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Category: Bobbin Shopper

Test Ride: the Bobbin Shopper

Test Ride: the Bobbin Shopper

Yesterday I was lucky to be able to try the new Bobbin Shopper, thanks to my favorite LBS RedBike. I rode it around for about 20 minutes in the neighborhood around the U of A, and stopped on the path on Saskatchewan Drive for some quick iPhonography. You should also check out the more detailed review by Lovely Bicycle! – but I thought I’d share my observations.

Bobbin Bicycles' Shopper
Bobbin Bicycles’ Shopper

It’s fun to ride! A comparison with a Raleigh Twenty is inescapable, because its’ design is so similar. Like an R20, it feels like riding a full-size 3-speed, but the smaller wheels make the steering a bit more responsive and the whole bike more maneuverable. Unlike an R20, it has a front caliper brake and a 3-speed coaster brake. The small wheels do mean you can feel every bump – not so good on a pothole-ridden stretch of construction-abused 110th Street, but perfectly fine for most sidewalks.

It is adorable, too. I had three different people I passed during my ride give me big smiles and say “nice bike!” – including an elderly woman who had looked apprehensive when she saw me coming up the sidewalk, before I hopped off the bike, pulled onto the grass, and gave her a friendly smile. Mary Poppins Effect in full effect!

BobbinShopper2
A nice big front basket, front caliper brakes, and Sturmey-Archer 3-speed.
BobbinShopper3
A unicrown fork, 20 x 1.75 whitewall tires, a sturdy little kickstand, and fenders. I love the British racing green paint, but it also comes in burnt orange and robins’ egg blue.
BobbinShopper4
A short rack marked “max 25 kg” with a Pletscher-style clamp. This would work well for panniers, a small crate, or those pretty Po Campo bags.

I’m strongly considering this bike as a fun-but-practical summertime ride that could become my winter bike with the addition of studded tires (Update: I’d have to DIY these with EBC’s help, because I just looked it up and the Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires are 20 x 1.6 not 20 x 1.75, darnit!). In my neighborhood, the MUPs and sidewalks are (mostly) cleared, but only the major roads get plowed, so a bike designed for sidewalks is preferable for winter use. Yes, I could pick up a Raleigh Twenty for cheaper, but by the time I upgraded the wheels and brakes to improve the braking and make it winter-worthy, I’m not sure I’d be saving any money. Yes, a Twenty’s frame might be a higher-quality build, but it’s also a bit heavier. I’m also not sure I’d feel comfortable desecrating a pristine R20 with modern upgrades so that I could subject it to winter abuse.

(PS: What the heck has 20 x 1.6 tires? A Dahon folder? Who are Schwalbe making those studded tires for?)

(Update: Read the comments for tire info!)

(2014 Update: This year’s model┬áhas a very nice looking porteur rack in place of the front basket, so has upgraded cargo capacity, and teal or ivory paint. I am still strongly considering it, but haven’t pulled the trigger because I need to sell part of my stable of bikes first. I’m also tempted by the Tern Swoop and Dahon Vitesse folders, but haven’t yet found a local LBS where I can try them out.)