/Bike-Accessories#37

    Jim

  • Daniel M says:

    …although a few minutes more surfing indicates that the Linus is still about $100 cheaper.

  • kfg says:

    In the traditional range of under 35 pounds (because I too do not know all the exact weights) what comes to immediate mind is the Linus Roadster (as you noted), the Schwinn Coffee (current model has replaced the the Ashtabula crank with a three piece aluminium) and the IRO Pheonix. Lessee . . . Bowery Lane is out of stock of threes. The single is 29 lbs. There’s the Trek Belleville with front rack and water bottle mounts. Nirve Wilshire, no fenders or rack but only $500. Masi seems to have dropped their 3 speed, bummer, but have a 7 for under $800. The Specialized Globe 3 costs a bit more than the Masi 7, and it’s aluminum if that matters. Yes, the Public beats these on price, but there they are anyway; apples come in price ranges while still remaining apples. How about the KHS Green for the bargain hunters and at Pashley prices there are more options.

    There are quite a number not built for the American or Dutch audience. Actually getting a hold of one would certainly be an issue for an American, although some make it here under \off\ brands through discount/mailorder houses. Ya gotta troll Google shopping to find those. If the trend keeps up they’ll get more common, or at least we can hope.

  • Daniel M says:

    @Jim:

    That isn’t exactly a front rack; it’s a Wald basket mounted using their system, which hooks over the handlebars and connects to the front axle using angled struts. I’ve never tried this setup because I have no bar space to spare and because the folks at Rivendell seem to prefer instead zip-tying a Wald basket to a Nitto front rack. I suspect Wald’s setup might be more prone to swaying, but I have no evidence whatsoever to back this up. It certainly is cheaper!

    I’m not surprised that Public, if they are seeking overall frame sleekness and possibly diverting some money that would be spent on braze-ons to frame quality or components, would prefer a system that doesn’t require any.

  • kfg says:

    Crosspost @Daniel – Maybe it’s not the bike. :)

  • dj says:

    How about the trek belleville? On sale in Chicago for $527.00. All steel so probably heavier..but front dynamo, front and rear racks..

  • Alan says:

    @kfg

    Thanks for the list. I’m going to do some digging to see if I can come up with weights on some of these since that’s the issue at hand. The Trek I know is significantly heavier, the Linus is 4-5 lbs. heavier, but I’m not so sure about the others.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Daniel M

    “I have no bar space to spare and because the folks at Rivendell seem to prefer instead zip-tying a Wald basket to a Nitto front rack. I suspect Wald’s setup might be more prone to swaying, but I have no evidence whatsoever to back this up.”

    This is exactly what I was getting at in the OP. A small rack mounted low over the front fender with a lightweight basket attached nearly disappears. The Riv Mark’s Rack/Wald basket combo is perfect. The further a basket or rack is mounted from the fork crown, the more it contributes to wheel flop.

    Alan

  • Bob B says:

    The distinction between light and heavy roadsters is an important one. All of those Dutch bike systems add weight, but are extremely useful. After decades of riding cromo bikes, I’ve lately been drawn to the rides of bikes that are . . . dare I admit . . . hiten. Most notably trying out the Workcycles Dutch bikes and the Linus Roadster Sport as well as my 72 Schwinn Collegiate. The hiten just seems more complaint and I’ve read that the Dutch galvanized frames are more rust proof & dent resistant. I’m finding that I’d like to have one of each: a heavy fully equipped Dutch style roadster / cargo capable bike and a 1-, 2- or 3-speed light roadster.

    Alan, Any idea what the seat and head angles of the Public are?

  • Rick Houston says:

    @Bob B:

    I’ve just written to Public regarding your question, along with others posted here; as soon as they get back to me, I’ll post their answers here!

    Rick

  • Alan says:

    It seems to me the “light” and “heavy” categories are not clearly defined. Even the term “roadster” means different things to different people. I believe these bikes exist on a continuum between “light” and “heavy” and until we get to the extremes (Dutch galvanized versus light cromo), it’s not easy to define which category a particular bike fits into.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with comparing so-called “light” and “heavy” roadsters directly. The most important thing is to get the information out there about the differences between these bikes so that people can make informed choices.

    Alan

  • th says:

    I’m glad to see this bike out there. I’d rather see some Northroad handlebars on it but otherwise it looks good. It seems difficult to compare the price of a Public with the price of bikes at your LBS unless you happen to live in San Francisco. Paying for shipping and assembly adds about $150 to this bike. I suppose that there is a sales tax savings. If I had this bike shipped to Colorado would I pay sales tax?

  • jp says:

    Anyone — How do Public bikes compare to Linus? Price, quality, looks, etc…

  • Jim says:

    @ DanielM–Yes it’s a Wald Basket, as it says so right there. Earlier in the discussion we were talking about the inability to mount a front rack via braze-ons. As far as I’m concerned a front rack, on a townie, equals a basket, not panniers.

    My point is: voila! Public is providing a stopgap solution until possibly adding frame hardware. My feeling is this isn’t a permanent solution for P; as much cache Wald holds for evoking Americana, its hardware hasn’t changed and is ugly and heavy. Kind of a yin to the P’s yang.

    re: Linus. It’s lightweight and relatively fast. Having ridden one there the comparisons end; the P is a much higher quality bike.

    Jim

  • kfg says:

    @Alan – Most categories for most things exist on a spectrum and thus defy clear definition. One man’s chair is another man’s stump. Change the tuning on a violin and suddenly it’s a viola, change the tuning on a guitar and it’s still a guitar, because the two classes of instrument measure “different” on a different, umm, scale.

    Define jazz; Sometimes it just comes down to “I know one when I see one;” let the flame wars begin.

    “don’t think there’s anything wrong with comparing so-called “light” and “heavy” roadsters directly”

    Well of course not, the differences are, per above, purely comparative. If you want to cut the lines even finer what’s the difference between a light roadster and a club bike, or a racing bike and a sport-tourer? Pretty much nothing more than how it’s used. A conventional diamond frame is a diamond frame is a diamond frame that you can build up into any “type” of diamond frame bike you like, sometimes by doing little more than changing the “tuning.” How easy it is to do so is one of the reasons for my personal fondness for 120mm spaced frames. Equal spacing front and rear, like the old fixed gear road racing bikes, opens up even more opportunities.

    @th – Public would only be required to charge you sales tax if they operate physical plant in Colorado. They are perfectly free to charge it by choice. If they do not charge it that doesn’t mean it’s tax exempt. It means Colorado expects you to personally file a form and pay the tax directly to the state.

    Whether you do or not . . .

  • Daniel M says:

    Does anyone here actually prefer having the rims and rack painted the same color as the frame? I kind of hate it and think it looks cheap rather than stylish. I’d rather they left them both silver. The fact that Public’s founder also founded Design Within Reach might have something to do with the decision; style is in the eye of the beholder.

    All in all, I love that the company is local (to me) and I’m excited to see what they come up with in the future. A good friend of mine has the mixte 8-speed model and loves it.

    I’m looking for a bike to re-introduce my father to bicycling; he often drives a mile to walk on the beach and then drives home to work out on his elliptical trainer. ARRGHHH. I know he will want nothing to do with derailers and the hills where he lives warrant an 8-speed IGH. My main candidates are the Public, in diamond or mixte, or the Breezer Uptown 8, in diamond or step-through.

    I like the elegance and the steel of the Public, but this bike is for him, not me, and for him I think the Breezer’s 26-inch wheels (allowing wider tires), V-brakes, enclosed chain, and dynamo front AND rear lights might overcome the aluminum frame. Anyone have any experience with both?

  • Alan says:

    @Daniel M

    I very much like the look of this bike. I can’t necessarily see the matching rims and rack on a more modern touring or commuting bike, but to my eye it’s sharp on this bike. In fact, I’ve received more compliments on this series of photos than practically any other in memory. Much of that certainly has to do with the subject of the photos.

    I’ve ridden Breezers extensively. They’re awesome transpo bikes. Depending upon specifically how he’ll use the bike, either of these should serve him well. If he’s only riding a mile or two to the beach and back, or making short trips around town, this Public would be perfect. If you think he’ll get more serious and eventually do longer rides (even partially replacing his car), as you intimated, the Breezer is more well-equipped for all conditions.

    Alan

  • kfg says:

    “the hills where he lives warrant an 8-speed IGH.”

    I don’t know how old your dad is, but he’s fit enough to work out on an elliptical trainer. My 78 year old mom who otherwise doesn’t exercise rides her bike several miles a day in hilly terrain (can you say “escarpment”?) She rides a one speed.

    I’m her oldest child, so I’m no spring chicken anymore either, and I’d be willing to ride a three speed anywhere, over any distance. Lon Haldeman rides a three speed coast to coast for a living (of course Lon’s younger than I am). If I have any caveat on that it would a preference for a medium range box, rather than the wide ranges that are available now. The number of gears is meaningless if you aren’t riding long distances in a closed system against the clock, although many long distance TT records are actually held by one speeds (Haldeman set the Wisconsin End to End record on one, against the prevailing wind).

    One mile is only a 20 minute walk. You only need a bike to go one mile to cover it in less time than it takes to walk. Any bike with roundish wheels will do the job in about 5 to 8 minutes.

    http://justbicycles.wordpress.com/7-speed-bicycles-why-and-when-justbicycles/

    But if you want to get him a bike with Lots-O-Gears, why not the Masi Soulville 7 I mentioned above? He’ll be the coolest dad at the beach, unless there’s a fixie riding dad there. For that Masi supplies a Soulville SS.

    “the Breezer’s 26-inch wheels (allowing wider tires)”

    Tire width is limited by the frame clearances, not the rim diameter.

  • Alan says:

    @kfg

    “The number of gears is meaningless if you aren’t riding long distances in a closed system against the clock…”

    Not necessarily. I’m approaching 50 with a bad knee and I need a minimum number of gears to keep my cadence within a particular range over varied terrain otherwise the knee acts up. On my commuter that’s 8 or 9, on my country bike, that’s a triple. Horses for courses… :-)

    Alan

  • Androo says:

    Yeah, there’s something to be said for versatility. I don’t use all 27 of my gears all the time, but I use ALL of the gears some of the time. That said, it’s a bike that I’m as happy to use for vigorous weekend rides, speeding to stave off boredom on the commutes, or hauling 50 lbs in panniers and a trailer for weekend bike tours.

  • Daniel M says:

    @kfg

    Remember, we’re talking about a very fit 68-year old who hasn’t ridden a bike in 20 years and hasn’t owned one since around 1960. I want to make sure that the interface with the bicycle is as smooth as possible and not an impediment. For someone coming back to bicycling in rather hilly terrain (beach to home is a gain of about 350 feet in about two miles – not inconsequential to a newbie), I think a Shimano 8-speed IGH is the best overall choice. The first time he has a chain issue with a derailer could be a dealbreaker, so I’m not willing to go down that route. And I’m looking to spend less than $1000 for his first bike. If he catches the bug, we can always upgrade later, but I think either of the bikes I mentioned could serve him well for years.

    As for tire width, I agree with you in principle but not in practice. Few 700c frames will fit a 40mm tire; almost all 26″ frames will let you run at least a 2.0″ tire, which is around 50mm. I think there is some comfort and safety to be found in wide tires, and less chance of toe overlap is always good thing for a beginner.

  • Rick Houston says:

    I just received a nice reply from Public Bikes, and I’d like to pass this on to you folks:

    1. In mid-March, they’ll be coming out with a new line of racks for the bikes, front and rear, that will enhance the utility function of the bikes even more than now; they will offered as an assessory purchase, just like they are today.

    2. Jim was right on both the lack of braze-ons and the design of the handlebars: the decision to not include braze-ons is primarily aesthetic, and the bars were decided on with going up and down hills in mind. Nice job, Jim!

    3. Basic specs can be found on this page: http://publicbikes.com/Bikes I discovered there wasn’t a mention of angles (it’s pretty rare that anyone who makes these bikes for this money does), but since it feels almost like my old Waterford 1400 (yep, it does feel that fun while riding it), my money’s on a 71/73 mix–and I’ll let you know more when I get an exact number.

    4. Direct quote from Public: “We’re sticking with our current color palette, but phasing out our blue Diamond-frame bikes. We plan to introduce our new bikes in June 2011 that, among many improvements, will extend the step-through line.”

    5. For more on the differences between Public and Linus, go here: http://picasaweb.google.com/velostati/LinusVPublic# I under this was done by a bike shop owner with no connection to either company.

    Hope this helped!

    As for me, I’m going to order a white D8 with racks, and put a honey B67, North Roads, some cork Ergons, front and rear lights with a bottle generator, and a trigger shifter on it.

  • Alan says:

    @Rick

    Thanks for the information, Rick! It’s nice to get the real scoop from the folks who build the bikes.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • lindsey says:

    I ordered the Public A7 in November. Though I’m definitely not a bike pro, I LOVE this bike. It’s simple, clean, pretty, and doesn’t have a lot of extra features I’ll never use. I never mounted a water bottle on my last bike, so it never occurred to me that the lack of them would be a reason not to buy a Public. I do hope to get a front basket situation figured out, but I have a Basil pannier that fits perfectly on the back rack, and that’s just about all I need for day-to-day riding.

    I was initially put off by the idea that this was a such a “bike for design-y people,” but I love that it’s steel (so much smoother than my Specialized Carmel), has more than 3 gears (unlike the Linus mixte), a chain case of some sort, and fenders. I went with the derailleur system because my budget didn’t allow for the IGH and I know how to keep it up, so it’s not a big deal to me.

    I do agree the handlebars are pretty “flat” as far as hand positions, but I live in a hilly part of Durham, NC and do find myself leaning forward a good amount, and still feeling awesome while riding.

    Just my short review. I’m a huge fan of my new bike, and I’m excited that more people will be riding Publics in the future!

  • Alan says:

    @Lindsey

    Awesome review, Lindsay! It’s great to hear from someone who owns a Public and is out there having fun with it. Thanks for sharing!

    Regards,
    Alan

 
© 2011 EcoVelo™