Cruzbiking the city.

For my city beater bike, I’m now riding a Cruzbike Sofrider 8-speed.  I feel I’ve graduated to a new level, now that I feel comfortable taking it in NYC street traffic.  (It took me about 7 hrs. of off-street/in-park riding to get to this point.)  As much as I prefer high-end machines and components, the CB Sofrider makes a pretty good city bike for many reasons: not too expensive, has a tight turning radius, good head height in traffic, fairly lockable, room for fat 26″ wheels, space for fenders, satisfactory front/rear suspension, and if the components get stolen or vandalized, who cares.

The SofR handles our lovely potholed streets pretty well.  I just need to resolve the cargo-carrying issues.  I can’t use most seat-post mounts such as the 20 lb capacity Topeak which Sofrider easily accepts because it isn’t strong enough for cargos I often carry (e.g., groceries, hardware, whatever).  To make it lockable, I pitlocked the front and rear wheels.  This seems to be the best way to secure it though there are still lots of bolts a thief could undue, though in (un)doing so, he (or she) would render it unrideable.  An errant child could also vandalize the seat cushions.  Whatever.  I can’t worry about everything.  There’s a chain-sized hole in the middle of the frame which makes it easy to lock the bike to the streetscape.  So, all in all, not bad at all but I really must address the cargo issues or else the bike will be relegated to only cargo-free runs.

Another Cruzbike out the door.
Yesterday, another tentative but happy customer took home a Sofrider.  I gave him an hour lesson and within that time he became quite competent.  I think he’ll enjoy it.  I wasn’t sure, though, if he fully appreciated how nice a bike it was.  I think the low price throws off some people and they feel they’re getting a bargain-priced bent as opposed to a bent that’s been carefully specced to give the max bang for the buck.  It’s actually an extremely capable bike.

For me, probably what I enjoyed most, besides seeing a new rider “get” the Cruzbike, was seeing the Sofrider’s current spec and how it reflected the company’s attitude towards its riders.  In the current edition, CB upgraded some components in the drivetrain.  The gears were faster to setup and shift better than the old system.  I also appreciated the new wheelset, since this is one of those things that your average beginner rider would not necessarily know how to judge.  Some manufacturers skimp on the wheelset to expand the profit margin even if it’s at the expense of ride quality.  And, too often, bike reviewers don’t say much about the wheels.  The previous Alex “Subs” — a stiff, light and aerodynamic rim — were rather nice, surprisingly good, even, for a bike at this price, but the new model came in with the Alex G6000 Cross rims (review) and Maxis slick tires.  (Should’ve taken a photo. Didn’t. Too busy. Sorry.)  It further supports CB’s credentials as a bike maker who seems to genuinely enjoy making good bikes, even if they look weird.  (It still throws me to see the drive wheel in the front and the SofR’s MTB Y-frame isn’t as pretty as CB’s other designs.)

There’s something particularly notable about this drivetrain upgrade that, again, your average new rider wouldn’t think about.  Some background: most manufacturers reserve the right to change components mid-season just in case they can’t get a certain component at a certain moment.  I’ve seen lesser manufacturers abuse that “right” by downgrading bike components or even frame materials.  It may or may not be to improve profits, but it bugs me when they don’t bring the bike back to original spec because there’ll be reviews out there saying the bike comes with this or that brand of whatever when in fact it’s shipping with something else entirely.  More ethical manufacturers will substitute an original component with — often — a slightly cheaper component as a temporary stop-gap till the supply starts running again, after which time I’ll see the original spec return.  In this case, what I appreciated seeing from CruzB was that they actually improved the wheelset.  Whether this is temporary or “permanent” — nothing is permanent — I don’t know, but either way, the wheels on that new arrival were better than those on my demo, bought in spring 2012.  As a rider, I really appreciate this attitude and generosity.  It reflects a courtesy and respect towards the end-rider, and demonstrates a sincere interest in seeing their riders move to a higher level.  Good job guys.

My experience with CruzB continues to be positive.  For riders who want a fast bent at a competitive price, they really should consider a Cruzbike.  There’s a learning curve, yes, but it’s worth it.

Have fun, stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

One reply on “Cruzbiking the city.”

Hi Robert,

I've installed a regular rack on my Sofrider ( I've since installed an extra seatpost clamp (around a layer of tire rubber) to which to attach the rack and this works pretty well. I commute to work with a pannier on the rack.

You can also bring up a brace from where you would attach the brakes for a 700c wheel so that the rack is entirely mounted on the rear swing-arm.

When David Byrne rode his Sofrider around the world, he created under the seat mounts for panniers ( It worked well enough for him.


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