Max J. Dickstein: No commuter bike is perfect
You wouldn't know it from Sunday's leisurely Five Boro Bike Tour, but New York is a grand obstacle course for bike commuters. In addition to callous cabbies and preoccupied pedestrians on risk-filled roads, bike thieves lurk wherever you lock up. What to ride though this morass?
In my experience, no bike can fulfill every city bike commuter's need for safety, speed and portability. It's just impossible.
Cannondale disagrees. The Bethel, Conn.-based company gave me two weeks to try out their radically designed Hooligan 1 2012 ($1,100), which deserves credit for attempting to satisfy the apartment-dwelling New York bike commuter's every need.
The BMX-size Hooligan's frame look like a tangle of rigid plant stems. But even with its low standover clearance and scaled-down 20-inch wheels, the bike offers a relatively smooth, upright ride. (Plus, few minded when I brought my little Hooligan on the L train for a mid-morning trip.)
The bike's "Berserker Green" paint job lends it striking visibility at night, but I suspect it's thief-attracting, too; if I owned a Hooligan, I would tape it black.
The dollars really shine through in the Hooligan's smooth-shifting internal three-speed hub and death-grip disc brakes. They are key features, but what about the 25-pound bike's cumbersome weight, which leads to an inadequate top speed? Oh, yeah: There is no perfect NYC commuter bike.
Max J. Dickstein (@knickerbiker and email@example.com) is amNewYork's bike columnist.