Meanwhile, in January of 2008, I bought a Yamaha hybrid-electric bicycle which has been a good work horse for carrying loads of groceries, garden supplies, etc. from town some 12 km away. It became my main means of transportation, which is not what I intended. I do have one problem with it , which is that although one has to peddle - it isn't an all electric bike - it doesn't make me work hard enough. As a result I have gotten further out of shape since owning it. (I can't blame the bike for that entirely, but it certainly played a part). Since starting a new diet/exercise program I have lost about 5 lbs. As my main means of transport is the bicycle, a new bike is also in order. One which will give me more exercise and hopefully address some of the shortcomings of the six speed.
All along I have been looking for an ideal bike. The six speed has good points for my use - fenders to keep me clean and dry, rack for carrying items, and seat and handlebars that offer a comfortable heads up posture - .ie. a good city bike.
The drawbacks, aside from lousy spokes, are that it is heavy - about 35 lbs - and has a narrow gear range that limit speed and hill climbing ability. Not surprising in a city bike, which normally would be used for short commutes and errands. I do ride in the city, but I also ride ten to twelve kilometers to and from the city and sometimes up some fairly steep hills.
I didn't need a road bike either. I wanted a combination of the two. Fenders, rack, and comfortable posture, but lightweight and with a wide gear range. No one seemed to offer such a machine - until recently.
My new wheels are built by Raleigh (founded 1885 in Nottingham, England). This model, the Club Sport, is only offered in Japan. Nowadays, Raleigh bikes are no longer made in the UK - mine was built in Taiwan - but they are a very good quality machine with Brooks saddle (established 1866 and still made in England) Shimano gears, Shimano Altus shifter, Shimano brakes, Sugino aluminum crank, and Araya aluminum rims. The wheels are quick release type, which is handy if I need to repair a flat or want to put the bike in the back of the Honda Insight.
It features a nostalgic look that I like a lot, down to the old style pin striping and logos on the frame. It has my required fenders, kick stand, small front rack and a very comfortable handlebars with a posture that is in between the low drag head down road bike and the upright city bike.
As for the gears - it has 21 speeds with a much broader range than the old bike. The shifters are on the handlebars and very easy to use with clearly marked position indicators.
The weight is not as light as I would like in my dreams, but I'm sure a much lighter bike would cost a whole lot more money. Still, it is 5 lbs lighter than the old one.
I've added a Cateye speedometer, Cateye (ultra bright) tail light, and a headlight. I may add a small handlebar bag for such things as my camera if I can find one that both looks good and is affordable. For carrying items, the small rack on the front works OK, but most things will go in a backpack. [For major loads, I will still use the Yamaha which has a big rear rack, panniers, and front basket.]
I've only had the Raleigh for a week now, but so far I'm very happy with it.
Be safe out there. Happy bicycling.