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5 urban bikes which are as smart as they are good-looking

James Greig | August 16, 2016

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With the rise of the smart phone, the smart car, and even the odd smart fridge, it’s not surprising that urban bikes are getting in on the act too. But there’s a point at which a bike stops being simple, so how do you know when to draw the line?

If you have modernist-leanings when it comes to cycling, there’s never been a better time to ditch that greasy chain, messy cabling and those mis-matched accessories for a sleeker, sexier city bike.

Smart doesn’t have to mean electronically so either — it might be a case of integrating components into the bike frame, or using new and lighter materials to engineer something that used to be a physical impossibility.

Of course there’s point where an urban bike becomes so laden with features that it becomes closer to a personal vehicle than a bicycle, so we’re drawing a line in the sand.

CycleLove’s favourite urban bikes.

We think urban bikes need to have an elegant simplicity to be successful — and they shouldn’t try to act like a car either.

So that means a firm “No thank you” to electronic-everything, drinks holders, and a sat-nav which tells you the wrong way to go.

Which bicycle would you like to take for a spin?

VanMoof SmartBike

VanMoof go big with a claim that this is the world’s smartest smart bike. With a keyless lock, a dedicated smartphone app (including weather notifications) and anti-theft tracking all included, we’re inclined to agree. The SmartBike comes in a choice of 3 and 8 speed models in grey or black, and disk-brakes as standard. And if the worst does happen, their team will spend two weeks tracking down your bike, with a promise to replace it if they can’t find it.

Canyon Commuter Brooks 150

Canyon first caught my eye with the sharp graphics on their road bikes, but this machine is aimed squarely at the upper end of the commuter market. It’s thoughtfully kitted out with accessories like Brooks’ new Cambium C15 saddle, dynamo lights and a belt drive. And if you like green, you’ll love the paintwork too.

tokyobike Electric!


A more understated approach from tokyobike that makes use of a FlyKly smart wheel to boost your pedalling power. With a top speed of 25km/h and a range of 40km/h, it’ll have you climbing hills and tackling longer city rides without overheating. The FlyKly setup comprises a motor and batteries which is linked to your smartphone, and activated simply by pedalling. It all fit inside the rear wheel, which leaves the clean lines of the tokyobike itself unadulterated.

Hummingbird Bike


Folding bikes are brilliant for multi-modal city journeys via buses, trains and subways, but they’re often clunky and hard work to carry around. The Hummingbird is made from carbon fibre, and weighs in around 3kg lighter than most other folding bikes. (Which also makes it lighter than 2 average-sized cats, as their video helpfully points out). After a successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s being made here in the UK in both single-speed and 3 speed models.

Budnitz No.5


I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Budnitz range of cruisers. They’re constructed from aerospace grade titanium with a unique twin-tube frame, and have always opted for belt drives over traditional chains. (Not only are carbon belts lighter, they’re also much quieter). The gears are hidden in the rear hub, and you can add a more traditional twist by choosing to add wooden fenders or a Brooks saddle. One for leisurely weekend rides around the neighbourhood I think?

Posted to Bikes
by James Greig

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