Bicycle Profile – Wabi Classic 42 cm

For the past two years, I’ve enjoyed riding my Wabi Classic 42 cm.  I don’t have a name for it, but I describe it as “My blue bike that looks like a toy,” even though it is a serious road bike and great for commuting.

 

Wabi Cycles 42cm
Lakefront bike ride when it was new

This is my favorite bike, the bike I use when I want to have fun, go fast and feel like I can keep up with anyone else on the road.  Tiny and powerful, it is a bike I can ride for 20 + miles and not feel like it’s taken all of my energy to do so.  It’s the kind of bike that immediately changes your attitude when you’re having a bad day and the kind of bike that has people ask you where you go it.  It’s also the kind of bike I carefully lock up or bring inside since I’d be very upset if it ever got stolen.  It’s put into heavy use during the spring and summer on my commutes and on recreational rides around the city.

Specs:

Model: Wabi Cycles Classic 42 cm

Purchased: June 2013

Miles ridden: Strava says I have 1850 miles, but I know I have biked much more. Probably 2000+

Gearing: 44 x 17, single speed.  One gear is fine since there aren’t many hills around

Weight: ~17 lbs of steel and components,  it is very light compared to my other bike

Pedals: Platform MKS Sylvan Touring Bicycle Pedals, since I can use a variety of shoes with it, and I don’t see the need for clipless pedals.  These were purchased separately for about $35.00.

Tires:  Changed stock tires to Continental Road tires in 2014

Seat: stock ladies saddle, will upgrade to a newer bike seat eventually

Rear rack: None, since there is no room for one. I use my messenger bag or cycling backpack to carry supplies.

Lights:  Enough room on the handlebar to mount front lights, I have a tactical flashlight with a flashlight holder mounted to it.  The seatpost has room to mount a rear light, but I usually have a light clipped to my backpack and one on my helmet for rear lighting.

Speed: I average 13-15 mph on this bike and have recorded myself as going as fast as 27 mph downhill, 22 mph “hammering” on a flat stretch of road or a steady 19 mph keeping up with traffic on busy roads when I am brave enough to take the lane.

Price: $750, a great value

 

Wabi bike on side
Bike with water bottle and emergency bike pump on the frame.

At the time, I wanted another bike in case my main hybrid commuter bike was in the shop for repair.  I wanted a fast bike, it had to be light so that I could easily lift it onto the train, and be maneuverable enough in heavy traffic.  This bike fit all of these requirements.

 

If I was running late to catch the train,  I knew I could pedal fast enough to make it in time and still be able to lift the bike up the stairs while catching my breath.

My bike taking up two seats on the Metra.  Two grumpy people probably had to move so I could park my bike.
My bike taking up three seats on the Metra. Three grumpy people probably had to move so I could park my bike.

Why Wabi?

Since I’m short (5’0″) my options for road bikes were limited but I wanted to find a stylish road bike which could be used as a commuter bike.  There were many options from the big name brands, but after reading around the internet, Wabi kept being mentioned.  Even though it was a single speed bike, and I had never ridden one before, I thought it made sense since the bike would be lighter and more efficient.

I looked at www.wabicycles.com and was immediately drawn to how simple and beautiful the bike was, especially the turquoise blue color.  Due to my height, the only option that made sense was the 42 cm model.  I wasted no time and contacted Richard Snook who owns Wabi Cycles.  Richard was very helpful in helping me decide on the build of the bike.   Our conversations over email and phone focused on my physical measurements, riding style, and my desire to bike long distances.  He suggested I get a stem riser so that my handlebars could be more upright and that a 44 x 17 gear ratio would allow me to comfortably climb hills in the suburbs while maintaining a good cruising speed in flat Chicago.  He also answered any questions I had about bike sizing and not being able to test ride the bike before purchasing.  My fears aside, I placed the order through the website soon after our final discussion.

My biked arrived packed in a big cardboard box.  I only had to figure out how to put on the front wheel and the pedals I had purchased.  The first ride was a short ride around the block.  Richard told me that since I was used to riding a hybrid bike, it would feel like upgrading from an old SUV to a Porche.   He was right as I was instantly impressed by its speed and somewhat unsure if I had bought a bike that was too fast.

After a few rides, I got used to its speed and I took it to my local bike store and made some minor adjustments to the seat and handlebars.  Since then, I haven’t had to perform many adjustments or maintenance on this bike and it has been a very reliable ride.

Final Verdict

Everything about this bike is awesome and feels good, especially the effortless pedaling and steering.  Since the bike is so responsive, I can confidently negotiate traffic, easily avoid potholes and be fast enough so that I can make all the green lights before they turn red on the road.   Overall, this is a fantastic bike and it fits my commuting and recreational biking needs.  You will see me riding this bike for many years to come.

2015 Bike Commuter Challenge Completed

This year’s bike commuter challenge was a great success.  My company had seven members and we all biked in at least once (100% participation), for a total of 24 trips and 287.8 miles (12.1 miles per member).  We had four men and three women, including two new bike commuters.  I had been interviewed by the Active Transportation Alliance, so I knew I had to give my best effort.  As one of the captains, I lead the team with six rides and 78 miles, but due to the weather and other commitments, could not devote more energy towards the challenge.

Forming the team:

About a week before the bike commuter challenge started, another lady bike commuter I had met introduced me to the guy who had been organizing the event for the past few years and we went from there.  He had just welcomed a new baby, so the bulk of the responsibility shifted to me to organize and encourage the team.  I registered the team on the website, designated us as co-captains and then edited an email template he had sent me to include detailed instructions on how to sign up for the team (this year you needed a password). HR forwarded the email to the entire company and also put up announcements on the TV screens.   We also printed out some flyers which were put up by the administrative staff.

HR and I went to a nearby bike store and selected some raffle prizes (bike commuter kit with reflective bands and rear light, active wipes) which the company graciously paid for.   Our HR department was really great in helping us advertise the challenge to hundreds of employees.  I was unable to recruit my immediate coworkers to join (although they really did entertain the idea), and ultimately we ended up with seven team members.

Preparing for the challenge

Before the challenge started, I brought some clothes and snacks to keep in my office so I wouldn’t have to bring them on the bike.

I sent out an email to the team and wished them luck during the next week.  With the weather indicating rain, I reminded people to be more careful (use lights, go slower) and to not ride in the rain if they didn’t want to.  I don’t like riding in the rain myself, but a light drizzle is fine with me.

One of the new bike commuters asked us our opinion on the route he should take to work.  Being in the suburbs, it can be tricky negotiating traffic when the streets are busy and the speed limit is 50 mph.  We found a route which would minimize sidewalk riding and cautioned him to be extra careful and look for turning cars and driveways.

Logging my rides

I tried using their bike commuter app on the first day,  but it didn’t record some of my miles so I relied on Strava.

My commute is usually 12 miles to and from work, or 17 miles if I take the long way on the trail.

What most days of the bike commuter challenge looked like:

BikeHomedreary061215

Friday: 6/12: Little bit of rain in the morning, cloudy in the evening, colder than usual.
Monday 6/15: Did not bike, but did bring a supply of clothes and snacks for the week to store in my office.  Hawks win the Stanley Cup.
Tuesday 6/16: Biked in, little bit warmer, feeling good.
Wednesday 6/17: Could’ve biked in but stayed up late watching the NBA Finals.
Thursday 6/18: No biking, lots of things to do.
Friday 6/19:  Really felt worn down from the week, but I had to bike in since it was the last day.  Luckily the weather was nice. Bought and ate a pan pizza from the cafeteria and it gave me enough energy for the long ride home through the North Branch Trail. I rode as fast as I could  and beat some of my personal records I have on Strava.

Every few days I would log into the bike commuter challenge website and send out emails encouraging the team and updating our progress.  Some team members even emailed me directly to share their progress.  I enjoyed seeing people’s routes and hearing about how they took the opportunity to bike in.  A raffle was also held, and the prizes sent out through the company mail.

Until next year..

Next year we hope to get the word out sooner so that more people can think about commuting to work. The rain also put a damper on our efforts.

Participating in the bike commuter challenge was a great way to meet new people and share information about bike commuting.  Nearly every week is bike to work week for me, but it is always fun to to share the experience with others and to keep each other motivated.