Here at the EcoVelo ranch, review bikes come and go on a regular basis, but it’s not so often that we add a personal bike to our stable. As I discussed in a recent thread, I’ve been feeling as if it’s time for a new project bike to replace my daily commuter. Like my Surly, the bike would be used as a test bed for parts and accessories as well as acting as a photographic model for documenting my commute experience. I asked our readers whether or not they think I should replace the LHT, and the poll results overwhelmingly favored keeping the bike, but after giving it considerable thought, I’m going to move forward with replacing it.
When considering what bike might act as a suitable replacement, the following criteria were taken into account:
- It needs to be a clear departure from my current commuter. My Surly serves its intended purpose well and it’s still in excellent condition, so there’s no reason to replace it with a similar model.
- It needs to include modern technologies in its design. Our readers have told us they’re curious about the use of developing technologies such as internal gear hubs, belt drives, and disc brakes on commuter bikes, so it makes sense that this bike has these parts in its spec (this is one of the main motivators for replacing my existing bike).
- It needs to be versatile and flexible. Because it will be used as a test bed for parts and accessories, it needs to have good wheel clearance and a full complement of braze-ons for racks, fenders, and other accessories. Multiple brake and rear dropout options are a plus.
- It needs to have a kickstand plate. Because I’ll be using this bike as my daily commuter and utility bike, I want it to have a robust kickstand plate for mounting a Pletscher double-legged centerstand.
- It needs to be readily available. Because this is essentially a long-term road test, it needs to be a bike that can be purchased by our readers without too much effort or customization.
- It needs to be manufactured by a company whose mission is in alignment with ours. It’s a priority of ours to support those companies who view and promote bicycles as alternatives to the automobile as opposed to promoting bicycles primarily as sporting goods.
- It needs to be a bike that I enjoy. This will be a daily ride for at least the next few years, so it needs to be a bike that I like and enjoy riding.
After working up the above list, looking over the current model year’s selections, and looking back at the bikes I’ve ridden over the past year, I’ve decided to purchase a Civia Bryant Belt Alfine complete. The Civia is one of the few production bikes that meets all of my requirements, and I very much enjoyed riding the Bryant prototype we had on loan last year (see photo above). I’d originally considered building up the bike from a frame, but the complete is so close to how I’d build the bike anyway, I decided to go that route. Also, as mentioned above, I wanted to start with a bike that can be easily purchased by anyone.
I’m hoping to have the new bike within the next few weeks. Once I have it, I’ll spend some time comparing and contrasting it with the Surly, after which the Surly will go up for sale. Look for much more on this over the coming months.