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Legendary European bicycle-makers offer bikes for the rest of us


August 3, 2010

The Colnago Freedom is one of several commuter bikes made by high-end European racing bicycle manufacturers

The Colnago Freedom is one of several commuter bikes made by high-end European racing bicycle manufacturers

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With this year's Tour de France still a recent memory, those of us with an appreciation for fine European racing bicycles may now be experiencing a fresh bout of bike lust. Not all of us, however, have $US6,000 or so to drop on a bicycle, and even if we did... bikes like that are not well-suited to everyday commuting, and are really more bicycle than most of us will ever need for recreational riding. You no doubt still dream of owning a well-bred bike though, so there is something a little more sensible you can do: get yourself an urban commuter, made by one of the celebrated European high-end racing bike manufacturers. Yes, they do exist, and we're going to tell you about a few. How does a sub-$2,000 Colnago grab you?

To sum up what's on offer we've selected a few things we think prospective buyers would like to know: the frame material, major component groups, price and complete bicycle weight (in some cases, price and weight are averages from several dealers' websites, as the companies themselves didn't provide that information). If you're not familiar with the places that the various Shimano components occupy within their respective road, mountain or trekking hierarchies, pay a visit to the company's products page to find out.

Now, on to the steeds!

Colnago Freedom

  • Nationality: Italian
  • Frame: 6000-series aluminum with alloy/carbon fork
  • Derailleur: Shimano Deore
  • Brakes: Shimano Alivio
  • Wheels: Colnago
  • Weight: 21.6lbs/9.8kg
  • Average price: $US1,926
  • Comments: The Freedom is new to the UK market this year, although a similar bike called the Cambiago has been (or at least was) available in Japan for the past few years.

Pinarello Treviso

  • Nationality: Italian
  • Frame: 6061 aluminum
  • Derailleur: Shimano Sora
  • Brakes: Tektro R350
  • Wheels: Pinarello MOst EDHO
  • Average weight: 21 lbs/9.5kg
  • Average price: $US1,429
  • Comments: Not to be confused with Pinarello's older Treviso road racing bike. The most colorful bike on our list, available in red, black, gold, pink or blue.

Cinelli Bootleg Hoy Hoy Rats

  • Nationality: Italian
  • Frame: Columbus Alloy Custom 6061 with Columbus carbon fork
  • Derailleur: Shimano RD-2200
  • Brakes: Shimano BR-M421
  • Wheels: Shimano ALEX Ace-18
  • Weight: 23.6lbs/10.7kg
  • Average price: $US1,086
  • Comments: What's with that name?! The least expensive but also heaviest bike on our list. Other models in Cinelli's Bootleg line are also intended for urban use.

Look 566 Flat Bar

  • Nationality: French
  • Frame: Look 566 carbon
  • Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra
  • Brakes: Shimano Tiagra
  • Wheels: Mavic Aksium 2010
  • Weight: 19 lbs/8.65kg
  • Average price: $US2,544
  • Comments: The lightest, best-equipped, most expensive bike on our list. Teeters on the "using-a-high-end-racing-bike-as-a-commuter" line.

Orbea Diem

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Frame: Orbea Carbon Bronze
  • Derailleur: Shimano 105
  • Brakes: Shimano LX
  • Wheels: Shimano WH-R500
  • Weight: 21lbs/9.58kg
  • Price: $US2,299
  • Comments: Depending on what part of the world you live in, you might also have access to some of Orbea's other, less expensive commuter bikes.
  • Conclusion

    With the possible exception of some of the Orbeas, all the bikes on our list have frames made in Taiwan. This has become pretty much standard for even top-of-the-line models, and doesn't necessarily indicate any compromise in quality. If you pictured some Old World craftsman named Antonio sipping a fine Chianti and listening to Puccini while welding your frame, though... sorry, never happened. That said, there is a chance he designed or assembled your bike.

    Needless to say, with any of the bikes on this list, you'll probably be paying more for the decals bearing those exquisite brand names than for just about anything else - if you're looking for the maximum bang for your buck, look elsewhere. But yeah, you know that, and you still want one. We understand. And hey, upgrading those Alivio brakes to 105 will just make the bike that much more unique, right?

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Nice bikes, most of them, but Gizmag didn\'t do their homework: Bottecchia, now produced in Asia, is marketing real deal carbon bikes with a choice of Shimano 105, Ultegra or Dura Ace components on a genuine competition class bike with a hollow carbon crank... Heck, change out the handlebars if you want the cruiser look. These bikes represent a higher rung for less than your list... up to a thousand bucks cheaper. ( http://www.bottecchiasale.com)


Really, \"Gizmag didn\'t do their homework?\" Perhaps the point of the article escaped you. No where could I possibly conceive that this article was about \"real deal carbon bikes\" in the \"competition class.\" It was about, \"an urban commuter, made by one of the celebrated European high-end racing bike manufacturers.\" Although I would have replaced manufacturers with brands, because yes, as you and the article pointed out, most bike are now manufactured in a handful of Taiwan and Chinese factories. The exception being the hand made builders that produce a very limited number of frames by comparison to the big brands.

Commuters are not about changing out a handle bar for a \"cruiser look.\" Commuters and urban cycles provide a very different riding experience than a competition class bicycle.

Bicycle Commuter

I guess Shimano owns the derailleur market...too bad...I hate Shimano


I have been using Orbea Diem Cruiser Bicycle for the last 1 year. It is very comfortable and stylish.

Cruiser Bicycle

It\'s been a year since this article came out...I wonder if there are any updates available as to how well each has performed over time. I\'d be interested in a follow-up.

Beginning Biker

V-pull brakes allow one to use larger tyres (eg 32mm), which are handy for riding on country dirt roads. Road brakes normally limit you to 25mm tyre width. I run both 23mm and 32mm tyres on my carbon flatbar (Ultegra groupo), with a spare wheelset. Good tyres (kevlar belted) are hard to flat, and a decent wheelset can save nearly 1kg on a bike's weight.

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