We're talking classic town bikes here - that's upright with hub gears and lots of equipment. If you are looking for something more sporty but urban for your city bike, then check out the hybrids, or better still look at our recommendations.
Classic town bikes have a very simple brief: a bike to be ridden very often; for short to medium distances, and to be practical - which means not having to compromise for the fact that you are riding a bicycle. The aesthetic is defiantly not dayglow, lycra, helmeted, trouser clips or sweaty. It's about being able to go about your normal everyday business without being identified, or identifying as 'a cyclist' and it's about actually being able to go about your normal everyday business on two wheels - like we said, these are practical bikes.
But just because these are practical bikes, does not mean they are not a pleasure to ride. They are certainly very different from sports bikes - they aren't fast, but then what's the hurry if you are only making short trips? On a classic town bike you are very upright: so you can either be master of all you survey - King of the Road; or adopt the nonchalant languor of the flâneur. Either way, there is simply just the pleasure of riding - slowly. Other key features of city bikes are ...
Town bikes should have hub gears - which are clean, tidy and simple to use. All the machinery is enclosed in a kind of gearbox in the rear hub. This keeps the whole thing clean and reliable. Available in 3,4,5,7,8 and even 14 gears and operated by just one control. The transmission of hub geared bikes is simply a chain running between 2 cogs, which means the whole thing can be enclosed, keeping it all clean and further enhancing its reliability. It also keeps your everyday clothes clean - helping you to maintain a lycra free lifestyle. We recommend at least five speeds.
You will find all manner of braking systems on town bikes, but classic Dutch bikes are generally equipped with lever operated hub brakes. Their greatest benefit is that they are low maintenance and very cheap to run - in all likelihood you will never need to replace them. Their down side is that they are heavier and they are not quite as sharp as most rim and disc brakes, but are nevertheless very effective.
Lots of it! The best town bikes will not just have a rack and set of mudguards, but a kickstand, lighting (preferably dynamo), a frame lock, skirt/coatguards, bungees, a decent bell and a pump.
Dynamos are emblematic of the greatest virtue of the bicycle - that of self suffciency. Regarded by many, but not us, as somewhat quaint and old fashioned, what could be more inspiring than riding out at night and generating your own light? Fortunately, dynamo technology has actually developed over the years so that today you can expect low drag, silent operation and bright lights (and no plug ins to power stations, batteries full of toxic chemicals or annoying torches to cart around town!).
They do it best - check out our Gazelles.