Monday, October 4, 2010

Civia Kingfield

The folks at Surly/QBP/Civia are on fire. First, it was the Halstead cycle truck, now they've got another interesting urban bike in the hopper: the Kingfield.

I really like the looks of this bike. Their blog is agonizingly short on the detail I really want to know (how fat can the tires get? what's the basic HA/SA geometry? what kind of steel? component spec would be nice) -- but from 100 ft, this bike looks promising.

I like the idea of a belt drive. I like not worrying about grease on me or oiling the damn chain. I like not replacing the chain or the cogs. Ever! My understanding is that the belt is similar (or is?) the same as some kind of pulley in your car -- if that's the case, it may require changing on a bike every 2nd generation or so. That's what I'm talking about.

The fidelity of the picture doesn't let me see how they replace/remove the belt drive. On other bikes, an expensive little S&S coupler is brazed into the chain stay. There's something going on there on the Kingfield chain stay, but I can't tell what it is.

The parts look reasonable; though the front fender is silly in its shortness for an urban bike. Speaking of fenders, I wish they took a tad more care in placing the seat stay bridge to get proper fender alignment. You can poo-poo such observations as effete, but fender placement is more than aesthetic; in this case, it may crowd the fender/tire and will be the pinch point for putting fatter tires on there with a fender (You can see that well-illustrated on my Trek 720).

Anyway, from the looks of the Kingfield pic, my guess is 32mm + fenders is as big as it gets, though those might be 35's.

I love that they are manufacturing a bar-end shifter for the Nexus 8-speed. The J-tek is great and all but availability has been spotty and it's a pretty expensive bit of hardware. I'm guessing with the big Q behind development, Civia will be able to get a bar-end out for about half the price, and hopefully it'll be in the QBP catalog.

Of course the fork is not my style, but it's cheap and it's the style these days so whatever. The rear rack is riding way too high, which is weird since Civia manufactures both the rack and the bike -- I'd assume they would get that dialed in a bit better.

All that bitching and moaning about these minor aesthetic issues aside: this could be a great commuter and trail rider for some. Internal hubs and drop bars are a good combo and belt drive, with a sludge catcher is pretty sweet... at $1300 with rack/fenders -- not an awful price either. In any case, it's something to get excited about in that we have thought, design, and manufacturing going into smart urban bikes (that aren't just more copies of "Amsterdam bikes") from a big player in the bike world.

Now, we just need a bike shop in Spokane that has a few of these (and some LHTs, Halsteads, Salsas, etc) on the floor next Spring.


Tarik Saleh said...

THe two most reasonable ways of getting the belt replaced is to have a dropout that comes apart (from 100 ft, I would guess there are two bolts holding the dropout together) or a seat stay that splits with a little bolted wangdoodle:

Mini sns coupler is overkill and way too expensive. Google belt drive bike and you get lots of versions and combinations of the above

Pat S said...

I've been nursing a bad case of belt drive fever for the last coupla weeks, and this isn't helping. At all.

Erik Spokane said...

I love the belt drive and internal 8-speed idea for our freezing slush weather. :)
Has anyone heard that the belt drive requires higher tension, thus causing more bearing failures? Hope that's not true, or accounted for in the design.

Michael said...

That is a nice looking bike. I'm with ya' on the rack, that's geeking with me too. I've been seeing all sorts of cool pictures coming out of Interbike. Masi looks like it will have some really cool stuff out this year.

Incase you've every wondered what a mountain bike frame for someone that's 7'1" looks like:

oldmangabe said...

Tarik is correct. The bike splits at the rear dropout. You can use the external rear derailleur dropout, or a dropout for an internal geared hub. Civia debuted this at Interbike 09 but never got it off the ground as far as I know. I did not see it at the Civia booth this year. Pretty neat idea.