My wife brought home a brand spanking new Breezer U-frame Villager bicycle from the bike shop yesterday afternoon. It's a beauty.
Sara rode it to her classes last night and loves the new bike. It features dynamo powered lighting, a 7 speed Shimano Nexus hub, rack, fenders, bell, suspension seatpost and kickstand. The moderately raked CroMoly fork has a noticeable amount of "give" to cushion what might otherwise be a harsh ride from the aluminum frame. As equipped, Sara's 15" U frame Breezer Villager weighs about 30 pounds and retails for $1200.
Until recently, most comfort bikes for city riding have tended to be heavy and built up with cheap components. In 2003, Joe Breeze started creating bikes designed for "transportation for a healthy planet." Breeze was inspired by European city bike designs but added his "California fresh" perspective to make the bikes practical yet light and responsive.
I really like this trend toward Euro-styled city bikes that aren't absolute clunkers. QBP launched their Civia brand of high end commuter bikes this year. We're also started seeing this trend from the first tier bike builders like Specialized with their Globe series of bikes.
The shop experience (from a dealer who is just now joining the Breezer network) was a mixed bag. Upright city bikes don't require the level of custom fitting that racers insist on, but I at least expect a shop to adjust the saddle and handlebars to somewhere near the correct height. The front light was also incorrectly aimed, pointing a good 30 degrees up in the air. Otherwise, everything on the bike appears to be correctly assembled, adjusted and inflated. They also noticed and repaired a loose connection between the dynamo and tail light. Apparently, this is a fairly common problem on some Breezer bikes and mentioned to Sara that she should watch for that.
Sue has been very inspired this last week, creating a bike haiku today and yesterday. I didn't know this until I read it in Roger Kramer's blog, but apparently Sue is on the board of the League of Illinois Bicyclists!