Can I buy a bike like this in the US?
May 10, 2006 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Can a bike similar to this be purchased in america?

I know absolutely nothing about bikes, so please be gentle. I'm looking at getting a bicycle to get me around my urban neighborhood to a few places that are too far to walk. My main destinations are going to probably be grocery store type places, so a basket and rear rack are really important to me. I find the bycicles I see on foreign websites much more attractive than the ones I see out and about here because they have those features built-in, and they don't seem to be covered in as much garish writing.

The bike linked to is from Bridgestone's japanese website, and they don't appear to have an english one. I've checked out major bicycle manufacturers that I can think of and google and they don't seem to be selling any similar models. Ebay and craigslist also seem to have just standard models without built-in baskets.

I defintely know I can buy a basket to put on my bike, but I love the aesthetic of a bicycle that was designed and built to include it.

I'm afraid I just don't know enough about bicycles and manufacturers to find one... Any help is appreciated!
posted by FortyT-wo to Shopping (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
An Electra Townie might meet your aesthetic and practical requirements. No built in basket or rack, but those are available as accessories.
posted by teg at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2006

Contact Pashley and and ask them for their US distributor.
posted by Dr.Pill at 9:30 AM on May 10, 2006

It looks like the one you linked to is an electric-assist model. If that's at all important to you, I recommend the Giant LAFree Lite.

As for the basket... most comfort bikes are designed and built to include mounting points for an accessory rack and basket. If you're looking for one that comes with that particular accessory pre-installed, here are two that I found just now:

Electra Petro Zillia
Biria Easy 3

But, really, the aesthetic of a bike that comes with a basket isn't all that different from that of one that's had a basket added later.
posted by hades at 9:38 AM on May 10, 2006

Yeah, that's definitely an electric-assist "mama charin" as they say in Japanese.

I'd just go into a few bike stores and ask what they recommend in the way of a comfort/town/coffee bike, preferably with integrated baskets. Everybody and his dog is making some variation on this (not necessarily with the baskets, and perhaps not in a girl's frame). Based on my cursory examination, the major manufacturers have totally flashturbated websites that are very annoying.

A Pashley would be very cool; I've also Chinese knockoffs around, like this Flying Pigeon (or hey, this one is closer to what the poster wants).
posted by adamrice at 9:54 AM on May 10, 2006

As for the garish writing, most of those are stickers. They peel right off, with a little care and goo-gone. And if you find a bike that you'd otherwise love, and the writing doesn't peel off, there should be a bike shop near you that can recommend a place to get your bike repainted. If not, an auto detail shop might have someone willing to give it a try.
posted by hades at 10:04 AM on May 10, 2006

Best answer: The style of bike you're interested in is called a 'cruiser'. These have a lot in common with 'comfort' bikes, but the emphasis is on the aesthetics of the bike - the look and feel - rather than just the comfort. They do tend to be very comfortable for short rides in a bike-path setting.

If you look at trek bikes and click on 'bike path', you can see their comfort and cruiser lines, and the subtle differences.

Nearly any bike can have a basket and a rear rack put on, so that shouldn't constrain you. (Many bikes come with mounts in place for these accessories; indeed they are 'designed in', but left off because not everyone wants one.)

Accessories that make the rear rack much more useful for your purposes include things like pannier bags, which hook onto the sides of the rear rack, and bungie nets, which allow you to strap things down to the top of your rack (even if they're oddly shaped). Any decent bike store will have these in stock.

I didn't find any evidence that Bridgestone Japan exports their bikes to the USA. Bikes I've liked in your category have included the Bianchi Milano, which has an innovative rear hub. Specialized and Trek also make comfort bikes.

Head down to your local bike store and explain exactly what you're interested in to the bike guy. Bike guys tend to know a lot about bikes and they can point you towards the right thing. If you feel like you're being pressured or hard-sold, just walk across the street to the other bike shop - but that's pretty unusual, actually.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:12 AM on May 10, 2006

I came across Del Sol bikes recently at a local store and thought the aesthetics were fantastic (especially the cruisers). Unfortunately my budget was more suited for fixing up my existing bike :)
posted by mikepop at 10:27 AM on May 10, 2006

Good point about the difference between "comfort" and "cruiser" styles. It's probably worth mentioning that a bunch of manufacturers are now also making a style they call "city" or "urban" bikes, specifically for getting around town, picking up groceries, and the like.

(And, for what it's worth, the bike you linked to appears to have its rack and basket mounted on the standard accessory eyelets that any comfort/cruiser/city bike should have. That is, they don't appear to me to be integral parts.)
posted by hades at 10:39 AM on May 10, 2006

REI also carries a few urban/cruiser bikes in their house brand, Novara. Something like this sounds like it might be right for you.
posted by hindmost at 11:26 AM on May 10, 2006

Joe Breeze seems to have left his mountainbike roots behind and is now making a bunch of rather lovely looking (IMHO) town bikes.

For the really big loads from the grocery and hardware stores, I've recently been seduced by the Xtracycle - very clever and practical design.
posted by normy at 12:12 PM on May 10, 2006

Breezer or REI would be my choices. Fenders, racks, kickstand, lights. All the stuff bike snobs eschew but which make a bike practical transportation. Two words about lights: Hub generator. No batteries to recharge or replace, ever. You don't think about the lights in your car, they are just there when you need them. Same deal with a hub generator. Sidewall dynamos are a poor second choice, they slip in the wet and can cause sidewalls to fail prematurely.
posted by fixedgear at 2:12 PM on May 10, 2006

The nicest bikes I saw like this were in Germany (no surprise). They included things like built-in locks and chain covers, rather than just guards.
posted by Goofyy at 1:43 AM on May 11, 2006

If there is a place where used bikes are available near you, check it out. They are likely to have used bikes from long enough ago that you will find 3-speeds there.

"3-speed" is the way mose people refer to these bikes, although I can think of plenty of other things to call them (I think of them as the older type of "city" bike). People in the US will understand 3-speed 100% of the time, though.

They are definitely basket friendly, and should be cheap (under $125 for the best of them, running perfectly). Some of the finer examples were made by Raleigh and other European manufacturers, but for easy riding any of them (including cheap American ones) will be fine. They often come with racks and baskets already on.

These are great bikes for short distance riding, are very cheap, and hold up well. Where I work part of what we do is selling used bikes, and we go through a ton of these - they're just very appropriate for what you want to do. I just put a basket on one today. :)
posted by pinespree at 12:29 AM on May 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

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