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Kronan the Barbarian

1 Nov

Assembled! (click to enlarge)

I’ve been looking around at various options for a utility bike – something to handle load-hauling, grocery-getting, pub-going, bike-path-cruising, picnics, and other short trips in street clothes where speed isn’t a priority.

I considered building up a Velo Orange Polyvalent, or picking up a Workcycles FR8 or a Civia Loring, but I wanted something less expensive. I looked at a KHS Green, a Linus Roadster and a Public D1 – but none of them seemed particularly suited to hauling a front load.  Converting an older mountain (or even road) frame was a possibility, but finding something suitable (for the right price) proved more difficult than I anticipated. Workcycles produces some suitable options, but then I encountered the bike pictured above: Based on a design by the Swedish Army, the Kronan resumed production at first in Poland, and more recently in Taiwan. Bicycle Fixation posted a well written review of this model (aptly describing it as a “muscle beach cruiser”), so when I saw that they were on sale (20% off), I ordered one.

I assembled it today and had a quick ride up and down the street (my cold precluded me from taking it further) – the low pressure 650b tires (weirdly, the tubes have Woods valves!) eat up pot-holes amazingly well. The carrying capacity should make “car-free” life a lot easier…despite it being a single speed and weighing in at ~55lbs+


In the Bag

18 Aug

I have been pleased with my Velo Orange Baguette, a handle-bar-bag that I think will provide sufficient space for food and personal effects on anything up to an unsupported double-century…but when you start talking about unsupported rural 600K+ events in variable weather, an increased carrying capacity becomes necessary. So a couple weeks ago, I purchased this:

(click to enlarge)

Considering you can pick up THREE Carradice Barley saddle-bags for the price of a single Acorn Large saddle-bag, I felt a bit foolish pulling the trigger on the latter. It basically started off as a high-end knock off – much like offerings from Origin8 or Zimbale – but it seems to have evolved into the superior product:

  • I suspect it will hold its shape better than the Barley (which might deform if loaded heavily) thanks to the addition of wooden dowels and a polyethelene liner.
  • The leather “stand-off” is a cheap and elegant solution to the problem of the bag crashing into your thighs as you pedal, especially compared to the $45 Bagman rack offered by Carradice.
  • The side pockets are easier to get in and out of (not having to un-do buckles every time you open them) – a boon for fingers rendered cold and clumsy by fatigue.
  • It is at least as versatile – with an expanding collar, options to attach lashing or the Acorn roll bag (which I already own and use), and loops for an optional shoulder strap.
  • For what it’s worth, it is crafted locally by a husband-and-wife duo.

In the “con” column, the Acorn bag has slightly less capacity and slightly more weight. The “cotton-duck” canvas they utilize is not waxed, so it may not offer the same water protection as the Carradice; however, if I find this to be a problem I can always waterproof the bag myself. Paperwork, food, and (if rain threatens) electronics always reside in sealed plastic bags anyway while aboard my bike or in my jersey pockets.

If it works well on my longest rides, I’ll put these picayune feelings of buyer’s remorse to rest for good. September will put it (and me) to the test, as I’ve scheduled both a 400K and (*gulp*) a 1000K ride before the month is out!