New Bike! Linus Dutchi vs. Electra Loft
January 18, 2017 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a new bicycle and am drawn towards the upright styling of the Linus Dutchi and the Electra Loft. I am 5'10" and live in a flat-ish, midsized city. I will not be riding in winter.

I'm top-heavy and firmly committed to a step-through bike. I'd appreciate comments on the following:

- 3 speed? 7 speed? 8 speed?
- weight of the bike
- best bike for tall gals

This blog post was helpful, but I'd like to support a local shop and both Electra and Linus are available here.

I'll use the bike for light commutes (3-5km) and recreational rides along the riverside trail system. I appreciate your insights!
posted by nathaole to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Both of those brands are fairly well regarded. You haven't mentioned if you've test ridden either, so forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but absolutely ride both for several miles before buying. A good shop will let you do this, and such a test ride might tell you unambiguously which to buy.

The next thing you should consider is the shop itself. I bought a new (very different) bike a couple years ago, and found that lots of makers had a bike of roughly the right type. I did slightly prefer the Specialized I bought over the others I rode, but I really, really, really preferred the Specialized dealer over the other shops, and that was enough to seal the deal for me.

Even with a commuter, you'll be back in there for adjustments, or accessories, or tune-ups, etc., so you want to feel comfortable with them.

As for your actual questions:

Gearing matters a bit less for a commuter in a flat place than it does for other kind of riding, but it's not irrelevant. The big difference here is between 3-speed options (which will use an internal geared hub) and the 7/8 speed variants (which have derailleurs).

My understanding is that the internal hubs are less likely to require maintenance, and will last damn near forever. This has a cost -- 3 gears isn't many, and folks with a more granular drivetrain will find it easy to ride away from you -- but for some folks the low maintenance aspect trumps the more flexible transmission. I should say that derailleur drivetrains aren't some crazy maintenance nightmare or anything; just that you will need to do some things (cleaning, lubing) that you won't have to bother with as much with the 3-speed.

The weight of both bikes is likely in the same range, but how a bike wears its weight can vary a lot. See prior comment about riding both.

I am not a tall gal, so I can't offer an opinion there other than reiterating the "go ride them" suggestion.

posted by uberchet at 11:25 AM on January 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am 5'0, so I'm not going to be able to help you with height-specific queries. :) That being said, my current bike is a 3-speed step-through Dutch-lite-style bike [a Papillionaire Sommer], and I mostly bike local roads and bike paths in relatively flat areas of Cambridge/Somerville.

I do wish my bike had more than three speeds, mostly because they're very far apart on the power-effort line, and it'd be nice to have a bit more nuance when slope increases gradually. But I notice that both the Electra and Linus models you're evaluating offer the internal hub gearing option for their 7- and 8-speed bikes respectively, and if I were choosing, I'd pick the Loft 7i or the Dutchi 8 with internal hubs over the derailleur Loft 7D or either of the 3-speed options. It doesn't completely eliminate having to clean and lube the chain - that would involve a fully-enclosed chaincase that just isn't standard on US-available bikes - but it's a much-less frequent task. Maybe a bit more in the winter.

Weight mostly isn't going to matter to you on the bike, given your choices; I can't find figures on the Electra weight, but the Linus weight of 32 lbs is comparable to my Papillionaire, and I only feel like my bike is heavy when I'm lugging it downstairs into the basement for storage between winter rides.

Also, get some panniers or a crate to stick on the back rack, rather than a front basket - front baskets that attach to the handlebars [or shopping bags hanging from the handlebars] can really throw your steering off, whereas if you put that weight on your back wheel, it's much more stable. Having cargo capacity that isn't on your back makes it really easy to stop by the grocery store on your way home to pick up milk.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 11:49 AM on January 18, 2017

(Good catch re: the internal hub option on the higher-gear models.)
posted by uberchet at 11:53 AM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ikea is not your local bike shop, but next month they start selling bikes too.
posted by Baeria at 2:26 PM on January 18, 2017

I ride a Linus Dutchi 3 speed on an 8ish mile (roundtrip, 4 mile one way!) very flat city commute. Sometimes, although rarely, I wish I had another gear. The times I most wish I had another gear is when I'm in traffic and want to go just a little faster or when I have a good tailwind and the gears can't keep up. I rarely go faster than 10ish miles per hour, though, and the three gears handle that sedate pace really well.

I carry the Linus up and down through a viaduct under a roadway regularly which is slightly awkward given the step-through frame but it's not too heavy for my middle-aged non-athletic self. I have a rear rack and it's very stable when I have both panniers loaded with groceries. I like the front lunch rack, but I took mine off at some point for a reason I don't remember. It does throw your balance off a bit, but the lunch rack is small without much capacity so I don't find it's a big deal. It's not worse than a handlebar bag.

I'm 5'3", so I can't speak to how it is for tall women, but it's pretty low maintenance. I take it to my shop once in the fall and once in the spring (I ride it all winter) because I am not a person who tinkers with machines.

It's really comfortable and I think it's cute. I haven't ever regretted the purchase--I test-rode the Pashley Princess, the Oma and the Pilen Lyx (step through) when I bought the Linus. The Pilen was the closest contender, but the Linus just felt better for me. Spring for the dual kickstand, though.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:58 PM on January 18, 2017

I'm a 5'10" woman who wanted a step-through bike and I really coveted the Linus Dutchi but it was TOO SMALL for me. They allege that the "Medium" frame goes up to 5'10" but it didn't work for me. You may be proportioned differently though so I would recommend riding it. I ended up with a Linus Mixte instead, and because I wanted the 8-speed and only the 3-speed is stocked with a Large frame, my awesome Local Bike Shop swapped the 8-gear system from a Medium onto the 3-speed Large they had in stock.

I will say that after insisting that I wanted the 8-speed, I really only use 3-4 of the gears on my flat, 2-mile (3 km) commute to work. C'est la vie. It has needed zero maintenance (besides one flat tire that my husband fixed) and it is super cute.

I think the only thing to do is to go down to your Local Bike Shop and test drive the bikes you're considering.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 5:08 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yup, go ride them. I don't think you're likely to need more than three gears if you're in a super flat city, but it is kinder on the knees. If you're planning to carry them up or down steps often, make sure you try that too. Some bikes are much easier to carry than others.
posted by kjs4 at 5:39 PM on January 18, 2017

Another thing to think about is how heavy or light it should be, based on your lifestyle and commute.

I thought I would go with something like the bikes you linked to. But when I went to physically check them out, I realized that they were too heavy for my needs—carrying them up and down my apartment stairs multiple times a day, and potentially up even more stairs for overpasses or (occasionally) into the subway.

I ended up going with a much lighter road bike. (They have step-throughs too.)

If you have you don't have many stairs in your life, this won't be a problem. Just food for thought—how many times a day will you have to lift the thing over your head?

Good luck and have fun!
posted by functionequalsform at 5:58 AM on January 19, 2017

Thanks, everyone! I went with the Linus Dutchi 3.
posted by nathaole at 10:47 PM on June 28, 2017

« Older Does it make sense to pay off a 30 year mortgage...   |   Pool Drainage Question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.