Expanding our fleet

After saying for years that he could really use a back-up bike — something to ride when his usual bike is in the shop for repairs — Matthew began hunting in earnest this spring, trolling Craigslist and visiting some local bike shops to test ride different styles of bikes.

He found and test-rode a [Craigslist-ed] Surly Pacer  at about the same time he visited a local shop where he tried three bikes: a Salsa Casserole (yes, that is seriously a brand and model of bicycle, not a TexMex dish) and the Kona Ute (a longtail — be still my beating heart!) and MinUte.

While he liked the Konas (more on this below), he narrowed it down to the Salsa and Surly Pacer, which were fairly similar: both sturdy road bikes that would take a rear cargo rack and should hold up well for daily riding.  In addition to the ecological benefits of choosing a used bicycle, there are also significant cost savings.  After researching to make sure the Surly could be adapted to his needs (i.e., would take fenders and that rear rack), he opted for the used bike route.*

Actually setting it up with fenders and a rack was, of course, easier said than done.  In the end, it involved an extra bike shop visit, a new, narrower rear tire and drilling a couple of holes in the rear fender.

Late last week, it was finally road worthy, and not a moment too soon, as Matthew was starting to get buyer’s remorse, wondering if he should have gone with the ease and peace-of-mind of a new bike.  He’s still adjusting to the road bike position (his other bike is a hybrid, with a very upright riding position), but so far, so good, I think.

Now, to my favorite subject — the longtails.  He didn’t go into the bike shop intending to try a longtail, but when the Kona Ute presented itself, he took it for a spin.  He was impressed with the overall handling, and the fact that we could get a frame that would fit both of us is certainly attractive.

Unless we want to solely use the trailer for Gabriel (which I don’t), we’ll need some other option, as he probably will outgrow the IBert [front seat] before summer’s end.  While we could just attach a rear seat to one of our current bikes, it would mean sacrificing our rear cargo room, not a practical option when using a bike for transportation.  A longtail bike provides plenty of room for a little passenger and his (and your) stuff, not to mention groceries, towing other bikes   . . . the options are endless!

Given the rarity of longtail bikes in these parts, this will almost certainly be a new purchase.  We’ve narrowed it down to the Kona Ute (which I need to get into the shop and ride) and the Yuba Mundo.  None of our local bike shops carry the Mundo (the closest is in Columbia, MO), but fortunately, we ran into a family who is willing to let us test ride theirs.

I’m still not sure that we’ll end up going the longtail route, but I’m very excited about the possibility!

*For a nice guide on buying a Craigslist bike, check out this post from S. over at Simply Bike.