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A New Bike

Posted in NonTech at Monday, September 04, 2006 1:48 AM W. Europe Daylight Time

I wanted to blog about this for some weeks now but have been distracted by technical stuff, which one my readers complained about.

Balloon TyreFor several years I've been riding an classic red Mifa bike that was manufactured sometime before 1990. Earlier this summer it was time to give the bike a full repair cycle as the crank bearing was broken last year and the overall condition of the vehicle was less than optimal. Time for a new bike – I was toying with the idea of buying one of those stylish balloon bikes that are fairly often seen these days in Leipzig. These bikes have extra thick tires (50 or 60 mm wide) that provide comparable suspension to normal spring forks on streets. Balloon tires aren't a recent invention, the idea behind modern tires like Big Apple and Fat Frank actually date back to the 1930s. Actually balloon bikes were the predominant bike type at that time. However, manufacturers came back to the idea of built-in air suspension because it has a better response where the ground is covered with little bumps and potholes like on cobblestone streets that are pretty common in Leipzig. Balloon tires provide better comfort when riding in the city:

Cologne Sports University field tested the Big Apple tire using a regular (non-suspension) bicycle where approx. 25% fewer vibrations were experienced. In comparison, a full-suspension bicycle reduced vibrations by 33%. In addition the tire suspension responds very sensitively [...]

I did a little research and found several bike stores in Leipzig sell balloon bikes. Some balloon bike brands are very expensive and look stylish, I wanted to go for a rather functional bike that provides more value for the Euro. The guys at Radkombinat told me more about the whole story and let me test different models. The model Potsdam manufactured by Patria had all the features I want: A technical up-to-date bike with balloon tyres, 18 colors to choose from and most importantly, they build the frame to one's measurement. You purchase a tailored bike that fits like a glove, although shipping times are up to a month during summer. I also opted-in to a saddle suspension which I can definitely recommend. Riding this bike is pure pleasure even on rough ground.

Besides the common notion that thick tires have a higher rolling resistance this is actually not the case for balloon tires:

With an air pressure of 30psi (2 Bar) the rolling resistance is about 30 per cent lower than a 1.3/8 (37mm) wide tire.

Some pictures of my bike taken on our Geocaching tour today in Leipzig. We were successful at the Traumzauberbaum and Silbersee caches, but at the beautiful Trau dich! location the microcache kept hiding from our eyes.

Patria Potsdam Patria Potsdam

Monday, September 04, 2006 10:04:26 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
What a beauty of a bike!!! Congrats! And no worries about some disoriented readers, they'll never understand! Keep on rolling...
Thursday, July 26, 2007 1:12:13 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
What a great bike, i dont suppose you know where i could buy one from, ive been looking for one for ages.

thanks
paul blease
Thursday, July 26, 2007 1:49:52 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Paul,

It depends on where you're living. As there's only a list of retailers in Germany, I'm not sure if they can handle foreign orders. It's recommended to customize the bike in your local bike store since there are some options (color, steering, saddle) and the frame is built according to your height using a so-called Velochecker. Maybe you should just try. If there's any translation work to be done, drop me a line.

Alex
Monday, July 30, 2007 1:29:15 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Alex,

Really like the bike. Im trying to build something a bit like this myself. Ive built some forks wide enough for a 37mm tyre, however thes seem much wider...

Could you tell me what kind of hubs you use?

regards,

Alex d
alex dickson
Thursday, August 02, 2007 7:48:19 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Alex,

I finally managed to inspect the hub. It's a Shimano SG-7R46 with an integrated Shimano roller brake. Perfectly suitable for light terrain and the city, where I usually ride my commute to work.

HTH,

Alex
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