As I mentioned in the previous post, I drove up to northern Michigan last weekend to pick up Mr. Ding. I stopped at a few bike shops along the way and test rode some unique bikes. On Sunday I stopped by Latitude 45 Bike Shop in Petoskey. Before I arrived in Petoskey, I had done a little research and discovered that Latitude 45 carries the Easy Boarding Series of bikes from the German bike maker Biria. I met someone riding one of these bikes a couple of years ago during an annual Bike the Drive and have been curious about them ever since. I walked into Latitude 45, met the incredibly helpful Patrick, and he quickly got a bike out for me to test ride. I trired out the Top 3 model in the Easy Boarding series, with an aluminum frame, 26-inch tires, and a 3-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear with coaster brakes. It had a rear coaster foot brake and front alloy v-brake. This bike comes in either a 40 cm or 46 cm frame, so even the larger frame was much too small for me, but I gave it a ride anyway. Patrick also pointed out that the seat post and stem are adjustable, so there would be a little bit of play for some riders.
The Top 3 is one of a handful of 3 to 8-speed extreme step-through bikes that Biria makes and sells in the US. They are all aluminum frame bikes that weigh about 30 pounds, and come in a variety of colors, and may or may not have racks, lights, and fenders. Depending on the model they may have coaster brakes , coaster/v-brake combo, or only v-brakes. They even have an electric-assist model. The handlebars are curved like a cruiser bike, but they didn’t feel as wide to me as those on the Electra bikes. Having both the coaster and hand-brake was actually a nice combination on this bike too. Stepping through this bike and getting on was so amazingly easy – the design is brilliant. I am familiar with a few of the creative methods that cyclists use to mount bikes when they are limited by injuries or disability, but this bike makes those creative machinations unnecessary. For a ride around town, to the beach or to the store, it’s refreshing to be able to easily be able to get on and go. The bike road well, and felt solid – even without the top tube that can give traditional bikes some of their stability. It evens comes with a nifty euro-style rack and mud-flap.
Compared side-by-side to a step-through city bike ( in this case, an Electra Amsterdam Classic) , you can get even more of a sense of how dramatic the design of the frame is.
Like traditional city bike with their internal gears and covered chain-case, these bikes are low-maintenance – another benefit. Biria bike is an innovative design that makes it possible for many people to ride a bike who thought they never would be able to, and for cyclists who thought their riding days were behind them to keep riding. It’s also great for cyclists who just want to ride around town on a unique -looking bike. In Chicago you should be able to find one to test ride at Kozy’s , Upgrade Cycle Works, Armitage Bike Shop or Rudy’s Schwinn Cycle & Fitness. Stop by one of these bike shops and take a test ride for yourself!