FAT-FRAME, balloon-tire, one-speed bikes have become quite the retro-fashion statement for Shore goers. And they're sure fun for casual tooling around flat, quiet streets and parking near the ocean.
But if you plan to venture farther than the Wawa, and won't be BMXing on the beach, a Breezer Uptown is a better cruiser to haul to the seashore. And to really stand out of the crowd, a custom-designed Big Shot bike is another sweet means to travel.
Breezer is now part of the Philadelphia-based Advanced Sports International cycle group, which also imports Fuji bikes, among other brands. The Breezer Uptown series especially oozes practicality.
Start with a relatively lightweight and rust-resistant aluminum frame, easier than a steel frame to lift onto a tailgate hitch - and not vulnerable to salty sea air.
The Uptown 3 Breezer that Gizmo Guy test drove, then bought earlier this year, also grabbed me with its low-maintenance Shimono three-speed internal hub gearing and hub-dynamo powered front and rear generator lights, with wiring discretely hidden inside the frame.
Also appealing to this casual rider were the stable, mid-sized and reflective-striped 26-inch-by-1.5-inch tires, comfortable upright riding position and suspension seat post (to offset aluminum's harder characteristics), and lightweight composite fenders and chain guard to keep a body clean. There's even an aluminum rear rack for bringing home the bacon (or whatever), a gently ding-a-linging bell and a stable (though not on sand) kickstand.
Breezer recently ceased production of the Uptown 3. A 5-speed variant (likewise with internal hub gearing) will replace it soon ("maybe August or September"), explained a company rep. But some leftover Uptown 3s are still floating around. And the bike was spotted this week, discounted to $615 at commuterbikestore.com.
The same maker also offers a 7-speed variant called the Breezer Uptown EX with some trade offs - no lights, no chain guard - but a lower price. Outsider magazine recently rated it "the best $500 utility bike."
If you're tickled by the idea of a single-speed and fixed-gear custom bike that glows with color, BigShotBikes.com is a way to really express yourself with literally hundreds of options.
Want a green tire mounted on a red wheel on the front of the bike, vice versa on the rear? Go for it.
Want yellow hand grips on a scooped ("mustache" style) black handle bar plus a purple seat? Why not?
You can even choose the color of the chain and pedals.
Other custom options include frame and handlebar style. The website visualizes exactly the combo you've selected, before you hit the "buy" tab.
Big Shot then assembles 80 percent of the bike before shipping (the rest is in your hands). The asking price for a one-speed custom is $429, plus $34.95 shipping, though the maker often has a "blowout" sale going that'll save you at least 10 percent.