This is a very unique bicycle. I’ve been riding the red Urbana city bike for about a month now, and you certainly won’t see any bikes that look just like it from any other manufacturers. The Urbana bike is as strong as a tank, a super sturdy U-framed city bike designed to withstand the elements and rigors of everyday commuting and be strong enough to have some fun on also – oh, and haul some serious weight on the strongest rack I’ve ever seen. As the Urbana Bikes website says, this is the “SUV of bikes.”
Urbana is a Canadian bicycle manufacturer whose goal was to build a city/commuter bike that was also fun to ride. Urbana bikes are available in many different configurations – from single-speed sporty bike to the fully loaded 8-speed commuter bike with chainguard, fenders and super strong rack that was sent to me for review. Two very unique components for all Urbana bikes are the U-frame and the hearty 2.6” tires.
I had never really ridden a unisex U-framed bike and I was curious how it would ride – most men’s and many women’s bikes these days are shaped like a diamond because that shape gives the bike stability, while many step-through frames have a lot of flex in the frame (which is not great for a bike’s handling). However, the Urbana’s aluminum frame is thick and super sturdy, and the bike always felt as strong as a tank. In fact, the folks at Urbana challenged me to treat the bike roughly and try to break it. So I rode the Urbana as hard or harder than I’ve ever ridden any bike, but the bike stood up to every challenge. Briefly stated: this bike feels bullet proof!
Adding to this super sturdy feel are the massive 2.6 inch Nid de poule tires that are made especially for the Urbana bikes. With these tires, the Urbana bike makes light work of potholes, bumps and road debris. And I liked the fact that the tires held air for days on end so I could just hop on and ride – maybe check the air on weekends (and they were still fine). Another feature of the tires that I really like is the reflective stripe around each side. It’s amazing how brightly these reflect light, which is really a great safety feature for commuting by bike at night.
The Urbana has a disc brake on the front wheel and a drum brake on the rear, which together bring the bike to a stop quickly. I have to also mention the saddle – specially made for Urbana – which may be my favorite bike seat ever. The Urbana saddle is cushioned enough to make commuting on bumpy roads comfortable, but shaped nicely to stay out of your way during vigorous riding. I also like fenders on commuter bicycles, and the Urbana fenders kept me dry through some big puddles.
As I mentioned, my Urbana review model had the 8-speed Shimano Nexus internal geared hub. Shifting was smooth and the gear range was great for riding around the hilly parts of my town. For those not familiar with them, internal geared hubs are hearty in that they require little maintenance and, unlike derailleur-equipped bikes, they do not get clogged up if riding through snow. While the Urbana’s strong frame makes it a heavy bike, once I “found my stride” to make the most of the Nexus gearing I rode many of the same roads that I often ride on my road bike and was able to clip along at a surprisingly good pace – and the Urbana certainly has much more cargo capacity than my road bike.
The Urbana rack is rated for 120 pounds of dynamic weight – so this bike really is like a bicycle truck or SUV. The rack also has a super design feature in that it can accommodate hanging shopping bags securely on the rack – especially good for popular reusable grocery bags. In fact, the Urbana is so practical that as the summer progressed the Urbana became my go-to bike for trips to the town swimming pool, rides with my kids, even some hard riding for exercise. As my time with the Urbana draws to an end, I have to say, I’m going to miss this bike.
The Verdict: The Urbana is a great commuter bike that feels as strong as an ox and has the cargo carrying capacity to match, and the Urbana is as fun to ride as it is practical.
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