Don, who won our beachbikes.net giveaway received his bike and sent along this awesome review.
After going back and forth with the family over what to do with our sudden windfall, we decided that we would purchase a bike with my wife in mind. I’m not a cruiser type of rider (prefer road/cross style for commuting) and she wanted a dependable, easy to ride bike. Winner winner chicken dinner for her. We spec’d out “Teal Scorpion” in just a few minutes: a teal colored 3-speeder with brown leather seat/grips, fat white wall tires and color matched fenders.
A short time after placing the order, we received the bike. Nothing to note other than it arrived without drama. The bike arrived without damage as the bike was well secured with padding and zip ties inside the box. Unfortunately, though, the packaging wasn’t sturdy enough to be saved for future use as a bike box. I tore it easily and ended up destroying it to free the bike completely. After a few minutes, we had a bike in pieces and a recycle bin full of cardboard.
With mixed success, I've torn down and re-built a couple bicycles over the last 20 years, so I had pretty high confidence going into this process. After watching the instructional video on beachbikes.net a couple times, we had clear expectations of what would be needed to build the cruiser.
With some assistance from my awesome daughter, we completed the build in about 50 minutes (see time lapse).
Bonus points to beachbike.net for including a cheap stamped metal multi-tool (pictured in lower corner of disassembled bike photo). We used it for almost 100% of the process. We only resorted to my tools when they were more comfortable.
If you can turn a wrench, you can build this bike. The bottom bracket and crank arms, head set, chain and chain guard are all pre-installed. The build only required to install front wheel, pedals, stem/handlebars, fenders, and seat (tools used below).
The First Ride
This bike is pretty cool, very different from my commuter. With the fat tires, relaxed and low seat position, I honestly felt uncomfortable for the first couple hundred feet. This changed quickly as I got used to the laid back seat and wide handlebars. This bike was not meant for speed. The gearing is for moving at a leisurely pace. You know… cruisin’. Having never ridden an internal geared hub bike before, I was pleasantly surprised by it’s responsiveness and exact shifting. Gearing seems low, but again this is a cruiser. Hard to comment on the fit as this is a such a relaxed ride. Most importantly, it was fun.
I decided that if we were to use the bike for any riding, it really should be checked out by a real mechanic. I may have built some bikes, but I am no professional. My local shop of choice is Menlo Velo (menlovelobicycles.com). They had no issue with me bringing in a home assembled mail order bike for a safety check. Rainer (owner) and Christian (mechanic) gave the build an A- and only criticized the things that were done by me. Namely, I didn’t use enough grease on the stem and pedals, and the bolts weren’t tight enough. (Note to self: buy a torque wrench.) Coincidentally, the shop carried a couple townie style bikes that were pretty similar and roughly the same price.
I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with this bike or the process. The bike itself is of good quality and fun to ride. The website is easy to use with a good variety of frame styles, colors, accessories. The build process is easy and can be done your average IKEA customer.
At the same time, I really believe in buying from your local bike shop. I didn’t do a lot of comparison shopping, but I believe you can get a similar styled, professionally built bike for pretty much the same price. And the folks selling it to you will talk to you all day long about rides, and parts, and frame material, and beer, and trails, and they sponsor local teams. Your LBS does so much more than sell you a bike. So much, that recommending a web store for a bike is hard for me.
So…. If you want a bike and all that comes with it (like helmets, clothes, accessories), go to your local bike shop. Buy a bike, drink beer with the mechanics. If you don’t live near a bike shop or want a DIY project, beachbikes.net is a great place to get a bike.