It’s been a fun time, doing all the research on the various bikes. I even got to test-ride a really awesome bike that I’d been eying for a while. I cast my net far and wide, checking out a lot more bikes than I actually wrote here about, brands I came to discover along the way, and options from companies better known for their sports models which are now catering to the (re)emergent commuter market. I tried to be as fair as possible in my research, I promise, and eventually I ended up considering a couple of actually Dutch bikes that I would have simply had to purchase unseen given there are just no dealers for any of these brands in Miami or the South Florida area.
I weighed a lot of factors when making my final decision, including price, build, and availability locally/via shipping. I did my best to consider each bike individually for its own merits, not compared to other similar models, and I think I even succeed most of the time. Let it be known that in reaching this decision I even called Canada, about four times, not to mention contact a number of Florida, Chicago and NYC shops, just so I would be sure I was doing my due diligence.
In the end, it came down to what I could get that had the most features I wanted and the best build/durability for my budget. Ladies and gentlemen, the winner is:
The Electra Amsterdam 3i Classic.
Why? Well, let me tell you:
- Dutch City Bike looks – It’s what I wanted right from the start; I’m a sucker for that European look.
- Steel frame – I’m a big and heavy guy and I want something I can feel safe on. I don’t have an issue with the weight of it (Red Beast weights a ton as well), and I like the idea of riding a two-wheeled tank.
- City/commuter accessories – Lights (battery & dynamo-powered), bell, rack, chainguard and fenders all are included in the package. The coatguard’s nice but with all the coats I wear (not), to me it’s more of a look thing (and a place to put Slow Bicycle Movement and Slow Bike Miami stickers). It only lacks a front rack, and that’s something I can get later on.
- 3 Speeds – It was a must that my new bike have more than a single speed. My knees will be very thankful.
- Affordability – While I am sure a Gazelle Toer Populair and/or a Batavus Favoriet or Fryslan would have been an awesome choice, they were just out of my budget range, period. The Amsterdam gives me pretty much what those bikes offer for about $300 to $400 less, and that’s no chum change. (Actually, I will confess that if the Batavus Favoriet had been in stock, I probably would have gone with it as my winning choice, but they aren’t, and they won’t be until the Spring, at the very least, and without any guarantee of availability.)
I have one minor reservation at the back of my mind regarding the bike’s durability over time. Dutch bikes are notably tough, made to withstand every kind of weather anomaly there is (even Chicago winters). In Miami, I don’t have snow to worry about, but I do have rain to worry about; lots of rain; lots and lots of rain. And given I live in Miami Beach, there’s the salt in the air issue as well. To be honest, I’m looking forward to putting this bike through the ringer and seeing how it does. It will either be a ringing endorsement or a complete failure; there’s no middle road here.
The bike has been ordered through the Miami Beach Bicycle Center (where I tested the Townie). I considered buying through City Bikes in Aventura, where we bought my wife’s Amsterdam, but the price was the same and I liked the idea of establishing a good relationship with a local bike shop, with a local bike mechanic. I can also go pick up my bike by bus then ride it home, something that would be a little harder coming from Aventura to Miami Beach. It should be ready to pick up by Tuesday of next week, so it’ll be here right on time for my birthday on the 12th. I can’t wait!
Now I just need to figure out what to do with Red Beast.