December 7, 2012

Thoughts on the Ladies Swift Bike

Photo from
At first glance there doesn’t appear to be anything extraordinary about the Ladies Swift bike. It seems to have the loop frame and upright design of a typical Dutch bike, but without a chain case and skirt guards. DBC City Bike Design Owner Dan Sorger pointed out the discreet features that go a long way in improving the classic upright bike design. Using the only Ladies Swift in the shop, his wife Maria’s, as a model, he elaborated on what makes the bike both different and better:

It begins with a custom frame fitted and engineered for you and your lifestyle. Will you be putting a child seat on the rear rack? Would it be helpful to install a front rack? The frame’s geometry is adjusted accordingly.
Some of the little things: A zinc-coated chain stays rust free with little maintenance. Brass washers are used between dissimilar metals to prevent rust. Cork grips, rubber pedals, and a sprung Brooks saddle absorb road vibrations.

For my transportation needs, the Swift’s Sturmey Archer internal gear hubs are just right with three speeds, roller brakes, and hub generator, which make the bike safe and reliable in rain, snow, or shine. The bike’s custom lighting is hand soldered and thoughtfully engineered. The circuitry uses two capacitors so the lamps will stay lit after coming to a stop.
Maintenance. A feature that stood out to me was that there are different points of attachment for the hub, fender, rack, and chain guard making maintenance an easier process. On my own Dutch bike, everything attaches to the hub, making it an ordeal to change a tire.

Test ride. Maria’s bike was a bit small for me, but we raised the seat and off I went.
The particular skirt I was wearing is one that is generally too constricting to bike more than a couple miles in, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Ladies Swift somehow gives it a comfortable amount of slack with the way I was positioned over the pedal crank.
The Ladies Swift handlebar design looked like it wouldn’t allow for the perfectly upright posture that is natural to my own Dutch bike, an “Omafiets” actually imported from Holland. A test ride on the Ladies Swift quickly dispelled this false assumption – I was riding bolt upright with the sort of dinner-table posture to make a mother proud. The bike was responsive, comfortable, and significantly lighter than my own Dutch bike. It was a treat to take it on a short joy ride in downtown Boston.

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