As I mentioned in my previous post, on Friday, I finally bit the bullet and bought a bike (to replace the departed Baby Jake). I ended up purchasing a 2013 Kona Dew Deluxe that I’d actually been curious about even before Baby Jake’s demise.
First, a bit of back story. At the beginning of April, I test rode a beautiful baby blue Salsa Vaya 2 that was for sale on Craigslist. I knew the 56cm frame size was a bit of a stretch for me (the Salsa sizing chart says I’m just barely tall enough for a 56cm; my ideal frame size with them would be a 54cm or 55cm), but if it worked, I would have had an awesome bike for a good price. The 56cm frame was totally rideable, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t wishing it into being, so I arranged for the owner to take it into The Hub for both a frame check (it was in amazing condition, but it was enough of an investment that confirming that didn’t hurt) and a fit check. As I suspected, the frame was in great shape, but when we looked at the fit, their advice is that the 56cm was really a stretch for me. We maybe could have made it work, but it wasn’t what they would put me on. So, even though it would have been a good deal, on a bike that is otherwise inaccessible to me, I let it go.*
On Friday, I went into The Hub to test ride the Dew Deluxe, and another bike, the Scott Sub 10. Both bikes had been hanging out in the shop for awhile (quite awhile for the Kona, given the model year). The Kona caught my eye with it’s stock front rack, fenders, and cute integrated bell. The Scott? Well, the color was the first thing that caught my eye . . .
Image courtesy of REI
Thought you can’t tell in the photo, it’s metallic green. The color (and matching fenders) caught my eye, as well as the belt drive (i.e., it has a belt in place of a chain — belts are very durable, provide really quiet operation, and don’t get greasy and gunky like a traditional chain). It also has an internal hub (Shimano Alfine 8, so eight speeds), which I enjoy on Big Blue, and disc brakes, at a price that seems VERY reasonable for all of those features.
So, on Friday morning, I went into The Hub to ride both bikes (I’d taken the Kona for a spin a few months ago). And while it seemed crazy, I kind-of had in my head that I would be leaving with one of those bikes.
The Kona Dew Deluxe is a 9-speed (so only one chain-ring in front), and, like the Scott bike, it has disc brakes. Both bikes have aluminum frames. Though it’s silly, there was definitely part of me that was drawn to having “Her Green Bike” to match my blog.
While the gear range on the 9-speed Kona seemed similar to that on the 8-speed Scott, it felt like the Kona’s lowest (i.e., easiest) gear was a bit lower than the Scott’s. I found some decent hills to test them on, and, while I made it up on the [unloaded] Scott, I was a bit concerned about what would happen with some cargo. (Big Blue’s internal hub is the Shimano Alfine 11, and it definitely has a wider gear range than the Alfine 8).
If I’m not happy with the Kona Dew’s gearing, I could add an additional front chain ring fairly affordably (not super cheap, since I would also need the front shifter), but there weren’t a lot of options for the gearing of the Scott (short of maybe upgrading to the Alfine 11, but that would be pretty pricey, and I wasn’t sure it would even fit on the bike), and in the end, that tipped the scales in favor of the Kona.
Despite the fact that I’ve been looking for EIGHT months, this felt like something of an impulse buy. Matthew said he wanted to see the look on the faces of everyone at The Hub when I finally. bought. something. When I relayed this comment to the folks at The Hub, Ron said they’d just sold a bike to a guy who’d been coming in and looking for three YEARS. So clearly I should have waited longer, right?
When it came down to it, I was just ready to have something (other than BUB) again. A hybrid bike suits almost all of the riding I do at present. I still see something like the Salsa Vaya or the Surly Long Haul Trucker (or maybe the Cross Check or the Troll) in my future. While my bike hunt is technically over, I’ll still be glancing at Craigslist for a Salsa Vaya (that is both my size AND not stolen) from time to time, and I’ll keep on eye on the available color options for the Surly bikes. I may find something in 2 months, or it may not be for ten years.
In the meantime, I’m working on getting my new bike up to speed. I was able to salvage most of the accessories from Baby Jake, so the Dew now was water bottle cages, light mounts, and a kickstand (like the Scott, the Dew Deluxe came with matching fenders — it was nice not having to mess with that install). While undamaged, the rear rack from Baby Jake, doesn’t quite fit the Dew. I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t reuse the rack, but it became somewhat of a moot point because we just ordered a Burley Piccolo (tag-a-long) for Gabriel(!), and that requires using Burley’s proprietary “Moose Rack,” so I’ll be putting that rack on the Dew. With any luck, I’ll have it all set up in time for the CyclingSavvy class I’m teaching on Saturday!
*I’ve built up a pretty strong customer loyalty to The Hub. Unfortunately, Salsa has an exclusive contract with another local bike shop, and The Hub can’t play. Until or unless I find a used Vaya, that bike is inaccessible to me.