Sitting in traffic sucks. Of all the aspects of urban living, experiencing the slow jam on a daily basis ranks upon my least favorite. Having to commute to the north bay drove me to the purchase of my first motorcycle a few years ago, and the frowns turned upside down as the throttle twisted. However, it didn’t do much for helping enjoy the more basic experiences when everything goes by in a blur. For shorter trips around town, riding a bike has always been our favorite method of getting around.
Those who’ve followed this site know we live to ride bikes in the dirt, but we’ve always gotten around by bike in the city. Whether it was a BMX, single speed mountain bike, or a road bike, getting the chance to enjoy the wind in our faces astride two wheels is a win. Setting up a bike for getting around locally is as easy as finding some decent, fast rolling tires, a comfortable saddle, and sticking a new chain on an old road bike.
Inga’s been riding an beat-up old roadie for the last few years. First she had a rickety 6-speed acquired from a former roommate, dubbed the “General.” When we moved away and the General was handed down once again to another friend, she adopted my mom’s old bike. Last year we upgraded her ride to a hybrid- a Specialized Crossroads frame I picked up at a local bikeshop in PDX. New v-brakes, tires, and hand me down parts from the used parts bin in the closet resulted in her having the nicest beater around, complete with carbon bars and a Saint Shifter, and classic JIS Race Face Turbine cranks.
While she loved the bikes, they certainly didn’t match her flair. I’ve been trying to convince her to drop the gears for sometime; we have enough bikes lying around to maintain. When I saw this Kona Paddy Wagon track bike on a Flash Deal site, I couldn’t hold back from pressing “buy.” Last year’s color meant closeout, and at the very least I could rob the orange deep dish rims for my own urban ride. I even had thoughts of riding it myself.
Who was I kidding? When it arrived, before I had even gotten home, Inga had posted photos of the new rig on Twitter, and had laid claim to it as her own. As the timing was inline with our anniversary, this made it a win.
The Paddy Wagon comes with the option to run it either fixed gear or with a freewheel. Just unbolt the rear wheel and flip it around to the desired configuration. Brakes come stock, as well as a handlebar that would be best used at the track. It’s Inga’s first time owning a bike with drop bars, and while she likes the stretched out riding position, I’m not sure it is good choice for urban use. Track bars are designed to be ridden with one’s hands in the drops, and while it has its place in the velodrome, I’m not a fan of the riding position in heavy traffic where every second counts. It appears someone at Kona came to the same conclusion, as the 2011 model comes with more of a traditional road bar, a change I will likely be making soon on Inga’s bike.
The rest of the spec is solid for the price. I was a bit disappointed to see the loose ball and cone hubs, but the frame is butted Cromoly, something I didn’t expect, and a preferable trade off, especially for the price point. Most of the spec is house brand stuff straight out of Taiwan including Tektro brakes and levers and some FSA bits. All solid performers for the price, and combined with the lack of moving parts, I expect maintenance to be minimal. A nice bonus spec was the WTB saddle over a generic house model.
Inga is rolling it in single speed mode and has stated she doesn’t care to try going fixed, which is a positive note, as riding fixed has a solid learning curve that seems to involve hitting pavement for a lot of people. Apparently the orange rims are pretty recognizable, as she has been a lot of comments from friends that have seen her out and about rolling Oakland street.
For a solid bike with a butted cro-mo frame, this ride was a deal. The problem is that I’m now getting a case of city-bike envy. (I doubt I’ll be able to resist for long, there are some great deals out there on completes that cost less than a typical frameset)
More on the Kona Paddy Wagon here