The 4 Best Utility Bikes of Summer 2012
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Tern Link P7i
Folding bikes tend to excel at either folding or riding. The Link nails both. Its hinges are seamless and sturdy, and the fold-down process is so intuitive that you can do it in less time than it takes to say “Hold that bus!” Yet, once you’re pedaling, “that funny little bike is darn efficient,” as one tester put it. That’s because the Link uses high-quality cycling-industry spec, including a seven-speed Shimano Nexus hub and tough Schwalbe tires. Warning: watch your back when lifting—the heft of the heavy-duty aluminum frame belies its diminutive size. 31 lbs
This all-rounder from Rawland with 650b-size tires delighted testers with its versatility, supple ride, and nimble handling—even with a randonnée bag up front. Decked out with fat slicks, the lightweight chromoly rSogn kept up on everything from fast-paced Saturday-morning group rides to solitary fire roads in the hills. With knobbies (there’s enough clearance for true mountain-bike-size tires), your range is limited only by how far your legs will go. Bonus: braze-ons for every imaginable accessory. 24 lbs
Though this austere Dutch city cruiser looks like an East German state-issued ride at first glance, the subtle whimsy of unconventional design grew on us. More than just an aesthetic conceit, the extended top tube houses Dynamo-hub-powered head- and taillights. In the rear, a seven-speed Shimano hub gave us plenty of range around town. The chunky gumwall tires roll as smooth as they look, and the stern fenders and beefy plastic chainguard (Hebie Chainglider covers are de rigueur in Europe) keep your office clothes clean. 36 lbs
REI Novara Gotham
This understated townie features some of the coolest bike technology out there, starting with the Gates belt drive, which is quiet, low-maintenance, and totally greaseless (envision clean trouser legs). It’s connected to the NuVinci N360 internal hub, which offered a broad enough range of gearing options to get us up and down in the foothills around Santa Fe. Plus, with full-coverage fenders, a headlight powered by the front hub, a motion- and photosensitive rear blinker, and a pannier-ready rear cargo rack, the Gotham is equipped for every city-riding challenge. 39 lbs