My bike commuting started on a big-box “Iron Maiden” pseudo-mountain bike, replaced with a similar one when #1 was stolen. These bikes probably weighed a good 45 pounds apiece before adding racks and gear.
Then I met Sweet Hubs, who got me onto a Specialized Dolce–a lightweight road-biking dream at around 18 pounds before I added racks/gear–and I commuted on that for the past 5 years.
This set me up with some high expectations for a commuter bike. First and foremost, it has to pass the staircase test: I have to be able to carry the bike up a flight of stairs with all the gear on it. Granted, this situation doesn’t occur too often but I want to be ready for it when it does (and it does).
I loved the nimble navigating I could do on that road bike. My adjustments to shopping habits to acquire a bike-friendly wardrobe didn’t do away with my desire for a step-through model, though. While I’ve gotten pretty good at the discreet dismount I wouldn’t mind a slightly more graceful maneuver.
The chance to ride an upright bike a couple of years ago piqued my interest in making a switch for commuting. And years of crouching over the handlebars of a road bike coupled with tons of computer time left me with a burning sensation across my shoulders. With Sweet Hubs’ help we tweaked my handlebars up and up with a couple of extenders that helped–but did not eliminate–the feeling. Since computers aren’t leaving my life any time soon, a change to my bike routine seemed like a good idea.
Another chance to ride a couple of more upright commuters–the Breezer Uptown Infinity and the Trek FX–reinforced the desire to have one of my very own, although I had distinct concerns about getting one that didn’t have the number of gears I was used to having at my disposal. I test-rode a PUBLIC Bike but it was really heavy (they’re all steel).
Then we moved to Seattle, I made the rounds of a few local bike shops, and there it stood: the aluminum-frame Specialized Globe Daily 2, looking classic in a brushed-silver finish.
What the heck–why not take it for a little road test?
My initial reaction to the very different “mustache” handlebar set-up was that I was steering a wheelbarrow, but then I realized I was grinning. I pedaled the bike up a little steep hill (abundantly available in Seattle for test rides), using the lowest gear, and decided this could be the one.
I got the bike in the medium size (I’m 5’6-1/2″) and still grin every day I ride it. There is something about stepping on (instead of hoisting my leg in the air) and pedaling away in that very upright posture that absolutely makes me feel like a kid again.
At the same time I can see everything around me without craning my neck uncomfortably to peer out from under my helmet. I feel very heads-up and I’m able to make good eye contact with drivers, pedestrians, and other bicyclists. Sweet Hubs has commented on how comfortable I look when I ride.
Handlebar configuration: I adapted quickly to the “wheelbarrow” sensation. That isn’t a bad comparison, actually. Unlike a road bike that allows me to lean into the corners, this configuration requires that I steer around corners. That keeps me very upright in the saddle, hence the Mary Poppins reference in the title.
Weight: It passes the weight test; while it’s heavier than my road bike, it’s much lighter than other models I’d looked at.
Gearing: I had concerns that an 8-speed wouldn’t go low enough for the steep Seattle hills, based on my experience with the Breezer in Spokane.
First you have to know that even with the road bike I confront hills that make me get off and walk, so it’s not you, Seattle–it’s me.
While I’ve definitely felt the work as I pedaled up hills on this bike, I’ve hit only one so far that made me walk a couple of blocks and that’s about par for the course for outings here so far on my road bike. I’m considering the possibility of making some changes that would give me a lower low-end gearing than the Shimano Acera group gives me, but I can live with it as-is.
The gears shift smoothly and an indicator tells you at a glance what gear you’re in.
Tires: The tires are 700x28c, slightly wider than the skinny road tires I’ve been riding on. I definitely notice an improvement in comfort on rough streets with their greater width. With this size I’ll also be able to get studded tires, which weren’t an option with my skinnies and which will help with icy conditions when those arrive.
Fenders: The integrated steel fenders add to the classic appearance, with bevels for a look they call a zeppelin finish. They’re extra-long to help block the spray but I think I’ll add a Buddy Flap front and back anyway, Seattle weather being just a trifle moist.
Chainguard: While it doesn’t come with the type of chainguard that extends back over the chain toward the back cog, there is a circular disk over the outside of the chain ring that helps protect your pant leg from chain grease.
Rack: My one ding, but it’s a big one. I appreciate having a rack included as standard equipment (a no-brainer on a commuter design, but you’d be surprised at how many no-brains no-rack “commuter” designs I’ve seen).
I’ve happily carried a Po Campo Logan Tote on the rack on my road bike for a couple of years now, but the teeny-tiny platform on the rack that comes standard with the Daily 2 is just not enough surface either side to side or end to end. The bag kept rotating off to the side to the point where I gave up and buckled it onto the side of the rack; the beauty of the Po Campo design includes its flexibility.
Maybe the rack designers only had panniers in mind but that’s a pretty shortsighted view of the world (and one very much oriented toward “cyclists,” who make up only part of the market of “people who ride bikes to get somewhere”). And with the short length of the rack, I’d venture a guess some panniers would end up in the heel-strike zone, although that’s only a guess.
Kickstand: Okay, one more little ding–a kickstand doesn’t come standard so you’ll have to have one added. It’s a relatively low-cost item so that’s not too big a deal.
Bottom line: I got mine on sale for $479.99 plus kickstand, cost of a replacement rack, and tax–all in for well under $600. MSRP online is $690, which includes a front basket that didn’t come with mine (I’ll be adding one–looks very handy!). Compare that to the cost of other commuter-oriented bikes, add the joyful feeling I get riding it, and I’ll be on this one for a long time.
- The Trek FX Gets a Road Test, and I Get Confused
- Informal Impressions of the Breezer Uptown Infinity LS
- Specialized Globe Daily 2 Step Through technical specifications
- Have you made a switch from one bike configuration to another? What did it feel like?