The Best $500 Utility Bike: Breezer Uptown EX

Oct 23, 2012
Outside Magazine

The Breezer Uptown EX    Photo: Breezer

We’ve long been proponents of Breezer bikes because they pack tons of value into highly affordable packages. Case in point: the EX, the least expensive bike in the Uptown line, whose fenders and rack are all but unheard of at this price point. And while the parts and specs are outstanding for the cost, the thing that really sets the Uptown EX apart is Breezer’s commitment to making an entry-level bike that rides as well as its more expensive models. Whereas other similarly-priced bikes pack crowd-pleasing bits like suspension forks to lure in buyers, the EX forgoes these (heavy and easily broken) whistles and bells and instead offers a simple, solid bike that will stand up to countless miles.

This no-nonsense aluminum frame is built around 26-inch wheels for quick handling and better stand-over than 700cc models. We’re especially fond of the low-step LS model, which has as much clearance as you can get on a bicycle. The cockpit is somewhat short, so those with longer torsos may want to consider sizing up. As for positioning, it’s fairly neutral—more upright than the Dualie, but not nearly as erect as the Boda Boda.

Here’s where this bike shines. Unlike cheap department store bikes that often come with easily-broken knockoff components, the Uptown EX is hung with a seven-speed Shimano drivetrain that surprised us with its quick, accurate shifting. The saddle, a house-branded design, shrugs off the tendency toward wide, pillowy seats and instead packs a mid-size, somewhat firm silhouette that was unexpectedly comfortable. And we loved the fenders, not just because they are sturdy and well designed, but also because the color-matching to the frame is an extra usually reserved for more expensive bikes. And Breezer’s kickstand design is one of the least tippy out there. One complaint: We miss the half chain guard from last year’s EX model.

There’s little to dislike about the Uptown EX: It’s a simple, smooth, bomber ride at a very manageable price. For those with a bit more budgetary leeway, the next model up in the line, the Uptown 8, is also worth a look. It’s the same frame as the EX, but for $880, it packs an internal-hub eight-speed drivetrain, a color-matched half chain guard, upgraded fenders, an uncomplicated suspension seat post, Dynamo-hub powered lights, and a bell. Either way, few other bikes deliver more utility for the price.

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