Linus bikes are slightly retro city bikes with nice modern parts on them and a classy consistent aesthetic. They fall somewhere in between classic step-throughs and Dutch city bikes, with some of the nicely integrated parts you find on Gazelles, but with fewer accessories and a simpler look. We stock their Dutchi – a take on the Dutch city bikes exemplified by Gazelles, and their Mixte – a take on the classic French step-thorough design.
We’ve got a few of the new Archetype rims from H Plus Son. They look like they might be a new go-to rim for road and randonneur bikes.
We’re very glad to be stocking some new bar tape made in Melbourne by DiPell. DiPell have been making leathergoods for a long time, including pieces for RM Williams shoes, but have only just entered the handlebar tape market. We’re really glad they did. We love Australian made but don’t just stock something for that reason alone – it has to be as good or better than the other options in some significant respect. Fortunately when it comes to DiPell tape, not only is made locally, but it’s better in most crucial respects than the competition.
Gilles Berthoud makes some of the nicest parts and accessories for Randonneur and touring bikes. His saddles are the best-made leather saddles we’ve seen, his bags are terrific and his fenders are tough and beautiful. We’re putting in our first order directly from Berthoud and we’re looking for pre-orders.
We stock Rawland frames and we have been meaning to post about them for a while, but between all the distractions of the workshop we never quite made it. Our hand has been forced though after my Drakkar has gone viral on the internet.
Hub dynamos and LED lights are two things in the bike world which have seen the greatest technological improvement in the last few years. Recent generations of dynamo hubs are far more efficient than any previous dynamo system, and the lights that go with them are far brighter and far less power-hungry. It has reached the point where the whole system is so efficient that any bike short of a race bike could be fitted with a dynamo wheel and lights and the only real down-side would be the expense.
We’ve been stocking Velo Orange stuff for a while now, and we’re really impressed by their gear, as well as their philosophy in general. They do a wide range of parts that are typically inspired by old French touring gear. Everything is well-thought out, well constructed, and a nice mix of old-style looks and modern construction and sizing.
As part of the Sustainable Living Festival we’ll be doing a workshop on bike touring as an environmentally friendly alternative to a driving holiday. We’ll be talking about the suitability of your current bike for touring, what to look for in a touring bike if your current one isn’t going to work out, what sort of gear to bring, and I’ll be going on and on about how nice it is to bike tour in Tasmania. It’ll be very informal with lots of Q&A and show and tell.
The Melbourne Bikefest is fast approaching, and we’ll be running a couple of the events. The Bikefest is a celebration of Melbourne cycling culture in all its forms and there are a heap of great events on. It’s one of the only times of year that hipsters, vintage bike nerds, cargo bike enthusiasts and lycra-clad racers hang out together in the same building!
We’ve gotten a few Gilles Berthoud products in. Among them is a saddle that I’m very excited about. The saddle is a Gilles Berthoud. It looks at first a little like a Brooks, and it’s this similarity that excites me. The Berthoud is made from very thick high quality leather, which is screwed down to the saddle body. Where the Brooks saddle body is all metal, the Berthoud has metal rails and a plastic back (called a cantle). The plastic cantle is reputed to be amazingly strong and is designed to have a tiny bit of flex for extra comfort. The looks of the plastic might put some people off though.
Wheel building is one of our favourite jobs. As well as being rewarding work to get the wheel true and strong, it’s satisfying to figure out the best combination of parts and best set-up for a particular customer. As well as the rims and hubs, the spokes and nipples are important things to think about, and choosing the right ones will make a real difference to the reliability of the wheel and how well suited it is to its intended use. Being able to tailor all of these choices to a particular rider is what puts custom wheels ahead in the hand-built vs factory-built debate.
Commuter cycles is excited to be sponsoring Damon Rao at the Bike Polo World Championships in Berlin and the London Open Tournament. He’ll be riding a custom made polo bike, a Symes Whiskey. He’ll be heading off tonight for two weeks in Europe and then competing in the Australian Championships in Brisbane with it later in the year. The bike was made at Commuter Cycles by Scott with geometry developed over 18 months of playing polo to emphasise nimbleness, but still remaining stable enough for one handed control. The bike fits standard mountain bike parts for ease of interchangeability. The bike also runs a “dingle” (dual single) gearing for dead easy manual gear changes. It’s currently set up for running a 63” street gear and a 42” polo gear with only a tiny change in wheel position between gears. A hydraulic rear brake was fitted to relieve hand fatigue during…
VO Porteur racks are back in stock. They’re a great rack for commuting bikes since they can hold a lot and can easily take additional load if you have to grab something on the way home. They’re also very beautiful.
Surly’s Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is our reference point for touring bikes and they make excellent commuters as well. As a general rule the requirements of commuters and tourists are similar – the bike should be comfortable, should be able to carry a reasonable load, should be robust and reliable, should fit moderately wide tyres and mudguards and should be fast and efficient enough to cover large distances at a decent clip. The LHT does all of these things and is versatile enough to be set up to match the needs of a lot of cyclists. We build, and sell, more of them than any other bike. We’ve mentioned them a number of times in this blog, but we thought it was time to write more comprehensively about our thoughts on them, and where they sit in our line-up.
We’ve just finished an exciting build. We used a 650B randonneur/porteur frame made by Velo Orange, called the Polyvalent. Ours might be the first in Australia. We’ve built it up as a showcase for some of the VO gear we stock (and as a great bike in its own right). It has a big VO Porteur front rack, VO cantilever brakes, headset, saddle, rims, etc. It has a dynamo hub, is shod with Grand Bois Hetres and stays upright while stationary thanks to a Pletscher bipod kickstand. It will soon have a VO chain guard. We installed a B+M Lumotec IQ Cyo just under the floor of the rack, and a B+M tail light on the rear mud guard.
We’ve been quietly stocking Bicycle Quarterly for a while. Bicycle Quarterly (BQ) is our favourite bicycle magazine. It started out life at Vintage Bicycle Quarterly and dealt mostly with old French Randonneur bikes, as well as the people who rode and still ride them.
In the last few months we’ve done quite a few Surly custom builds. We really like the Surly bikes, and from early on have built Long Haul Truckers (LHTs) for a lot of customers, as well as Crosschecks. Recently we’ve had a Big Dummy build and a Karate Monkey. But definitely the most exciting builds are the customized ones.
We now stock Grand Bois tyres. These are some of the nicest tyres we know of. Grand Bois is a small Japanese company catering to Cyclotourists with a fetish for nice old French bikes.
The roller door at 14 Prentice Street went up officially for the first time at 7.30am on Monday 21st July. After a crazy six weeks of cleaning, painting, building, stocking, fabricating and spray painting bikes, the Commuter Cycles workshop and initial ‘fleet’ or courtesy bikes are now in service. Thank you to the legion of friends and family who have supported, advised and helped along the way. I truly could not have done it without you all. Drop in between 7.30am and 6.30pm weekdays to say hi, see what we do, and chat about how we might be able to help you get from A to B by bike safely, reliably and with a smile on your face.