bike review:men's Simple 3 by Giant
It's been two years since I bought a bike. Every two years or so, I tend to buy a new bike. At least they've been coming down in price. Last time I bought a Townie 7D and loved it, see my review. Back then I finally admitted that my recumbent was not good for winter commuting. I found out that the Townie's had a mild pedal forward design and found a local bike shop selling them, Niantic Bay Bicycles. I shop in the winter when sales are slow, it's my birthday and I have a little extra cash in my pocket, and the previous year's models are marked down to make room for the new year's. I put big metal baskets on the back of the Townie and rode happily for two years. When I dropped in for a complimentary tune-up at the shop I saw a marked down bike with a couple things I've been coveting in the Amsterdam flavor of bike. The Simple 3 was solid, had wider tires, had a rack that took panniers, had fenders, had an internal hub (3-speed), and pedal brakes. This is designed for winter riding, in my opinion, even though marketed as a cruiser.
I used to read the Lovely Bicycle! blog for it's appreciation of upright european bicycles. But I lost interest as she developed an affinity for drop handlebars, something I can no longer use with the tendonitis in my wrists. The Simple 3 has these wonderful swept back bars, like a european city bike, for comfortable upright riding. However, my 6.5 mile commute is hilly, I do live in Connecticut after all, so there are times when I'll lean forward for some leverage on the pedals. I could never lean forward on the Townie, or even stand up much on them, because of the elongated geometry of the bike.
There are two other cycling blogs I still read, Jill Outside, which used to be Jill in Alaska, but she has moved south and is moving to the west coast now. I read her to be encouraged to keep riding in the cold and when it's hard and quite a slog. She trains for 100 mile rides or transcontinental rides. I just ride to work. But there is no reason I should let 20-30 mph winds keep me from riding, especially on this tank. Nor should I skip a ride because the bike paths are slushy. I have fenders now. Also, I no longer fear wet rims extending my braking into a traffic intersection like I did with my Townie. The coaster brake is internal and stops me no matter what the conditions are.
I also read the Fat Cyclist, another endurance rider whose greatest ability is endurance. He admits he'd have to endure less if he weighed less. Which brings up the topic of weight, not mine, but it is less than Fatty's, but the bike's. Giant is weird and elusive about it on their site. I haven't put it on a scale, but it definitely weighs less than my Townie 7D with it's metal baskets on. I'd say it's 25 lbs or so. With only 3 gears and a few really steep, but, thankfully, short ascents plus the weight, I really slow down and push. I took out the 7D again to see how those ascents are with a wider gear range. It seemed to me the Simple 3's low gear was like the 7D's 2nd gear. So riding the Simple 3 is like riding the Townie when I want to get some more fitness out of my ride. It's not like I'm riding a snow bike like Jill's Pugsley. But it will let the hills challenge you. For me, since I don't want to be a "Fat Cyclist," I am happy to ride a fitness bike for my short commute. This bike is not built for speed, but for comfort. I think it would be more comfortable with a shock absorber in the seat post, like my Trek has, but the fat tires have handled the pot holes pretty good.
I believe the Simple 3 is the closest I will get to a european city bike on the bare bones budget I have. I think it is perfect for riding on flat places if you aren't in great shape or on short hilly commutes if you are seeking fitness as well as a means from point A to point B that does not involve the ever pricier gasoline.