RunBikeNerd and AgeofMelissius would like to announce the arrival of a new member of our bike family: Jane. She joined us March 19, 2011, weighing 25lbs and measuring 47cm tall. Both her parents are proud and happy!
I have been looking for a bike for my wife for a few years now. Ever since I began rediscovering my love of the bike I have wanted to share that experience with her. Unfortunately, there have not been a lot of suitable options to consider. I wanted to get her a new bike, as while I am okay with making repairs to my bike on the side of the road, it’s not something I want her to have to deal with often. Also, our house is set upon a large hill, so “super cute” cruiser bikes were out in favor of bikes with some gearing. I knew a road specific design would be best for her, but a racing frame with dropbars would be a little intimidating.
This year I found the Novara Express from REI. In truth, this frame probably has more in common with a cyclocross bike than a road bike, with clearance for wide tires (it comes with 700×32), and V-brakes. It also has spots on the frame for mounting a rack and fenders, making it a great potential commuter bike. But they’ve pared down the weight as much as possible, with an aluminum frame and carbon fork. The gearing is fairly conservative, with 48/36/26 up front and 11-28 in back, should make short work of any of the hills in our area and potentially a good setup for touring if that was a consideration. Finally, it is equipped with a nice flat handle bar, with comfortable bar ends for longer rides. This gives it a nice relaxed geometry, but still aggressive enough to be efficient (unlike the sit-up-and-beg comfort bike designs).
I actually think this is a remarkably well designed bike. It is not intimidating for riders who are only looking for recreation, or just getting back into riding, yet its features are flexible enough to allow more serious use if commuting or touring become an interest. It seems like a really fun bike to ride, and I hope it will give my wife many years of enjoyment!