There has never been a better time to get into cycling. Bike Share programs are often the first step, a gateway drug that leads to a long-term relationship with safely cycling in the cities and suburbs around the world. Here’s a cache of bikes that should appeal to both novice cyclist living in a cramped apartment to the serious biker looking to outfit their garage with another rig.
1. Priority Classic 2.0, $449; 2. Volata, $3,499; 3. Term Link D8, $750; 4. Tokyobike Classic Sport, $825; 5. Tumbleweed Prospector, Framesets start at $1,300; 6. Scott Addict Disc 20, $3,800; 7. Santa Cruz Bronson, from $2,999.
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Priority Classic 2.0
Priority was founded on a simple concept: they wanted to create a bike that takes all the intimidating complexities of cycling—the greasy chains, 30+ gears, 1,001 accessories, high costs—and boils it down the essentials. The Classic 2.0 edition is a modest upgrade from the first bike they released. As with all models, it's powered by a carbon belt drive, not a chain—no grease, no rust that have proven skeptics wrong, thanks to years of demonstrated durability. It also has a three-speed internal Shimano Nexus Hub, which gives you exactly the right amount of gears needed without overwhelming you with options. Coaster brakes (the kind you had when you were a kid) makes stopping easy—and a front hand break lets you control your speed even more. Other details--a nice leather seat, a water bottle cage, kickstand, floor pump—give you everything you need out of the box, save a helmet and a lock, and its overarching classic aesthetic is refreshingly un-trendy.
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If Priority is a bike boiled down to its most basic, Volata is its polar opposite. The "smart bike" incorporates everything in its off-the-shelf model, including a bike computer, lights, GPS-based anti-theft protection, a horn, and a digital display at the center of the handlebars for stuff like turn-by-turn directions and weather info. As with the Priority, it uses a belt-driven transmission, with an internal electronic shifter. Reserve now for $299.
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Term Link D8
For people who don't have a ton of storage space (or for the former lead singer of The Talking Heads), this folding bike offers all the advantages of bike commuting without having to figure out where to put the bike when you're not pedaling. The easily-portable bike comes with 20-inch wheels, so it won't be as fast as your standard 26-inch-wheel bike. But you still get plenty of pedal power, especially when you layer in the eight-speed drive train. You also get Kevlar puncture protection in the tires, a rear rack and fenders, and the convenience of folding the bike up in less than ten seconds.
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Tokyobike Classic Sport
Designed with lightness, comfort, and unabashed style in mind, the Classic Sport takes its inspiration from the commuter rigs typically to cycling-centric locales like the Netherlands. Its eight gears will help you cover most cities (save the leg-burning hills of San Fran), with a mostly upright posture, a traditional t-shaped handle bar, a variety of colors, and tires with silver rims and ivory side walls. Lock it up—people will covet it.
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If you want a bike that matches your globe-trotting ambitions, regardless of the terrain, build your own Prospector. This bike is part the fat-tire scene, a trend started by a few companies to make it easier to pedal on snow, and now a full-fledge cycling sub-segment. The four-inch-wide tires make it easier to grab purchase in everything from dirt and snow to loose sand, typically the bane of all cyclists. Its 14-speed Rohloff internal geared hub delivers all-condition dependency, with a fork that can accommodate tires of various radius and width. You also get disc brakes, which provides stopping power even in the wettest and muddiest of conditions. Kit it out with a variety of racks and packs to suit your itinerary. A bike geek will get lost for hours, dreaming—and then selecting—from the many options.
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Scott Addict Disc 20
New for 2017, the new Addict 20 Disc takes Scott's classic Addict racing rig and adds disc brakes, giving you confident braking power in all conditions. The carbon frame is light and strong, and the components that control its 22 speeds are top of the line, with a bike architecture that's nimble, responsive, and climbs like a mountain goat. And make no mistake—the brakes are sharp. You can stop on a dime—or launch yourself over the handlebars if you don't take some time to learn how to feather the resistance. The brakes do add a touch more weight and complexity when compared to coaster brakes. But for wet riding, it's a worthy trade-off.
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Santa Cruz Bronson
In the great wheel radius debate in the mountain bike world, where some prefer the standard 26-diameter wheels while others want massive 29-inch tires to roll over everything, the Bronson falls in the middle, with 27.5-inch wheels that offer an even mixture of nimble control and conquerability. But don't think it splits the difference in a bad way. The bike is home on both roller coaster cross-country single track and downhill-centric free ride parks. Simply put, this bike is a brilliant, playful beast of a rig that will swallow up dicey terrain, with serious travel from the front and rear suspension and a riser that lets you adjust the seat height with the simple press of a button (a feature you didn't think you'd need until you had it). The aluminum frame version starts at $2,999 but if you can afford, go for the carbon frame (starting at $3,599) for a lighter, stronger bike. This is the kind of bike that makes you remember what it felt like when you braved your first dirt path when you were a kid.
Santa Cruz Bicycles