Eurobike 2012: The ultimate commuter bike?

Bendixen bicycle with Pinion gearbox, 650B wheels, 38mm tyres, hydraulic disc brakes and dynamo lights.

by David Arthur   September 4, 2012  

With its hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless 650B wheels, dynamo front and rear lights, I think this could be my ultimate commuting bike. Just what defines the ultimate commuter is influenced by your personal taste and the particulars of your commute of course, but the Bendixen ticks a lot of boxes.

Bendixen will make you anything you want; custom is their approach to bicycle manufacturing, each frame designed to suit individual needs. The Pinion 650b uses the very clever Pinion gearbox and there was a notable uptake in the number of bikes designed around it at Eurobike.

Like Bendixen, Pinion are a German company, and arguably make the most complete gearbox currently available. It's taking some time for gearbox systems to really take off, but they offer some great advantages for the future of city, commuting and touring bikes. A fully enclosed transmission is a benefit with everything completely sealed. The twist shifter gives you 18 speeds with a huge 636% range - more than a triple drivetrain.

Bendixen have built a very lovely looking frame with the gearbox neatly integrated, nestled just above the bottom bracket. A chain guard will stop your trousers getting caught in the chain and a small chain device fixed to the rear dropout keeps the chain tensioned.

The other standout feature is the 650B wheelset. Now we haven't seen many bikes with this wheelsize at Eurobike (unless you included mountain bikes in which case it's the latest buzz) so it was interesting to see this example.

650B wheels were popular with French touring cyclists up until the 1980s when they faded out of fashion. There is a French organisation dedicated to keeping the standard alive, the Confrerie des 650B so we could yet see their return. There is an advantage of the smaller wheels particularly on commuting and touring bikes, where comfort trumps performance.

You could run a fatter tyre, up to 38mm, yet still have the same outside diameter as a 700c wheel with a 22mm tyre. The wheels on this bike are Stan's NoTubes Crest 650B rims paired with Pacenti Pari-Moto 38mm tyres. They weigh 290g and is made by Panaracer in Japan.

Another feature that strengthens the case for the tag of ultimate commuting bike tag is the Supernova dynamo front hub. It powers an front LED light and a rear light, fitted inside the rack. Brakes are hydraulic providing ample stoppage when you need it and a smattering of lightweight Tune components (stem, seatpost and saddle) give it a performance edge. The handlebar, a swept back design, I'm not so sure about.

What do you think?

17 user comments

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Yes please..... Although I probably don't need such a wide range of gears. Do they do something like a 6-speed gearbox that could drop the wieght a bit?

posted by Redx [29 posts]
4th September 2012 - 12:13

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Interesting and it certainly ticks a lot of boxes.

What's the weight, and what's the cost ?

I like the integrated rear LED - how secure is that front light ?

The only commute box it doesn't tick is a skirt guard, but no doubt it could be fitted.

I'm seriously interested though - my wife is looking for a commute bike and is keen on a Pashley for many of the same tick boxes.

Is it about a bicycle ?

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posted by abudhabiChris [468 posts]
4th September 2012 - 12:55

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I think it is the ultimate commuting bike only if you have somewhere secure to store it at work!

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
4th September 2012 - 13:29

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Its interesting but....

1. With the exception of being seriously "in the wilderness" what's the point of a dynamo system over a modern battery powered LED set-up. Seems a load of pointless complexity & expense. It'd have made sense 10 (5?) years ago, but today....

2. As the former owner of a modern Sturmey Archer SRF3. I'm not convinced that the maintenance advantages of a sealed system outweigh its weight cost. Is anyone seriously struggling with modern derailleurs from a reliability / maintenance perspective?

posted by Fishy [49 posts]
4th September 2012 - 14:20

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Fishy wrote:
Its interesting but....

1. With the exception of being seriously "in the wilderness" what's the point of a dynamo system over a modern battery powered LED set-up. Seems a load of pointless complexity & expense. It'd have made sense 10 (5?) years ago, but today....

2. As the former owner of a modern Sturmey Archer SRF3. I'm not convinced that the maintenance advantages of a sealed system outweigh its weight cost. Is anyone seriously struggling with modern derailleurs from a reliability / maintenance perspective?

I can answer both your questions at the same time. Your way takes time and effort to make sure lights are charged or have spare batteries on you and will require you to clean or maintain the drivetrain (same thing really, if you dont do the first you soon have to do the second!).

Dynamo lights require no faffing with chargers, or remembering to swap batteries. Hub gears seriously reduce maintenance and you dont need to clean it hardly ever.

It seems like neither of these things are worth any consdieration for you, but let me say, they mean a great deal to many. Myself, ive not yet got into hub gears but i have spent a good deal of money replacing perfectly good battery lights with dynamo lights, because i was having batteries die, forgetting to fit lights in the morning that i needed that night, or having clip on lights stolen. Dynamo lights are a revelation for me.

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posted by STATO [399 posts]
4th September 2012 - 16:00

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I do see your point about remembering to charge lights, but given that a modern LED gets at least a week of 2+ hours daily commuting without needing recharging & that hub-driven dynamos are seriously expensive pieces of kit, it can't surely be worth it (given that the cost of the dynamo is going to be reflected in the RRP of this bike)

On the hub gear issue:
* The chain needs just as much cleaning / replacing as a derailleur chain
* When the hub eventually needs maintenance (albeit 80,000 miles later) you're up a creek without specialist experience, whereas replacing derailleur components is easy & cheap (depending on groupset) as pie
* The braking surface will wear out long before the hub (assuming rim brakes) forcing a rebuild & cost
* Punctures are a bit more of a faff
* Chain tension & chain wear can be a issue

Don't get me wrong, I rode my SRF3 for 2 years and loved it, but couldn't justify the longer term rebuild costs & it certainly spent a lot more time being faffed with than my Tiagra bike (although this was arguably due to it being ridden in winter and being mounted on a bike with horizontal dropouts).

posted by Fishy [49 posts]
4th September 2012 - 16:42

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Horses for courses. There's still a place for dynamos (and more when they sort out the charging other devices question properly).

My last dynamo setup... £60 light, £90 hub. Running cost - nil. Carbon footprint - nil. Run time - all night long.

Downsides: 1% resistance, hard to take off your bike, needs to be fully integrated with the bike, not helmet mountable, can't use it in your tent later Smile

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posted by alotronic [226 posts]
4th September 2012 - 17:11

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Fishy wrote:
* The chain needs just as much cleaning / replacing as a derailleur chain

Just my experience, but the 1/8" chains on my fixed bikes seem to last very well despite never, ever being cleaned (though they are regularly lubed). I suspect that not being bent to accommodate shifting makes for a significantly easier life for both cog and chain, as the whole width of the roller is in contact with the tooth at roughly the same pressure.

posted by steff [81 posts]
4th September 2012 - 17:13

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Ultimate commuter bike? Only if the price is right, and I suspect it isn't. I don't what the 'tipping point', price-wise, to get people onto bikes is, but I suspect it's around the £350 mark. Any higher than that and you're heading toward second-hand car territory. My non-cycling friends are amazed that I spent just under a grand on my bike, and consider me either dangerously bicycle-obsessed or a magic-bean-buying naif who was very much seen coming by the bike shop.

I blame the multiples for flooding the market with bouncy gimcrack BSOs at £70 a pop. But still, there's a public perception that bikes should be a lot cheaper than they actually are.

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posted by Ghedebrav [798 posts]
4th September 2012 - 19:37

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Give me a Van Nicholas Amazon with 30 gears and Kree lights with rechargable batteries any day. For under £2k you can do a medium-fast 30 mile ride after work and stop at the shops on the way home, and use it for touring and sportives, instead of spending thousands on a piece of heavy ironmongery with flat bars and a nasty looking gripshift.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
4th September 2012 - 21:52

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Hmmm. I like that standard gear systems are completely user serviceable (even a Sturmey Archer 3spd can be stripped and rebuilt by a hamfisted ape like me) but a fully enclosed drivetrain moves the humble bike into the same territory occupied by cars, eg specialist only maintenance. Not sure I like that... Thinking

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posted by Rob Simmonds [248 posts]
5th September 2012 - 0:59

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"Yes please..... Although I probably don't need such a wide range of gears. Do they do something like a 6-speed gearbox that could drop the wieght a bit?"

Apparently yes, they're working on an 8-speed somewhat lighter (and less expensive) version. Think I read that in the touring bike piece from eurobike yesterday.

moo

posted by uglybovine [9 posts]
5th September 2012 - 8:42

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How much?

posted by Tony [62 posts]
5th September 2012 - 22:33

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Cube already do a range (or did), I bought a trekking Cube bike with disk brakes, an Alfine 8 speed rear hub, twin chain rings at the front and complete with dynamo lights and a tubus rack, this was less than £1K at an end of season sale.

Ironically, I moved into deepest countryside and with a 15M commute, I have reverted to my roadbike. I really miss the dynamo lights most of all and may transfer them across and buy a new dynamo hub based front wheel.

posted by diggersailing [12 posts]
6th September 2012 - 9:27

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No price or weight I'm afraid guys, I'm expecting it to not to be cheap though as each frame is hand built to order. And there's a lot of expensive kit on it. you can't put a price on 'ultimate' however

I think dynamo-powered lights are due a revival. There's been a lot of development of hubs and lights, and the Revo that Exposure launched at the show kicks out 800 Lumens, and 200 when not pedalling. With no batteries to have to charge ever again, who can't be interested?

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posted by David Arthur [1204 posts]
6th September 2012 - 10:04

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re 'low maintenance commuter' check out Milk bikes. (am pretty sure they were reviewed here) with internal cabling, belt drive, hubs gears and dynamo. Plus it's British designed (East Anglia?). Not sure where all the bits come from but I remember making a mental note for when I next purchase a commuter.

"Inside every car is a pedestrian, just Waiting to get out..." S.J.L.

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posted by scotter [64 posts]
6th September 2012 - 10:25

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PPF. RE FISHY...I have many hub geared bikes ,several with dynamos with good led lamps. most are over 5oo lumens, one is 800. some have an auto switch,(turns on in poor light),all have standlight function for when stationary,ie,right turns. one dynamo has very low offload friction,(a lever moves magnets further apart when nt in use).
80,000miles would be 10-30 years riding, car gearboxes run to more than 200,000! so its possible for a rohloff or pinion gearbox to last even longer. They are clean and low maintainence if fitted with toothed belt drive.
puncture repairs are cleaner, its not difficult to remove gear cable box from my rohloff,or pull connector from front dynohub.
Disc brakes are easy to replce as parts wear,why use a rim brake?
My best racing bike does have convetional gears just for lightness. however,for low maintainence,winter, wet weather,touring and mtb riding,(I do enduros,night,and 24hr events) a gearbox and dynohub wins hands down. I have used all gear an lighting systems and wasted many thousands of pounds!!!!
I have a daily commute of 15 miles everyday.
You should try one for at least a year before deciding. They are worth every penny in the longer term ownership.

peasantpigfarmer

posted by peasantpigfarmer [46 posts]
6th September 2012 - 11:50

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