First Look: Breezer Finesse

Breezer Finesse Specs

Road Test: Civia Hyland

Background

Civia focuses solely on building bicycles for transportation:

“Civia is passionate about bicycle transportation and improving the rider’s experience. We bring experience, design, engineering and attention to detail to each project with the intent to create the perfect user experience. We define bicycle transportation as getting you and your things where you need to go. By focusing our attention on this one thing, we are able to provide the best bicycle, component or accessory for its intended use.”

The Civia line is comprised of two models, each available in multiple component specs. The Hyland is their top-of-the-line commuting model that incorporates a number of innovations and makes few compromises for cost. The Loring is a more affordable bike that’s specifically designed for short-distance urban/suburban utility riding.

The Hyland is available in three builds: the Rohloff Build at $3,500; the Alfine Build at $2,160; and coming this spring, the SRAM i-Motion 3 Build at $1,590.

The Loring is also available in three builds: the i-Motion 9 Build at $1,730; the i-Motion 3 Build at $1,490; and the new i-Motion 3 Base Build sans fenders and racks at $1080.

In the fall of 2008, Civia, in conjunction with Gold Country Cyclery, supplied me with a 54cm Hyland Alfine Build for a long-term road test. I’ve been riding the Hyland on a regular basis since then, using it for commuting, errand runs, and photographic outings.

Construction

The first thing you’ll notice about the Hyland is its refined appearance; the bike has a cohesive look that’s not typical for a fully outfitted commuter bike. The understated, satin blue powder coat is quite attractive and is used throughout the bike to visually pull together the frame, fenders, and chainguard.

The Hyland’s aluminum frame has a number of unique features including sliding dropouts with built-in disc brake mounts, a “cable tunnel” formed into the downtube and chainstays for clean routing of control cables, and stainless steel hardware throughout.

The fork is carbon fiber, and like the frame, it’s a unique and interesting piece. It too has a “tunnel”, this one for the wire running from the generator to the headlight. It also has a disc brake mount and built-in guides for the hydraulic brake cable. As attractive as it is, some people will question the choice of a carbon fiber fork on a commuter bike. Civia assures me they’ve yet to have a failure with this fork, and that doesn’t surprise me considering how beefy it is. Even so, they offer a chromoly fork of similar design if carbon fiber makes you nervous.

Civia points out that the aluminum frame combined with the stainless hardware and carbon fork make a corrosion-resistant package, a benefit to commuters in wet climes.

Components

The Hyland Alfine Build is outfitted with the full Shimano Alfine component group. The Alfine group is targeted at the upper end of the commuter/comfort market. It includes a single crank, front and rear disc brakes with levers, front dynamo hub, and an 8-speed internal gear hub (IGH) with shifter. As can be seen in the photos, the components are anodized in an attractive high gloss black finish.

The heart of the Alfine group is the 8-speed internal gear hub and matching RapidFire shifter. I can’t say enough about this shifting system. It performed flawlessly throughout the test period with no maintenance whatsoever. I was able to effortlessly shift while sitting still, coasting, pedaling, and even while under power. Missed shifts are non-existent with this hub and every shift is precise, quick, and quiet. For city riding, the only hub that outperforms the Alfine is the Rohloff Speedhub, but it’s not a fair comparison if you take into account the exorbitant price of the Rohloff (~$1400). I like the Alfine IGH so much that my next bike will have one (assuming I don’t upgrade the drivetrain on my current bike to an Alfine hub before then). Did I say I love this hub?

The rest of the Alfine group is nice, if not as outstanding as the rear hub:

  • The front dynamo hub is sufficiently efficient, though it does introduce more drag than its main competitor, the SON hub from Germany. Still, the amount of drag was small enough to be unnoticeable while riding.
  • The hydraulic disc brakes are powerful—arguably to the point of overkill—and are strong enough to lock either wheel with 2-3 fingers. Hydraulic discs make me a little nervous in that they’re harder to repair than cable actuated brakes if you have a problem on the road. That said, the brakes performed flawlessly and required no maintenance over a 4-month period of fairly heavy use.
  • The Alfine single crank is attractive and functional.
  • The stiff, mountain-style brake levers are comfortable and provide substantial leverage.

The Civia branded rear rack is solidly built and quite stiff. I carried full loads of groceries and heavy commute loads with no issues. It compares favorably to the best-in-class Tubus Cargo.

One area of disappointment on the Hyland is the lighting system. The Shimano headlight falls short of being sufficient as a commuter light, and the lack of a tail light is puzzling on a bike that comes outfitted with cable channels in the frame and a high quality dynamo hub. A bike of this caliber deserves nothing less than a current-generation 3-watt LED headlight with matching, dynamo-powered tail light.

The Hyland’s DT Swiss disc-specific rims are sufficiently tough while still being reasonably light, providing a nice compromise between durability and performance. The factory wheels appear to be well-built; they stayed true during heavy use over the 4-month test period.

The remainder of the components are what you’d expect on a bike in this price range, with a micro-adjust Thomson seat post and Thomson stem, Salsa seat post clamp, Cane Creek headset, Fi’zi:k saddle, and ODI Lock-on grips.

Ride Quality

All the fancy components and matching paint schemes in the world don’t amount to much unless a bike is well-designed and handles appropriately for its intended purpose. I’m happy to say Civia nailed it with this bike. The Hyland has what I’d classify as “moderately quick” handling, perfect for dodging city traffic and pedestrians on multi-use trails, but not so quick as to feel unstable or twitchy. The steering is precise and light in the hand, more reminiscent of a lightweight road bike than an old school touring bike or roadster.

Even though it feels sporty, the Hyland is perfectly capable of carrying a load. Even with heavily loaded panniers, I found the rear triangle to be more than adequately stiff, with little to no lateral sway. The bike does transmit a fair amount of road shock compared to the steel touring bikes I’m accustomed to, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it harsh. For the commuting distances and load carrying uses the bike is designed for, it’s plenty comfortable and the stiffness is much more of a benefit than a detriment.

Conclusion

The Civia Hyland fits a unique niche. It’s a no-compromise, high performance commuting bike, purpose-designed from the ground up with many innovative features. This isn’t a bike that you’ll chain to a post and leave all day on the street; it’s far too expensive and attractive to thieves to be flaunted in that way. But if you’re a committed rider who is accustomed to lightweight, high performance bikes, and you have a point-to-point commute that includes secure storage as part of the mix, the Hyland is a beautiful, refined bike with very few flaws. It combines the precise handling and high performance of a modern road bike with the convenience, reliability, and load carrying capacity of an urban grocery getter; it truly offers the best of both worlds while making very few compromises.

Specifications (Alfine Build)

MSRP: $2,160
Frame: Civia Aluminum
Fork: Civia Carbon
Headset: Cane Creek S-8
Crank: Shimano Alfine
Chain: Shimano
Brakes: Shimano Alfine Hydraulic Disc
Seatpost: Thomson Elite
Saddle: Fi’zi:k Aliante Delta
Stem: Thomson X2 (31.8)
Handlebar: Civia 17 degree bend (31.8)
Grips: ODI Rogue Lock-on
Tires: Panaracer T-serv 700×28, with reflective sidewall
Fenders: Civia Aluminum Fenders
Rear Rack: Civia Aluminum
Chainguard: Civia Aluminum
Headlight: Shimano LP R600
Shifter: Shimano Alfine Rapid-Fire
Wheel (Rear): Shimano Alfine Internal 8-speed, DT Swiss x470 disc specific rim
Wheel (Front): Shimano Alfine Dynamo, DT Swiss x470 disc specific rim
Sliding Dropouts: Alfine/Singlespeed specific

Please note: The saddle in the review photos is my personal saddle, not the Fi’zi:k Aliante Delta supplied with the bike.

Credits

Many thanks to Civia and Gold Country Cyclery for supplying the Civia Hyland used for this long-term road test. —Alan

Civia
Gold Country Cyclery

Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions

Background
Alex Moulton saw drawbacks in the traditional diamond frame bicycle and decided he could improve upon it. He started experimenting with new designs in the 1950s and after a number of years of development the first Moulton was released in 1962. It incorporated a number of radical innovations for its time including the use of small wheels, front and rear suspension, and a low step-over “unisex” frame layout. The original Moulton design was quite successful, but for various reasons (related mostly to poor business decisions and plain bad luck) the company has gone through a number of ups-and-downs over the years.


From 1992 to 2005, through a licensing deal with Moulton, Pashey manufactured an economical version of the prohibitively expensive Alex Moulton AM called the Pashley-Moulton APB (for all-purpose bicycle). The APB was a success, but in 2005, after a 14-year run, it was redesigned and updated to be lighter and more performance oriented, the result being the Pashley-Moulton TSR.

The TSR line includes four models: the TSR 30 based upon a 10-speed Campagnolo triple drivetrain; the TSR 27 based upon a SRAM DualDrive 3×9 drivetrain; the TSR 9 based upon a SRAM 9-speed derailleur drivetrain (with a single front chainring); and the TSR8 based upon an 8-speed Sturmey-Archer internal gear hub drivetrain. The different TSR models all share the same frame; the differences lie in the component details only. [Correction: There are two subtly different versions of the frame; one accepts caliper brakes, the other accepts linear-pull brakes. -ed.]


Impressions
I am by no means an expert on Moultons, and I’ve only ridden a handful of small-wheeled bikes, so instead of attempting a full-fledged review I’ll simply provide a few impressions and observations.

Like all Moultons, the TSR is a visual treat with its space-frame design. The clean brazing and beautiful gloss blue powder-coat can be clearly seen in the zoomed photos. The overall workmanship is excellent.


The components are a mid-level mix from Sunrace/Sturmey-Archer, Alex, and Tektro. The standout is the SA 8-speed rear hub. It is smooth, quiet, and trouble-free. Like many internal gear hubs it shifts best when under little to no load, though it does shift reasonably well under a moderate load. With only a single chainring, the gearing is somewhat limited; I’d recommend one of the TSR derailleur models for touring. For commuting and around town riding the 8-speed gear range is sufficient, with the simplicity and cleanliness of the gear hub being a real plus in all-weather conditions.


The ride is amazingly smooth for a small wheeled bike with high-pressure Stelvio tires. When I first got on the TSR, I actually stopped twice to check the tire pressure; the ride was so silky smooth I thought I might have a flat tire. It is far more smooth and comfortable than my S-Series Brompton. The suspension does tend to bob just a bit when climbing out of the saddle, but it was something I became accustomed to in short order.

As my loaner TSR was set-up, the ride position was just a bit more cramped than a traditional diamond-frame bike. With some minor adjustments it could undoubtedly be made to fit like a standard road bike.

The steering is quick—typical for a small wheeled bike—but not as quick as some folding bikes with smaller 16″ wheels.

The TSR is NOT a folding bike and is more accurately classified as a “separable”. Breaking it in half requires disconnecting the rear brake and shifter cables, removing a kingpin bolt, and unthreading a locknut. With a little practice a person should be able to get through the procedure in less than two minutes. What you’re left with are two, fairly clumsy bike halves. This feature would be useful for someone wanting to carry the bike in an automobile trunk or box it for shipping, but don’t mistake the TSR for a folding bike for multi-modal commuting.

Summary
The TSR is a unique design that is beautifully executed. I see it as a replacement for a traditional club racer, but with the added bonus of breaking down for storage or transport inside a small vehicle. With the addition of racks it could be used as a commuter, but because it doesn’t break down small enough to take on a city bus and the wheels are too small to fit most transit bus racks, it’s limited to point-to-point commutes. It’s such a beautiful, delicate bike, I can’t imagine locking it up outside or dragging it through a bustling train station anyway.

More Information

Many thanks to Rick Steele of Gold Country Cyclery in Shingle Springs, CA for providing the Pashley-Moulton TSR8 used for this report.


 
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