Posted by: Ian | November 10, 2009

A new bike for Qasim

Qas wants a new bike to commute between his as-yet-unpurchased new place in the Baker Street area and E14. His budget, as of yesterday afternoon, was “up to £1,000”.

My knee-jerk suggestion was, predictably, to get a Condor fixie. When Qas found out that mine was “only” £800 I think that became his revised budget. I love my fixie and for me it’s the perfect City commuter bike. Ridden 48/16, it’s incredibly zippy on London streets, yet it’s an easy enough ratio to manage any hills within the M25. The feature that it put it in mind for Qas (although, in truth, it’s pretty much always in mind) is how little upkeep it needs. Having seen Qas’s current bike, and noting his lack of interest in our planned bike maintenance course, it’s clear that a high level of in-built entropy resistance is essential. A fixie is a great low-maintenance bike: there are no gears to worry about, the chain always runs straight so can be stronger and lasts longer, and brake pad life is hugely improved by the fact that most deceleration is done with the legs rather than the brakes.

But, upon reflection, it’s not quite the ideal bike for Qas. For a start, he’d rather ride in a more upright position, winklepickers squarely over the pedals, rather than stretched out over the hoods or the drops, so a flatbar bike would be better. Secondly, only a few of us want to commit our knees to take every incline and downslope in the same gear, forever, so some sort of gearing option is strongly preferable.

Qas, I’ve found you the perfect bike: it’s the Trek Soho.

It has a hub gear, giving all the advantages of a permanently straight chain-line and no fussy derailleurs to maintain. At the same time, you have eight gears to choose from, which is more than enough for London streets. Better still, there’s a belt drive system rather than a chain, reducing maintenance further still. You can get a chainguard if for when you ride in regular trousers (as Qas does all the time) and it comes with mudguards so your non-bike-specific jacket/sweater doesn’t get striped in bad weather. Moreover it’s designed to be bullet-proof: there are puncture-resistant Bontrager Hard Case tyres and it even has a rubber bumper along the top tube.

There aren’t any colour options but personally I think its utilitarian gunmetal factory chic is okay. And it’s within budget at £799. Best of all, they sell it at Evans where you can get a 10% discount at the drop of a hat – so Qas can take us all to Tayyabs with the money saved.



  1. That’s quite an attractive bike! The shifting is a little over my head, though.

    • I think it comes with trigger shifters. I have a Van Nicholas Amazon with Rohloff hub gears and that has a twist shifter, which is the easiest thing in the world to use. Whatever the shifting mechanism, hub gears have several advantages over derailleurs. For a start, you can change up and down as many gears as you like at any time, from stationary to full load peddling.

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