Back in February, somebody broke into our garage and stole my bike. I hope the burglar gets lots of flat tires. Then I got sick and was in no state to be doing anything even vaguely active for a while. Fortunately that is over with now so a few weeks ago I went shopping for a new bike.
I could have replaced it with another Trek Allant, but that never quite lived up to the platonic ideal of what I was looking for: a classic "light roadster" like the old Raleigh Sports but made from modern components so it's not falling apart and hard to get replacement parts for (and has brakes that you can trust). In spite of its look, the Allant still feels like a product of the mountain bike era.
Fortunately in the past few years some makers have started again to try to serve this market. I was tempted by the Globe Daily series, but they seemed to be geared higher than is useful for someone who rides at the speeds that I do, at the expense of hill climbing gears, and also seemed to suffer from the problem of a very light front end that wants to jump around when starting off. (Maybe I am the only person who runs into this problem.)
What I chose was the Linus Roadster 8, from the nice people at Manifesto Bicycles at 40th and Webster in Oakland (shown here on a bike rack at Sunday Streets in San Francisco) and so far it seems to have been a pretty good choice.
It has an 8-speed hub instead of a derailleur. 8 speeds seem to be plenty. Nice not to worry that the chain is going to slip if you put too much torque on it. I don't really care whether I can change gears while stopped, but it doesn't hurt. If there is shifting lag while moving, it doesn't seem significant. The lowest gear is low enough to get up the hill to go home without standing up. The 5th and 6th gears feel about right for slight slopes and totally flat places, respectively. I haven't had any use for the 8th gear yet but maybe someday I will want to go fast. The odd thing about internally geared hubs is the little bit of lag that there always is when you switch from freewheeling to pedaling. For some reason, derailleurs seem to pick up faster. The Raleigh freewheel lagged a lot. This one has much less lag but it still takes a little getting used to. The axles are bolted instead of quick release, which so far I consider to be a feature since I always felt like quick release was inviting theft.
Not everything about the Roadster 8 is exactly what I would do. I asked them to substitute a longer stem because the standard handlebar position is lower than is comfortable for me, and rubber hand grips so there isn't more leather in my life than there needs to be. (These grips were not actually so great and I will replace them.) I like V-brakes, but the caliper brakes seem to work fine. (I hope I don't have to adjust them though.) I like trigger shifters better than grip shifters, but the grip shifters seem to be OK for an internal hub.
The furthest I have gone on it was 21 miles last Thursday, Bike to Work Day, when I took BART to Union City and then biked across the Dumbarton Bridge for the first time. I took some pictures. The bridge itself is actually much less steep than I expected, but getting to it is kind of a pain. Suburban streets with fast cars, even with bike lanes, make me want to wear a helmet, and I did.
My advice to anyone else going that way for the first time: Watch out for disappearing bike lanes. The Decoto Road lane disappears on the bridge just before Paseo Padre Parkway. The one on Paseo Padre disappears repeatedly for right turns. The block between Tupelo and Ardenwood worried me enough to send me onto the (otherwise empty) sidewalk. Do not think that Quarry Road will get you to whatever that bridge is that goes over the bridge toll booths. I will have to search out whatever path it is that actually does. I think my tires were a little too narrow for comfort on the rough pavement of Marshlands Road. On the Peninsula side, it looks like you should be able to get onto the Bay Trail from Purdue Avenue, but I couldn't figure out how. The turn is a little surprising from Bay Road, where I did get to the trail. At the baseball field, you need to keep left to get to Geng Road. At Embarcadero Road, you need to turn right and then left to get on Bayshore. I still don't know what's really the right way through Shoreline Park, but it's not the end of the world to be on the wrong path. I'll have to do it again some time and figure it out a little better.