I’ve been dreaming of getting a new bike to use for commuting to work. Yeah, my Klein Aura V is a sweet ride, but she’s been difficult to work with, being very stiff and inflexible (And no surprise! She’s a racing bike, not a commuter!) . I needed something with a bit more weight, something that could handle having a rack, wider tires, fenders. I needed something that I wouldn’t be afraid of banging up too easily.
Mark, at Truly Spokin’, told me that this would be an excellent bike for what I was looking to do. This is the 2011 Bianchi Camaleonte Uno, a hybrid bike (“hybrid” meaning sporty, but also practical – road bike & commuter bike in one). I tested his faith back in July 2011 by asking if I could test ride this bike for 3 days, and with only raised eyebrows and a curious look, he said, “Sure. Come get it Friday, bring it back to me Monday.” It was a great 3-day test ride! Rainy, windy, sunny, warm, calm – the whole shebang. I took that thing out and rode it all over and in all weather conditions because I wanted to make sure.
I test rode 4 other bikes as well (among them, Giant & Torker) but none of them quite had the ride that the Bianchi did.
(“Camaleonte” is Italian for Chameleon. I admit to having more than just a passing love of the chameleon on the top tube. It makes the bike just a little bit more fun, a bit more out there.)
After paying a little bit here, a little bit there, since July for the bike, I was finally able to pick up this sweet thing on 11/11/11. Obviously, I’m quite excited about giving her a run on the commute this coming week!
Things I like about the bike:
- It’s slick looking. Sexy. Sleek. Truth is, though, most of Bianchi’s bikes are slick.
- It rides well. It’s not like the Klein, but it’s not meant to be! It’s got more weight to it and the steering is stiffer (a plus).
- It’s got a shorter top tube. It’s going to take some getting used to, but it’s not as much of a stretch from the seat to the handlebars. It’s more of an upright position than I’m familiar with on my previous bikes.
- The flat handlebars. I like ‘em. The shifters & the brakes are easy to access and quick to respond. I’ve been riding on dropbars for the past year, so my arms are a bit stiff from the different position, but it’ll be a good change.
- An adjustable stem. The handlebar stem is adjustable so that it can drop or rise a pretty significant amount. I’m going to play with this a bit, but it was definitely a selling point!
- 32mm tires. I started off with 25′s, then went to 28′s on the Klein. These fatter tires make a big difference when it comes to dealing with carpal tunnel in the wrists.
- Mini-V brakes. When I hit the brakes, this bike stops, even when it’s wet. I’m impressed.
- Racks & Fenders! It can handle a rack on the rear & front, plus there’s plenty of space for fenders for the wet Pensacola commuting days. I’m having a rack installed this week – I’m getting too old to carry a backpack full of books, a laptop, and all the other stuff I need to teach!
- Good handling in various conditions. With the Klein, I’m afraid to do some things (riding in the rain, banking turns hard, going over particularly rough patches / railroad tracks, etc. at higher speeds) but with the Bianchi, I’m a lot more confident of its ability to handle these conditions.
- It’s just a fun ride. Seriously.
Will I eventually go car-free? I dunno. I’ve been working towards a reduced-car existence for the past year (and with over 2600 miles on the Klein since November 2010, I’d say I’ve gotten a decent start). This bike will help me increase my bike commuter miles, and reduce my carbon footprint, not to mention continue a healthier lifestyle and influence others in myriad ways. I’m excited!
Ask me questions, or stay tuned for more on this bike!